The Nearus

📅 Published on May 6, 2020

“The Nearus”

Written by Timothy Garver
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: 8.78/10. From 9 votes.
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Most children say they want to run away from home but few ever do it. My brother Joey was definitely in the latter category, using the excuse of freedom and independence to constantly break our parents’ rules.

He was a dreamer, an adventurer, someone that refused to be tied down by limits. But I never knew how deep his obsession became until last year.

Three of his friends, Brad, Robert and Jeff, had started scouring deep web blogs to find the ultimate getaway spot, somewhere so remote and off the beaten path that it would allow them to go do whatever they wanted without anyone to judge them. I remember when I saw him chatting away on Discord he would always say that he wasn’t really going to just up and leave for some make-believe fantasy, but that changed after he started reading articles about Andrew Slater.

Slater was a nature photographer from Central Idaho with a story that seemed like the opposite of my brother’s. A single dad with hardly enough time to keep two jobs, let alone see his kid or even have a social life. Sometime last spring though, all that had changed for him when his son had gone missing in a stretch of the Sawtooth National Forest.

Joey and his friends talked about the case constantly, how Slater had spent three weeks with a posse to try and find his kid, only to emerge from the woods nearly four hundred miles from where he started a full month later entirely alone. According to Slater, something magical had happened during that period of time, his son captured by an evil force called the Nearus and Slater refused to speak to anyone about it unless they took him back there. Most chalked it up to him being some kind of serial killer, having used the woods as a burial ground for his unsuspecting victims, his son being the first one.

But not Joey. He had always been a believer in the fantastical and the bizarre.

So one August day, he too decided to gather his friends and go out to the forest, to complete the picture that Slater had painted for him in his mind so vividly. To go find this mythical beast.

“What if you don’t come back?” I remember asking him.

“Sis… I’ll be fine.”

I wasn’t concerned about him finding fae or even his mysterious Nearus. I was thinking he was finally using this as a reason to escape responsibility.

“If it makes you feel any better, how about I livestream the whole thing? You’ll be able to keep an eye on me night and day, me and the guys,” he told me.

For some reason I agreed to that ludicrous notion. Brad and Rob were amateur vloggers anyway so if anyone could keep tabs on Joey, it was them.

I was sure that my brother would find a reason to explain why his dreams weren’t able to come true and call the whole thing off.

But instead, what transpired over those next few summer nights was nothing short of a living nightmare.

He uploaded his first stream on August 16, our father’s birthday, and made it an interview with Slater himself.

As you may have guessed the local authorities didn’t buy his whole “the trees swallowed up my son” story and he has been spending his time in the county lockup. Probably going to serve a life sentence at the state penitentiary or worse.

Anyway, Joey managed to convince the cops he was a reporter and got this statement from Slater. For the sake of this account, I’ve transcribed it:

Slater: You’re going back there? You think it’s that simple, do you? To find the Nearus?

Joey: Why wouldn’t it be?

Slater: The Nearus only lets those in that it calls.

Joey: I’ve read your transcripts with the police. I know the steps it takes to get inside.

Slater: you don’t know a thing. I went in there to rescue my kid. That’s why it let me in. But you… you’re a trespasser. A thrill-seeker. You don’t have a purpose other than your own selfishness.

Joey: What’s wrong with that?

Slater: because it will consume you. You and all your friends. The closer you get the stronger the pull.

Joey: Look I didn’t come here to listen to your voodoo crap. Now the cops here have agreed to let you be my guide under a few conditions that I coaxed them into. Do you want to hear them or not?

Slater: Waste your breath if you want, but I won’t be going back there.

Joey: One: that you will agree to have a police detail with us at all times. Two, you’ll guide us to where your son Ryan is buried. And three, you will change your confession to guilty so they can get you sent up to the max sec quicker.

Slater: (laughing) none of those will even be possible. Well, the first one maybe. But the others? Why would I ever agree to that? I don’t even know where Ryan is.

Joey: what if I told you that I did.

Slater: (noticeable pause here in the recording) I would call you a liar. I searched that entire hellhole of a forest for a full month and never found him. Not even a trace.

Joey: I’ve looked into the local legends about the Nearus, gone to the dark web and found images, found articles on other missing kids. I… I believe you, Andrew. I believe there is something wicked about those woods. I think I know how to find it.

