My grandfather’s mother was a full-blooded Native American, so I grew up hearing scary stories and fables that his mother had told him. The Spreaders, Ugly Face, the Wendigo, and the Chenoo were all stories he told me. I remember one in particular that scares me even now, and looking back, it was for good reason.
He called them “The Big Tree People” and said they looked like trees, any kind of tree, and slept during the day so it was impossible to tell what was really a tree and what wasn’t. They would knock on children’s windows at night. If the children looked, even moved, the Big Tree People would pass through the window and steal the children to eat them.
I remember first hearing this story and not thinking much of it. It barely even phased me. Then, a few nights later, I was sitting in my room and my grandmother and grandfather were downstairs, I could hear pots and pans clinking as my grandmother washed dishes. I noticed that one of the trees was tapping on the window above my bed. (The window was literally at the head of my bed, right by my head.) I didn’t think about it, but didn’t look. I wanted to sleep. The tapping continued and it kept me only slightly awake. A short time later, I noticed the tapping had stopped, but then I felt something touching my face. It was leathery feeling, uneven and almost sharp in some places. Oddly enough, I assumed it was my grandfather checking on me, so I opened my eyes. The thing I saw was definitely not my grandfather. It was a branch of the tree outside, gnarled like fingers brushing my cheek. I screamed, of course. My grandfather rushed into the room, I don’t even remember hearing him come up the stairs, and flipped on the light. The “tree branch” was gone, no sign that it had ever been there. To this day, if I hear a tree tapping on my window, I don’t dare look or move.
And, I didn’t notice it then, but I remember now. When he flipped on the lights, he was staring straight outside my window.