's 2018 Horror Write-off:

Tales from the Old Country: A Short Guide for City Slickers

Submitted by Keetah Spacecat

In my stories about home, I often state the importance of following the strict set of rules that dictate life in the country. There is no clemency for those that don’t know the rules. Ignorance of the rules is not an excuse. Some things have a little more mercy in them than others, and will tend to let a few things here or there slide. But most are not ones to be disrespected. Here, is a short guide to some of the local rules to begin with. It would be impossible to list every little thing, but here is a sampling to at least get the new-folks through their first week or two in the country.

In no particular order.

• If you enter a property with a gate, be sure to close it behind you. Not only do you want whatever it is in there to get out, but you don’t also want to it to follow you home.

• If you feel like something is watching you, they are. Leave the woods as quickly and calmly as you can. Moving too quickly will attract their attention. Don’t run unless you can feel breath on the back of your neck. If you do, never look back behind you.

• Stay out of the corn fields at night. Things live in there. If you see lights in the field, leave it alone. It isn’t any of your business.

• When driving at night, keep your eyes in front of you. DON’T look to the sides of the road. You don’t want to attract attention to yourself. If you are alone, put something on the passenger seat. It can be anything from a bag to a soda bottle, as long as there is something on the seat. An empty seat is an invitation, and you don’t want something coming home with you.

• Trust your animals. If you faithful friend doesn’t want you to go into the woods, don’t go into the woods. If they growl or hiss at someone, be on guard. If they refuse to go outside, stay in the house.

• Sometimes you might meet an old lady in the woods looking for wild herbs. Help her pick some and she may give you some advice that will be rather important and personal to you. You will only ever run into her once and never a second time.

• Those are not the neighbors kids on your porch at night. They aren’t anyone’s kids. Don’t let them inside.

• If you hear someone calling to you from the woods, do NOT follow the voice!

• No, It is not your mother. It is NEVER your mother.

• There is never just one Coyote.

• If the forest goes quiet, leave as quickly as you can. You don’t want to be around whatever frightened the forest into silence.

• Mind your own business. If your neighbor has a lot of pigs and people around the area go missing, don’t go over there.

• Mountain lions and wolves may be declared extinct on the east coast, but sometimes their ghosts still wander around the mountains.

• If someone in the woods starts screaming, don’t bother. It’s too late for them at this point.

• Cats are safe and can be followed. If one leads you to safety, be sure to thank them. If they will take a pet, give them one. Small offerings are also accepted.

• Just because an animal eats something, it doesn’t mean its safe for you to eat it. This is just common sense.

• Don’t go in water that you can’t see the bottom of. Things live there, and they don’t like you trespassing.

• Don’t be worried about snakes. It’s the deer you should be worried about.

• Never invite people you don’t know into your home. The power to allow things into your home is yours alone. Don’t allow things to trick their way inside. You will not survive it.

• Ignore the lights in the sky. It isn’t your business.

• The trees are alive, and they can see you.

This is just a short sampling of things I learned as I grew up. In time perhaps I can write some more guides to the deep country, but for now, these should keep you alive.

At least, for a little while.