Little Johnny’s Cave

📅 Published on June 20, 2022

“Little Johnny’s Cave”

Written by Corpse Child
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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“Will you tell us the story again, Dad?”

”Yeah, Dad, tell us about ‘Little Johnny’s Cave!’ PLEASE?” I still remember those days, sitting around a campfire in the backyard and listening to dad tell that story.  It was our favorite.  “Little Johnny’s Cave.” It was as cheesy as spooky campfire stories got back then, and you can bet me and my little sister, Linda, ate every bit of it up.  He, himself, didn’t care too much for telling it, though.  At the time, me and Linda didn’t really understand why.  I guess, to us, it was just his way of trying to build tension, you know?  Kinda like how you try to sound dramatic when you urge someone to “not go looking for this or that” or “don’t do this, or ‘the monster’ is gonna get you.” Now, though, I realize it wasn’t that at all.  Looking back, I can remember the look he’d always get on his face when we’d beg him to tell that story.  It was cold, sunken, sad or scared even (both probably).  It was a look that said, “Why do I have to talk about this?  It only hurts when I do.”  Like I said, though, we were too young and way too excited to know or really care.

I guess, in our defense, you can’t really expect much better from a couple of first graders who thought their dad was the coolest, coupled with a childhood filled to the brim with watching classic monster movies, can you?  In any case, he’d go silent for a while, probably a solid five minutes or more, and just stare intently into the fire.  Me and Linda knew when we saw this that things were about to get good. Even if it sounded no different than the last hundred-something odd times we heard the “Little Johnny’s Cave” tale (and usually it didn’t), it was still the peak of the evening, the main event of the night.

I can still see it; the way he stared coldly and distantly at the fire as he took several deep breaths, readying himself.  Me and Linda always scooted closer, grabbing another marshmallow to char and stuff our faces with while we listened.  When he’d begin, he always furrowed his eyebrows intensely with concentration.


“A long time ago, two little boys, ‘bout y’all’s age now, ran off to play hide n’ seek while they was on vacation up ‘ere in Grenview Pines.  That was their favorite game, see; they loved tryin’ ta find each other in them dense woods.  Them trees, you see, they was always tall and big around, and they group together. This made it easy fer little fellas like these two boys get themselves lost.

“But that was part of the fun, you see; they liked gettin’ lost.  That’s why they played it so much.  They was always pushin’ to see how long it’d take ‘em to find each other.  Well, soon, they figured out the woods, ya know; started memorizin’ which trees made good hidin’ spots and which ones weren’t.  See, they was gettin’ bored!

“So one day, they was out walkin’ in the woods, lookin’ at all the big, tall, green trees; wonderin’ how ta make the game more fun.  That’s when the little brother, little Colin, saw what looked like a big ol’ cave in the side of the mountain.  Now, this cave was BIG; big enough ta fit the three of us in there five times over, all at once.  But what was even better, was how dark it was!

“See, in that cave, not even the sun could break through.  It was dark.  It was spooky!  There was no way his brother would find him in there!

“’Bet you’ll never find me, Johnny,’ little Colin shouted to his older brother before runnin’ off into the cave.  Johnny, caught off guard, shouts to little Colin to wait up.  But now, of course, little Colin was eager!  He wanted to get hid quick, before his big brother would be able ta find ‘im.

“It wasn’t long ‘fore Johnny couldn’t see Colin no more, disappearin’ into that deep, dark cave.  ‘Colin,’ he shouted as loud as he could.  ‘Colin, where ya goin’?’  But little Colin didn’t answer.  He was long gone.

“Johnny started searchin’ frantically fer his little brother.  When he found the cave, he saw little Colin runnin’ to, he tried callin’ his name out one more time; ‘Colin, where are ya?!’  From inside the cave, Johnny heard what sounded like the patterin’ of little feet across the stone floor, goin’ deeper into the cave.

“Wantin’ to catch up to his little brother, Johnny starts runnin’ into the cave after ‘im.  He ran and ran, deeper and deeper into the cave.  But it seemed like the longer he ran, the more the cave seemed to stretch.  The deeper he went, the darker it became.  Soon, Johnny couldn’t see anythin’ at all.  All he could do was follow the soft patterin’ of little Colin’s footsteps.

“Johnny was gettin’ scared now.  He wanted ta go home.  But more than that, he just wanted ta find his little brother.  ‘Colin,’ he cried, ‘Colin, where are ya?!’

“Still, all he’d hear was the little feet.  He kept followin’ em until suddenly, Johnny thought he could smell somethin’ burnin’!  The smell was strong, and he could feel smoke burnin’ his eyes, like with this fire here.

