Everyone’s heard of the so-called “Suicide Forest” in Japan, but hardly anyone’s familiar with the locally-named “Suicide Woods” in Fairfield, CT. It’s probably a good thing, too; the deaths are disturbing not only by their nature, but because there have been so many of them over the years.
Growing up, I heard scary stories about the woods behind Lake Mohegan. We all did. Rumors of devil-worshipping cults ran like wildfire through every school hallway and cafeteria. Some kid said he was fishing back there with his uncle when they discovered a dead goat by a rock face with its guts arranged in a pentagram. Another kid talked about bloodsucking demons in the trees. Our parents were always quick to dispel the more ridiculous rumors, but they couldn’t deny the suicides. The suicides were facts of life in our town.
I wouldn’t be writing this if I thought it was an unfortunate, but natural, phenomenon – like with the forest suicides in Japan. To be honest, I’d forgotten about it all until I came back for my 30th high school reunion last spring. A few old classmates and I got to talking, and we decided to take a hike through the wooded area the following day.
Keep in mind, the place is absolutely gorgeous. It’s heavily wooded, but well-maintained paths run throughout. A clear, clean river cuts through the woods, and a series of cascades and rapids terminate in a deep, tranquil pool. Kids and families would swim there frequently during the summer, despite the unpleasant stigma of suicides and hauntings hanging over the area. On a beautiful, hot summer day, it’s simply too pretty over there to worry about that stuff.
We headed out around 7:30 the following morning. Only one of our original six ended up actually answering the phone and still wanted to go, but that was fine with me. Todd Soto and I were pretty close in high school, so I was looking forward to spending the morning with him so we could catch up.
We walked along the scenic path around the lake and into the woods. We followed the river, and soon we reached the cascades. The rushing water was gorgeous and invigorating. Someone who’d gotten up even earlier than we had was fishing off the rocks. He waved, and we greeted him in turn.
The woods quieted as we progressed further upriver. The sound of wildlife replaced the rushing water. It was a truly spectacular day. Todd told me about his business and his family while I discussed my writing career and waning popularity. All in all, we were having a great time.
Todd stopped to grab some water from his backpack, and I gazed out over the now-distant lake. I heard my friend behind me rummaging through his stuff, then he muttered, “what the hell?” I turned around.
A hair-thin stream of black fluid had fallen out of the tree onto Todd. He’d moved to the side, but it was on his head and neck. We both looked up, but couldn’t see what had produced the stream. “Well that’s gross,” Todd remarked, and he reached into his backpack for a handkerchief.
I kept looking in the tree while Todd wiped himself off. He went to put the handkerchief back, then pulled his Swiss Army knife from his pocket. It was one of the really big ones that I’d wanted to get for a while. I was jealous.
“Hey, cool kni–,” I began, but then something happened. It was very bad, and very fast.
Todd opened the knife, and with no hesitation, plunged it into the side of his neck. A brilliant fountain of blood erupted from the puncture. His mouth formed a hideous smile of calm beneficence. His knees wobbled a bit, but he didn’t fall.
I shouted his name and rushed forward, but he pushed me away. Hard. I crashed onto the dirt and scrambled to my feet. Todd was now standing directly underneath the tree that’d dripped on him. He pulled the knife across the softest parts of his neck, while gurgling, “What was mine is now yours. I repay your kiss with my blood. Take it all. Swallow me.”
Once more, I tried to stop him, but got pushed away again. But not by Todd. Something had descended from the tree and was dangling in front of my friend. It was long and black and streaked with gray veins and white blotches. It was no wider than a cigarette lighter, but when it struck me, its strength was enormous. I knew at least one of my ribs had cracked, and I remained on the ground, clutching my chest.
The thing spasmed and twitched before touching down on Todd’s gouting throat. A lime-green proboscis slid from its tip and began lapping up the blood. Todd had fallen to his knees, but he was still carving his neck ever wider. His grinning mouth moved in the same shapes of the words he’d been gurgling, but nothing but blood came out. Soon that also stopped, as he severed his esophagus. Then he fell on his face.
The thing in the tree extended and pushed down into Todd’s wound. For minutes, I stared, too horrified to move, as it gulped my friend’s blood. Its veins pulsed and it swelled obscenely before turning translucent, then transparent, then invisible. I heard the leaves rustling as it retracted back, and all that was left was me and my dead friend.
I pulled myself to my feet and ran, wincing with agony as the broken ends of my ribs rubbed against one another. I reached for my phone, but realized I’d given it to Todd to hold in his backpack. I kept running until I reached the road. I flagged down a car and had them call the police.
They arrived and brought me to the station. I was questioned and I told them everything, despite knowing how insane it sounded. They asked for my phone number and home address so they could contact me if they needed anything else. Days went by. They didn’t call. They didn’t visit. After a week, I went online to the Connecticut Post website. I did a search for Todd’s name. Lo and behold, there he was, listed as another “unfortunate and preventable suicide” in the Lake Mohegan woods.