Sometimes I take a circuitous route home. I walk three quarters of a mile on a wooded road, the scenic route, before getting on the #10 bus. Across the street is the Henry Hudson Bridge. Yesterday an old man at the stop began talking to me about the horns on my head. I inched away from him toward the bridge, which I was always curious about. “Yes we had Enchanted Weekend where I work. Okay, o-kay –bye bye now,” I said. So I climbed the stairs to the bridge and had a lovely constitutional.
There’s a building at the end of Palisade Avenue that I wanted to see from the bridge. At intervals I stared over the bridge at my lovely building, which overlooks the Hudson. At the Hudson River Museum yesterday, there my building was, immortalized in a painting – a sure sign that I am to inhabit this early 20th century dwelling one day. The wind was vigorous. The palisades were wondrous, and Inwood Hill Park invited below as the leaves are beginning to turn.
I stopped finally to look over the bridge at the water. At the end of the bridge, the paths led only into Inwood Park. I had assumed there was a path at the side of the parkway leading to the street. Should I go back to Riverdale after walking all this way? A woman was killed in the woods years ago. People had been attacked. I never go into the woods alone. A runner took the curved path into the park. Maybe he knew the way out. I followed the runner.
Inwood Hill Park is called a forest. There are cliffs rising high over Manhattan. The trees are so thick that you can’t see buildings. And there is no street noise.
The runner was gone and I was alone. I tried another path, but it led back to where I came from. I thought of the Blair Witch Project where they try getting out of the woods but go around in circles. They eventually die in the night. Now it was dusk. I heard crickets.
I walked quickly, uphill endlessly, scared as shit. I was sweating. I was relieved that the upward climb was over, but there were more paths up there. Trying to figure out which to take was confusing.
There was an ancient iron lamppost with a broken globe. I wanted a sliver of glass, a weapon. Still walking quickly, I pulled a pen from my bag, ready to stab. I called Eric, panting. “Eric I’m in the woods. I’m scared. I can’t find my way out. Can you stay on the phone with me? I need someone to know where I am in case something happens.” At times I jogged, grateful to be going downhill. I reasoned that I should stay to the left where the trails led to the foothills. Eric’s voice faded then I couldn’t hear him. The call was dropped.
The darkening woods menaced. It’s ironic about my creature horns — I told people at work that I was a wood creature. I still had them on — haha. An old tree on the right had a fantastical orange fungus. What other monster imagery would I see? A human threat? Even in fear I thought fleetingly to take a picture of the fungus. When would I see something like this again — get this opportunity? But fear propelled me forward as I couldn’t waste any light.
At Halloween, during Haunted Inwood when actors hired to portray monsters guide kids through the night time woods, festooned with fog and cemeteries, there is a ticklish horror. This was no ticklish horror. More dark green paths led to an area where I saw a building way below. I heard children. But were they phantom children, like in the Blair Witch Project? I took another path, trying to get to the building, but it went north. I planned if necessary to climb down the rocky hills to the streets, veering off of the useless paths, so what if I tore my pants.
I got back on the original path. At least I knew then that I was headed south where I would eventually get out. I walked faster, heading for the wide stairs with wooden edges. As a kid I got lost with my father and brother in these woods. We came out around here. I had shown daddy how to get us out.
Through the trees I saw the playground on Dyckman a way down. Would there be witchcraft involved where I’d continue to see the playground but never get on the right path? I winded around another path then I was out! I wanted to kiss the ground. I called Eric back, then left a dramatic message with another friend. I walked on the avenue at the border of the park, looking up at the dark menace of green looming over me. I saw friends on my block and told them what happened with an exaggerated spirit of adventure, leaving the horror back in the woods.
No picture of the building overlooking the Hudson??? Booooooooo!
It’s so funny how your brain can play tricks on you. I get this feeling on quiet dark side streets late at night, so I can just imagine how I’d be walking through Inwood Park after dark! But see, if you were an actual wood creature, it would be cool because you could just stand there and nobody would know you were there. Perfect camouflage.
I know right — I did take some pictures of the woods — even in my fear — but they’re so shitty — maybe I’ll insert them. I really should’ve gotten that fungus picture — it was wonderful.
See that’s what I get for posing as a wood creature — the gods said “Ohhhh, so you want to be a wood creature — go ahead — you’re lost in the woods — NOW be a wood creature!” Ahahaha!
The director here heard about me getting lost in the woods — he said he actually saw me walking across the bridge with my horns as he was driving into the city — ahahahahahahaaaa!!!
Don’t go into the woods, Sandee; don’t go into the woods!