“From ahead, in the dark part of the cave, there was a voice that called out ta Johnny, a voice that sounded like a snake that was bein’ choked

.  ‘Just a little closer, come on, just come a little closer, little boy…’ “Now, Johnny knew that wasn’t his little brother’s voice, but he didn’t know what ta do.  He was scared now; terrified, in fact.  The burnin’ smell got closer n’ closer.  The fumes from the smoke were makin’ him gag now.  ‘You can’t escape me, little boy.  You’re mine now,’ the voice hissed.

“This made Johnny wanna run, take off back fer home, but soon as he turnt ‘round, the exit was gone! No sunlight, no hole at the other side of the cave; nothin’!  What was he gonna do?

“He could feel somethin’ was gettin’ close now from deep inside the cave, somethin’ bad.

‘You’re mine now… and you’ll never leave my cave…’ “Johnny was terrified, and was ‘bout ta take off the way he came, when, from inside the cave, he heard what sounded like a little boy screamin’!  It wasn’t just any little boy screamin’ either.  Johnny knew, it was his little brother!

“’Colin!’ he shouted.  But his little brother only kept screamin’, squealin’ like someone’d put his little foot a bear trap.  ‘I’m comin’ Colin!’

“He took off, runnin’ deeper and deeper.  The further he went, the louder and more painful his little brother’s screamin’ got.  Along with this, Colin smelled somethin’ burnin’ again, kinda like this weenier I’m roastin’ here, see?

“But Johnny just kept on runnin’!  He had ta keep goin’!  He had to rescue his little brother! “The screamin’ got louder n’ louder.  ‘Colin!’ he screamed, ‘I’m comin’ Colin, hold on!’ “He couldn’t see nothin’ no more.  Everythin’ was dark.  All he could hear was his little brother squealin’ till eventually, he tripped over somethin’.  When he looked up, there were now two large white, evil eyes beating’ down on ‘im.

“Little Johnny froze.  He couldn’t move!  Then, from under the eyes, the monster opened his mouth and grinned, showin’ off long, sharp teeth.  The monster held somethin’ up in front a little Johnny that finally made him wet himself, screamin’.

“In the monster’s hand…was Little Colin!  When little Johnny tried to reach for him, little Colin’s skin suddenly caught fire, burnin’ away all his skin ‘till he was nothin’ but bones!

“’Now, It’s YOUR turn,’ the monster told ‘im.  That’s when the monster tried grabbin ‘im, but little Johhny was too quick!  The monster missed an’ little Johnny took off; headin’ back, quick as his little legs’d carry ‘im, back towards the entrance of the cave!

“Jus’ like before, he ran an’ ran.  He could hear the monster hot on his little tail.  He couldn’t stop runnin’, else he was a goner!  Eventually, Little Johnny realized, like how when he came in, he couldn’t see any light ahead.  No matter how far he ran, it only got darker n’ darker in the cave.

“He couldn’t see, an’ his little legs was gettin’ tired.  But he couldn’t stop!  He had ta keep goin’ or the monster was gonna get ‘im!  So he jus’ kept runnin’.  They say he still is today, runnin’ round in that deep, dark cave, still tryin’ ta find his way out.  If you see the cave, listen real close, you’ll hear his little feet….tap, tap, tap; still tryin’ ta get out…”


His voice would always sound cold when he finished.  He never said anything like “The end” or tried to make any exaggerated faces to signal that he was just trying to give us kids a good spook.  No, the man’s face was like stone, chiseled and stoic.  And for a long time, we’d all just sit in silence, Me and Linda just absorbing the story and its intensity once again while the old man would just sit there, staring dead silent, almost like he was in a trance, at the fire.

Like I said, I’ve heard that exact same story, word for word, at least 100 or more times growing up.  He never tried to change it, like so many others do when trying to tell the same story over and over again (you know, to “keep it fresh” or whatever).  No, each and every time, it was always the same story, details and all, verbatim, always with that same stone-cold stare.  Looking back, I think even then, I noticed this, which made me all the more fascinated with it.

See, when he told that story, he wasn’t just telling a campfire story to a couple of kids, but it was like he was telling something that happened to him in a way.  I guess that was the other reason we loved it so much; the way it felt so real!  And again, he never tried to embellish or exaggerate anything with the way he sounded.  He told the story, and that was what happened; every time.

Of course, eventually, time moved on, and so did we (sort of).  Me and Linda grew up, made friends to go hang out with, got involved with clubs or sports, and just generally ditched our backyard campfire tradition on the weekends.  That said, and though I couldn’t speak for Linda at the time, that story, “Little Johnny’s Cave,” was still one of the coolest things to me.

