Oak Gate

📅 Published on August 8, 2022

“Oak Gate”

Written by Dominic Eagle
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com 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

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 7 minutes

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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Excluding some tropical species, such as coconut and banana trees, no tree can survive long without branches.  And yet, defying all explanation, I saw a pair of branchless oak trees in the summer of 2015.

When I use the word “branchless”, I’m not referring to a stump or a tree that has shed its leaves during the winter.  I’m talking about two fifteen-foot-tall tree trunks, both sporting identical pointed peaks and surfaces of jagged bark.  No branches or leaves.  No severed branch stumps on the bark that would indicate the old oaks had ever been anything other than monolithic plants.

“Bizarre,” I chuckled.

Not necessarily riveting dinner talk, I know.  Believe me, I wouldn’t be recounting the tale if it had ended there.

I chose to follow the overgrown footpath between the two pillars of bark rather than the well-maintained public footpath, which led far away from the ominously-bare trunks.  I’ve always been a contrarian, so I suppose I wanted to satiate my hungry ego by taking the less-trodden path.  I’m no tourist, I inwardly scoffed.  Hubris always comes before the fall.  Or, as my son would say, I had succumbed to ‘main character energy.’

I wish I’d taken the popular path.

I waded through leaves and moss, and the undergrowth crunched beneath my walking boots.  I had no intended destination in mind.  I was just looking for somewhere to set up my base camp.  I knew how to retrace my steps.  I saw no harm in taking a mystery trail.

From time to time, I simply like to separate myself from the world.  I venture on solo camping trips to clear my head.  My wife and children don’t take much interest in nature, so it’s not that I purposefully exclude them.  Frankly, I thank God that they weren’t with me on this particular trip.

Whilst camping in the middle of a clearing, I was awoken by rustling sounds outside my tent.  I tried to ignore them, squeezing my eyelids together and angrily attempting to force myself back to sleep. Frustration quickly turned to fear.  The noises that engulfed my tent were unlike any I’d ever heard.

High-pitched squeals, similar to trainer soles squeaking against a hardwood floor, were emitted from every direction.  Heart racing at a tremendous pace, I sat upright and stared at the fragile wall of material that was separating me from whatever unidentifiable things were out there.  Very little moonlight reached the clearing, thankfully, so the shadows that danced on the outer fabric of my tent were indistinguishable.  That made it easier to tell myself the creatures were simply foxes.

They weren’t foxes.  I knew that.

I used string to build a makeshift lock for the zipper on my tent.  I didn’t want anything opening the door to my vulnerable fortress.  After that, I lay down and waited.  The piercing yipping noises eventually died down, but I didn’t immediately fall asleep.  I intended to stay awake all night, but I must’ve eventually passed out.  I think terror can do that to a person.

In the morning, I planned to leave the haunting woods and go home.  You can imagine my horror when I unlocked my tent door and found that I was no longer in the forest clearing.  My tent had been moved whilst I slept.  More horrifyingly than that, I found myself stuck in a thick cluster of branchless trees.

As far as the eye could see, I was surrounded by those eerily wrong oak trunks.  I instantly packed my tent and belongings.  I weaved between the densely-packed trees of the new branchless forest in which I found myself.  No luck.  I’d completely lost my bearings.  I had no idea where I’d been taken.

The branchless forest was the same in every direction.  All I could see was endless bark.  And, when the sun began to fall below the tip of the treetops, I realised I’d let the wintry day slip away from me. Night was approaching quickly.  But that wasn’t what terrified me most.

The horrid squeals had returned.  As the sun dipped lower and lower, the squeals multiplied and loudened.  Before long, the sound was accompanied by rustling bushes.  Panic turned me to stone.  My walking slowed, and I started to believe I would never leave the forest.

I was unbelievably happy when I found the stream.  My saving grace.  I couldn’t find it on my map, but I didn’t have time to think about the horrifying implications of that fact.  Every stream has to lead somewhere, even in a dense landscape of alien trees.  I had no idea which way to walk, so I followed the stream east.  Trying fervently to ignore the cacophony of squeals and rustling shrubbery, I pressed onwards.

I was stumbling around in complete darkness at this point, guided only by the dim light of my cheap torch.  After an hour of walking, I finally found something promising.

A cave.

I didn’t plan on entering it, but I welcomed any sort of landmark that could break the monotony of ceaseless tree trunks.  My victorious moment was short-lived, however, as I was interrupted by small, pattering sounds from behind me.

I quivered as I twisted around and moved my torch light towards the source of the sound, finding myself gazing upon a terrifying gaggle of two dozen tiny, humanoid creatures.  Each one was about thirty centimetres tall, had two ant-like feelers, in lieu of eyes, and brandished a ghoulish set of black fangs.  Each one also had four vaguely-human arms, along with two vaguely-human legs.

