WICKED STORIES : Campers Find Themselves Surrounded by “The Masked Ones”

In WICKED STORIES by Steve

As you’ve likely learned from the headlines (and not just ours), the Sunshine State has been home to some rather unsettling occurrences lately: we’ve found dinosaur-sized alligators invading human turf; a nightmarish YouTube channel allegedly originating from Nassau County (we still can’t decide if it’s the work of a real-life psychopath); a literal “spider tornado” in Fort Myers… and that’s just scratching the surface.

Needless to say, the vast Florida wilderness is no place for the inexperienced camper — especially if you plan on spending the night there. But even seasoned outdoor adventurers have their own horror stories to share… like the anonymous author who posted to the Creepypasta Wiki about his experience one night at Highlands Hammock State Park near Sebring, FL, where he was camping with his best friend.

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Though they were not far from other campers on the grounds — in fact, they could see their neighbors’ fires and lamps in the distance — the area was still remote and peaceful, free from the lights and sounds of the city, punctuated only with the buzz of nocturnal insects and the occasional rustling of raccoons, possums or other scavengers. Wild boars were known to inhabit the area, but they were usually afraid to approach humans.

As the moon crested the treetops, the friends’ conversation went on for hours within their tent, and the predominant subject was music — particularly the band Slipknot, and how they hoped they could form a group of their own with a similar visual style, hiding their identities like Slipknot’s infamously masked members.

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While his friend ventured out of the tent to relieve himself, the author heard a strange noise coming from the opposite direction, where there were no nearby encampments. When the friend returned, the author tried to ask him if he’d seen or heard anything in that area… but was met by a strange, stunned silence and a look of worry and confusion on the young man’s face.

As the pair grew tired, their conversation finally ebbed, and the woods remained silent, save for the sound of crickets and frogs. That is, until the author began to hear that noise again.

It was a faint rustling, as if an animal were nosing around in the undergrowth… but when the sound grew louder and nearer, he realized it was coming from more than one location. Whatever (or whoever) was crawling around out there, there were several of them.

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By this point, the author and his still-spooked friend were wide awake, and he tried asking again about what the friend had seen when he’d ventured out earlier. Finally, the friend revealed how he’d seen a small, strange animal of some kind rummaging through another campsite. He’d thought it was a raccoon at first… but after watching it for a moment, he realized it was like no animal he’d ever seen.

The pale white face, with gleaming red eyes, was startlingly human in appearance… or perhaps the small creature was wearing a very human-like mask.

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His friend had no sooner finished his story when the rustling came even closer… and now they both realized the sound was rhythmic, with a regular cadence to it. It seemed like small feet marching in tandem.

As they listened, they saw the faint silhouette of a short figure, no more than two feet tall, standing near the opening flap of their tent, its shape wavering in the moonlight.

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It seemed to be prodding, sniffing and investigating the flap, perhaps trying to figure out how to get inside. Eventually, it walked away, joining the soft march-like footsteps of the others nearby.

The two friends weren’t sure if the coast was clear, but couldn’t stand not knowing exactly what kind of creatures they were dealing with. Finally, the author’s friend gathered up his courage, took a deep breath, and pulled the tent’s inside zipper down just a couple of notches… just enough to peek through.

When he’d seen enough, he closed the flap again, a shudder in his voice as he whispered what he’d just seen… but it couldn’t have been possible. Convinced his friend was either playing a joke, or delirious from fear, the author nudged him aside and took a peek for himself.

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What he saw was a group of tiny humanoid figures, marching in a single-file formation. Their bodies were covered in thick, matted black fur, or ragged strips of animal pelts — except for their faces, which were pale and mask-like, with red eyes, just as his friend had described earlier. They also had slender, five-fingered hands… but not like those of a human; more like a raccoon’s paws.

The pair never saw these bizarre beings again, and spent most of the night in silence, petrified with fear. They agreed not to discuss it with the other campers the next morning — because they knew no one would believe them.

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Even at the end of his entry (he doesn’t mention how long ago the incident occurred), the author is still in a highly-agitated state — apparently still plagued by nightmares about what he’d witnessed in those woods.

“I can’t decide what’s worse,” he concludes, “inside my head… or outside the tent.”