The Slip: A Virginia Horror Story
Virginia horror story of a man who encounters terrifying visions of his neighbors while walking a mysterious path in his backyard. Written by Kyle Moore.
We had lived at the house in Chesapeake for an entire month before I stumbled upon it. Between trying to unpack from the move and work and summer camp and all the crazy things that life just keeps throwing your way, my daughters and I were too busy to sit and enjoy the quaint two story with the big back yard and the little planters that hung from the eaves.
But we were running out of summer, and the girls desperately wanted to throw a party for their friends before school started. That meant I had to brave the outdoors, the air like a festering stew pot, in order to mow the lawn and whack the weeds and clean up the back deck.
That was how I found the Slip.
The backyard was bordered on either side of the house by two lengths of wooden fence that appeared to converge at a single corner behind a tight group of old trees. The thing was, from most places in the backyard, you couldn’t actually tell where the fences met, the gnarled and twisted trunks crisscrossing and meandering in such a way to form a wall beyond which one could not see.
Not that it seemed there was much purpose to the fences as they were low enough that it was easy to see right over them. From my back deck I could see straight into the backyards and even into the houses of at least four of my neighbors. Only the tress in the back kept me from seeing more.
I had mowed the backyard at least once before I first made that terrible discovery. But then I stopped at the tree line, not really seeing a purpose to address anything beyond. But this time I figured I should at least take a look, see if there was any poison ivy or nettles that the kids could get into come the day of the party.
I didn’t find any potentially troublesome flora, but as I crunched my way through brittle grass and a dense layer of old, dead leaves, I found something curious.
The fences on either side of my backyard did not in fact meet in a corner. They didn’t meet at all, instead turning sharply away from each other and then running down in parallel lines. This left a kind of corridor that squeezed between two rows of backyards. Every couple of yards or so a tree or two sprouted up and draped its leaves entirely over the passage so that even in the middle of a hot summer day it was dark, its floor a composite of rough grasses, decayed leaves, and broken forgotten branches cast in a permanent gray-gold shadow.
Curious, I crept into what I would eventually call the Slip, my pre-party chores completely ignored in favor of this strange new place to explore.
I only took one step in before I stopped immediately. The crunching sound of my foot crushing the long dead foliage that carpeted the Slip was abnormally loud. The silence that followed felt almost louder in its own oppressive way. I craned my neck from left to right, and the Slip was so quiet it was almost as though I could hear the tendons and muscles in my neck tugging and pulling and sliding against each other. It was like that place ate noise—a black hole for sound.
I felt fear, for some reason. I was between places, between worlds, in a non-place. Being in that tree covered corridor was like being in some crooked seam in reality, tucked in between the backyards of my neighbors.
That’s how the Slip got its name. Because that passage allowed anyone that entered to secretly slip between the fenced off property off my neighbors unseen. But this came with the burden of knowing that you didn’t belong there. No one did.
I marched further into the Slip, the sweat that pasted my t-shirt to my skin cooling to a chill as I pressed deeper. A breeze out of place in the thick Virginian summer snaked its way around the tree trunks and slithered across my exposed skin and I shivered. Each step deeper into the Slip felt like it was pushing little tendrils of apprehension through my body, like it was growing up through the ground and into my feet. But my curiosity was unbowed.
The deeper in I went, the older the fence posts appeared, slowly devolving from that fresh light tan of newly purchased lumber to the old, empty gray wood of time and decay. And beyond, into the generous backyards of my neighborhood, those secret places tucked away from the street, everything was quiet, and empty. Pinwheels stood still, wooden decks stood populated only by insects that skittered silently across their weathered surfaces.
I knew I shouldn’t have been there, and I had no idea what kind of trouble I would be in if one of my neighbors had ventured out back and seen me creeping along in the Slip. Yet, after a time, one vacant yard after another filled me with a sense of desolation, so much so that I almost wanted to be caught, to be seen. It was a crazy impulse, but I wanted to see someone just so that I could prove that I was no longer alone on this planet.
“Dad!” my older daughter yelled. She sounded so far away, but a quick glance at my watch told me I had only been in the Slip for five minutes; I couldn’t have been more than fifteen yards in, if that. “Dad! What are we having for lunch?”
Her voice broke whatever strange spell that place held over me—in that moment anyway. I followed the echo of her voice out of the Slip, back into the muggy backyard, and back into normal, everyday, life. The Slip remained unexplored for a month after that as life has a way of keeping you busy.
But from that point on, I knew it was there.
