The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window. The candle was so bright it illuminated the surrounding forest into a hypnotic lure. A lure that called all the local children from the small town of Pettifer to a haunting end. Pettifer had a population of around 8000 people. With barely any crime and surrounded by nature, Pettifer was an idyllic place to live, until now.
Most of the children were in bed at the time. There was an eerie force that swept through town, giving everyone goosebumps and shivers. The force caused the town to rise from its slumber. Hundreds of children aged between 4 and 10 years old began to walk. They walked out the front door and were all heading in the same direction, toward the old peak cabin.
The cabin had been abandoned for generations. It was located in the middle of Burrow Forest, and an unsettling feeling surrounded it. The cabin itself was barely standing. It had a hole in the roof, and the doors and windows were always open. The old brown timber had begun to rot, and there was a stench of death that oozed from its rotting frame. There were many disappearances and myths that surrounded the cabin. But none were found to be true until “the night of children,” as urban legends called it, and until this day, the surviving ancestors still tell the story.
The children walked through the forest in their pyjamas and bare feet, some of them still clutching their teddy bears and blankets. Their parents tried to prevent them from walking further, but a strong force sent them flying. The cries of the parents still echo in the forest to this day.
The children were unresponsive and completely silent; they were in some sort of trance. The children were oblivious to their parents’ cries. Once the children stepped onto the land belonging to the cabin, there was no saving them. The parents could not enter as there was an invisible wall blocking them. They were frantically trying to get through the field, throwing things at it, anything to save their children. But it was out of their control. Some described the children’s behaviour as peaceful. There was no fear or tears, just peace.
The children stepped into the cabin one by one and headed to the room with the burning candle. The candle would flicker, causing a moment of complete darkness, and the child would disappear. That was the last time they were seen. There was no explanation, just a disappearance. After all the children entered, the force around the cabin vanished. The parents ran into the cabin. There was nothing. No children, no bodies. The only remnants were the teddies and blankets that were left in a pile on the floor in front of the candle, which continued to burn.
The grieving parents ransacked the cabin. Once they realised the children had gone, their grief turned into anger. They took the candle and set fire to the cabin. A lot of the parents blamed themselves or others. There were a lot of fights and arguments between the adults. Some refused to believe what had happened and returned home, waiting for their children to return. When the children disappeared, so did the physical memories of them, such as photographs and paperwork. There was no evidence that the children even existed.
The once peaceful town became a place of chaos. A lot of adults were now unstable, and insanity spread like a wildfire as people tried to string together theories and ideas about the lost children. Search parties began, and the whole area surrounding the cabin was dug up.
Around a thousand skeletons were found underneath the cabin. A lot of the skeletons mostly belonged to children; some were adults. Autopsies were done and DNA analysis confirmed that the children had died 300 years ago. There was no way of knowing who the children belonged to as there were no records of missing children previously. All that remained was the candle that once burned in the window.
The story reached the mainstream media, and the government took hold of the case. As there was no evidence that the children existed, and after extensive testing they deemed that the candle, was in fact just a regular candle. The authorities convinced the world that a chemical leak had caused severe hallucinations, insanity, and confusion across the population of Pettifer. What the government couldn’t explain, so they buried the information, is that there were no children aged 4–10 that remained in Pettifer. They closed the case and took the candle and left Pettifer without any closure for the town.
Until this day, no one would ever know what happened to the children, nor would they ever understand the heartache and insanity the parents felt. I guess the question that lingered was, what was the truth? which was scarier to believe, hundreds of children vanished into thin air, or the government had the power to convince an entire population that it was all a lie?