I remember how I’d used to always try and tell my friends the story, either at lunch or at recess.  Of course, I knew they didn’t believe it like I did.  I couldn’t tell it like Dad would.  I’d always end up somehow giving it away that it was just a story.  No matter how hard I tried to look and sound as cold or distant as the old man, I just couldn’t pull it off.  I guess I just couldn’t make it real like him, you know?

That was the other thing; I always wondered how or why he was able to make it real like that.  What was his secret?  What gave him that edge?  What made him go cold when we asked him to tell that story?  “What scared him so much about it?”

Back then, I never really tried asking him.  I guess A, I felt like that wouldn’t do me much good (outside of getting fed some B.S. like “that’s just me spookin’ ya, there’s no cave” or some lame shit like that), or B, I just felt like that would’ve been too easy, you know?  I mean, that’s always half the fun with this stuff, isn’t it, imagining you’re the one tumbling down the rabbit hole, but in real life?

I remember how I’d daydream, often in class (and yes, this DID result in awkward situations), or at nighttime.  I’d be the one running off into “Little Johnny’s Cave.”  I’d run deeper and deeper, losing myself in the darkness.  I’d run into “the monster,” imagining it to be this hulking beast (or even the devil) with long teeth and claws, able to breathe fire like a dragon, and he’d try to chase me, but I’d always outrun him.  Of course, in my dreams, I’d always find my way back out again and sometimes, instead of running, I’d stand and fight the monster (always winning, of course).

Point is, it had an impact on me back then, and it never went away, even now.  Though, now, seeing the truth behind what happened, it has a much bigger impact on me, one that’s far more real and far more haunting than even Dad could’ve made it seem around the fire.

It was a couple of weeks ago; classes at college had just ended for the year, and I was throwing a party with some of my dorm mates to celebrate.  Like all parties, we had chips, dip, music, the hottest chicks on campus, and plenty of beer with a little…”extra” on the side, if you take my meaning.

It’d been going wild all night until about 2:30 in the morning, when most (at least the ones still conscious) started heading out.  I and a couple other close friends, however, were still wide awake.  I was vegged out across the couch, with Larry sprawled out in one of the beanbag chairs on the floor and Eddie in the recliner on my right, all of us damn near completely wasted.

I guess because we were bored, or because we were just out of our senses, it was suggested that we have ourselves a little contest of who could tell the scariest story.  Basically, the deal was that we’d all tell one and vote at the end as to who’s story was “the scariest.”  Larry went first with some generic story about a guy who gets murdered, with his hands coming back to kill people or something like that.

Eddie followed that up with an equally cheesy quote-unquote, “True Encounter with a Wendigo” (you could tell it was fake when he describes the way he “fought the creature and escaped with his life”). They were goofy as hell, sure, not scary in the slightest, but all the same, enjoyable enough to listen to (at least while intoxicated).  When it came to be my turn, though, you bet your ass I told the story of “Little Johnny’s Cave.”

Like before, I tried as much as ever to mimic the way Dad told the story.  Though I personally doubted it actually felt like when he did it, it seemed to achieve the same effect, sure enough, judging from the looks of speechlessness on my friends’ faces when I finished.  “Duuuuude,” Larry exclaimed, “I think you just won, shit.” He snickered while Eddie just continued staring in shock at me.  “Where’d you come up with that one?”

I chuckled.  “I didn’t; I grew up hearing that one.”

Larry’s eyes went wide with amazement again, mouthing, “Holy shit.” “Grenview Pines,” Eddie piped up, still staring somewhat nervously at me.  Me and Larry looked over at him.  “Didn’t you say all that happened in Grenview Pines?” “Yeah, why?”

“I’ve heard of the place before.  My folks used to go hiking up there.” Now my eyes went wide.

“Hold on,” I chimed, growing excited, “You’ve been to Grenview pines?” He shook his head.

“Just my folks.  They used to go there when I was younger whenever they wanted some ‘alone time’ away from me and my brothers for a weekend.  They’d even bring back these cool little stones as souvenirs for us kids.  They also used to talk about how pretty it was there.”  He snickered before adding, “Or at least they’d try to, though God knows we didn’t give a damn about listenin’ to ‘em back then.”

“Oh, so you don’t think they’ve ever seen the cave?” He thought for a second before shrugging.

“They may’ve.  Hell, them gems they used to bring back had to come from somewhere.  Like I said, though, I never really bothered paying much attention when they tried talking about their trips.”

“Sounds like you in History class,” Larry quipped.  Eddie smirked and flipped him off.  “Guess some things never change, huh?”