A month later the summer had come to an end, school was back, and the heat was reluctantly loosening its grip.
One night, while the kids were in bed, I crept out onto the deck to sneak a cigarette. The light bulb for the back deck had burned out, but that was okay; I liked the dark. It made me feel like I was all alone, a kind of secret, locked up in my own place where no one else could get me. I could look into my neighbors’ backyards and into their houses, and aside from the small orange pinprick of light given off by the Marlboro between my lips, I was invisible.
The family in the house off to the left was having a late dinner. The mother and father, attractive in their own sterile way, looked over their children with blank, emotionless, stares as they shoveled forkful after forkful of food into their mouths. Off to the right, a balding middle-aged man with a pot belly was watching sports on a TV that took up nearly the whole wall. Upstairs a withered woman I assumed was his wife, her hair desperately clinging onto its color in the face of the oncoming invasion of gray, was reading a book.
It was all very wholesome and insanely boring. But then, how was my life all that different? I came home from work every day, rushed my kids through homework, dinner, activities and showers. My life was the same thing every single day, mindlessly counting down the hours until I got the kids in bed and could pop outside for a smoke before I also went to sleep.
I puffed one last lungful of smoke into the night air, the gray blue phantom hovering and floating in front of me before gradually fading into the darkness. I crushed the butt of the cigarette out against the deck railing before flicking it out into the grass.
Giving the hazy stars and the boring family tableaus one last look, I turned and started to head back inside when I stopped, my hand wrapped around the door knob.
Curiosity like I had never felt before filled me as I trudged through my backyard. The family to my left was still forking food into their uninterested mouths, while the balding head of the man to the right was fixed on the game. A second later they disappeared, vanished behind the cluster of trees at the back of the yard.
Gnarled tree trunks nudged and scraped at me as I picked my way through them, almost like trying to shove your way through a heavy crowd. And on the other end, staring back at me, was the Slip.
At night, the Slip was foreboding and welcoming at the same time. That gap between fences seemed wider than what I remembered, like they were cringing away from each other. Between them was darkness with shafts and runners of faint, silvery, light sparsely piercing through the black. This feeble light would touch a desiccated leaf here, or slid along the shaft of a nameless tree there. It felt like it was calling to me, welcoming inside.
I stepped into the Slip.
The first thing I noticed was the silence. That crazy silence that seemed to eat sound—silence so thick you could feel it draped over you like a blanket. I shifted my weight, and the leaf that crunched under foot was as loud as the crash of a cymbal, but instead of ringing out, the noise just died in the air. The clamor followed by the even more oppressive lack of clamor made me wince.
On reflex I looked to the neighbors on the left, some part of me sure that they had heard, that they knew I was there. I felt discovered, right up until my brain started processing the scene I was witnessing.
The same family sat around the same dinner table, but they were no longer eating dinner in that same, flat, emotionless way. The kids were threatening each other with their forks while the father screamed silently at everyone, his hair, usually combed and parted perfectly to the side, was disheveled in stray knife blade shapes. Meanwhile the mother, her face contorted in a mask of rage and disgust, had snatched up her chair and started slamming its legs against the table.
Quickly I jumped out of the Slip. My vision of the family was broken for only an instant by a tree, but the moment I had cleared it and was looking through the window… the scene had reverted back to one of a calm and peaceful, if dull, family, having a late dinner.
I stepped back into the Slip to discover the girl now poised over her brother, trying to jab her fork into his face as he held her off. Meanwhile the chair wielded by the mother had been destroyed, and she had instead taken up one of its legs, swinging it around like a club. The father, his hair more jagged than ever glared at the woman. It was his look more than anything else on the other side of that window, that filled me with dread. I have never in my life seen so much hatred in one face and yet, at the same time, I got the distinct impression that there was nothing there. No consciousness. Like staring into the glassy eyes of a museum exhibit.
I turned away, if only to shield myself. That was a mistake.
I was looking into my other neighbor’s house. The balding man was still seated on his couch, but instead of watching a game, he was watching… it was difficult to tell what he was watching at first. There was a lot of red and yellow and pink. It took a few seconds to determine that he was watching some animal being slaughtered on television. What was more horrific was that it appeared to be still alive as a blood spattered paw kept fluttering on and off screen.
I was so transfixed by this horror that it took me a few seconds to remember there was a wife. I glanced upstairs to discover that she was gone. My eyes fell to the only other window on that side of the house, a small kitchen window with thin lacy curtains drawn partially to the sides.
