A man and his family were mushroom-picking in the woods when he unintentionally came across a headstone with a picture of him from when he was a child. When he asked the residents in the area how it could be possible, he discovered that a violent cult had once resided there and that his family had suffered a horrible fate he was unaware.

Travis, Eve, and their 8-year-old son Robin meandered into the woods collecting mushrooms for dinner while the wind howled through a dense forest of scarlet oak. Since relocating to Maine to escape the swelteringly hot and muggy Texas summers, it had become their favorite weekend activity.

Travis, 34, found it easier to deal with his health challenges after relocating to the peaceful hamlet in the magnificent hills. When his employer offered him a transfer and promotion to Maine, it appeared to be the ideal area to live and earn good money because doctors had urged him to do so.

Since their relocation to this region of the Pine Tree State three months prior, the serene, breezy afternoon appeared typical until Travis decided to travel far into the woods, a location they had never visited. He only wanted to examine the area out of curiosity.

As he made his way along the gravel road, Travis saw their Doberman Brandy was nowhere to be found. “He must’ve gone to pee,” he reasoned, but when he heard the dog barking violently a few yards away, he became concerned. Following Brandy’s shrill barks, Travis came across him fearfully smelling something before crouching back and rushing again.”What is it, boy? Phwwwt, come here,” Travis pushed through the tall, tangled grass and continued walking, only to be astounded to see over a hundred tombstones ahead of him. Some were still in decent condition. Some that were coated in garbage and moss were eroded over time. But a particular grave marker Travis came upon shortly after surprised him.


For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

“Whoa, what is this place? And 1800s cemetery or something?” Eve and Robin followed, and Travis covered his mouth in disbelief.

“Honey, I think we should go back. I don’t get a good feeling about this place. Look at those antlers and these bones and voodoo dolls. Oh my God, let’s go. This place is giving me the creeps,” In a state of terror, Eve hunched her shoulders against the brisk fall air.

But at that time, their son Robin had already delved deeper and was no longer in their line of sight. They heard him scream out of the blue as if he had seen a ghost. “Daddy…Mommy…Look, I found DAD’S PHOTO…I found DAD’S PHOTO!”

“I heard the tombstones were cursed … And the children who visited them died.”

Fear gripped Travis and Eve as they dashed to the area, only to halt as they saw what they had done. Robin pointed at a grave that had collapsed and had a headstone with his father Travis’s early portrait on it that was slightly tilted. Travis swept the dust from the ceramic portrait while his hands shook and were startled to see his birthdate engraved there. It was his very own birthday, January 29, 1984.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

“This is unbelievable! What’s my photo doing out here…on this headstone?? And I don’t remember wearing this dull yellow shirt in my childhood. I don’t remember anything, but still, this makes no sense,” Travis felt threatened. As Eve clutched his arm and begged him to take them home, he pulled out his phone and hurriedly snapped a photo of the plaque.

“Let’s go from here, honey. I don’t get a good feeling about this place. Did you see that earthenware? And bones? I’m sure something weird was going on over here. This whole place looks haunted, and I think we’re not supposed to be here. And why’s this graveyard isolated from the rest of the town? Something must be wrong. Let’s leave,” She spoke.

Travis led his family out of the woods and into his jeep as soon as possible. But the strange monument with his childhood photograph and an identical birthdate continued to trouble him.

“Babe, I can’t drive. I’m not able to focus… Can you just…”

After that, Travis was unable to concentrate on anything. Travis sat stiff, biting his nails, and lost in thought while Eve moved to the driver’s seat and took off for home.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

“Maybe I’m thinking too much…

It’s just a photo, and it could be a coincidence. I heard we have at least six doppelgangers out there in the world! But…”

“But what, honey?” When they got home, Eve added her two cents and handed Travis a cup of hot tea.

He pointed to the headstone photo on his phone and stated.

He pointed to the headstone photo on his phone and stated, “This picture of this boy who looks like me.” “How did it get there? Is this little boy me? But I haven’t been to Maine all my life.”

“Babe, you’re just overthinking. You don’t remember anything about your childhood. Maybe it’s just a lookalike, as you said. Stop thinking about it and get the bacon from the fridge. I’m starving. Let’s make dinner. It’s your turn today.”

“Still, a little version of myself out in the woods on a tombstone? That’s rather strange. Could this picture help me find any of my relatives…or parents who abandoned me? Is it connected to them by any chance?” Travis paused, thinking back to the day 31 years prior when he had been suddenly left at the door of a cathedral.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

Travis was discovered outside a church in Texas on March 11, 1987, on a wet evening, with a note in his pocket.

“This boy’s name is Travis. He was born on January 29, 1984. He’s 3 years old and needs help. Please do not send him back to where he came from.”

