Old Maggie’s Pool

📅 Published on January 19, 2021

“Old Maggie’s Pool”

Written by Michael Whitehouse
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


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Not far from where we’re sitting now is a pool of water no bigger than the width of a car. It lies stagnant, the breeze never touching its surface, as it is surrounded on all sides by large grey rocks that jut nine or ten feet out of the ground like the devil’s fingers, crookedly pointing at the canopy of trees above. These stones create an almost impenetrable ring of rock but for the slender gaps between, through which passers-by can glimpse what lies inside. It is a dark place, hidden from the outside world by the deep green of tightly knit trees and wandering weeds that surround it.

No one visits there, not now in any case. Children know to avoid it given its history, and adults in the local area are reluctant to speak of what took place there. Of course, if you approach the subject forcefully enough, some will tell you it is all superstition. But behind closed doors in the privacy of their bedrooms at night, Old Maggie’s Pool, as it is come to be known, fills them with dread. A suffocating fear as stagnant as the pool’s putrid liquid, and as deep as the roots nearby that refuse to drink from it. The water itself is green, thick masses of reeds tangled beneath the surface. And its motionless, dormant nature, the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and other foul things that fester out of sight.

I managed to locate that place once, purely out of curiosity, but I shall not go there again. Why? Oh, it would be easy for me to say, for effect, that I saw something there that frightened me; a vengeful shadow perhaps, or a skeletal hand with rotting flesh on it reaching up from the murky depths. But I can tell you now that I saw no such thing. Nor did I hear an ominous sound that chilled me to the bone, a ghostly voice that warned me away, or the clawing of fingernails on the underside of a coffin lid, buried in the surrounding earth. No, even an unexplained dropping of temperature did not occur, a phenomenon often associated with damned places. All I can say is that when I was there I felt something. A bitterness hanging in the air as if a person enraged was staring at me with vicious malice. And as my mind filled with the imaginary sounds of shoeless feet treading water, I left, running through the woods to a forest track nearby where I could breathe deep of the fresh air, and celebrate my return to a world that made sense.

Of course, no eerie story by the campfire would be complete unless someone saw something there. And that is the tale I wish to tell you.

* * * * * *

If you visit a few of the local bars in the towns that sit near this forest, eventually you’ll find a man named Brian Nilsson. He’s in his early 50s now, yet appears much older at first glance mainly because he cares not for his appearance or even to bathe regularly. Once he would have been called handsome, a ‘catch’ even, but now he’s been reduced to a shell, one that he insists on filling up with anything above 80-proof. Nonetheless, you will find him somewhere nearby slouched at a bar, nursing a double whiskey if he can afford it, dressed in clothes that hang off of his now malnourished frame. He’s fallen on hard times, curling up inside of a bottle hoping to drown his awareness of the cruel world; but if you do offer to buy him a few drinks for the duration in exchange for the tragedies of his life, he’ll reluctantly tell you his experience of Old Maggie’s Pool.

As with many of these stories it began with happiness. Brian was one year married. His wife, Lyndsey, had recently given birth to a baby daughter, Emily. Money was tight, Brian’s job at a hardware store barely enough to get them by, but that did not matter. Lyndsey and Brian were in love, and were enjoying life with their darling little daughter. But life, as it often does, had other plans for them.

One day Brian was out clearing his head, walking through the countryside not far from where we sit now. A habit he’d taken to for several months, driving to the outskirts of town where a small woodland footpath weaved deeper into the forest, allowing him to disappear from his burdens for an hour or two at a time. Or at least to contemplate them on his own, away from the rigors of a modern domestic life. To get things straight in his mind.

It was early evening and the summer sun was still shining bright above the canopy of trees. The forest appeared vibrant and filled with life, and the soothing sound of the leaves rustling slightly in the occasional breeze relaxed Brian beyond measure. At that moment he was shuffling along the forest path, thinking about whether he’d be able to afford to take his wife and child on a holiday that year; counting his pennies so to speak, doing the math. About 45 minutes into his trek, he had just decided that if he took on an extra shift at work every week and scrimped as much as he could, that he could at least take his family away for a couple of days. This happy thought was not left to flourish for long, for it was interrupted by a sound nearby.