Slater: So then it has called to you. You’re next.

Joey: what?

Slater: (another audible pause) I’ve changed my mind. Tell Deputy Jackson I’ll agree to the terms. But I am stipulating one of my own. I want to bring my own camera along.

* * * * * *

I could probably spend days dissecting that interview. Wondering whether Joey was lying just to get Slater to cooperate. Realizing how crazy my brother was for asking a convicted criminal to guide him into a supposedly mystical forest to find an ancient evil. It sounded like something out of an adventure book. None of it made any sense. But Joey was never one to think rationally about these kinds of things. He acted on impulse. And the consequences were always the ones that hurt everyone but him.

A few days later his next stream made me stop dead in my daily routine. Andrew Slater was center stage, a small hunting blade in his right hand and a fresh kill in the other. It took a second for the camera to adjust and I realized it was one of the K-9 units the police had brought.

A dozen officers were pointing their weapons at the felon, demanding he drop his knife but Slater was so nonchalant it was as if the animal’s death had been decided long before they ever made it to this stretch of trees.

Slater: You wanted passage. Now the bond between our world and the Nearus is stronger. Be thankful the Nearus accepted such an offering. Last time, one of the team had to slit their throat to make it across.

There was a bunch of murmuring and confusion from his audience. Joey directed the camera toward himself and provided an explanatory monologue.

Joey: I’ve tried to capture the essence of Andrew’s madness as best as possible. Signal is weak here. Honestly, I don’t even know if we will get another chance to speak. I know, this was supposed to be foolproof. But we are well past the point of no return, sis. I’ve seen too much to go back now. Slater… I don’t know if he is psychotic or a visionary. But he claims this patch of trees is the gateway between our reality… and something bigger than the universe itself.

My brother paused and started to become emotional.

Joey: I didn’t want to say anything before… ‘cause I know you don’t really believe in ghosts and shit. But ever since I saw those photographs and those drawings the ones that Slater did bring back with him. There were these mangled corpses from the forest… I’ve been having these dreams. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s not the normal sort of dream. It’s like what happens when you’re just listening to an audiocassette or trying to learn a new language. There aren’t any images, just voices. At least a dozen swarming voices that make my head feel like it’s going to explode. Then I see that… thing. The Nearus. It’s stretching its wings like a mutated bat, beckoning me.

Behind him there is a commotion as it seems that Slater has somehow disappeared, he crossed the trees and then faded into darkness, or so the image makes it seem.

Joey: crazy right? That’s how it’s been since day one. Something about this whole thing…. it’s like Slater said before. The forest and the creature inside it are calling to me. Telling me to come. There’s something here I’m meant to see. It’s just beyond this stretch of trees….

My brother sounds different somehow. As if he is under a trance.

A few officers are shouting orders, following the path Slater took, all of them fading into the darkness like it’s a fog.

Joey: Guess this is goodbye? Hopefully not forever.

It took a whole two weeks for the other videos to come, and I frantically checked my phone and email every chance I could. The search and rescue operation was only supposed to take a few days.

I knew something was wrong, could feel it in my bones. The way Joey seemed infected with the same madness. Maybe they all were? Was it possible this strange creature was drawing them nearer as its own namesake claimed?

Soon the videos only confirmed it, a nightmare unlike any imaginable happened to those poor men and women. And Joey got to see every glimpse of it.

Bodycam of Joey: He is staring down at a body, noting the decay and the ashy skin, trying to determine the age of the corpse perhaps.

One of the troopers moved toward him, tilting his head slightly as he also examined the oddity.

“They’ve been dead for a while,” he confirmed. A few of the other men also came to look, all of them as equally perplexed by this discovery.

“All right, quit your gawking and spread out… Slater couldn’t have gotten far,” Rob barked. He was one of the few that refused to get close to the decaying flesh.

“Where could he have gone?” another officer, one of the few women in the group, asked.

I wondered the same thing. He was just in front of them in the last video and this one seemed to be from the same grove of trees.

“Whatever sort of trick he played to get us here is probably how he escaped,” Brad reasoned. I thought about the corpse and how I felt certain that the facial structure resembled Slater. I wondered if Joey saw the same thing.

Joey: Maybe we should check the footage?