On that note, there was no mention of a surname or anything else that might have assisted Travis in tracing his family history in the future. His blood-stained garments surprised the priest and nun who discovered him, who then quickly called the police. But nobody was able to identify the youngster or learn his background.

A Catholic couple in Downtown Texas adopted Travis after he was placed in foster care. Although the boy did have flimsy memories of his birth parents as a child, those memories eventually vanished. However, he spent most of his adolescence haunted by a weird dream in which a woman was rushing through the woods while carrying a young boy.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Travis had this dream frequently, but he never really paid much attention. Due to his worries about his missing parents and his love of hiking in the woods, he even thought at one point that it was only his imagination playing tricks on him. He also yearned to locate his family to learn what had become of them and why he had been abandoned. But he never came across a tip that may have enabled him to solve the mystery.

Travis eventually stopped trying to find his family, and as the years passed, he came to terms with his new life, got married to Eve, and moved on. But he never expected that his past, which he could not remember, would resurface through a weathered grave marker and further perplex him.

Travis tried to ignore the tombstone’s memory, but some of him urged him to look into it more. He walked around town to inquire about their knowledge of the abandoned cemetery in the woods.

Some informed him that only one person in the town could assist him, while others were too afraid to bring it up. The oldest person in the community was a widow named Lois Woods, 89. Then, to meet the older woman the following day, Travis and Eve arrived at her door.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

“You sure she’d know something? I hope she doesn’t throw big eyes at us and walk away after hearing ‘cemetery in the woods’ like those in the café this evening,” They were outside Lois’s woodhouse when Eve put her hand on Travis’ shoulder.

Travis replied as he tightened his fist to knock again, “Heard she’s the oldest in this neighborhood, and I’m sure she must know something,” However, the door squeaked open, and an elderly, frail woman clutching a walking stick was there on the other side.

“Yes, how may I help you?” responded Lois, whose aging mouth and missing teeth prevented her from speaking quickly.

“Hey there! I’m Travis, and this is my wife, Eve. We moved here three months ago. And yesterday, we were in the woods near the town…picking mushrooms. And we…we saw these old tombstones there. Do you know anything about that place? It looks like a deserted cemetery, but why is it detached from the main town? And there’s this headstone with me.”

As Lois looked directly into Travis’s eyes, the rose on her droopy cheeks was pallid with fear. She slammed the door behind them after asking them to enter immediately.

“My dear, you’re not supposed to go there.

and do you have young children?” She questioned nervously.

“Yes, a son…Robin. He’s 8 years old.”

“Oh, dear… I’m afraid you’re not supposed to go anywhere near those woods with your son… it’s not safe to take little kids to that place.”

When Lois said this, Travis and Eve felt uneasy.

“Oh, well, I didn’t know that. We just moved here a few months back. We don’t know much about the woods and the cemetery there. Do you know about headstones? And why is that place deserted? And take a look at this.” Travis showed Lois the photo of the headstone bearing his childhood picture. “Do you know this kid?”

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

“I haven’t seen those headstones, and I don’t think I’ve seen this boy before…but I heard the tombstones were cursed, according to old folklore locals believe in this town,” said Lois. “And the children who visited them died. Maybe it’s a myth, but I wouldn’t tempt fate.”

“That’s strange! But why would people put up headstones to scare only children? And we saw some strange earthenware and bones there,” Eve interrupted. “Voodoo dolls and weird knives made from bones.”

Before disclosing something the couple wasn’t expecting, Lois sighed heavily.

“When I was a teen, my grandma told me about this religious cult that had lived in the woods since the late 1800s. Locals believed the men and women of that secret society hosted occult ceremonies and rituals at night to please their god and seek happiness in the afterlife. They even hosted strange sacrifices to choose their leader. Some decades later, one man was chosen as their crowned leader. I heard police stormed the cult after they kidnapped and sacrificed little children to satisfy their gods. Some said a couple with twins tried to escape from this cult, and they just disappeared into the woods. Many rumors kept spreading in town after the cult was taken down.”

“Oh, my God!” Travis tightened his grip on Eve’s hand as she screamed in despair. The things Lois had said had equally astounded him.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

“I heard the police beat up the cult members and vandalize their homes and temple. Some were shot dead. Some were arrested. And some fled. The cult vanished from the face of this town, but nobody knows for sure. People started avoiding going to the woods after that. Some years ago, local woodcutters came running from the forest, claiming they heard strange noises from north of the woods where you and your family visited yesterday.”

“I’m not sure how true these tales are…but there’s someone who can help you,” said Lois. “His name is Teddy…Teddy Sutton. His father was the inspector who led the team that stormed the cult and killed its last leader. For some reason, Teddy never mingles with people and keeps his life private. He lives with his cats and dogs. He is a bit cranky, so locals keep their distance from him. But you may still seek his help if you want to know the whole story. Everybody here says if there’s someone who knows that incident better, it’s Teddy. But he’s never talked about it to anyone. Still, you may try your luck.”

