There was something strange about the bag. I was halfway through my morning jog when I came upon it.
At first, the bag looked to be balled up underneath a sparse bush on the side of the trail. Normally, I wouldn’t take a second glance at random garbage along the trail. A lot of homeless people camp out in the woods here, so garbage is a common sight. But this was different.
The bag, or more accurately, a type of canvas sack, wasn’t simply bunched up under the bush like the wind had blown it there. No, someone had piled dirt over the end of it. If I had to guess, somebody was trying to bury it in a hurry and abandoned the effort not long after starting. Perhaps somebody came down the trail and startled them. Even so, why would they bury it near the trail instead of in the woods?
I inched my way over to the bag. I don’t know why, but the closer I got to the thing the more apprehensive I became. It was the middle of a cloudless day and the sun was bright and cheery. There was no reason to feel the way I did.
Stepping up, I noticed the bush had partially ensnared the canvas sack. The branches were dying and brittle, but I could tell it wouldn’t be easy pulling the bag free. As I reached for it, my heart was pounding in my ears. I know I was being foolish, but all kinds of awful scenarios were running through my head. A side effect of too many late-night murder mystery binges, I suppose.
I had to crouch down and bend my head awkwardly to get my hand near the damn thing. Right as my fingers slipped across the rough canvas cover, something tapped me on the shoulder. I nearly died right then and there!
“The hell are you doing, Tiff?”
I jumped back so quickly that the branches scratched my arm.
“Sweet jumpin’ Moses!” I hollered a little louder than I should have. “Don’t scare me like that.
It was my neighbor, Dan. He often walked the trails in the evening so I was surprised to see him out and about so early. He was in his late 30s and spent most of his free time playing video games. Beyond that, I don’t know much about him.
“My old lady told me I needed to go out and get the stink blown off me,” Dan said with a twinge of sadness in his voice. “Anyway, what’re you doin’ in that bush?”
Once my heartbeat returned to normal I stood up and faced him. “I was trying to see what’s in that bag.”
“Garbage?” Dan raised an eyebrow and looked at me as if I was the dumbest person in the world.
“I don’t know.” I hesitated. “Probably.”
Dan leaned toward the bush and stole a quick glance, but I could tell he wasn’t all that interested.
“Eh, I bet you some bum dumped it there.” He stepped back onto the trail. “Probably full of human shit,” he guffawed.
I couldn’t think of anything to say. And even though I certainly didn’t care what Dan thought about me, I started to feel a bit silly standing there contemplating whether or not I should sift through random garbage in broad daylight. I would look like a crazy person.
“I say just leave it be. The township will pick it up eventually.” Dan shuffled his feet nervously. “So, wanna join me on my walk? Or, you know, I could join you on yours?”
I was caught off guard. I was so enamored with the stupid trash that I forgot how weird Dan acts around me. He’s always trying to strike up conversations that never go anywhere. He’s a nice enough guy but is about as entertaining as a brick. Even so, a part of me thought about being nice and walking with him for a while. But my natural instinct was to say no.
“Umm. Well, I was actually running. So…”
“Oh, no problem. I’ll leave you to it then,” he said so fast that it was obvious he had expected me to reject his offer.
I felt kinda bad so I made sure to smooth things over a little. “Maybe next time?”
He smiled and nodded but didn’t say anything else. For a guy who hates running, he sure got away from me in a hurry. I pretended to stretch until he was out of sight.
I was about to start jogging again when a small gust of wind blew through the trees. All of the foliage shook and the branches on the bush rattled especially hard, but I couldn’t help notice that the bag didn’t move at all. There was something heavier in there than your standard plastic or paper garbage.
I can’t tell you why but I just had to know what was in that bag. Don’t get me wrong, I had no wild ideas about finding a pound of heroin or money or live puppies or anything like that. And I was sure I would more than likely find garbage or worse, human poop like Dan said.
I waited until I was sure the coast was clear. This part of the trail was fairly deep in the woods, so I could hear if anyone was walking my way as long as I was paying attention this time. With that in mind, I got to work.
“Dammit,” I mumbled to myself as a branch snagged my shirt sleeve.
I had to work fast before some other nosy neighbor came along. So I pushed the branches aside as best I could—breaking several in the process—and once I managed to get my hands on the bag, I grabbed it as tightly as possible and tugged on it with all my might. It moved.
I fell back away from the bush and managed to stifle a scream. When I said it moved, I don’t mean the bag just moved from me pulling on it. Something INSIDE of the bag moved.
“Snakes. I bet it’s fucking snakes,” I said into my hands.
One thing I can’t deal with is snakes. And this area is infamous for stupid exotic pet owners dumping their giant pythons in the woods when they grow bigger than they’d expected. And I can tell you now like it just happened yesterday, the way that bag moved, you would have thought it was full of snakes, too.
I looked around and the coast was still clear. I made my way back toward the bush, albeit much more cautiously this time.
When I’d pulled the bag it’d slipped free from the dirt. There was definitely a hole underneath like someone was burying it. I studied the thing for a few minutes but I didn’t see any movement. I even started to think that the whole event was a figment of my imagination. That was until I noticed the ties on the end of the bag had come loose and it had opened somewhat.
I moved to the side so I could get a better look at the opening. A ray of sunshine was lighting it perfectly like something out of a movie. Only, this was a horror movie. Through the opening twitched a wrinkled blob of flesh.
My adrenaline was pumping so hard that I could barely focus. And as I leaned in closer, the blob of flesh moved—breaking free of the canvas sack. It was something more terrifying than I could have ever imagined. It was an infant’s leg kicking. Somebody had tried to bury the poor thing alive.
Good God, what if I had left it there? What if I had decided to walk with Dan and left the poor baby there to die? What if—
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