The officers watched as he started the feed, the image of all of them moving toward the forest playing again. Slater was standing there, moving toward the ash to spread the blood across the ground.

Then the forest shimmered and Joey remarked, “Did any of you notice that?”

The two men didn’t answer and kept watching as the strange reflections returned and finally Rob muttered off-camera, “What kind of witchcraft is that?”

Joey: It’s this place… I have a feeling that this is the place Slater kept telling me about it… The realm of the Nearus…

The cop laughed. “That’s a dumbshit name, where did he come up with that?” he muttered.

“It’s weird, that’s for sure… but what else did he tell you about it?” another wondered.

“Nothing except that this creature controls people and consumes them. Makes them a part of it,” Rob said.

“The path will be near once you see, what your eyes say cannot be,” he added. I remembered that being a famous line Andrew had repeated over and over. Like it was a chant.

The next video skipped forward a few hours near to sunset.

“So… you really think maybe we aren’t where we think we are?” a cop asked.

A few of the other officers were returning from their search for Slater without any results. Someone mentioned that the markers they were using now were suddenly gone. Replaced by scratch marks.

“Are you sure? I could have sworn I saw a marker a few miles to the east,” Joey argued.

“GPS has been acting a little funny too,” a forest ranger added. Brad checked his phone, unsurprised to see that the screen was totally black.

“Can you lead us to the marker you saw?” someone asked.

“Yeah, should be easy, it was a humongous old birch,” Joey said and gestured for all of them to follow him to the east. As the video shook it felt like I was there listening to the sights and sounds.

As they traveled I noted that the sun had almost dipped below the horizon and darkness was covering the forest quickly.

It gave off a strange orange glow as the last bit of twilight pierced the canopy. How could that be when the time stamp for Joey’s stream said it was mid-afternoon? Was something playing tricks on them?

As they got further into the forest, it got darker until nothing was visible above and I could only hear the sounds of boots crunching leaves.

Finally, Joey turned on his flash on the body cam and I could see immediately why the monstrous birch stood out to him, it was wider than anything that could have been in that region of the forest. And a grove of gray and purple flowers covered the forest floor which made the eerie tree seem a little more frightening for a reason I couldn’t quite discern. Joey also seemed to regard them cautiously.

He led the video feed around to the opposite side of the tree to show the mark he was referencing. It was large, like a wild animal had used the bark of the birch to sharpen its claws.

“We saw the same thing. We sure didn’t put it there,” Rob muttered.

The markings looked like they were too precise for any creature, and they formed what looked like an upside-down capital letter A with three lines straight down the middle of the lettering.

“It looks fresh, maybe a few hours old at the most… Must be campers close by,” Brad reasoned as he looked about the grove.

“We’ll set up camp here tonight,” an officer instructed everyone.

“I can take the dogs and make another sweep, see if we can pick up Slater’s scent.”

They sat in silence for a moment as they waited and Joey addressed the camera. His viewing audience of one.

Joey: sis… all of this feels strange. It shouldn’t be this dark. I haven’t seen any animals or even insects. No running water… everything is off. Slater led us somewhere… but I don’t think it’s a forest from our world. And I’m not even sure it was really him. I think it was this creature. It wants people to know it exists. Why I can’t be sure…

As he finished talking the officer with the K-9 units returned to the grove.

“It’s a bit disorienting out there, sir. The dogs are picking up several scents but none that seem fresh,” he explained. “It’s like someone is dragging a carcass all around the woods.”

“Well, ain’t that the shit?” the Commander said, glaring at Joey.

“Slater couldn’t have gone far. It’s dark and this forest has a lot of animals that prowl at night. He’ll seek shelter,” Rob said.

“He killed 12 people out here, he’s been a ghost before,” Joey pointed out.

A ghost. Maybe that was what he had been all along, I wondered recalling the corpse. Or maybe it was the creature… taking on his human form to entice others?

Come nearer. Nearus.

Make us yours.

Near to the dead.

To be alive.

Now we are gone.

Part of the hive.

That was Rob in the background. Humming like a mad man. What did it mean?

The group settled down around the wide grove taking out what little gear we had to sleep, and a few of the SWAT officers guarded the exterior in different shifts. Joey kept his light on to illuminate the strange stillness.

Despite the calmness of the forest, it felt disturbing to watch. Like there was a predator waiting to strike.