I snorted at this.  It was true.  He usually did end up falling asleep during almost every World Civilizations lecture (granted, they WERE 6:00 a.m. classes, and the coffee shops on campus wouldn’t even open ‘till 7).  Luckily for him, I, being the good friend I am, always sat behind him and made sure to wake him up when the professor arrived to begin.

“Hey!” Larry piped up again.  “Bro, I just had an idea!”  We looked at him.  “Why don’t we take a trip up there?”

Me and Eddie looked to each other and back to Larry.  “Think about it; we’ve always been talking about trying to hang out somewhere for a weekend once classes ended.  Why not?”  He looked at me and said, “Who knows, we might even stumble on ‘Little Johnny’s Cave.’” He followed this up by making ghost noises with his eyes wide.  Eddie and I snickered at this.

“Hell, I’d be down,” I said, turning to Eddie.  “What about you, Ed?  Wanna join in?” He thought for a moment before replying, “Can’t.  I’m already booked to spend most of the summer with Hannah and her folks at the beach.” Larry scoffed, “Typical, passin’ up time with your friends to hit the beach with your girl, huh?”  I laughed again — it really was amusing to watch those two go at it.  Ed just rolled his eyes and flipped him both barrels.  Larry sighed and said, “Well, looks like it’s you and me, bro.” “Right on,” I replied, excited.  We fist-bumped, and Eddie looked at his watch before saying he had to head back to his dorm to pack for his trip to the beach.  After teasing him again, we wished him luck, and he left.

For about the next week or so, when I wasn’t packing, I started looking at Grenview Pines online. From the pictures I saw, I could tell you one thing, Eddie’s folks weren’t kidding when they said it was pretty.  Let’s just say that either someone had the most hi-def quality camera and some SERIOUSLY wicked editing skills when taking these pictures, or the place was just so beautiful that none of that was necessary to make them look so good.  The place was huge, too, with an abundance of hiking trails. Plenty of areas to travel through, “as well as get yourself lost in…”

Curious, I looked around to see if there were any caves in the area, either pictured or listed in an article. I found one or two that were pictured, but no real details on them as far as what they were like on the inside, how deep they went, etc.  That led me to actually try Googling “Little Johnny’s Cave.”  Of course, nothing really came up, which was about what I’d expected, but still, nothin’ lost in tryin’, right?

Though, I was able to find an old news article headlined “Little boy declared missing in mountain cave.”  Intrigued, I clicked on it, taking me to a forum post from a couple years back with the article. The article itself was dated back in early June of 1961.  It was a pretty quick read, admittedly, with a clear lack of any real details.  Basically, it read that a family went on a trip to the mountains that summer and their two boys, two elementary school best friends, obviously neither of which were named in print or pictured in the post, went off one afternoon to play in the woods.

Apparently, though, come nightfall, neither of them came back.  It took a little over a week, even having to get the State Troopers to canvass the entire mountainside with a fine-tooth comb, before, finally, one of the brothers was found again — but not the other.  According to the article, when the boy was found, understandably petrified, he kept crying to authorities that he lost his friend.  There wasn’t anything I was able to find after that, though, other than that the missing boy, even after a massive two-and-a-half-year search, was never found.

I tried doing a search for the article itself, wondering if maybe I could dig up anything else, like where in the mountains, or even which mountain.  This resulted, though, in the same headline being brought up, with no other sort of details, basically meaning it was more or less the same thing from the forum post, the only difference this time being that the boys were both pictured in this one.  The one that was missing, I didn’t recognize, but the other one, the one they found, did look somewhat familiar.  It reminded me of the way I looked back in my old elementary school pictures.  When I looked to see where the paper was printed, though, I saw that it was from a small town area located just a little ways down from Grenview Pines.

“Well, at least there’s SOME connection,” I thought, finally deciding to call it quits.  I knew now that SOMETHING actually happened in Grenview a long time ago, and it involved a little boy going missing.  Of course, what I DIDN’T know was where, given that no specific area in the mountainside was mentioned when detailing where the boys went missing or where the first one was found — including any mention of a cave.

It was that Friday that me and Larry hit the road.  The drive itself was largely a quiet one after about the first hour after leaving town; that was until we actually got into Grenview Pines, where neither one of us could stop gawking at the scenery.  Remember what I said about the online photos?  Well, I could see now that there was no kind of editing involved.  All of it 100% real!

We actually spent a good twenty-something odd minutes or so just driving around, sightseeing. Eventually, Larry spotted an overlook area close to a nearby trail where we could park, and we got out and stretched our legs.  To save space, we’d decided early on that we weren’t gonna bother with tents or anything like that for this trip, opting to just sleep in my SUV for the few days we’d be there.  So, with just the clothes on our backs and our small backpacks, we headed into the woods.

