The Haunting at Harvey Woods

A scary prank becomes a night of unexplained terror in the dark forest

Photo: Florian Rathcke / EyeEm EyeEm / Getty Images

The woods have always been a place of mystery, where danger and the unknown lurk in the thick dark. The deep forest links profoundly with our subconscious, where both good and evil live. And wandering into it can only lead to adventure and the unexpected. Liz R. and her friend Danielle found that out in a way that will stay with them forever. It began for them as a prank they wanted to pull on their friends to scare them. But it was the woods that reversed the trick on them - and turned the trick to terror. This is Liz R.'s true story:

ONE EVENING, my best friend Danielle and I were walking in a thick wood near our houses. We would often meet in these woods -- the Harvey Woods of Wallingford, Pennsylvania -- because it was halfway between both our streets. We had always suspected something creepy about these woods. There is a stone bridge with a plaque marked 1827, old broken street lights, an old flooded stone path and two small stone structures.

One of the structures slightly resembles a jail cell or torture chamber of some sort. It is all stone except for an open spot, where a door used to be, and a barred window. There are two visible steps leading into it, but it is flooded from there down with black water. The other stone structure is slightly larger. It too is all stone. It has no windows but, like the other, it has an open space where a door existed at one point. Inside there is a somewhat large metal device, quite dense in appearance.

It looks as if some form of electricity ran through it. Next to it there is a broken metal chair bolted down to the floor. There are four pits against two of the four walls. The pits are filled with black water, like in the smaller structure.

This certain evening was strange. Danielle and I can be quite bold and we do not get scared easily.

We are not the type to run from an adventure. We were walking back to the small structure (which we called "the cell" at the time) with bottles of red spray paint. We were planning to scare the pants off our friends that night by taking them back to the cell and finding "blood" (the spray paint) on it.

When we got to the cell, it was dark and cold as usual -- quite eerie, actually. We began spray painting the "blood" on the bars of the window. I took one of Dani's house keys out of my pocket to make scratches on the wall to make it look like soemone had tried to climb out of the cell.

Suddenly, something knocked the key out of my hand. Dani had not seen it because she was on the other side of the cell doing the same with her key. I watched as my key disappeared into the depths of the black water. I walked out, minding my step as usual, so I didn't join the key at the bottom of the water. I told Danielle that I dropped my key, so I couldnt finish, although I had made some scratch-marks.

Just then, our friend Kevin walked up and saw us. He told us he had been looking for us all day and that Dani's dad told him we were in the woods. We left with him so he wouldn't be suspicious of our planned trick.

Next page: The Prank Backfires

Later that night, we invited a bunch of friends to Dani's house. We sat in her basement until her parents went to sleep. Then we snuck out the basement door and we all went to the woods. We decided to walk through the entire woods, following the path. We were going see who could last the longest without getting scared and turning back.

When we reached the cell, Dani acted surprised to see it and suggested we stop and check it out.

Dani and I played it off really well, like we had never noticed it before. We started inspecting the whole thing "out of curiosity." But then I noticed something inexplicable and that turned the trick around on us: the "blood" and "scratches" Dani and I had made were no longer there!

I gave Dani a confused look and she returned it when she saw that our markings had disappeared. "It's getting late," Danielle said, trying to conceal her fright. "Let's turn back." So we left and went back to Danielle's house.

As we neared her house, we saw a figure sitting on the back porch. Immediately we thought it was Dani's dad and that we had been caught. As we approached the figure, Dani began to make up some false story about us going out for a walk because nobody could sleep. When we got close enough to see the figure, however, it seemed to gradually evaporate into nothingness. Now we were oficially scared!

We darted down into the basement through the basement trap doors and locked them tightly behind us.

No one could sleep after being so scared, so we all sat and watched TV on the basement floor. While we were watching, the TV suddenly shut off by itself -- absolutely scaring the wits out of all of us.

We all huddled together in a corner next to the TV. I kept thinking about the key and our dissapearing false blood and scratches. The thought wouldnt leave me. We all eventually fell asleep, all huddled together.

The next morning, Dani's dad came down and asked us what we were doing out so late the night before. We played clueless, acting like we had fallen asleep long before he did. He told us that he heard us come upstairs and peek in his room -- which we did not do! We figured it was the dog or something, and paid it no mind.

When we all went upstairs with her dad to grab some breakfast and then go out, we noticed a rusted, dirty key sitting by the back porch door. My mind reeled! Could it possibly be the same key I dropped into the depths of the cell's black water? If so, how did it get here?

To this day, we have never told Dani's dad what really happened. And Dani and I never told the girls our plan and how it played back on us.

But most important, we still have no clue as to what happened to the blood and scratches... who the figure was on the porch... how the TV shut off... who was in Dani's dad's room that night... or how the key got back inside.

We may never know, but one thing is for sure: We know we are never going back into Harvey Woods again!