It was beautiful.

At first he thought it was birdlike, high pitched yet not uncomfortably so. A sorrowful song no doubt given up by something beautiful in the forest. But slowly his mind pieced the sound together like a puzzle as he listened further. It became clearer as he focused upon it, revealing itself to be the voice of a woman singing somewhere just out of reach. It became so clear that he wondered how he could ever have mistaken it for a bird’s song. The notes carried with them a lament of sorts. The words are etched into Brian’s memory forever:

Oh my dear, come with me,
To the places of old where once we were free,
You took my heart when you lay with her,
But I forgive you, my sweet dear sir,

The melody felt old yet familiar, like a nursery rhyme long forgotten trying to claw its way back from the side of an empty cot. The woman’s words danced on the breeze, and Brian, puzzled and curious at their presence, followed them. The mystery was simply too enticing, and the words had a beckoning quality to them as if they wished to be discovered.

He stepped off the path, the sun bathing him in light through spaces in the canopy above. Bees buzzed nearby, birds sang, and the grass shuffled under his feet. As he moved further from the path, the words grew louder, and as they did so the other forest sounds, bird calls and all, fell silent. In that silence Brian felt a strange unease, as if he was being watched from the dense woodland around him. Just as he was about to listen to that creeping dread and head back to the track, the singing now increased in volume and clarity, and with it a sweet feeling of comfort came to him. The song drew Brian’s attention to a thick copse of trees not far off. He could not be sure exactly what it was, but looking into that dim part of the forest, he was certain that something lay behind the thick tree trunks. Something big.

The voice seemed to be coming from that direction, and so he followed ducking under some low hanging branches as he did so. Before long, he found himself staring at a strange circle of grey rocks; uneven, all much taller than he. There they sat, camouflaged against their surroundings, hidden behind tree, branch and leaf. The stones looked out of place to him. They did not seem to belong to the area, as if long ago they had been quarried from another place, then brought with great effort to the forest and erected by unknown peoples for a now obscured purpose. And yet it was as if that purpose still lingered. A strange gloom hung in the air, dimmer than the light from the sun nearby. The rocks towered above, but between the narrow gaps there was no doubt: he could see the dim figure of a woman inside, her head bowed, and the entrancing song slipping from her ruby red lips.

Oh my dear, come with me,
To the places of old where once we were free…

She was beautiful, her hair red and waved, standing there almost motionless. In many ways she reminded Brian of a statue he’d seen when he was a child. It had been abandoned in a long-forgotten garden, overcome by the plants and trees and slowly consumed by the green. But the woman was very much alive. Still, almost motionless but not quite; standing in the water, her pale white ankles hidden by rich green reeds that reached up from the murky waters to touch her milky legs.

“Don’t be afraid,” Brian said, still looking through the gaps between the stones. “I was just walking past and I heard you singing. You have a lovely voice.”

She looked up.  But she did not seem startled. And she wore an expression on her face as though she had expected the company. Her green eyes pierced the dim space, gazing out from that stony cocoon. She squinted as if evaluating him curiously before a smile began to show on her face, lush ruby lips against white virgin skin. A smile unlike any Brian had ever known. Seductive, enchanting, a mixture of beauty and sensuousness that, when combined, were both enticing and chilling in their power. Then, her slender pale hands turned palms upward, and beckoned Brian inward with long silky fingers. Looking at the gaps between the rocks, he doubted whether he could squeeze through. In fact, he wondered how she’d managed to do it herself. Climbing up and over was unlikely – the stones were nine or ten feet tall and he could not see anywhere to get a good grip to pull oneself up and over. His first impulse was to try in any case and help her out of the pool, but just as he stepped forward to do so, something inside him encouraged caution. He sensed something was wrong but could not entirely understand why. A foggy warning from his mind’s eye.