It was about 1:30 when we started.  I figured we’d be able to hike for a few hours and head back to the SUV at around 6:00, making it back before sunset when it would get dark.  As we went along, the trees seemed to get more and more grouped together, compacted almost.  Even in spite of this, they seemed to stand out all the same individually.  Each of them was tall and broad, all of them with lush, lively green leaves.  Some of them, particularly of course the younger ones, I noticed weaved in intricate ways, competing for sunlight.

Because of this, losing ourselves in the scenery like this, I actually damn near forgot completely about the time.  Coincidentally, it was right as we’d stopped at a small clearing, a break off from the trail with a small river bank and undoubtedly the clearest and most beautiful creek I’d ever seen, and probably ever would see in my entire life, that Larry thought to ask me what time it was.  My eyes went wide when I saw that it was already 4:00.  “Ah shit, we gotta head back,” I said.

“Damn,” Larry replied, “can’t we rest for a little bit?” I looked at the sky.  The sun was just starting its downward trek towards the horizon.

“It’s gonna get dark soon, dude.  And with the trees as close together as they are, it’ll be impossible to see anything once the sun goes down.  And we don’t have any flashlights eith—”

“Yeah, yeah, okay, I’m comin’.” He grunted as he made his back up to his feet.  “It’s a shame, too,” he said, “this would’ve made for a nice little R&R spot.” He shrugged and said, “Oh well, maybe tomorrow…”

I noticed him seem to trail off at the end of his last sentence, directing his focus to something off to my right.  “What?” I asked him.  “What is it?”

“Is that…” he began.  “Is that what I think it is?”

“What?  What’re you talking about?”  He pointed in the direction he was looking.  I didn’t see anything at first.  “I don’t see anything.  What’s up?”

“You don’t see that?  The opening of that cave over there?” My heart slowly started to beat faster.  Now concentrating closer, sure enough; there it was, a large opening in the side of the mountain.

“Yeah, I see it.”  He started off towards it.  “Wait, what’re you doing?” “I wanna see inside it.  It’ll only take a minute, I promise.”  He jogged over to it.  I quickly followed after him.  We both ran to the cave, noticing the eerie way it sort of got bigger the closer we came to it.  When we stopped just outside the mouth, we saw that it was at least thirty or so feet long and at least twenty or thirty-something feet wide.

“Enough to fit the three of us inside five times over…” From the entrance, I couldn’t see anything inside.  Not even a foot ahead of us was visible.  Everything was a black, seemingly boundless hole in the mountainside.  “So dark, not even the sun could break through…” Now a shiver was crawling up and down my spine.  “This couldn’t be… could it?”  I was completely speechless, looking at it from the mouth.  Fear and excitement was slowly building up in the pit of my stomach at the same time.  Had I done it; had I just found my fabled “Little Johnny’s Cave?” What was in there?  Would I hear his footsteps, echoing off the walls of the cave?  Would I run into the “monster?” Curious, I actually cupped my ear at the entrance to see if I’d hear the soft pattering of little feet across the stone.  I heard something that had a similar “tempo,” for lack of any better words, to footsteps, but I could tell they weren’t.  “Probably just droplets of dew from the limestone or something,” I told myself, “but even still…” My imagination couldn’t help but kick into maximum overdrive by this point. ”What’s in there?” I don’t know exactly how long I stood there, gawking in amazement like this (another 20 minutes maybe…could it have been 30?), but it was shattered abruptly when I watched Larry start shambling inside.

“Larry, wait,” I called to him.

“Don’t worry; I just wanna look for a minute.  I’ll be right back, just hold on.”  I watched him start to walk deeper and deeper, running his hand along the wall of the cave.  I looked at the sky.  Now the sun was already a quarter of the way down.

“Dude, we don’t have time.  We can come back tomorrow.  It’s gonna get dark soon!” Inside the cave, already mostly gone from sight, I heard Larry shout back, teasing, “What, you afraid of the dark?  You scared “the monster’s” gonna get ya?”  I then heard him walk deeper into the cave, disappearing completely from view.

“Dude, come on, quit screwing around!  We need to head back!”  I got no response this time.  I sighed, “Fine, but when you’re stumbling around, lost in the woods in the dark, don’t come crying to me.”  With that, I turned and started to make my way back to the SUV.

I didn’t make it but five feet away, however, before I realized that Larry had the keys to the SUV.  I’d given them to him in the event we had to make an emergency run back (a.k.a.  he forgot something, as he often tended to).  “Fuuuck!” I thought, slapping my forehead.  Now I had to go after him.

