I have a confession…my husband has me terrified to walk the dogs on the trails alone. It started innocently enough about a month ago when I was bragging about how well the dogs behaved when we met an older man on the trails. I mentioned how after passing the dogs the man had stopped to ask me about them.
My husband said, “I don’t want you talking to strangers on the trail. I’m going to have you read a story I read.”
“Just tell me about it,” was my response.
He proceeded to tell me a story about a young woman who was hiking with her dog, when she was approached by a stranger, who chatted with her about her dog. He then laid in wait for her and killed her. The man was captured in another state for another crime and confessed to the young woman’s killing. As he recounted the story, I remembered reading about it a couple of years ago.
The very next night, there was the Watcher in the Woods.
Since that conversation and the Watcher in the Woods, I’ve been extremely scared when walking the dogs alone.
Yesterday we were in the field and getting ready to walk into the woods, when a man came out of the woods. I continued on, but watched him walk away across the field; he never once looked back to see where I was. Still I felt compelled to send my sister a text.
“Man at park…receding hairline, heavy set, khaki pants, green jacket.”
Of course she had no idea what I was talking about, so I sent her a cryptic…”Just in case…” text.
I’m a writer and I have an active imagination; so while I’m wandering through the trails I’m constantly mulling plot lines and opening statements over in my head.
“I ran stumbling through the woods, tripping over branches, trying to keep my breathing even and quiet so as not to give away my location and yet, his leering face appeared from the tree line on my left.”
You get the picture.
I had entered the woods on one trail, so to be cautious I switched to a different trail. We wandered to the back of the woods where the little river that Delilah loves to run through is.
I had just put my video camera away and had turned back to head up, when Sampson froze on the trail looking up, and then I saw the khaki clad legs descending down the trail.
You know that feeling of fear you get, where the chill creeps up your body causing all of the hair on your body to stand on end? Then the adrenaline kicks in and your fight or flight mode comes barreling up behind it; your heart is pounding in your chest, threatening to escape. Yeah, that one.
My heart leapt out of my chest and took off up the hill.
I looked at my choices, walk past him on the trail giving him a clear shot at pushing me over the ‘cliff’ or following my heart up the hillside on an undefined path.
I gave a quick glance at him (I swear he had blood dripping down his right temple) and he said something like, “Hi guys.”
I said, “Come on guys, we’re going this way,” trying to make my voice sound normal and not panic stricken and I followed my heart, up the hillside, over the rocks and onto the trail.
I had my hand in my pocket clutching my little pepper blaster, my head was doing a fine imitation of Linda Blair in her famous movie, turning this way and that way, and I kept saying to the dogs, “Come on, keep moving, this way.”
Then I hauled my ass out of the park. Once safely in the car with the doors locked, I sent my sister another text…”In the car.”
And I drove home.