* * * * * *

The next few videos were clearly Joey and his friends talking to different people to get their opinions on the forest. And on the Nearus.

“Is this gonna wind up online or something?” the woman asked.

“I’ve been camera shy my whole life. Can’t really say I won any beauty pageants, so forgive me if I don’t like to talk,” she added.

“Shit is strange, man. You know that song I was singing earlier? Ain’t got a clue where I heard it before. Just came to me,” Brad said.

The atmosphere seemed peaceful for a moment.

But it didn’t last long.

There was a soft chirping echoing across the forest, almost like crickets. But as they all listened, it grew louder and louder until it seemed to surround the entire grove. Even the cops nervously raised their rifles to see if something might come out of the darkness.

Then silence covered everything again.

“I don’t like it here,” Rob remarked.

“I think that makes all of us,” the commander said. My brother turned his video feed toward the flowers that covered the forest floor, trying to relax and focus on their vibrant colors.

As Joey kept looking at them, I couldn’t help but notice that the tiny petals seemed to flicker back and forth. Joey seemed to notice it as well and reached down to touch one of the flowers, picking it up and marveling at it’s simple but elegant beauty.

As he kept staring at the petal I noticed that it flickered again and then it lifted from his finger and fluttered about his hand. It wasn’t a flower at all, I thought as I watched the small strange-looking insect glide about.

“It looks like a butterfly of some kind,” the female officer observed as she looked about at the other flowers and noticed they were also starting to shimmer with movement.

“Maybe we should move somewhere else,” Joey observed. Several more of the winged insects spread their shiny wings and lifted into the open air to fly about.

“There have to be hundreds of them here,” the commander realized.

Slowly the chirping noise we had heard earlier returned to the forest. As Joey kept recording I saw the butterflies speed up as the noise grew louder, as though agitated by it.

“Ow!” someone cried out in surprise as one of the insects flew across their upper wrist and cut them.

“What the…?” Joey muttered, and then one of the insects sliced across an officer’s face like a razor.

Several more of the butterflies began to swirl about the group, like miniature fighter jets cutting at them as a perceived threat.

“We need to move!” Joey barked. The swarm was growing larger by the second as they all tried frantically to find cover. I felt my heart beat faster as they ran for cover.

The noises grew louder as well, the strange insects furiously attacking all.

Behind him an officer fell to the ground as more of the butterflies swarmed around his body, each one slashing across his exposed skin as they angrily attacked.

“Rob!!” Brad shouted as a trooper behind him took out his firearm and began to fire at the endless array of insects. It seemed like they were all forming a singular mass.

But amid the hollow shell of the countless butterflies, it was clear that firing on them was simply a waste of ammunition. Joey moved to the other side to try and help Rob, his screams grew louder as the swarm surrounded him.

I held my breath and watched as the creatures consumed him like ravenous piranhas, cutting at him relentlessly. They all moved together as one. Getting nearer and nearer until the swarm suffocated.

“Leave him!” the commander called out as the other butterflies rose to join the storm of blood and fury.

Rob writhed in pain trying to cover his body and face as much as possible as the butterflies finished their feast.

Then the feed slipped to the next video.

It was day time. There were fewer members of the team now, and others with more blood and bruises from the bizarre forest. There was this strange deep moaning in the background too. As if the entire woods were chanting that bizarre melody.

The group was moving deeper into the dark forest, more sounds surrounding them as the SWAT team turned on their night goggles and led them through the maze of trees. All Joey could do was hold onto his camera and use the same type of lens effect and try his hardest to keep up. Something grabbed a hold of his foot and he tumbled downward, his camera slipping from my hands as my brother fell onto a mass of wet leaves.

From this angle, I saw the canopy and held my breath. The tops of the trees were made of people’s carcasses. Their bodies twisted and pushed almost beyond recognition. Food for this supernatural garden. And there amid the feast was the Nearus. Its ghastly wings spread impossibly wide. Its glowing eyes mesmerizing my brother. It leapt toward him for the kill.

The feed went black again.

Somehow the group had returned to the grove. But the massive birch was now gone. Brad was the one filming now. Had something happened to my brother? I had no choice but to watch and find out.

There in the shiny gray mass of flowers I could make out what remained of Rob’s body, and the female officer took off her helmet to honor her fellow comrade. The constant song from the forest had the few remaining officers seem agitated. Was it making them turn on one another?

