The path at Maria’s feet fades as it leads further into the darkness of the woods. She could feel panic building like an unstoppable snowball in the pit of her stomach but she had to find out the truth. She had to know what that sound was that she heard a mere two minutes before; a piercing scream echoing throughout these dark and empty woods.
Fear sits on Maria like a pillow over her mouth and nose. Her body wants to either run far away from the woods, or call 911, but instead, she stays where she is. Then suddenly, she sees a movement nearby and a terrible feeling hits the pit of her stomach.
For Maria Brooks, she loved nothing more than spending her free time by going for a walk in her local woods. Armed with her earphones, favorite podcast, and a bottle of water, Maria often spent hours and hours exploring and enjoying nature.
But then one day, everything changed for Maria. And her life changed completely.
One warm Sunday afternoon, Maria finished her Sunday lunch and decided to take her dog for a walk in the woods.
As she put the lead onto her dog’s collar, she noticed something on the TV. It was on the news channel. And what Maria saw left a shiver up her spine.
In a nearby town, a woman had been reported missing. She had been gone for three days and her family, understandably, were worried sick. As Maria watched the missing woman’s family give a statement on the TV, her heart sank. She felt for the family. She couldn’t even imagine what they must be feeling.
She clicked the lead onto her dog and left for her walk, not knowing that her world was about to be turned upside down.
She clicked the lead onto her dog who jumped around excited for his walk. “Good boy,” she said as he sat waiting for the front door to be opened.
Maria left her house and made her way to the woods. But something felt strange in the back of her mind.
Maria makes her way through the woods. Her dog bouncing around like a hyperactive child in a sweet shop. Maria breathed in nature. There was something about these woods that just made Maria feel peaceful.
But little did Maria know, this peaceful feeling would soon disappear. She should have trusted her instincts.
As Maria stepped over twigs, breathing in all that nature has to offer, she let out a sigh of relief. This was just what she needed. A quick break from the harsh realities of life.
But then suddenly, a terrible smell lingered in the air. It was a smell that left a sickening feeling in Maria’s stomach.
Maria started to retch as the smell crept up her nostrils. She covered her mouth with her hand, trying not to be sick.
Her eyes scanned all around the woods, trying to see where this smell was coming from. Unfortunately for her, the smell was getting even more intense. Sometimes people left their trash bags in the woods, but Maria knew this was something far more than just trash.
Maria could taste it now and with each breath she took she felt sick. Like she was riding a colossal high roller coaster after eating a ton of pizza.
She called out her dog and they walked further away from the smell. She had no idea what it was but she didn’t care. Little did she know, things were about to get even more strange.
After walking away from the smell, Maria let out a sigh of relief knowing she was far away from it. She takes a sip from her bottled water and throws her dog a twig to get.
But as her dog retrieved the twig, Maria saw something around half a mile away. She had a bad feeling about this.
There was a man in the middle of the woods. He was pacing back and forth with a sheepish expression plastered on his face; like he was running away – or hiding – from something.
Who was this man? And what was his problem? Maria could feel her heartbeat in her throat. She had no idea what was coming.
Maria’s dog growled, and she held him in close, trying to reassure him that everything would be fine. She didn’t want the man to know she was here, crouching behind a tree, watching him.
After a few minutes, the man sprinted off, disappearing into the blackness of the woods. She thought it was over. But she was so wrong.
Maria tried to dismiss what she just saw and carried on with her walk. She let her dog off the lead and he sprinted around the trees, his tongue wagging and tail propped high in the air.
But just as Maria let out a laugh at her silly dog, she heard something. And it was a sound that left a chill up her spine.
It sounded like a muffled scream followed by scratches. Maria stopped in her tracks to the sound and her heart started to race like an Olympian going for gold.
Where was this coming from? And more importantly what was making this noise? Hundreds of questions ran through her mind. But instinct told her to follow the noise.
Maria followed the noise and it eventually led her to a ditch covered in leaves and dirt. It looked just like any ditch to be honest, so she was confused as to why the sound led her there.
She took a deep breath before crouching down and looking into a hole. And what she saw left a terrible feeling in her stomach.
Lost in the hole, Maria could see it was in fact a dog. She could hear it barking to her, she knew she needed to get it back to its owner. Maria’s heart broke at the thought of this poor pup lost without its owner.
Maria knew she had to act fast. She had to be quick. The dog needed to be reunited, but where were they?
Maria got up off the ground and instantly whipped out her phone to call the fire service. After a few rings, she was finally put through and they said they would be there in as little as 30 minutes.
While she waited to get put through to someone, Maria seriously hoped she hadn’t been too late.
Around 30 minutes later, the fire service arrived and a hoard of people came to the ditch to try and rescue the dog.
And thankfully, a further 30 minutes later the dog was rescued! Maria felt overjoyed that the pup was safe. But what was it doing here in the first place? She knew she needed to find the truth.
Maria spoke to the fire service and they told her that this dog had in fact been missing for 48 hours. Its owner let him off his lead and he ran off in the woods and ultimately got stuck.
Maria’s heart broke at the thought of the owner losing their precious dog and she knew she had to track down the owner.
The owner had been on a mission to try and find her dog so when she came to collect the missing pup, she was overjoyed with emotion. All her wishes came true, finally her pup was safe and sound.
She thanked Maria, but Maria just smiled to herself. She just did what any other dog walker would do right?