As promised, here's part 6!
The footsteps continued a few seconds after we had stopped, just as before. But the flash light didn't reveal any shadowy figure in pursuit. What it did show was an impossibility. Along the side of the trail, there were ferns and long grass, over growing the boundaries of the path. As the steps proceeded along the trail, the grass was being trodden down upon!
I couldn't believe my eyes, I looked back at the group, and knew from their faces they had all seen it. I needed to be sure.
I walked up slowly to the spot where I had seen the act. I looked down. The grass and ferns had been stepped on, their blades imprinted in the center of a barefoot, human footprint. The rest of the group crowded around and looked. I traced the tracks back. 5 meters, 10 meters, 20 meters. They were there the entire way. I turned around and confronted Mr. Lobos.
"Fuck this," I stated, "I'm leaving."
"Alright, Luke," he replied, "You head back, we'll see you at the van when we're done."
That son of a bitch. He was not going to break. He was determined to finish his walk and I was too chickenshit to walk back to the van by myself. I ceded to his will and retook my position at the back of the line. We continued on.
I tried to ignore the continuous footsteps behind me. Whatever it was, it was keeping it's distance, and that was fine by me. The Bush was becoming more alive now. Every 20 feet we heard things. Twigs snap, voices murmur, leaves rustling as if someone was hiding in the bushes. We even began to see dark shapes moving between the trees, but only for a moment. It was gross. Phil now started to claim he was hearing something. He said it sounded like two feet, low to the ground and fast, whatever it was. No one else heard this thing and soldiered on each time.
We reached the campsite after about an hour of this stop and go routine. Once I saw the moon's reflection on the water through the trees, I ran ahead of the group and burst onto the campsite. As I was again drenched in the moonlight, my fear was washed away. I found it easier to breathe, my confidence was restored. The group emulated these feelings. Setting our walking stick down, we started to build a fire and I was more than happy to help.
It didn't take long for us to get a roaring fire. The flames lit the campsite, it's light licking the treetops around us, pushing back the encroaching darkness. We had claimed this spot, It became out out post of safety. As we sat conversation turned as to explain what had happened. this didn't last long, we were at a loss. Conversation then went to small talk and school rumours. Then to other things. It was around the same time that the Paris Hilton sex tape had come out ad we laughed about it, our past experience with the paranormal forgotten. The Bush, it seemed, took offense.
I was in mid sentence when I was interrupted by the Coyotes. Upon hearing them, I was immediately silent and turned to face the river. The wails came from the other side. I turned to Mr. Lobos. He reassured us that there wasn't a crossing for several kilometers in both directions and we were safe. However, we all remembered the story. We were dreading what was supposed to happen next. We waited in silence, the coyotes still with us, howling. Erica broke the silence.
"So do you think it's going to happen?"
The entire group looked at her astonished. Phil spoke first.
"Why the fuck would you say that? Seriously, why the fu-,"
The coyotes stopped. No one spoke. I got to my feet. I strained my hearing to it's fullest and analyzed every sound I heard. The river babbled to me. The breeze whispered to me. The fire cackled at me. My body screamed at me. But there was no little girl's scream. The coyotes began to sing to us again.
We all breathed a huge sigh of relief. I began to laugh, we all did. I faced Erica.
"Hahaha, you bitch," I joked, "I swear if after you mentioned the little girl screaming and if it had actually happened, I was goi-"
The loudest, scariest most blood-curdling scream I have ever heard in my life then erupted from deep within the bush, up on Upper Trail. I stood there with my jaw dropped in disbelief. There was nothing but the quiet air around us now, the coyotes silent. The whole group has frozen in their stances, each of them looking terrified, even Mr. Lobos.
"That's never happened before," He quietly remarked.
I looked each of my friends in the eye. They all glared at me like I was some kind of traitor, guilty of high treason. I had joking mentioned the girl last before the scream. I'm sure if anyone was killed that night, I would be accused of being the murderer. Mr. Lobos made us all jump by pouring water on the fire. It hissed as it's light was extinguished.
"We'll wait here for a few minutes until everyone's eyes have adjusted to the dark again," he said, "Then we're continuing on up Upper Trail."
We all began to disagree. Each of us didn't want to go near Upper Trail, not after hearing that fucked up scream. We all begged him to turn around and to lead us back through Lower Trail, but he would break. He stood at the entrance of Upper Trail and told us to get our walking sticks and to line up. We bitterly complied.
Up we went, the ascent was easier than the drop of Lower Trail. Like a snake, the path weaved up the hill and finally plateaued. Before, the Bush just seemed like a dark forest with a bit of mystery. Now, It seemed like the deepest reaches of hell. The trees around us were warped and misshapen. The air was thick with the damp smell of moss and rotting wood. Everywhere I looked, it seemed like something was ducking behind a tree or a rock, as if I had looked just in time to catch a glimpse. I'm sure most of it was my mind playing tricks on my, but it was the one or two times where I was sure I had seen something move that bothered me the most.
The moon then decided to betray us. Clouds had rolled in and were blocking it's light. Even though the tree canopy blocked out the majority of it, there was still some that shone through. It was a demoralizing thing to see. As the main cloud front moved in, closing out the light, a wall of darkness shot towards us and swallowed us whole. I shuddered. Mr. Lobos then turned to us and said to stick to the left. The ride side of the path bordered the edge of the hill side. We all obeyed.
The walk continued on, and things got worse. As we stopped for a moment to catch our breath, A beat started. The sound of someone taking two sticks and hitting them together in a pattern.
We stood and listened, trying to locate the direction of the sound.
The sound seemed to be all around us.
Katie and Erica huddled together with Shawn and Phil. Mr. Lobos and I stood on either side of the group, with our walking sticks held like clubs.
Mr. Lobos told me to give him my walking stick. I gingerly handed it to him. He then proceeded to mimic the pattern. The answer was immediate. But now it was closer.
Mr. Lobos did it again. The Bush Called back, still closer.
I then heard something, shuffling through the underbrush behind us. It sounded like two feet, low to the ground, and it was quick. I turned to the sound. Clack-clack-clack-clack-clack...clack-clack...clack-clack...clack-clack...
"Mr. Lobos," I whispered, "there's something behind us."
Mr. Lobos then did something I, still to this day, can't understand. Setting the walking sticks down, he walked to the edge of the hill and started to clap his hands, four times quickly.
"Me," was all he said. The sticks and the two foot sound stopped. I looked to Mr. Lobos.
"There, that's taken care of. Let's go."
The group quickly fell into line, while I just stood there in awe of this man. I had no idea of what to think. I had to say something.
"Well what the fuck is next?" I said, grasping for anything to say, "Are you going to show us a dead body?"
"No," He replied, "I'm taking you to the shack."