Almost without thinking, I sprinted into the cave.  “Larry!” I shouted.  “Hey, come on, man, seriously, we need to go!”  No answer.  “Larry?!”

I slowed down.  Everything was dark around me, a silent, black void.  I took out my phone and turned on the flashlight which, at best, lit up a small radius around me, but basically nothing else.  All I could see was the dark, solid stone of the cave around me.  Taking another look at my phone, I realized I was screwed again when I saw the battery life read 25%.  “Great…”

“Larry!” I called again.  “Damn it, come on!  It’s 6:00 now!  The sun’s already set!”  Silence.  “Where the hell is he?  Where did he go?  He couldn’t have gotten THAT far…could he?”

I started walking further, albeit a good bit slower, more hesitant.  I couldn’t suppress a shiver that shook through my body in a uniformed convulsion.  I won’t lie, I was actually getting nervous here, scared even.

Even with the light I had — the dim, almost dead and already near useless amount of it — all I could see ahead of me was darkness.  Maybe “darkness” isn’t the word for it, though; maybe “void” would be more appropriate.  See, it wasn’t just dark; it wasn’t just dead silent.  It was empty.  Ahead of me was basically a black hole that looked, and felt, like it went on for eternity without end.

“Of course, though, it HAS to end somewhere, right?” I wondered, trying to grasp onto some kind of hope.  “It’s only just a cave, right?  It can’t stretch THAT much further…can it?”

“Is this what it was like for…”

I stopped, shaking my head.  I wasn’t about to start nurturing the idea.  “Get a grip.  Just find Larry’s dumb ass and get out.”  My heart shook when I heard an ear-splitting shriek in the distance.  “Larry?!”

Immediately, I broke from my stupor and took off further into the cave where I heard the noise.  I could hear groans of pain trailing from ahead.  “Larry, hang on, I’m coming!”

The more I ran, despite seeming to get closer to where the sounds were coming from, I still seemed at the same time to somehow get no closer to it.  “Larry, where are ya?”

“Here,” I heard from somewhere off to my left.

“Are you okay?!”

He groaned.  “I think my leg’s broken!” My eyes widened and I ran at full speed in his direction. Because I couldn’t see anything, though, that meant I couldn’t see him either.  That is, until I ended up tripping right over him and face planting right into the stone ground of the cave.

Larry let out another shriek of pain.  “Fuck, that was my leg!  Ah, shit!” “Larry, hold on!” I said, scrambling for my bag.  I started shuffling around until I was able to find the quote-unquote “First aid kit” I brought (a.k.a. A Ziploc bag with a thing of band-aids, Neosporin, rubbing alcohol, and a large roll of gauze).  I pulled out the gauze and started looking around for a stick or something to use as a splint.

Larry was in hysterics, writhing and clutching his leg.  “Calm down, breathe,” I said as I started to bandage a nearby twig to his leg, having luckily managed to find a decent enough-sized stick.  He couldn’t, though.  He was in too much pain, and I was worried he’d start going into shock.

I pulled a water bottle from my bag.  “Here, keep this against your leg.  It’s not ice, but it’s all I got.” He managed to calm down just a little when I said this, enough at least to actually hold the bottle against his leg.  I knew he was gonna need serious medical attention, but when I went to try and use my phone, unsurprisingly, there was no service.

As well as this, the battery was almost dead, which meant that it wouldn’t be long before I’d end up losing what little light I had to work with.  I started looking frantically around for something, anything to use for making a fire.  Finally, I was able to find a couple of rocks laying around that, looking closer, looked like they might be obsidian.

“Take off your shirt.”

“Wh-what’re you doing?” Larry groaned as I began taking off my own shirt and setting them in a pile with the remaining sticks underneath them before scraping the rocks together.

“Hoping for a miracle,” I replied.  Sure enough, said “miracle” was granted, and a spark was generated. The shirts caught almost immediately.  I knew it wouldn’t last long, but maybe, if I were careful, it could last long enough to find us a way out.

Of course, that was a hell of a lot easier said than actually done.  With no signal, no other source of light, and Larry’s leg bent in every different way from what it’s supposed to be, we were essentially stuck.  I tried for the first time to look behind me back to the exit.  It was then, though, that I found that I couldn’t see the other side.

At first, I thought it was just because it was nighttime.  But after looking back towards the fire, I realized that wasn’t it.  It wasn’t just dark; it was empty.  In other words, the opening was gone completely, almost like it hadn’t been there at all.

“What the hell?” I said aloud.