“Did you get stuck in there?” Brian asked. “I can… I can get some help if you can’t get out?”

But the lady did not reply. She remained silent, her hands the only intimation of movement, still beckoning him inward with curling fingers.

“I… I don’t think I can get through any of these gaps,” Brian stuttered. It was potentially a lie, perhaps there was another gap big enough on the other side of the stone circle that he hadn’t seen yet, but in his heart he knew that he should not step inside that ring of rocks with her. It seemed gloomier in there, and he could smell a dampness all around him, surely produced by the festering water in which the lady stood.

The woman now stopped waving him inside. The smile fell from her face, and her cold green eyes stared for a moment at Brian. Turning slowly away from him, she now presented her back. Her dress, a loose white nightgown, arched at the bottom of her spine, exposing her unspoiled white skin.

Brian wanted to touch it.

Her red hair dropped down to her lower back.

He wanted to smell it.

Her face now hidden from view.

He wanted to kiss it.

How he wanted to hold her in his arms. To caress her skin. The urge to find some way inside, to slip through the rocky cracks and embrace her, was now overpowering. Stepping forward, he touched the stones, their surface cold and uneven. But as he pushed himself towards one of the openings to see if he could somehow force his way through, an image entered his mind. Of his wife, Lyndsey. Of their baby daughter, Emily. He thought of them, of how happy they made him, of what he would be throwing away if he were to act on his impulses; and in that moment of sobriety he found an inner strength to pull his gaze from the glowing vision of the woman inside the stones, and resist his own dark desires.

When he looked away the silence was broken. He heard the sound of forest birds, tucked away amongst countless trees, suddenly breaking into song. And when he turned his gaze back to the green-eyed woman, the circle of stones was now empty. The beautiful lady with the silky white skin was now gone. Brian quickly looked for her, running around the perimeter of the stones, assuming that she had slipped through a larger gap that he had not yet seen. But no such gap existed. It was improbable that anyone could squeeze themselves into or out of the stone circle. She was nowhere to be seen. A chill crept up Brian’s spine as he questioned whether she’d ever been there at all. The memory of her was somehow ill-defined and fading fast. In fact, it was only when he left that gloomy place and headed back to the forest track, that he had confirmation she did indeed exist. That she was not just a figment of his worried mind. For on the breeze, for the briefest of moments, he heard her beautiful singing once again.

My dear, sweet sir…

The sound thrilled and terrified him in equal measure, but deep within was a burning desire to be near it. He stared back at the screen of vibrant green leaves and towering brown tree trunks. Hesitating, he weighed up whether to go back and find out more about the woman between the stones. Waiting to hear more, finally he realized she was either gone or had fallen silent, and so he headed home reluctantly. As he walked back down the forest path to where his car was parked, the thought of that beautiful woman remained in his mind. It stuck there like a thorn, not one that gave pain, but rather one that pierced him with a feeling of mysterious pleasure. Who was she? He’d never seen anyone like her before. There was something intoxicating about her. Something angelic… No, that was the wrong word. Something unearthly about her. As he pictured her in his mind, staring and smiling at him, he had to quell the fantasies that ran rampant. A brooding desire that had to be countered, or else he would never have voluntarily returned home.

When Brian finally drove back to his house, his wife, Lyndsey, asked him where he’d been. And the strangest thing happened, he found himself lying to her, or at the very least omitting any mention of the woman he’d encountered out in the woods.

“Just went for a walk up the trail,” he said, and no more.

He was not sure why he hid any mention of the woman between the rocks, but for the first time he felt a kind of protectiveness, almost a selfishness about her, like the experience and connection with the woman was his and no one else’s. Why should he share it?

