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The Forest--Spooky Stories for Prospective Students

Monday, June 18, 2018, by Jon Hamilton
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    7:45. Night descending. Mosquitoes coming out. Trees tossing shade. Not an ideal time for a run, but I began it anyways. Out I went, venturing from Shaler Hall toward the Hemlock Hospice, a mile into the Forest. Slowly, light faded. I turned left, heading into the Hospice, hoping to cut through to the road on the other side. Fun fact for those who don’t know: even on bright days, hemlocks create an extremely dark understory. Looking left and right, it was like a scene from a horror movie. There was even a bit of fog rolling in, generating the perfect aesthetic—just not the one I was going for when I could hardly see where I was putting my feet.

    I started to wonder: what if this was like a horror movie? What if there was something following me? After all, as I had recently learned from watching It Follows, it always follows. So, whenever I heard the crunch of underbrush as the abundant chipmunks dove for cover, I turned around, risking my footing to identify a potential threat. The fear began propelling me forward. I started to feel more courage. Inspiring me, of course, was Rubber, the story of a tire who discovers his true potential (naturally, a telekinetic ability to kill anything). This was me fulfilling my potential. I was going to make it through this forest alive.

    I crashed through the brush, running and running, feet pounding, heart beating, feeling alive. Not a single thing could get to me. Then I saw something out of the corner of my eye—a baby black bear! At night! I jumped and moved quickly to the other side of the path, only to realize it was just a stump. Night running is scary.

    I moved on, pushing myself to make it through successfully (i.e. alive). Soon, the sky lightened slightly. I was almost through! I took one last look behind me, saw nothing, and knew that I was going to be okay. I ran straight to Fisher House where I was staying and right up the steps. I quickly let myself in and shut the door behind me, only then pausing to take a break. I was safe! That is, until a few weeks later…

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    We had just finished a workshop on peer reviewing and decided to unwind (the days are long but fulfilling). How better to spend the rest of the evening than watching a horror movie? Babadook it was! So, we went to the living room of Fisher House (alas, the Raup Room was taken) and settled in for an hour and a half of scares. I may have jumped every time the camera panned, and I might have needed to hold onto someone else for most of the movie, but I made it through. I thought, “great! Now for a long summer’s slumber.” Naturally, that was not to be the case.

    Around 2 a.m., I began hearing screams, similar to those of the woman in the movie. At first, I thought I had been dreaming, but then they continued on—dreadful, hysterical, and terrifying. Oi, of all the nights this could happen, it had to be that of a horror movie. Fed up with the fact that my bed was oddly hard and that I had woken up early that day for a run, I became too tired to care much more and just willed myself to sleep to escape that horrible, horrible sound.

    In the morning, I awoke with a shudder to my alarm. I looked around and realized that I was still alive. That was nice. I then glanced at my phone and saw some GroupMeTM texts. Apparently, it was not all in my head, but most of Fisher House had also been up early in the a.m., listening to the caustic screams that pierced the serenity of that gentle night. What’s more, they used their deductive skills to discover the cause. Apparently, the song What Does the Fox Say? is off the mark—foxes do indeed make a sound. Evidently, when they want to mate, they do the most counter-intuitive thing and try to scare all living things nearby away. The fox says this.

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    To conclude this blog post, I would say that this program has taught me many things. One is that movies can be so bad, that they’re good (looking at you, Teeth). Another is that the only thing we have to fear is it itself (it follows, after all). Finally, data research can be boring, so bonding with new friends through thrilling Thursdays is th-fantastic.


Jon is a rising Junior at Harvard studying Environmental Science and Public Policy.