Her face was hollow, eroded by age, whatever beauty she may have once held destroyed by time. She was looking out the window, and would have seen me, should have seen me, but her eyes were lifeless. I don’t think she was seeing anything at all.
At first it looked like she was mindlessly washing dishes, the way her shoulders moved. But then a flash of light crossed her face and she turned away from the window and disappeared. A moment later she appeared in the large picture window behind the balding man. The image on the tv had turned into pure mutilation, a dull gray blade hammering down on the twitching meat over and over again as blood sprayed and splattered against the camera.
Transfixed by the gore on the television, it took me a few seconds to realize that the woman now held a large knife. She hoisted the blade high with her wiry arm, and swung it down. The blade dove deep into the man’s neck.
Something between a whimper and a scream escaped me. In the dead still of the Slip it sounded like a squeak. I turned and ran, my fingers already diving into my pocket for my cellphone. By the time I had left the Slip, I was already dialing a 9, when I looked up at the house to the right and saw… the balding man was watching the game. Upstairs his wife was reading her book, only now she was sipping at a glass of wine.
Shocked, I again entered the Slip. The woman was stabbing her husband in the neck over and over again.
Blood stippled the walls and soaked the top of the couch. There was no way the man could possibly be alive, and yet she kept stabbing him, every time she yanked the blade out of his flesh, strings and chunks of raw meat clung to steel and landed on the sofa in sickening clumps.
I stepped out of the Slip. The man took a sip from his beer. His wife turned the page of her book.
Inside the Slip, she had cut her way halfway through his neck, his head hanging at an unnatural angle, with his ear pointing straight up at the ceiling.
Outside of the Slip, a beer commercial had come on the TV.
When I reentered the Slip once more, I stayed. Curiosity and terror wrestled each other within me, and curiosity only just won out. To my left, the family had broken out into a bloody melee, to my right, the woman was now stabbing her knife down into the stump where her husband’s head used to be.
I went further into the Slip. If nothing else, I wanted to understand what in the hell was going on. Each window I encountered displayed pictures of horror worse than the one before. One of the neighbor kids, a teenage girl, sat in her room and cut strips of flesh from her own thighs, and slowly ate them, tears of blood streaming down her cheeks the whole time. Opposite of her, a little boy clung to the ceiling of the living room, his face twisted somehow, his mouth split all the way to his neck like a Pez dispenser. Below him, his parents remained oblivious to his existence, even as he unhinged his mouth and his tongue drooped down long and slick and snake-like.
Further still into the Slip and I saw a room full of people hanging from the ceiling by their necks. They should have been dead, or at least dying, but every single one of them writhed and squirmed and swung, their hands scrabbling at the nooses drawn around their throats. Further down the Slip, I watched as people cowered under tables and behind couches as this thing with spikes for nails and a bag of cheese cloth over its head blindly hunted for them.
Throughout this menagerie of terror, one thing was clear; I remained unseen. Beast and victim alike often looked out their back windows; they should have seen me, but didn’t. I was invisible, protected from these nightmares by the Slip.
It’s difficult to describe the emotions that assaulted me as I snuck deeper into the Slip. Terror, of course. The fear in that place was almost electric, rippling across every surface and humming in the air. But this fear was accompanied by compulsion and curiosity. As horrific as the sights the Slip offered were, there was a certain amount of safety that allowed such dark inquisitiveness to take root. And with that came an even darker emotion, one that I’m almost shameful to admit to, but there was no denying it—there in the Slip under everything else there bubbled a perverse joy. I couldn’t even tell you from where it came. Was it the voyeuristic thrill? Some primal sadism?
Walking through the Slip felt like I had been exempted from death.
I couldn’t recount every horror and every grotesque I observed in the Slip. Even if I could, you wouldn’t want me to. But I followed it still further, the leaves on the ground crackling like brittle bones, the trunks of the trees that stood like columns the color of ash. I looked into every house, and through every window I saw a nightmare. That was until I came to the house at the bend.
I don’t know how far in, but the Slip eventually took a sharp turn to the left, leaving me standing directly in front of a single house. This house, unlike all the others, remained completely unlit. Not just the indoor lights were out, but nothing outdoors either. It didn’t even look like the street lights that should have been on the other side of it were on. The house was hardly a shadow, a part of the night that was darker than everything else.
By now the compulsion that drew me forward had become this completely different thing, as though I could look over my shoulder and see it grinning back at me. It tugged at me feet and yanked my hands until they rested on the fence before me.