With uneasiness rising in their stomachs, Travis and Eve looked into each other’s eyes. “Thanks, Mrs. Woods.”

“Miss Woods.”

“Oh, thank you, Miss Woods. It was nice meeting you. Where can we find Teddy? If you could please tell us…” said Travis.

“The last house at the end of this lane…with a broken chimney and dogs barking inside all the time…

That’s Teddy’s.”

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

“I don’t understand. Darling, let’s go home. Why do you want to meet that man? He’s going to tell us something spookier, which I don’t want to hear, alright? Did you hear what she said? A cult and their strange rituals. And little children were killed in the woods. All this is scaring the pants off me. Let’s pick Robin up from his friend’s house and go home,” Eve pestered Travis.

“I know, honey.

I’m even a bit disturbed. But I need to find out what my picture is doing on that darn headstone. Did you see the date of birth below the boy’s picture? January 29, 1984. I was born on that date. So it has got to do something with me…if not me, then my parents who left me, my family…or someone. I don’t know exactly, but I need to find out. Babe, please take the jeep and pick Robin up and go home. I’ll go meet Teddy alone.”

“No, I’m not leaving you. I’ll go with you, “Eve was adamant.

The couple then reached the end of the lane and approached a run-down house. They knocked on the door.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only | Source: Getty Images

“I hate doing this. It’s getting dark, and we’re going around disturbing people. I hope this man’s kind to us like Miss Woods,” said Eve.

The door then opened, revealing an older man—possibly in his late 70s—standing there with a Bible.

“Gosh, I think we picked the wrong time. Hope he isn’t mad at us,” Eve whispered behind Travis.

“Yes??” The man said in a hoarse voice.

“Hey, I’m Travis, and this is my wife, Eve. We moved here from Texas a few months back and…”

“What do you want?” Teddy interjected, his eyes flashing coldly and grimly as he checked his wristwatch to see the time.

“Hey, I’m sorry for disturbing you at this time. I wanted to ask you about the headstones in the woods… Do you know anything about them? Miss Woods, the old lady down this street, told us that you know…so we thought you’d tell us something about that place.”

“I don’t know anything. GET OUTTA HERE!” Travis and Eve were stunned by Teddy’s crude remark. Travis intervened by displaying the headstone image on his phone to stop him from slamming the door shut in their faces.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

“Look, Mr. Sutton, only you can help us. I need to know some details about this place, particularly about the boy in this photo. Please tell me if you know something. It’s really important to me. I need to know what happened after your dad killed the cult’s leader. Please!”

As Teddy snatched Travis’ phone from his grasp and zoomed in on the image of the young child on the gravestone, shock and dread welled in his eyes.

“This picture…this boy…” Teddy stammered.

“Mr. Sutton, that’s my childhood picture, and I found it on the headstone in the woods I’ve never visited before.”

“I’m new to Maine, and this whole thing is driving me crazy. That’s why I’m here to ask you if you know something. Please help me if you do,” Travis said.

A terrified Teddy invited the couple to enter as tears and sweat streamed down his face.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

“Do you have any other picture of you when you were little?” Teddy questioned after a long pause in which he gazed at Travis’s phone’s image of the headstone.

“Yeah, yeah, I do… It’s on my phone..”

The man was then shown a photo of Travis from when he was 3 years old with his adoptive parents. Teddy started crying as he looked at the picture and described the horrific incident that rocked that area of the town on March 9, 1987.

“My dad, Billy, was a cop. He told me he was investigating something ‘mysterious’ going on in the woods. It was about a cult. My dad and his team then wiped away the secret society and even gunned down its leader.”

Teddy continued, “On the previous night before the cult was taken down, something terrible happened to the boy whose picture is on that headstone….and it’s got something to do with you, I’m afraid,”

“With me? I don’t understand. I haven’t been to Maine before. I find my childhood picture on a headstone here. And I keep getting this strange dream of a woman running with a little kid in her arms. It doesn’t make any sense,” exclaimed Travis.

“Well, you’ll know now!” began Teddy.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

“The cult I’m talking about was something the locals in this town dreaded until the late ’80s,” said Teddy.”The men and women worshipped a deity and were part of a secret society that detached itself from the town. They were known for their strange rituals, voodoo, and midnight sacrifices, which still frighten many.”

“Miss Lois told us the cult had these rituals of human sacrifice.

Did they kill young children? I heard that’s why the cops stormed and wiped the cult away.”

“They did have ceremonies and rituals, but the human sacrifice was not a part of any,” added Teddy. “They lived in the forest and only visited the town to sell their handmade goods, honey, and pottery. They followed strict rules and never mingled with the locals except at the fair, which would last three days. That’s how my younger brother, Shawn, met her!”