For the next few days, Brian spent as much time with Lyndsey as possible, as if to blot out the memory of her. They took baby Emily out to a park near where they lived. Both parents sat on a bench, staring down at their little bundle of joy asleep and wrapped up in her pram. Brian was happy, he always had been with Lyndsey, and now his daughter had given him everything he’d ever wanted – or at least thought he’d wanted. But in the back of his mind, there was something picking away at him. Something new. What it was, he could not tell, exactly, but he knew that it was about that woman. Why was he so fixated on her? Why, when his mind quieted, did he hear her song?

He tried as best he could to dismiss it as the usual stresses of a first-time father. But the smallest wounds can become infected, and like a scab he picked at, that discontentment in his mind grew. He thought about many things – work, family, hobbies, a fishing trip he was planning with some friends – but the one element that was always there was the red-haired woman between the stones. At first she would walk into a thought abruptly. He’d be thinking about how he would decorate the larger spare room for when Emily was older, filled with bright colors and toys. Then, the red-haired woman would appear in the thought, standing in the middle of the room just staring at him, the walls peeling and the floor filled with dust.

It was peculiar to say the least, and Brian began to fear that he was suffering from some sort of obsessional behavior. Eventually, she began to appear even in his dreams, not long after saying goodnight to his wife and closing his eyes. He’d see the trail in the woods, the overgrown trees hanging all around. A mist lightly covered the world, and not one animal made a sound. Then he’d find himself wandering off the path into the obscure world of his dream, where shadows lurked and the mist grew denser. Soon he could see nothing but his hands in front of him, reaching out, searching for something to hold onto as the world melted away to darkness. In a moment of panic, his flailing hands would touch something cold. Yes, cold and strong, ancient. The stones in the forest stood there, pointing to the sky at night. Inside the stone circle, there was emptiness. A blackness thicker than any fog. Trying to find his way around the ring of rocks, Brian’s arm slipped between two of them accidentally as he recovered his bearing. A thin white hand reached out slowly and held his in reply. Reached out, damp and cold, and held onto him tightly. It would not let go.

Then he would wake to find himself in his bedroom, Lyndsey sound asleep next to him, and at the foot of the bed, his daughter Emily likewise cuddled up in a blanket on her cot. Each night his happened he would breathe a sigh of relief, but there was always a part of him deep down, if he was honest, that wanted to be back there with that strange ethereal woman and her song. A beckoning call from the unknown.

The dreams continued, and slowly they seeped into Brian’s waking life. His thoughts were being consumed by the redheaded woman in the woods. He felt a longing for her like nothing he had ever experienced. For her luscious red lips. Her perfect, milky skin. This desire chipped away at his resolve each and every day, until eventually he just had to see her. He drove back to the woodland path after work one day where he proceeded on foot, unsure if he would ever find her again. Looking at the trail, he could not be sure of the exact route he had taken the first time, wandering off the path and through the overgrown forest to the stone circle. A growing frustration grew in his mind that he would never be able to find it again, hidden as it was in a forgotten part of the dense green.

Feeling the forest floor beneath his feet, he continued on, hoping that he would find some clue that would jolt his memory. A breeze now blew down the path, and on it finally came the song again, as if answering his lost thoughts. His pleading soul.

Oh my dear, come with me,
To the places of old where once we were free,
You took my heart when you lay with her,
But I forgive you, my sweet dear sir.

He followed those words, enriched by them, enticed, trampling through woodland and then down into a depression in the forest floor. There, in the dim light, hidden behind a collection of tightly knit trees, he found the stone circle once more. Desperation now turned to ecstasy as he lunged forward towards it, placing his hands on the stony surface and feeling its cold, hardened shells. He looked through the gaps and there she was. The woman from his dreams, from his thoughts; a powerful image as if sent from the void. From another place.

She did not smile, nor now did she sing. Her red hair flowed over her shoulders, her skin seemed whiter than before, and her eyes greener, more vibrant. She just stared at him, never moving. Brian asked her questions. Who was she? Why was she standing between the stones? How had she gotten in there? For he saw no way for her to leave, no crack big enough to slide through. But only one word came from her lips: “Maggie”.