“What, what is it?”

“The opening, the way out, dude; it’s gone!”

He groaned, struggling to bring his head up.  “What’re you talking about?  It’s right— wait…what the fuck?!”  His eyes were wide open again, despite having been in excruciating pain.  He started hyperventilating.  “What the fuck, where’s the exit?!”

“Calm down.  I’m gonna get us outta he—”

Stomp, stomp, stomp

Me and Larry’s heads snapped back towards the depths of the cave at the same time.  My heart stopped cold, “What in the name of God was that?!”

Stomp, stomp, stomp

“What the fuck, dude?” Larry cried, hyperventilating again.  From ahead, there was still nothing visible but darkness.  Yet, the stomping got closer and closer.

Stomp, stomp, stomp

Panic flooded through me.  I could feel every urge, every instinct, trying to force me to move, to take off and run.  But I couldn’t.

Stomp, stomp, stomp

Larry started squirming.  “We gotta get out of here, man!” he squealed.  “We gotta get out of here!” He started struggling to drag himself towards me.

Stomp, stomp, stomp

That was when I realized that the fire I had made was fading.  I noticed, though, that it wasn’t exactly like it was flickering or anything like that.  It was more like it was dimming; like it was being sucked away or siphoned by the darkness ahead.  The same was true with my phone, seeing it start to flicker before going completely dark again.

Stomp, stomp, stomp

The more the fire faded, the more I realized that the darkness was actually moving closer to us!  With each earth-shaking step towards the two of us, I could see the black wall of nothing inch closer and closer, swallowing more and more of the cave with it.  It was right on top of us when the fire finally blinked out like an old lightbulb.

We were engulfed in darkness again; total, pure, and unadulterated darkness.


“Larry?” I cried, spinning in circles, completely blind.  “Larry, where are you?!”  I got no response from him.  Instead, I was met only with the stomping.  When I ran forward to try and find him, I felt something pull and stretch me from every different direction all at once, trying to pull me apart.  I looked to see what it was but still saw nothing, only darkness.

The darkness itself was attempting to rip me apart.  It was alive, and it was hungry!  “L-Larry!” I called out again, straining.  He made no reply.  The darkness must’ve already taken him.  The longer I stayed in the darkness, the more I felt as though it was trying to sear the flesh from my bones.

In the back of my mind, I could hear those words coming back to me — the “monster;” “You’re mine now…and you’ll never leave my cave…”

That’s when I realized what I had to do.  I had to do what “Little Johnny” did.  I had to run! Summoning every bit, every minute reserve of stamina I had in me (and then some), I turned and bolted like a bat straight outta Hell towards the exit, or at least where I first thought the exit originally was.  It was a struggle to move or even breathe.  The stomps were in hot pursuit behind me.

Like with before, all I could see was blackness ahead.  The feeling of being stretched was coming from all around me now.  The darkness had me encircled.  Yet, still I ran.  I couldn’t stop.  “I have to get out!”

Because of this, I don’t know how long or even really how far I’d run when I suddenly tripped and was sent tumbling.  I could feel an excruciating pain shoot through my right arm when I tried breaking my fall, clearly having broken it.  I struggled back to my feet and started sort of limp-running.  As much as it hurt, I had to keep going.

I could feel my legs starting to ache.  I was afraid at any second I’d collapse again, and this time, I wouldn’t be able to will myself back up.  Then the darkness, the cave, the “monster,” would have me like it had Larry.


“I’m not gonna make it…”

Then, as if an angel was extending me some sort of blessing or “divine intervention,” I saw, dead ahead through the darkness, the opening of the cave.  I pushed my body beyond all limit to break into a sprint for it.  Behind me, I could hear it quickening its own stride, realizing that I was about to get away.  It was getting desperate.

STOMP, STOMP, STOMP, STOMP, STOMP, STOMP In one last burst, I launched myself from where I was standing out of the cave.  Once again, I was sent rolling and tumbling into the woods.  When I finally landed still, my body instantly racked all over with aches and pains in almost every part of my body.

I opened my eyes and looked up.  Above me was the night sky, dark silhouettes of trees leering over me.  I’d have jumped for joy if not for the pain coursing through me.  I’d done it.  I made it out!  “I’m alive!” I was able to let out a strained laugh of relief.

This feeling was soon replaced with alarm, “Larry!  He’s still in there!”  I looked up and over to the cave.  I wanted to go back for him.  To rescue him from the cave.  “Just like Little Johnny with his little brother.”

