Here’s another campfire ghost story for those looking for a ghost story for children. Not every story on this site is designated for kids, so parents please use discretion. This one is child-safe, though. Enjoy!
Danvers Marsh is a 1,000-acre expanse of forested wetlands preserved and owned by Danvers City Park District. Originally, it had been Indian land and the subject of legend for its unique landscape and what some would regard as mystical qualities. An ancient path weaves through the forest where legend has it that supernatural creatures reside. It was down this path that Seth Gordon went travelling one Saturday morning. He’d never been past the old stone bridge and wanted to see for himself if the old legends were true.
This is what he found.
It was a warm that day and the forest was abuzz with busy insects and chirping birds. A brilliant sun dotted the forest floor with rays of light where ever it could penetrate the trees above. The woods were thick in Danvers Marsh, and the shade was deep.
Entering the forest, Seth had several wildlife encounters. He saw both a raccoon and an opossum which was quite surprising since neither weren’t usually visible during the day. He’d also seen a fox, a deer and badger.
In contrast to the presence of wildlife, Seth noticed an absence of humans along the path. He supposed that it was because Danvers Marsh was remote and most people weren’t up to a 5-mile hike through the forest. They usually stayed to the main park district path that only skirted the edge of forest while the old path Seth was on ran through the forest. It was spotty in places, sometimes disappearing only to reappear later on. It traversed some seriously rugged terrain and could be quite treacherous. Seth had heard of these hazards and had taken reasonable safety precautions and if nothing else, he had his cell phone should he get into any real trouble.
After about an hour into the forest, Seth stopped to take a break. The woods were even thicker now and flying insects hovered in clouds. A soft wind began to blow, pushing Seth’s hair into his face. He reached up to brush it back but once he did, his attention went to a massive oak about 30 yards to his left. He hadn’t noticed it before.
Seth was taken aback by the thing. It stood like a monolith in the forest and it almost looked like an old man watching him. As Seth studied the tree, he felt a tap on the shoulder and glanced around only to be greeted by the sounds of the forest. Nothing more. Yet he scarcely noticed the greeting. He was mesmerized by the tree and by now, he was moving towards it, gazing up as he walked, in awe of its enormous reach. He circled the base.
On the other side, he noticed that the path ended at the trunk and it was as though the tree had been dropped right in the middle of the path. In the deep shade, he found a hidden hollow and sizing it up, he noticed the entry was nearly as tall as he was. His curiosity compelled him to enter, so he did.
He did have to duck his head slightly, but once inside, there was plenty of room for him to stand erect.
As soon as he entered, a limb came with a WOOSH!!, blocking the passageway from the outside. Seth was trapped and the resulting darkness made it so he couldn’t see.
Inside, it took a few minutes for Seth’s eyes to adjust to the darkness and one of the first things he noticed was just how large the hollow was. It would defy reasonable explanation, but the inside of the tree appeared to be larger than the outside! And while this was unnerving to Seth, he continued to assess his surroundings. The ceiling was a mass of knotted tree roots, but the sides were remarkably smooth like the paneled walls of a great hunting lodge. Seth was certain this place was not known to many people, or he would have heard about it.
Once again, Seth felt a tapping on his shoulder. This time, it was not his imagination. He swung around furiously and found himself peering into a mist-face! Seth nearly jumped out of his skin.
“Owa tee owa tee owa tee!” the face shouted at Seth.
Seth had no clue what he was looking at, or what the thing was trying to tell him, but he refused to back up because he’d heard about bad things that happened to people who showed fear or submission. Instead he stood his ground and glared back at the thing in front of him.
“Owa tee owa tee owa tee!” it shouted again.
Seth screwed up his mouth into a grin and thought carefully about what to say.
“Yowa tee too?” It inquired.
Quite unexpectedly, Seth burst into a laughter. He couldn’t help it. The thought of standing there in front of a supernatural-something while it muttered nonsense was just too much for Seth to deal with. It was cracking him up.
“What’s so funny?” asked a voice from across the room. Seth glanced down to see where it came from. Out from a shadowed corner, stepped a squirrel who was peering forward with both hands on hips. He was quite dapper looking, actually.
Seth was still grinning widely. He couldn’t believe his eyes. A talking squirrel and a gibbering — ghost? Now he’d seen it all. But the reality of where he was occurred to him. He was Inside a very large, very old oak tree — and there was no getting out. He’d better play along to escape this thing in one piece. When you don’t know what you’re dealing with, you don’t know what it’s capable of.
“I’m sorry. I must be out of sorts. Don’t know where I am exactly,” he said, looking around.
“You’re inside an oak tree, what do you think?” snapped the squirrel sarcastically.
“Yes, that. Thank you,” replied Seth politely.
“You’re welcome,” said the squirrel. “Well since you’re already here, you might as well know. My name is Sedgwick and this is the Great Enchanted Tree of Willowland. You people know the place as Danvers Marsh, but the name is actually Willowland.”
He stepped forward and made a sweeping gesture, then continued, “This tree is owned – possessed, rather – by this tree spirit. Bet you’ve never seen one of this before, eh? Well, now you have. Goody for you.” Sedgwick shook his finger in the air.
“He was saying Owa tee. What does that mean?” Seth asked, relaxing a bit since he didn’t appear to be in any danger.
“I’m not really sure,” the squirrel put his hand to the side of his mouth and leaned forward. “He jibber-jabbers a lot,” he whispered towards Seth. Then he smiled brightly. “He’s a tree spirit. Isn’t that good enough? Is he supposed to pronounce everything he says like a professor of English? Well . . . Anyway. He’s saying welcome to our tree. He’s greeting you!”
“Ohh!” replied Seth. “Welcome to our tree,” he repeated. “Our tree? How many live here?”
Sedgwick said, “A dozen or so. We’ve always been here and always will be.”
Seth was surprised and asked, “Are you a tree spirit, too?”
“Boy, do you need glasses!” exclaimed Sedgwick. “I’m not a tree fairy! I’m a wood nymph, can’t you tell?” and he swung his behind towards Seth. He pointed to his bottom. “See this? You can’t be a tree spirit and have a butt, you know. It just doesn’t work that way. Boy are you out of the loop!”
“Sorry! I didn’t know,” replied Seth. “I guess I’m just not really up on any of this stuff.”
After a short pause, Seth continued. “Look, I’m a little worried about being trapped in here. Could you please tell me how to get out?”
Sedgwick regarded Seth with narrow eyes. If I tell you how to get out, you’ll blab it to everyone. This place is a secret. I will, however, take you back to where you came from.
And with that, Sedgwick waved his arms and murmured some nonsense of his own. Seth didn’t know what he was doing, and before he could even say a word, he noticed that someone had turned the lights on. He was standing in the grass at Danvers City Park. Sedgwick had used some kind of magic to put him back to where he started!
Seth was stunned. He wondered if he could find his way back . . .