Brian was delighted that he now knew her name, and that he’d finally heard her speaking voice. Though it sounded less youthful than when she was singing. Slightly deeper, but no less appealing. There was a complexity to it, a voice that needed to be explored and conversed with.

But the breakthrough was short-lived. She answered no more of these questions. She simply stared at him, and he at her. And in those deep green eyes, he found himself lost. Hours passed and Brian began to think that conversation was unnecessary. He had all he needed there, right in front of him. The silence spoke volumes.

Night was now approaching, and as he thought for a moment of his wife and child, he blinked. In that briefest of interruptions, the woman between the rocks was gone. The stone circle now nothing but empty space, the floor covered in a thick green water, its surface stagnant and still as if it had never been broken. But familiarity breeds acceptance. And that place no longer seemed strange to Brian. Nor did the seemingly impossible disappearances. In fact, this red-haired lady seemed perfectly natural to him – more real indeed than anything else. An observer would have thought that the woman, and Brian’s fascination with her, were anything but natural, but an addict can persuade themselves of infinite delusions when chasing unparalleled pleasures. The stone circle now held no fear for him, but instead, it had become a place he was drawn to more so than his family. It was a secret to be kept, treasured even. A world in which to be immersed. So, when he returned home hours later than usual, he disregarded Lyndsey’s concerns and told her he’d had to work late at the shop.

Each day after that, Brian returned to the stones. He could not help it. He was enthralled by the woman. And each time she was there, standing. Waiting. She never spoke, but he heard her sing, and through her song he’d find her there, standing between the huge stones, visible through the thin gaps. She would not respond to his queries, and eventually, Brian stopped asking questions. He would simply sit by the stones and stare at her; marvel at her beauty, at her dark green eyes. Yes… Her eyes seemed darker now than they had before, like the black-green of the pool in which she stood.

Weeks passed, and as time went on he spent less and less time with Lyndsey, and even ignored Emily. He would come home, eat his dinner and then head out to the woman… to Maggie… once more.

Lyndsey of course grew worried, she did not know of the woman between the rocks, but she knew her husband. Something was wrong. Brian was not talking, he was not engaging with her as he once had, and she could find no reason for this abrupt change – so what else was she to do? She hoped that it would pass.

Then Brian stopped eating.

At first, he skipped evening meals when he came home, then soon he did not come home at all until late at night, giving no reason for his lateness, and grumbling under his breath when Lyndsey challenged him. In the mornings he ate less and less, and Lyndsey watched as her husband began to waste away, dropping weight at an unhealthy rate. Convinced now that Brian was either taking drugs or having an affair, she decided to act. One night when he said that he had to work late, Lyndsey waited outside of his work, watching the storefront from her parked car, which lay hidden under the shadow of a broken street light. When Brian finally appeared it was 10PM, and Lyndsey began to breathe a sigh of relief. He really had been at the shop late. Maybe it was all in her head. Maybe she could go home now and tell her parents, who were looking after Emily that night, that all was well. She could sleep soundly knowing that her husband was simply overworked.

But she did not do that. There was a warning in her mind that just would not leave her. Something was wrong. Deep in herself, she knew it.

When Brian got in his car and left, she followed, soon finding herself driving out to the woods in the darkness, guided by the red glow of Brian’s rear lights. She knew the route. But could not fathom why he was heading out of town, to the forest trails just beyond the town limits. Soon she found herself parking at the beginning of a dirt track a while back from Brian’s car. In truth he should have seen her, her headlights lighting up the trees around them, but even from distance, Brian looked like a man unaware of the world. A stupor of some sort seemed to have grabbed him. As Lyndsey watched, she was amazed at his lethargic and wearied movements, his now frail frame apparent in the starkness of night.

Brian walked slowly and methodically up the forest trail. Lyndsey held back so as not to be seen, and when her husband finally walked off the path into the pitch black, she shuddered. In her mind she said to herself, go back, don’t follow, this is for him only. But she could not listen to the warning in her head. Her aching love for Brian, her worry for him, was too strong to give in. And so she wandered into the treeline, using her phone to light the way as best she could. For a while, she could hear Brian’s footsteps, but she never saw him. When those footsteps ceased, she knew she was lost.