The house, tall, and thin, a monolith, reared up over me, it felt like if I looked up, I would see the apex of its roof hovering directly over my head. I watched in the silence, searching for any detail, some part of the blackness that was less black than everything else. I had to know about this house–everything.
I began to hoist my weight up against the fence, one foot already planted against the ancient boards, gray and crooked like the teeth of a corpse. My other leg I started to swing over when a light came on in the house.
If this house was anything like my house, this was the back door, leading to the backyard. Unlike my door, though, it was completely glass, allowing me to see everything. I could see the yellow light bulb, and the plain hallway on the other side of the door. And the black figure that stood just in front of the light so that its features remained in shadow.
Slowly its hand lowered itself from the light switch. I knew right then and there, it hadn’t just seen me, it was staring at me. I could feel its eyes, hidden though they were by the shadows, crawling all over me, like cold dead fingers, caressing at first until their touch grew colder and harsher, digging into flesh, dragging me down, under the earth, into the cold and the damp where I could feel things wriggling against my lifeless skin right before consuming me bit by bit.
It not only knew I was there, it expected me. Wanted me. After all of those nightmares I had witnessed, I realized this was supposed to be mine.
It took a step.
I did not understand why I wasn’t running. Why was I still holding on to that stupid fence? Why didn’t I drop my legs?
It took another step. It was right by the back door now.
And I still couldn’t move. I finally understood what every deer and rabbit must feel when it is staring down those two bright lights roaring down a lonely highway.
It opened the door.
Somehow I managed to convince my feet to at least get back down to the ground.
I saw its hand rise up again, slowly. What was it doing? Was it pointing to me? No. I could see its hand, it was off to the side… It was reaching for something… another light switch. I realized it was reaching for the back porch light, and if it turned it on, I would see it. I would see whatever horror lay hidden beneath the shadow, whatever terrible thing that wanted to do to me all of the things I had just seen and more.
Its hand disappeared back into shadow, and I knew it was only inches from the light switch. Finally my body started taking orders again, and I turned and ran. The leaves roaring under my feet lit up in oranges and sickening, meat colored reds. It had turned its light on and if I just turned around for a second I would see its face…
I resisted the urge, forcing my legs to pump harder, barely even registering the lactic acid as it screamed through my thighs. So mindless in my panic was I that I almost ran headlong into a tree, veering only at the last second, but not quite soon enough to miss it completely. It clipped me on the shoulder and spun me around. I tried to screw my eyes shut, but not before they caught shards of the thing on the porch.
I didn’t see everything, or if I did, my mind blocked it from memory. Even now I mostly only remember what I saw in nightmares. A glimmer of wet, slow, yellowed eyes, a mouth that wasn’t quite in the right place with teeth that weren’t quite the right color or set at quite the right angle.
I’m glad I didn’t see more—don’t remember more.
That night, I think I was on the cusp of losing my sanity forever when I finally spilled out of the Slip, panting on the ground. We moved less than a month later. And again a year after that. I’m pretty sure any cut rate therapist would tell you I’ve been running from the Slip and the thing inside of it ever since.
Which brings me to why I’m telling you all of this in the first place. If you buy a nice little house out in Chesapeake, and go exploring the backyard one day to discover the fences don’t actually meet behind that cluster of trees in the back, go to the hardware store, buy some good sturdy boards and some nails, and close the gap. Better yet, call a realtor, and start packing your things.
Whatever you do, don’t go exploring, no matter how harmless that place might seem, or how intense your curiosity. There’s something deep inside there, and it wants you. Forever.
10 Responses to “The Slip: A Virginia Horror Story”
Wow, scary Kyle, I almost stopped reading because it’s so late and I have to go to bed and didn’t want night mares. Hope I don’t have any. Great job grandson. Love you
Very well-written story. One of my new favorites on this site.
A fricking text came in while I was reading this and it scared the crap out of me!
Wow…..Freaky as hell.
Love this site and the stories.
Be careful of strange things in your yards people!!
Love this site… The stories really kick butt. This one is awesome. B.D
Wow, another great one!!! This story gets 50,000,000 standing ovations!!
kyle you maintanined the suspense all over, till the end.
Awesome story and very much gripping!!!!!!!!!!!!
SO…TOTALLY…..AWESOME….like something from a dark corner of insanity.
You have a gift for description that made me see inside the slip and feel I was there. Good job!
HOLY CRAP Kyle! This was so awesome! I’m a horror fanatic and find most modern horror stories and movies don’t quite do the trick anymore but this really got me!