“Met who?”

“Your mother!”

“What?? My MOTHER??”

“Yes! Your mother, Nedaara. Shawn was a photographer planning to go to New York to start a studio. When he heard the cult was coming to the fair in town, he wanted to click their pictures to put up in his studio. And that’s how he met Nedaara, the cult leader’s youngest daughter.”

“What happened after that?”

“Whatever happens to a young, handsome man in his 20s when he locks eyes with a beautiful, young girl! Shawn fell in love with Nedaara at first sight without knowing she was the cult’s leader’s daughter. She started sneaking out to meet him, and they dated for two months. One day, Nedaara came crying to our house, saying somebody had told her dad about Shawn and their secret meetings. Afraid of losing her, my brother braved into the woods to meet Nedaara’s father and ask for her hand in marriage. Shawn should’ve thought twice before taking this foolish step, but it was too late, and he’d called this upon himself. Maybe I should’ve not let him go,” cried Teddy.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

“I waited the whole night, but my brother didn’t come home. Only I knew where he’d gone. I didn’t tell our dad. He was busy in the station. Maybe I should’ve told him. Had I done that, then maybe Shawn would’ve been with me today,” Teddy’s eyes welled up with tears as he stated this.

“What happened to your brother? He never returned after that?” Travis gasped.

“He did…

Shawn did come back to collect his things the next morning. He told me the girl’s father had agreed to get them married, but only if Shawn detached himself from the town and joined their cult. I wanted to stop my brother, so I told my dad everything. We tried to convince Shawn to change his mind, but love had spread in his heart and soul like venom. Dad even offered to set up a new studio for him in New York. But Shawn refused and left.”

“My brother and Nedaara then married in the forest after some weird rituals. He was not allowed to visit the town or us, but I used to sneak into the woods to meet him. He told me he wanted to come back home. He cried, telling me about the strange practices hosted there every other day. The cult often starved and drank animal blood. My brother was forced to do it since he was a part of them. Couples could sleep together in one hut only a few times a year if the leader permitted them. He told me his wife was pregnant, and she eventually gave birth to twin baby boys.”

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

“When the babies turned three, Shawn and Nedaara had hatched a plan to flee from the cult. They sought help from a friend, thinking he would help them. Unfortunately, he was the leader’s sidekick and spy. On the night of March 8, 1987, my brother and his wife took their kids and were about to flee from the woods, but they were caught and shot dead. One kid among the twins was killed too. Nobody knew what happened to the other kid.”

“Jesus Christ…that kid whose photo is on the headstone…” Travis cried.

“Yes, he’s your twin brother!”

“But how did I end up in a church in Texas?”

“My dad and his team stormed the cult the next day when they got a tip about Shawn’s murder. A woman who was an occultist in that cult was arrested, with a few others. She told us about Shawn, his wife, and their children and even claimed she’d wrapped the other boy in a blood-stained blanket and hid him in the bush to save his life.”

“She said she’d carried the unconscious boy to the road and gave him to a driver in a passing truck, leaving a note bearing the child’s name and date of birth. She had asked the driver to leave the boy in some orphanage or church and claimed she didn’t know the truck’s final destination. We didn’t believe the woman and thought the other boy was killed too. But his body was missing.”

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

“I think that truck’s final destination was Texas!” said Travis tearfully, unable to comprehend the full facts of his ancestry. At this point, he realized the older man was his paternal uncle, and he sobbed into Teddy’s shoulders. Teddy showed Travis old pictures of his father, Shawn, and Travis sobbed for ten minutes. Travis’ heart was bleeding with anguish and regret when he first held a piece of his history.

“Is he my dad?”

Teddy wiped away his tears as he nodded since he was too devastated to respond.

“Honey, I want a minute with you. Can you please come aside?”

Eve’s hushed remark. Even now, she wasn’t sure Teddy could be her husband’s uncle.

“Look, people have been telling different tales about this place and that cult. He’s old and could be having issues with his memory. You don’t even have your birth parents’ picture or haven’t seen them. How do you know that the man in this picture is your dad? Honey, listen, you still need to verify, alright?”

Travis had already begun to disintegrate after discovering Teddy’s reality. However, another part of him urged him to confirm the man’s assertions and the extent of his sincerity. So Travis and Teddy had a DNA test performed a few days later.

A few weeks later, Travis received the results and was utterly devastated. Teddy Sutton, Shawn Sutton’s brother, was his paternal uncle.

“I don’t know how to process this,” Travis confided his anxiety to his wife. “I wanted to find my family all my life and know why they abandoned me. But now, I feel I shouldn’t have looked for them. The truth about their tragic fate could’ve been buried in their graves forever.”

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pixabay

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pixabay

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