It Happened in 1972

Posted October 31st, 2007 by Mike Cherim

JackP came up with the idea of some people publishing a Halloween story. This is mine. I hope you enjoy it. I actually did some light research for this one.

Fear can live and breathe if you give it life in your mind. The longer you think about it and the more you believe in it, the larger it grows and the more real it becomes. That’s what happened in the little town of Grant Heights, to a little boy named Bobby. It was October 31st, 1972. Halloween.

Bobby was excited. He was going to go Trick-or-Treating with a couple of his classmates, instead of with his parents. This was going to be a first for Bobby. He was growing up… sort of. If his friends weren’t going, Bobby would’ve gone with his parents. He wasn’t ready for a solo journey. He was still afraid of the dark — he always had been and it’s something he hadn’t yet outgrown.

For Bobby, because of this fear, every Halloween was an adventure. His heart would race from a not-quite-unpleasant cocktail of fear and excitement. He didn’t know why he was afraid of the dark, he just was. His parents told him that what he saw in the daytime was the same thing he would see at night if he could see in the dark. Bobby knew they were right — he was a logical ten-year-old, a bright boy — but still something got to him after dark. He was hoping tonight was going to be different, but already he knew it wasn’t going to be.

Bobby ate dinner with his parents and was just finishing up when his friends Russell and Mark showed up. Russell was dressed as a soldier, Mark was going as a hobo. Bobby was also in costume except for his wig. He put that on completing his hippie costume. His mother snapped a photo and warned the boys to be careful out there. The three headed out, just as it was getting dark. Bobby was to be back by 8:30… it was a school night, Tuesday night, and 8:30 was late as it was.

For an hour-and-a-half the three boys scoured the area racing door-to-door in the darkness, quickly filling their pillowcases with candy. They were at the edge of their neighborhood, where the houses ended and a deserted area began. So far Bobby was dealing well with his fear, but now, on the edge, he started to get nervous. Russell and Mark, who were actually a few months older, hadn’t noticed and Bobby didn’t want them to know. That’s why when the other two boys wanted to walk the half mile or so past the deserted stretch of road through the woods before them to reach another group of houses on the other side, Bobby agreed to follow.

An owl hooted from somewhere in the woods, but the area was otherwise quiet. The boys had made it about a third of the way there when Bobby’s eyes began to dart from one side of the road to the next. He wanted to run but didn’t dare. His friends didn’t seem to be scared at all so he tried to act brave, but he also stayed close. This the boys did notice.

It was a dark night, what with only the last quarter moon left to guide them, and the boys could see no light at either end of the road. They had just reached the halfway mark when Bobby’s shoe came untied. He asked this friends to stop so he could retie it, but they just laughed telling him to catch up and skipped ahead. Bobby focused on his shoe, and the woods closing in around him. Three times he fumbled with his laces before he finally managed to retie his shoe and stood up. That’s when he realized Russell and Mark where nowhere in sight. He couldn’t hear them either. He was alone.

Bobby called out to them trying his best to keep his voice level. No response. He tried again calling out more loudly. Still nothing, nothing but the owl’s hoot again — which sounded closer this time. He tried once more, this time his voice breaking. And this time he got a response, but it wasn’t the reassuring “we’re over here, hurry up” he was hoping for. Instead he heard his two friends up ahead, some distance away. They screamed and Bobby thought he heard one of them, maybe Russell, say that something was after them. The screams died as suddenly as they began. Bobby turned at that and bolted.

The night got darker as some clouds obscured the quarter moon. The owl hooted again, but to Bobby this time it sounded evil and right on top of him. He ran as fast as his legs could carry him. In his ears he could hear the rush of his blood. The woods now closed in quickly as the shadows chased him. Bobby ran trying his best to slip from the night’s grasp. But like it was in his nightmares, his legs wouldn’t cooperate and the fear growing in Bobby’s mind began to engulf him. Close to sheer panic now, he continued with his effort to run, his heart now pounding violently.

Russell and Mark did happen to notice Bobby seemed nervous and decided to play a joke on him by first running off and leaving him alone when he stopped to tie his shoe, then by screaming in reply to Bobby’s desperate pleas for them to answer. They heard Bobby running away and started thinking that maybe they shouldn’t have done that. They went back the way they came to find him. Just as they turned around and started heading back a truck came around the bend from behind bathing them in yellow light.

The truck slowed down and stopped next to the boys. Russell and Mark were also afraid until Mark realized it was just old man Cooper from the neighborhood. Mrs. Cooper, in fact, had just given each of them an apple. The old man stretched across the truck’s bench seat to roll down window and offered the boys a ride. The boys opened the door and clambered inside thanking the old man. He told them it was probably getting too late for them to be out. The boys accepted this, then asked the old man to pick up Bobby once they saw him. The old man agreed.

But Bobby wasn’t seen and when they reached the neighborhood the boys started to worry a little bit. They figured Bobby must have ran all the way home and asked the old man to drop them off at Bobby’s house so they could confirm this and tell him they were kinda sorry for leaving him alone.