The forest at night is a strange and frightening place. It takes on a menace of its own – scurrying beetles, owls hooting nearby – and all the time, the fear that something unearthly lives there and is watching, remains present, like a blade in your side.

The uncertainty of Lyndsey’s surroundings brought a cacophony of fears to the fore. Just as those thoughts reached their boiling point and began to liquidize into panic, she heard a sound. It was a woman’s voice singing. The words were clear, almost shrill in the night. A song of regret, a song of lost love. Someone else was in the forest. Facing either the oppressive loneliness of the trees or finding the owner of that beautiful voice, Lyndsey chose the latter sure that it had something to do with Brian.

She trudged through the undergrowth, and as she did so the voice grew louder, stronger, until it sounded as though the woman singing was standing right beside her. But there was nothing there.

A coldness ran through her body as the words changed slowly into a beckoning call.

Lyndsey, the woman’s voice whispered. Come to me… Underneath the voice, there was something almost inaudible. A part of it yet separate. A scurrying, like a pit of beetles wriggling en masse, their bodies grinding together and their legs clicking and ticking in ecstasy.

In the darkness and amid the thick tangle of trees, it was easy for her to miss it, but just a few more steps to the left took her to the stone circle. That warped collection of towering stones wrapped around a small pool of fetid water. If it were possible, the place was dimmer than the night, but as Lyndsey’s eyes adjusted she saw a white figure inside the circle, a white nightgown hanging from a gaunt frame. Standing there in the festering liquid was the lady with the red hair. The very same Brian had seen. But in the darkness, in the diminutive light from her phone, the lady’s skin looked warped somehow, like old leather, yet as white as cream. Her exposed arms were covered in open sores, and Lyndsey was sure that they quivered as she neared. Mouth-like and hungry, gyrating in the night air. The woman’s glassy stare remained fixed upon her latest visitor, the eyes as black as the ubiquitous night.

Lyndsey lurched back at the sight of her, stumbling over something on the ground, falling over and landing on the forest floor, wet with midnight dew. Curled up into a fetal position, Brian lay on the ground shivering and shaking beside her.

He was whispering, and as Lyndsey pulled him towards her and wrapped her arms around him, she put her ear to his mouth, and the words rang clear: What is she? What is she? What is she? What is she? The words spilled out of him, and as they did so they reached a crescendo, overcoming the now silent night of the forest.

The singing then began.

The lady between the stones sang, beautiful and terrible and intoxicating. She sang of promises and love and of all the happiness she could bring. A tremor shook from somewhere deep below the earth. And in that tremor ancient rock moved and contorted. Looking up, Lyndsey watched in horror as two of the stones above ground twisted slightly, widening just enough for a person to fit between. Brian suddenly came to life and began to crawl on the forest floor away from his wife, towards the opening, towards her, like a man lost in the desert running towards a mirage. Yet Lyndsey would not let him go to his fate without a fight. She hung onto his arm, to his sleeve, pulling back with all her strength. She whispered in his ear of her love. Their love. Told him about their baby daughter, who was safe at home, watched by her loving grandparents. That they were a family and nothing could tear them asunder.

And in the darkness, Brian listened to those words, and as he heard the name “Emily” whispered gently into his ear, it was as if a great fog lifted from his mind. As Lyndsey spoke, the woman in the stone circle grew more frantic, her song becoming shrill, louder and more persuasive. But it was too late, whatever hold she had had on Brian was now dispelled.

There the couple lay, unable to move properly. A great weakness had come upon them, as if they had spent all of their energies. As if the very environment had consumed their vitality. They laid there in the soft bed of the forest, soaked through, a few feet from staring black-green eyes and muttering, ruby lips, the once beautiful song now a discordant mess that barely sounded human. The sound of beetle legs swarming, clicking together, somehow emanating from her mouth. Finally, as the sun rose, she, that thing between the stones, sank beneath the foul waters and remained there out of sight. Beaten.

