The Groaning Man

Updated: Sep 30, 2021

The Groaning Man Concept Art-02

July 19th, 1977. 12:43 AM

The Groaning Man is out there. Somewhere.

I write this with hope that, as I scribble down these unreal words, his moans will turn back to the breezes they once were, and it’ll all have been a wild, wild dream. But even now, as my pencil dulls, I hear him still.

He has followed me for three days; has haunted me for nights the same—tonight being the third. No matter how the trudge, how steep the hikes, how fast I find my way through the spiry woods, he always finds me. I’ve tried being discreet, veering from the walked trails, tramping the untouched soils, leaving not even so much as a snapped twig to catch my scent. Nothing seems to work, and, as crazy as I must sound to whomever has their hands upon this desperate scrawl, I swear that I can feel his eyes upon my head, right there at the very back. I feel them there now. So much so that even as I mark these words, I’m spinning the circles of this tent just to keep him away from me.

I feel delusional.

I haven’t slept; I cannot do that.

When I finally cocoon myself in, I lie quiet as can be, peering over these thin sheets at that arched, flap door. I keep my vision on that zipper. Waiting, just waiting for it move, for that flap to open on up to let that man who groans like the drunk and dying in. But nothing happens. And still I cannot sleep. I won’t sleep.

I refuse to.

July 19th, 1977. 6:58 AM

I did it; I don’t know how I did it, but I did—I didn’t once close my lids.

He left just before daybreak, but up and until he was still out there, stumbling longly through the stones, groaning, taunting. I feel it that each night he gets just a little closer, tracing his steps like the rings of these trees, finding his way to the center of some nightmare labyrinth. I feel that when he finds it is when he’ll find me, and by then I’ll not have it in me to keep these tired eyes of mine opened.

Waiting game.

He’s watching me right now. Itchy, matted, swirling hair—his watch is warm and achy and dizzy like clustering progressions of age and time. It’s creeping toward my face. Slow, but blunt. Heavy bones; weirder pressures at my temples, and brittles in my cheeks. Making me second guess. Making me bask in the sun a bit too long. Hard to breath. To think. Only thing that’ll have it leave is if I scratch that itch at the back of my head. And I’ll not do that, not for lack of want, and not for disbelief, but simply for the plain truth that I fear. Better mind tells me that if I put my fingers there, what I’ll find is him—that Groaning Man—I’ll see him with fingers dug into eye sockets, feeling his sweats and sicknesses, hearing his groans.

And he’ll see and feel and hear me.

Because he’s watching.

But I have a plan.

I’ve got to go.

July 19th, 1977. 11:11 PM

I—I think it worked. I truly think it.

He’s not come. All that is, is the slight pattering that puts a rain, a frog’s croak or two, a hum of wind. But not a groan. Paid with tangled knees and arms and elbows for it, but hadn’t that been the plan?

Stay awake a while longer, better mind sits upon my shoulder, chatting, just to see.

Sure. But it’s past his times. I will stay a while longer here, edge of sanity, crooked back, itchy fever, but dare I fantasize that I’ll catch sleep?

I don’t think anything has ever sounded sweeter.

I’ll keep the lantern.

July 20th, 1977. 2:16 AM

I awoke unmoving, unable to curl even my toes. Flap was open, and it was dark—none in the way of remnants were left in the lights of the lantern.

The flap was open. Someone had opened it, sleuthing around my tent while I was in sleep, doing God knows—

What hell is happening to me?

Need I even guess who?

I thought it was safe to fall there, upward into those lands of dream; I thought he was gone.

Not safe.

There’s a pitchfork here now, too, and after my body came again to me, I noticed it propped against one corner, skewer-side-up, cracks and all. It’s not mine. It’s just sitting there, pushing against the walls of my tent, widening its world.

It’s not mine, and it’s—

Not safe, I’m repeating to myself, droning the words till they leak from my lips like babble, not safe—but then again, you’d already known none of this was safe, hadn’t you? When you left?

Unfumbling sleep: now that’s an idea!

One of those ones that had always seemed like a shinier object than its actual gleam. The real thing’s chipped. Its breaks painted over. And the pillow of it never really puffs like you’d want, it just sort of crumples inward, meek, pathetic.

I would keep the pitchfork by the bed— Now that’s an idea! —if not for the fact that I can’t.

I don’t trust it. I don’t want to touch the stains of what it’s been used for. I’ll keep my fingerprints for now.

Wide awake.

Not for long.

July 20th, 1977. 12:59 PM

I’ve done nothing—nothing but sit in my tent, watching the fork.

It’s bothering me. It sort of makes this whole thing more of an unreality—I can believe it when bad things happen to not-so-bad people, for we’re full of it, and we keep it going. But this is alike to nothing. Better mind tells me this. He tells, too, that this shouldn’t be happening. Not as if it was a tragic family’s tree, or a spot of unluck, or just a mere circumstance. But as if it wasn’t right at all.

Can’t be happening, better mind tells me, not this. Not here.

But it is. He’s waltzing about these woods, kicking stones, groaning groans, leaving behind his tools and droppings and messages and threats, leaving me mindless—but better mind doesn’t leave. He takes it back. He wonders. He looks at it a way that I cannot. I trust him. I didn’t lose my life just to actually lose my life, slit by blades, by forks, by insane hands, in the middled nowhere of the fucking forest.

It’ll fight, that better mind.

He’ll fight if I can’t.

July 20th, 1977. 1:17 PM

Outside is deathly— Not safe. —and unwelcome. Cold. Not along. How’d it snap so chillingly? That drastic? Sun was high. I felt it slu