As they walked towards me, they dropped forwards and used all six limbs to scurry like insects.  I backed away incredibly slowly, almost too petrified to move.  My torch shook violently in my near-numb hand.  In a flood of sound and a flash of rapid movement, one of the fiendish things charged for my leg and make quick work of snaking around it.

I screamed as the creature began to constrict my limb, cutting off its circulation.  The creature’s friends released a chorus of seemingly-jubilant squeals.  I didn’t wait for the others to join their brave leader.  I ferociously punted the trendsetting creature with the rear end of my torch, and it hissed in pain, uncoiling from my leg.

Body shaking in horror, I seized my small window of opportunity and started sprinting towards the cave mouth.  The six-limbed monstrosities pursued me, rapidly closing the gap between us.  I expected them to devour me in the entrance to the black chasm I was approaching.

They didn’t.

As I fell into the nothingness of the cave, I turned around to look at the now-stationary group of horrifying ant-people.  They were just standing at the entrance of the cave and watching.  It was as if they were too afraid to step inside, and I really should have paid more attention to that.

A hiss, like a sand-timer being flipped upside down, erupted from the deepest point of the cavernous pit.  I shuddered, but I realised I had two options.  I could either face certain death from the ant-people at the door to the cave, or I could risk whatever lay in wait.

There wasn’t really a choice, but I chose the latter.

My torch barely illuminated the few yards in front of me, so I was mostly wandering in pitch-blackness.  The hissing creature was suddenly entirely silent.  The only sound in the cave was that of my echoing footsteps.  Even the ant-people had ceased their squealing.  What did they fear in the heart of that dreadful place?

That was when I saw it.  The cave itself was not particularly big.  It was more of a room than a home. And I stumbled into the room of the ghastliest thing I’ve ever seen.  The ant-people paled in comparison.  My torchlight could scarcely do justice to the enormous being before me.

In the very far corner of the cave, about one hundred feet from the entrance, was a ten-foot-tall insect. Actually, no, I don’t think it was an insect.  Much like the ant-people, it possessed some characteristics of certain insects and arachnoids, but this creature was a beast unto its own.

The thing was essentially just six hairless legs, similar to those of a human, other than the length and the pointed ends, instead of feet.  At first glance, it seemed like a spider with two missing limbs, but I quickly ascertained that the creature had no discernible body.  Its body was its legs.  The thing had no head.  Its six limbs met at a central point, but there was no indication of any torso that would contain organs or sensory tools.

Yet, the creature certainly lived, and it certainly sensed me.

Its horrifying six legs started to tentatively crawl towards the source of the torch light.  I wasn’t going to wait around for another monster to seize my body and devour it.  I scanned the walls of the cave, looking for a hiding spot.  In the other back corner, there was a cluster of rocks.  If I could just crawl in there, I might be out of reach, I thought.

I sprinted at a speed I didn’t know I could reach.  The six-legged thing hurtled after me, its limbs making a horrific clicking sound as they galloped across the stones beneath them.  Diving for a gap behind the rocks, I crawled out of reach and shone my torch light onto the creature which lay beyond my rocky fortress.

The thing unleashed a menacing howl and proceeded to jab the sharp ends of its fleshy limbs at the holes between the rocks.  Fortunately, the rocks shielded me, but the wait until sunrise was unbearably long.  As daylight began to fill the cave, I squinted through the cracks in my rocky wall, and I was fairly certain the ant-people had vanished.  I had a plan, but I only had one shot at making it work.

Searching in my rucksack, I found what I needed.  A flare.  I just had to hope it would scare away the six-legged thing that was valiantly attempting to turn me into minced meat.  Not pausing to make any more plans or rethink my decision, I lit up the flare.

It worked.

The creature wailed in terror, backing away into its original corner of the cave to escape the scorching blaze of the flare in my hand.  I hurriedly scrambled free of the rocky fortress, keeping the flare in front of me, and I ran to the entrance of the creature’s den.  I was determined not to spend another day in that nightmarish forest.

I followed the stream the other way.  After hours and hours of walking, I finally found something that briefly stifled the fear in my heart.  I found trees with branches and leaves.  Recognising my surroundings, I managed to retrace my steps and find the original overgrown path that I followed through the two branchless trees.  The trees that started that mess.

I’ve never talked about this incident to anyone.  I couldn’t find that forest of branchless trees, the stream, or the cave on any map.  I don’t know how I stumbled upon it.  I don’t know how I escaped from it.  I only know one thing.

If you ever see a branchless oak tree, walk away.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by Dominic Eagle
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Dominic Eagle


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com 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).

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