Such stories often have a happy ending, and I wish that this one concluded there on the forest floor with the sun rising, and the cursed influence of Old Maggie dispelled. Indeed, the act of saving Brian that night may in turn have caused a greater tragedy.

After conveying to Brian her side of the tale, Lyndsey insisted that in order to truly remove themselves from Maggie’s grasp, they should promise to never speak of her again. Out of sight, out of mind. Leaving that thing out there to be forgotten, claimed by the forest itself over time. But while Lyndsey preferred to put the ordeal behind them, Brian could not rest without knowing more. He did a little digging of his own. He asked several people in the town about “Maggie in the woods”, but few knew what he was talking about, and those who did got angry that he’d even bring her name up. Finally, he went to Ed Tristan. The oldest man in town, over a hundred years old and still as sharp as a knife. He was full of stories, and loved an opportunity to share them.

One day, Brian paid him a visit.  Ed was happy to see him as he lived on his own and did not get many visitors those days, but when Brian mentioned Maggie, Ed looked clearly uncomfortable. With some pestering, Brian did at least get a tidbit out of him.

Sitting on an old wicker chair in his back garden, sipping a hot cup of coffee, Ed spoke of what he knew: “Old Maggie was out there when I was a boy,” he said, “and long before that. No one really knows how she got there for sure, but a few have talked to her, or claimed to at least. A couple of young fellas disappeared in the ‘20s and ‘30s, another in the ‘60s. Seems to happen every now and then. The funny thing is, when the local police at the time tried to find her hidin’ place, they never could. Like it upped and vanished.”

“But what is she?” Brian asked.

“Somethin’ old,” answered Ed. “Somethin’ that was put there a long time ago. You know, when I was in my twenties I did a little jail time for… Well, for something I don’t like to go into. Anyway, I’ve heard of the stone circle Old Maggie stands in, and when it was described to me, I thought those stones sounded just like the bars on my old cell. That place is a prison, and she’s not meant to get out.”

And that was all Ed would say, saying it was bad luck to go into any further detail. No one else in town was willing to talk about the subject. Over time, Brian just let it go.

Seven years passed. Brian and Lyndsey rarely spoke of that night. Of Old Maggie. But they watched happily as young Emily grew into a happy child. And of course, they avoided the forest track, just in case. Just to be safe. They feared that should they ever venture out there again, that one day they would hear the woman in the forest’s song. That she would once again exert influence over them. But the truth is, if you speak to Brian himself, he’ll tell you that their love had broken that influence once and for all. But ancient things are patient, they’ve seen countless summers and winters. They fester and wait. Maggie seemed intent on revenge, and that was what she got.

Just before Emily’s eighth birthday, her school teacher took her class into the woods on the outskirts of town. They were looking for a flower that bloomed at that time of year. A class project of sorts. I need not tell you the whole story, it is too painful. Suffice to say that young Emily had her part to play. She ran off suddenly into the forest. The teacher and her assistant followed as quickly as they could. But she’d disappeared into the deep green, as if swallowed up by it. An alert went up throughout the town. How they searched. Her family, the teachers, the police – every man, woman and child. But she was never found.

To this day, no one knows what happened to young Emily Nilson. Brian turned to alcohol. Lost his job. And eventually, heartbroken and unable to pull her husband out of his guilt, Lyndsey left the town for good. Where she is now, I’m not sure. But if you go walking in these woods looking for the evil that resides here, it is not Old Maggie’s song that will haunt you, but rather the pleas of a father drunkenly stumbling each night between the trees. “Give her back, Maggie!” He shouts. “Give her back!” But there is no song to lead him back to that place. No guiding path. The way is shut. He is greeted only by the silence of an empty forest, one that hides something ancient and malevolent inside a prison of stone.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 4 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Michael Whitehouse
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

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Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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