Nice job at bringing the scary to us. I always like a good fright (though not at your expense 🙂 ).
I might walk a bit today from work but I’m staying off of that bridge. I was told that there is a way to get off without going into the park.
Thanks for reading this Carrie — it was rather long for me I know…
I bet your heart was pounding. Each time a path takes you further in or in the wrong direction it increases your anxiety and you can’t think clearly. It’s easy to see how people freak out and have full blown panic attacks or heart attacks, even. I once helped this woman, who was totally lost and going in circles. For me it was no big deal because I knew my way, but for her it was the most awful thing in the world. I thought she was gonna pass out. Her face was all sweaty and she was starting to mumble.
OMG, I’m glad you made it out alive, Sandee. I don’t want to see a news report about a woman with horns getting lost and dying in the woods. Seriously. Next time don’t go alone. I mean it!
It’s a good thing you were there to help this woman. For all my cursing about cell phones — Luddite that I am — in cases like mine and this lady you helped — cell phones can be useful.
I was going to start this post out by saying “I’m lucky to be alive!” My fear is indeed being so scared that I have a heart attack — it is easy to see how that can happen.
I laughed about it after I got out of the park, but I thought it would be messed up if something happened to me with those stupid horns on my head — ahahahaa!
I’m such a fraidy cat when it comes to walking at night now if I could borrow your horns, maybe I would feel powerful and get over my fear of “what’s behind that spooky looking bush”.
If only the horns did make me feel powerful — oh but hey — maybe the horns kept the bad wood creatures away from me that day, hmmm….
I love your spookiness.
Thanks GG! Like I told Carrie — thanks for sticking through to read the whole thing — it’s long for me.
Except for the looming panic and terror I’m sure you felt, that was a great story. I hate being out alone at night. I used to take a bus home from college at night, but it stopped a couple blocks from my street. If it got there early enough, I could catch another bus that almost took me to my front door, but half the time it was late. Even though it was my neighborhood and the suburbs, I was just freaked out enough to walk so fast I was almost running.
This certainly was a great opportunity for a blog post! I look at it now though and think I could’ve made it shorter and more humorous — I suppose I wanted to try getting people to experience it the way I had.
Being out at night anywhere you have to be careful. When I’m getting home late I usually take my keys out before I get to the door. My stepmom’s friend scolded her once because she was driving by her brownstone and saw my stepmom standing at the door struggling to get her keys out of her pocket book. She reminded her that this would have been a great opportunity for her to be attacked outside her door.
You made it out safe! I can’t believe you went into the woods alone, you are my new hero.
I was going to start this post by saying “Am I ever so glad to see you all! I was lost in the woods! I could’ve been killed! I’m so glad to be alive!” Too many exclamation points.
Am I ever so glad to see you Miss Four Eyes!
1. I am glad you are OK AND ALIVE.
2. I am the same way…. I have no sense of direction, get lost often, and freak the flip out when in a scary place alone.
3. You need to ditch that pen and start carrying a small mace bottle. I have one and it makes me feel like a power ranger and somewhat dangerous.
4. I want a pic of your woodland creature horn costume!
If I had your runner’s physique — I would’ve run the whole time!
I used to have mace, but the cops took it away — long story. Another post maybe?
I might be posting one soon — I may wear them for my author reading on Saturday 🙂
You really got me scared, Sandee! Do you really like to do this kind of $#@?
Hehehehe!! You funny GP! I’m just glad I didn’t bore you though 😀
I don’t know Inwood at night, but am more than familiar with that growing sense of unease and terror you described.
You do have a way with words, Sandee!
Thanks Mike! I’m glad you could feel the sense of unease and terror — oh — I forgot — as soon as I got out of the woods, I started thinking — I swear — of acronyms for crappy actor writers — hehehe! I was going to even include that in my post but I felt I would have to shift the tone a bit. I’m afraid whatever I come up with might be lame — I start out with something and it turns out to suck!
Oh, that is hilarious!
But don’t let my little acronym contest fill you with Inwood Park-style terror! Have fun with it!
Will do — lameness and all…
Oh, I have been in my woods after dark, and it is scary! Well done here.
Thanks Susan! Yeah, being in the woods after dark alone is no picnic in the park 😀
Good story, well told:)
Thanks Elena — I was worried it was too long — I don’t like using more than 500 words — afterall — we’ve got our own blogs to write, other blogs to read, lives to live…
I really appreciate the feedback!
I was scared for you! At some point I thought (hoped, really) that it was fiction. 🙂
Oh Kat — it was gawd awful. But like I say at the end, now I can tell it with humor — I mean — who the heck gets lost in the woods in Manhattan!?