The next clip showed what I feared the most. Joey was a victim as well and now his carcass seemed to be host for some new life. Brad zoomed into the open wounds. My brother’s body was swollen near to his abdomen and thighs as though the bites from the insects had caused some sort of allergic reaction.

“Help me turn him over,” a voice said trying to sound professional. I saw only a handful of patrol officers left.

I heard bones crack, and under the unsettling noise another strange sound, like something moving. Brad looked at the pallid face and eyes, and I was left wondering if the Nearus had taken control of his corpse.

Then I watched in shock as small green worms began to wriggle their way out of his open mouth.

“Claire,” Brad said pulling the officer away. She saw them as well, and Joey’s face became more swollen as the worms split his skin open, sliding down across his pale cheek and making soft screeches in the morning air.

Brad shut off the camera again. I found myself hyperventilating. Those creatures were the larvae of this beast. Seeking out new hosts to come and be infected. Devouring all life.

It took all my strength to click the final video. But I needed to know where this ended.

Brad was examining a bag that had Slater’s name tag. Then I realized it was the photographer’s son’s backpack.

The Nearus was silently watching in the lens reflection as Brad flipped through the contents of the bag.

The first item was a photograph of a group sitting around a campfire. All of them were wearing a logo connected to what looked like a scouting program.

Slater was in the picture and despite its age he looked the same. Other faces looked familiar. Rob and Jeff were in there too.

“They said they didn’t know anything about Andrew. Guess that was another lie? Or maybe the Nearus is creating this narrative now. Making its own story,” Brad told the camera as it focused on the image of the two together at the camp alongside Andrew. The picture looked unfinished

Next there were some news articles that he held on the camera to give viewers a chance to read.

A southern college student that had applied for a film class disappeared over the weekend of September 13, 1998, with no clues to suggest where she went. The studio in question, Fusoya Entertainment, was later found to be a shell corporation. They were creating a movie based on the Nearus.

“I can’t really explain where I got the idea for the legend,” the director said in an interview. “It just sort of came to me the other day. I felt like I was a child again experiencing my first boogeyman when I sketched it out. It felt like I was being guided somehow,” he explained.

The movie was never finished due to the college student disappearing.

But no evidence ever linked them to the girl’s disappearance.

Several of the other articles Slater’s son had related to missions involving the Navy or Homeland Security. An experimental bioweapon to use the Nearus against terrorists.

“It makes itself become what they fear. It creates itself and feeds off of itself. It’s a self-perpetuating monster,” the report said.

Then there was one about a clinic that got shut down in Utah for questionable practice. A doctor that was on the run for illegally selling prescriptions. Stuff that made people have hallucinations.

Brad was examining the picture the scouts closely again

“It’s the same number of victims. Slater brought them here. These patients are the ones that first made a connection to this Nearus.”

As though hearing its name evoked its strength, I heard the ungodly beast scream in the background.

And the pictures started to fade. To become a part of the forest too.

“Nothing here is real,” Brad realized as he touched the ground.

His lens focused on the central part of the grove, where the tree had once stood and tried to touch it.

It looked like he was pressing against something invisible. The tree was still there. Cloaked. Like a weapon.

There was a throng of voices around him as he too began to fade away.

“The path is set. Your guide awaits you. Mourn for those who come, for those who were before shall be found again.”

Who was he talking to? I saw that strange creature bound off into an empty landscape and then the video ended and I found myself numb and confused.

What had happened to my brother?

The strange story these videos told haunted me.

I showed the videos to the police but they didn’t believe my story. Said it was a hoax from a sicko that likely had killed good cops.

I know I will need to go to this strange forest and see for myself. I suppose you could even say that I heard the Nearus calling me too. I can’t stop thinking about it.

I’m nearly at the grove now where Slater took them to a world behind and I see the sun going over the western edge of the tree line behind me, I can hear the creature calling out for my blood.

I take the first step in the direction my brother went, into a forest of magic and danger. A place that doesn’t exist except to destroy

It felt as though it were right, the path I was meant to be on. But I can’t say for certain why.

I just know I have to get nearer.

Rating: 8.78/10. From 9 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Timothy Garver
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Timothy Garver

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

More Stories from Author Timothy Garver:

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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).

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