The boys were at Bobby’s house and instead saying sorry to Bobby they had to confess their prank to his parents: Bobby wasn’t home. Bobby was still out there somewhere. With the boys in backseat, Bobby’s parents headed out to look for him and drove towards the deserted stretch of road where he was last seen. They drove the length once then doubled back and pulled over at the midway point. All four of them got out of the station wagon, calling Bobby’s name into the darkness, flashlights in hand. There was no reply, though, unless you’re willing to count the answering hoot of an owl.

Bobby stopped when he heard a low roar, then realized it was an engine. He turned to look over his shoulder and saw yellowish headlights coming towards him from the direction of his friends. He remembered what he thought was Russell say that something was after them. But maybe Russell said it was somebodysomebody was after them! He started to freak out more than he already was. Here he was, in the road, with the badman coming his way. Bobby panicked to a degree he’d never panicked before and bolted into the woods. Into the dark woods.

He had gotten a good hundred yards in by the time the truck drove past. Because he was short he was able to make his way through the woods easily, like a small animal, even though he couldn’t see. Bobby thought of none of this, though. He was consumed by fear and charged with adrenaline. He ran as his fear chased him further into the woods. He was soon lost, but Bobby didn’t even realize this and just kept running. From directly behind him the owl hooted loudly and he thought he saw a dark shape flying through the woods along side of him.

Bobby’s parents sent Russell and Mark back home on foot telling them to tell their parents what happened and to ask them to call the police. The two boys ran home. Meanwhile, with flashlights in hand, Bobby’s parents searched along the road looking for any sign of Bobby. Bobby’s mother speculated that he got scared and ran into the woods, but that didn’t make sense to her even though she knew it was right. About a half-hour went by when finally the police, the boys’ parents, and some other neighbors showed up to help with the search, but there was no sign. Bobby’s parents and the others called Bobby’s name, but there was no reply, not even from the owl.

The search continued the next day and for two days after that. Someone noticed what might be some small footprints leading into the woods on the side of the road but they soon ended in leaf litter. The police brought in some hound dogs and showed them to the possible trail, but the dogs started to act strange. One whimpered a bit and shied away from the woods, another dog growled. The dogs didn’t catch Bobby’s scent, but they did smell his fear and it was a great fear. The kind of fear that was contagious.

The sun was shining but all Bobby saw was darkness. Partially because of the dense forest around him, and partially because fear is darkness and that’s all Bobby would ever see, until the day his heart would explode in his chest; but that wouldn’t happen for many years. Bobby was never found. His parents gave up hope when the police called off the search. The dogs wouldn’t go into the woods, and the helicopter the forest service offered didn’t help since the pilot and spotter couldn’t see through the evergreen forest canopy. The woods started off small, along a short stretch of road, but they widened up from there and went off for hundreds of miles, first into a national park and eventually into the mountains. Maybe a hundred volunteers made their way after him, making it all the way to the foot of the mountains, but to no avail.

Bobby never stopped running, even when he lived in a small cave on the side of one of the mountains. In his mind it was always dark, and he always ran, always afraid, with the owl closing in behind him. Bobby became a predator, like the owl, grabbing small animals off the forest floor, yet his fear was still greater than that of his quarry. Bobby was spotted by a young couple camping several summers later, when he was sixteen, but the encounter was brief. He was never identified and no connection was made. The young woman did see his eyes, though. They were pure black she told her boyfriend. He saw them, too, and agreed.

Over the years, even to this day, Bobby, or what used to be Bobby but is now some scared feral creature, would be glimpsed by a hiker now and then. The encounters never lasted long and they never got a real good look. The stories all had a connection, though. They’d spot a wild man with black eyes — they always saw those eyes for some reason — the sky would suddenly darken a bit, and they would hear an owl hoot. Then the wild man would run away seemingly terrified, as if he were being chased. But they never saw a thing chasing him.

~ The End ~

Others doing this — besides JackP and myself:

Happy Halloween… be careful out there. [jacko]

8 Responses to: “It Happened in 1972”

  1. Steve responds:
    Posted: October 31st, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    Hey - I really like an ending like that! That’s a great story.
    What spooked me most is that you did some light research. I like teasers like that too…

  2. ThePickards » Blog Archive » Hallowe’en Horrors responds:
    Posted: October 31st, 2007 at 6:54 pm

    […] Mike Cherim, for whom It happened in 1972 […]

  3. Sara responds:
    Posted: October 31st, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    Good and creepy! Thank you!

  4. The Goldfish responds:
    Posted: November 1st, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    Very atmospheric and a very funky new smiley. :-)

  5. JackP responds:
    Posted: November 1st, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    This is another sad one! Poor Bobby! Nice the way that the veyr primal fear of the dark is played on: if slightly creepy when my imagination played it out in a dark bit near to my street (although it’s not exactly woods, it is at least trees plural. Maybe 0.4 of a wood?)

    And I love [jacko] too!

  6. Jess responds:
    Posted: November 1st, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    Creepy stuff. I likes it!

    You know, I think I saw something about Bobby recently. Though the official word is that it’s just a black bear with mange. :D

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