At the same time, though, I knew that’d be no good.  Even if he WERE still alive, not consumed by the darkness like how I almost was, I was in no shape to be able to get him out of there.  Thoughts flooded my head, imagining Larry, screaming in terror, his skin being slowly burned away, until only his bones remained.  “What do I do?”

In the end, I decided to try heading back to the SUV, where I’d then drive out to the nearest town to find help.  Admittedly, I wasn’t sure what good anybody else would do, given that it wasn’t like I could give any sort of detail as to where in the mountain the cave was.  Plus, I knew the chances of finding him inside (or even what could’ve been left of him), alive or dead, would be wafer slim to absolutely none.

It was difficult, having to try and backtrack in the dark, exhausted and in a lot of pain from my arm (as well as the effects of the darkness still only slowly wearing off), but I couldn’t have cared less.  I was determined to make it back to my vehicle.  Eventually, come the very beginning of daybreak, I found the SUV again.  The last speck of energy was spent shambling for and inside.  After that, completely spent physically, emotionally, and mentally, I just laid back in my seat and let exhaustion overtake me.

When I woke again, It was broad daylight outside.  My body still ached.  I knew with my hand, I wouldn’t be able to drive.  When I tried to use my phone, it wouldn’t turn on.  Looking around, though, I found that Larry had left his phone in the SUV.  Another stroke of luck found me when I saw that, from where I was, I actually had service and was able to call for help.

It was about an hour and a half that I just sat in the SUV before an ambulance was able to arrive.  From that point to now, only a few days later, much of this is just history.  I was, of course, taken to the hospital, where I recovered.  When asked what happened, I just said that I fell while hiking the mountain.  I didn’t try telling the doctors, or anyone else for that matter, about the cave or Larry.  Why bother?  It’s not like they could even find it, much less help.

I also feigned ignorance when trying to figure out what was causing me to feel weak all the time, drained.  I was finally discharged a few hours later, where I then returned home.  The whole way, all I could do was think about everything that’d just happened.

What was that in the cave?  I mean, I know it was darkness, sure.  But how was it so…so alive? This led me to finally break my little unspoken rule I talked about earlier and ask the one person who’d actually be able to possibly give me some proper answers: Dad.  It was yesterday morning that I decided to pay him and Ma a visit.  They, of course, were ecstatic that I was in town, and I told them that I was glad to see them.

For a while, I sat and just talked with the both of them for a while until Ma said she (regrettably) had to leave to play BINGO with friends.  After she left, that was when I finally decided to ask Dad.  Like he would back then when I was little, his face dropped abruptly into that trademark look of stoicism.

“Dad,” I pushed, “where did you hear about that story from?  Who told it to you?”  He just stared coldly at me.

“Nobody told me, son,” he replied in a grave tone.  “I didn’t “hear it,” either.” I saw him shudder.  He didn’t say anything else after that.  Obviously, I wanted to push him, but I could tell I’d already spoiled the cheer from earlier.  As it turned out, though, he wouldn’t need to say anything more anyway.

As I apologized and was about to leave, Dad stopped me and thrusted something into my chest.  “If ya really want the truth,” he said, “this’ll tell ya all ya need ya know ‘bout “Little Johnny’s Cave.” He then turned and walked away while I did the same, tucking it away in my pocket.

It was when I returned back to the dorm that I looked at what he gave me.  It was an old photo of two little boys in what looked to be the woods; with one of the boys presumably being him, judging by how familiar he looked, while the other was someone I didn’t recognize at all.  Though, a closer look sent my head spinning.  I realized that these weren’t just any two boys; they were the ones pictured in the articles online!

I also recognized the woods to be the clearing from Grenview Pines where we’d found the cave.  The boy standing next to Dad had a circle drawn around him in red, and under it were the words, “I haven’t forgotten ya, Colin — John.”

That’s when it all clicked.  That’s when I finally understood, after all these years and after what happened to me, why Dad was always so scared of that story.  I understood just how real it finally was.

He was “Little Johnny.”  He lost his best friend; a “brother,” to the darkness of the cave like I lost Larry.  Because of this, even though he made it out in the end, there was, and would always be, a part of him that’s trapped there, surrounded and being ripped apart by the darkness, still trying to find its way out again.  And now, the same is true for me.

I’m gonna end this by saying that there is a reason to fear the dark.  It’s a mysterious thing, capable of feats evidently still not yet known.  As well as this, it’s hungry, and unless you run to the light, it will take you and devour you the way it did my friend and almost did with me.

I don’t know if Larry could still be alive.  I doubt it, of course.  But a part of me still wants to hope that he’s still in there, still running to find the way out.  Sometimes…I think I even hear it; his footsteps…still trying to get out.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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Written by Corpse Child
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

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