Surviving Fright Night in the Deep, Dark German Forest

Upon peering out from the restaurant window into the slowly fading sunlight, I turned to my husband in a mild state of unease and declared…

“We have to go. Like soon, or right now,” I said.

“Go…why?” my husband V asked, signaling the waiter to refresh his empty beer glass.

We had been sitting in one of our local spots for quite a few hours, food long ago eaten but beer and wine continuing to find a happy place on our table. Cozy and comfy in a place we accessed by foot through a long stretch of woods, the sun’s seemingly sudden demise soon registered in me the knowledge that the walk back home would now require a stroll through those previously sunlight-filtered woods in the deep dark of night.

“The sun is down,” I stated. “We have to walk back through the woods and we have no flashlight. I have concerns.”

“Concerns?” V exclaimed. “What in the world are you concerned about? We will find our way back through the woods just fine. Trust me – you have nothing to worry about.”

Worried, well I can tell you this, I was worried. Worried not that we would be unable to find our way out of the  woods but the fact that something  would find us while we were still in there. You see, I have a profound love of the horror genre...books, movies, podcasts and anything else likely to scare the hell out of me - I’m in. I lay this at my mother’s feet...some deep, genetic wiring I seem to have inherited from her side of the DNA pool. This trait has consequently left me with an intrinsic understanding of the inner workings of ‘all things horror-infused’ and in turn, granted me a keen awareness of what can and usually does go wrong…in the night...without weapons.

I insisted we go home immediately.

The Blair Witch-like structure I happened upon in the woods. 

The Blair Witch-like structure I happened upon in the woods. 

Home is about 15 minutes by car outside of the city center. With farm land across the street, cows and horses grazing in the nearby fields and the surrounding forest (which includes its very own 19th century graveyard) providing refuge to all forms of wild life, one need not look far to understand we have gone a little bit country.

I love where we live, but in landing here following a decade-plus existence as an active resident of Manhattan, it took a minute getting used to. Gone were the neon lights, the blaring taxis and the 24-hour orchestra of human activity that I had grown wildly accustomed to: my concrete jungle it appeared, had been replaced by the real-life woods.

Into the Woods We Go

Upon entering the pitch black woods, I held strong to V’s arm as I listened for any suspicious noises that could alert me to the fact we were being followed. My imagination quickly took on a life of its own as the snapping of branches (?!) did little to calm my racing heart.

“Honey," V said, “you are not scared are you? I am here, Rosa (our faithful Boxer) is here. Nothing is going to happen to you.”

This is where I took issue with my husband's thinking as it was clear to me he was wildly misinformed. Unbeknownst to him you see, there exists an unofficial Horror Movie Survivor’s Guide that has become the life blood of those who lay claim to the tribe and one in which we follow to the letter. Of some of its finer points:

  1. Never investigate the strange noises coming from your basement especially if it appears to resemble heavy breathing, moaning and/or a demonic child laughing
  2. Refrain from dusting off that old Ouija board you found in the attic because you think it is a good idea to summon your long-deceased relative (it’s not)
  3. If you happen to find out that your house has been built over a Native American burial ground, immediately make peace with taking a heavy financial hit as it important to promptly sell/abandon it and...
  4. Don’t let your wacky friend convince you that being a counselor at summer camp is a great way to earn easy cash – odds are one in ten you actually survive the season to spend it

Why oh why then, I wondered aloud, did I find myself violating the first, most basic rule that any amateur horror fan learned long ago?  Never, like ever, find yourself in the woods after dark. The fact that the well-documented-horror-movie-group-dynamics has proven time and time again that the lone black chick (being represented by me in this real life horror story) is invariably the first to meet her grizzly end did little to calm my fluttering nerves.

As I insisted we quicken our pace, in peering ahead, I saw the blessed street lights that signaled an end to our harrowing journey. While making a run for it seemed prudent, I opted to tap into my adult-self and power-walked my way out, vowing never to find myself in a dark German forest ever again. In making our way down the sidewalk, checking my pulse along the way, I sighed contentendly, as the overhead lights blessedly lit our way home.  As we made our way down the street suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of something that swooped down from the air and just as quickly, gone again.

“Good grief,” I exclaimed, “what in the world was that?” 

“Oh don’t worry,” V said, “it’s just the bats.”