There’s nothing scary about the woods. Sorry guys. Or, should I say, sorry kids. I get it. You all saw Blair Witch Project or read some shitty “creepypasta” BS online and suddenly some of the most beautiful places in the world are havens for demons or zombies or whatever garbage is lining the pockets of writers these days. But guess what: it’s all your imagination. Look, I remember being a kid. My mind would go all over the place: ghosts, goblins, aliens, blah blah blah. You know what happened, though? I hit 13. I saw the real world.
Here’s why I’m so irritated about all this “oooh I’m too scared to go into the woods now” bullshit. I live near a state park. There are quite a few local businesses that used to thrive because of the high number of hikers, picnickers, and daytrippers during the spring, summer, and fall. But over the last couple years, perfectly coinciding with those idiot kids one-upping each other to cry about how scared they are, these businesses have lost a ton of money. Yes, I own one of them. An ice cream stand.
I could see the trend starting, too. Pasty white, black-clad preteens on vacation with their parents would whine about being too frightened to go on a mile-long hike along a pristine trail just because there were spooky trees around. All while shoveling ice cream into their soft faces. I thought back to what my father would’ve done if I complained about being too much of a baby to walk around outside for an afternoon. The only ice cream he’d have bought would’ve been for me to put on my black eye.
So I’ve lost money because of this shit. My buddies lost money, too. Spouses divorced each other, kids ended up not going to the colleges they wanted to, and the local economy, aside from the revenue from skiers in the winter, went to hell. And it’s all because of those little assholes who think fragile bleating and cowering in fear is more desirable than strength and resiliency. I weep for the future.
My ice cream stand is supposed to reopen on March 1st. Already, though, I can tell it’s going to be a brutal season. The pervasiveness of those online stories about “creepy things in the woods” and “omg I can’t believe what I found in this diary while I was hiking” has just grown and grown. When I look through the comments on the ridiculous websites that showcase that trash, I see adults, ADULTS, saying how terrified they are to even go out in their backyards because they think some skinny guy in a suit or a troll monster is going to possess them or something.
Never once have the authors of that garbage thought about how their recklessness is destroying small businesses. Before my wife died, I used to be able to look out from my back porch and see families hiking through the woods, kids skipping stones across the pond, and dads teaching their sons or daughters how to safely build a fire using sticks. Now, there’s just the timeless woods and a devastated economy. The childish dopes succeeded in scaring themselves away from nature and they screwed up the livelihoods of real people in the process.
Thankfully, every now and then, a family will walk by the house and do the things I used to see before all that “I’m too scared” horseshit started. The other day, for the first time in nearly three years, a young couple braved the melting snow and mud and set up a tent right on the outskirts of my property. Do you know how happy it made me to finally see some people who weren’t afraid of ghosts or haunted woods?
I must’ve stayed in the tent until the sun came up, enjoying their warm, young meat. The woman died instantly but her husband or boyfriend or whatever remained alive for hours. The only benefit of such a low population of hikers nowadays is that not a single person heard him screaming as he watched me eat the most tender morsels of his partner before I unleashed my appetite on him. Another bonus: they were in a tent! I just had to wrap it around them and drag them back to the house. No fuss, no muss.
After all my complaining, I have to admit, finding two people who were brave enough to go out in the woods helped me feel better. It showed me they didn’t follow trends and did their own thing, just like in the old days. It doesn’t entirely make up for the lost wages and the harm to our local economy, but it’s still something. That knowledge, plus a freezer full of meat that’ll last me through the spring, helps warm my cynical heart.