The Long Hike
This is my first creepypasta and first post on this subreddit. I don't know if writing poorly planned hasty short stories is frowned upon here, but I don't see a rule, so I'm just going to humbly offer this draft of a story I came up with just today. It's not very planned, but it is heavily inspired. I suffer from schizophrenia and a year ago I tried and nearly succeeded in an elaborate plan to cut my tongue off. I want to write a long analogy for what that experience was like and what compelled me to plan such a brutal thing for so many months in secrecy and with so little fear. I'll be happy to hear thoughts and criticisms, but to be honest, I probably won't make many changes.
You'd think it's a hard hike up a mountain from which you intend to leap. Every step brings you nearer to a fate you've dwelt on so long. I imagine your steps become heavy with the weight of your intention, and your head aches from the pressure of the thoughts inside. The heart races faster than the mind, skipping one beat in favor of the next as if it intends to make up for tomorrow when it will beat no more.
Actually, I can't tell you about the hike. Not yet. But I can tell you about the drive. The highway carried me over hills and around mountains, the gentle curves as abundant as the autumn air. I checked my mirrors and as I was certain I was the only one for miles, I stole a glance to my left at the amazing mountains as far from me as the ground from their peaks. Where the first exit for miles was marked I parted from the highway. Favoring the crisp outside air over the peaceful silence of my car's interior, I rolled down my window.
A friend told me about this trail. He 's into hiking, fishing, canoeing, and everything else outdoors. I enjoyed it as a kid, and would likely enjoy it still, only I never made time for it. The trailhead was supposedly unmarked, but I would know within a quarter mile that I was in the right place by a sign of some sort. I don't recall what my friend said the sign read. "No swimming," or, more likely, "No repelling."
The shadows from the pine trees to my right stretched farther towards me than the trees to the sky. The sun was already only just above the horizon. It would be dark by the time I reached the peak. It didn't help that I was briefly lost. I passed what looked to be a rabbit trail, but, as I came upon no others, I turned around to consider it again. I turned off the car and stepped out. The crunch of leaves beneath my boots briefly drowned the chirping crickets, but when I held still to consider the trail again, the woods were quiet.
From a different angle, the trail looked slightly more impressive. Unbeaten as it was, I gave it that it must be intended for more than deer and rabbits. I started down it.
You wouldn't believe what an easy hike it is up a mountain from which you intend to jump. With every step, you calmly convince yourself that you can turn around with your next. Again and again, step by step, you are assured of your safety by your apparent ability to turn and run at any moment. And why do so with this step when you might with your next? You've a long way ahead of you for which to talk yourself down, so have no hurry and just enjoy the woods.
The shadows grew longer as the woods grew dimmer. Had I arrived earlier I might have met another hiker, but as it was late, I was very likely the only one. Dark figures surrounded me and I swear they looked like people. But I was not frightened, but actually calmed, by their presence. I was so much at ease that it occurred to me I hadn't even seen the sign yet. However, as the trail stretched on, and as I remembered there were apparently no others, I had little doubt that I was on the right path. My friend must have been mistaken when he said that it was near the trailhead. Another friend told me it was actually nearer to the top.
At a moment when the steepness of the mountain gave way to strangely level ground, I spotted something in the distance. As I drew nearer, I gathered that it was a sign. I struggled to read it from a distance in the darkness, but gradually I made out more of it. Eventually I could see that it read "No repelling." I breathed a sigh of relief and let my eyes return to the rocky trail. Step by step I neared the sign. I intended to take a break and retrieve my water once I got to it. I looked up again and halted. The sign read, in bold, white painted letters, clear as ever even in the darkness, "NO RETURN." I trembled slightly, then figured that, before taking another step, I'd take a break as I intended to. I retrieved from my backpack my water.
After a moment, I looked at the sign again. Still it read "NO RETURN." My lungs raced against my heart, but my mind beat them both. At every step I had taken, I could have easily turned around. Even so, I was halfway up the mountain. What did it mean that I could turn around if I never would? It occurred to me for the first time that for every inch I gave it, it took a mile that I'd never get back. If I took one more step forward, I wouldn't ever take it back.
I looked back the way I came from. I could walk all the way back down. I'd nearly spent all my gas getting here, but I could probably make it back to the highway and then to the next exit with a gas station. Then I'd call my mom. I wouldn't tell her about my hike, but I'd tell her that I loved her. Or maybe I'd do that tomorrow since it's so late. Yeah, I forgot all about tomorrow.
Tomorrow left my mind again as I looked back at the sign. "NO RETURN." Did this sign really indicate that I wouldn't turn back? What was so special about this point in particular? The sign could just as well be a hundred steps ahead. I would have stopped at it just the same. I would have thought these thoughts just the same. Though my heart was racing, I thought about putting my foot right across the imaginary line that the sign drew over the trail. I'd do that and then turn around and go, and I wouldn't give the sign or the trail behind it another glance.
In a moment of mindlessness, I did it. I put my foot over the line, then removed it. I took ten steps back just to be sure. No invisible wall trapped me on the other side. Feeling particularly defiant towards the sign, I ran back far enough that I couldn't read it, then ran forward enough to retrieve my water bottle from the rock where I left it. Then, I ran past the sign again. Suppose it really had been placed a hundred steps farther. In that case, I would have taken a hundred more steps just to prove that it meant nothing.
I snapped out of it and realized that the sun was just about gone. I figured I had barely any time to return to my car, and that time would be just as wholly spent climbing what remained of the mountain. My intentions were no longer firm, but I was sure of one thing: it would be awfully disappointing to drive so far just to turn around halfway up. I at least had to see the top. In my mind I held two worlds: one in which I did as I intended, and one in which I spent the night at the top of the mountain and returned to my car in the morning.
I was at ease as I climbed up. I wasn't going to leap like I thought I was. I was just another hiker hiking up a mountain. Other hikers wouldn't have gone so late, but that was no matter. I could even go back in the dark if I had to. I had a flashlight. But as things grew darker, the shadows around me grew in size and quantity. The crickets were so loud I could barely hear my thoughts.
My steps grew faster as the shadows grew darker and the crickets grew louder. What was my hurry? I was already doomed to wander in the woods in the dark. What difference did it make if I got a little farther first? This lucidity did little to slow me. I continued at an increasing pace until I was practically running, stumbling over the rocks in my way that I couldn't see and quickly recovering to march on faster.
There was a demon. But I wasn't afraid of him. Him and I had a deal. He didn't insist that I jump off of the mountain, he only insisted that I see it. So long as I did that, he waited behind me. He wasn't snarling at my back, only smiling. He wasn't on my heels, but still I moved faster and faster and faster.
The trees gave way to openness. Before me stretched a thousand miles, and beneath me stretched a hundred.
The first symptom of this sickness is not wanting to get better.
Then the being able to turn back followed closely by the not doing so. Then the point of no return, sitting well before the edge. You know it's there but you deny it.
Followed then by the edge. And the demon's hand on my back.
And then all it takes it a push.
Submitted March 20, 2019 at 12:30AM by thisisfelix_