If you are ever in the Williston, Florida area (hint: it's near Gainesville) and you want to go hiking, it won't be hard for you to find some lovely trails. You can jog along leaf-strewn paths and watch the shifting patterns of dappled sunlight as you make your way through the trees of this one particular off-the-road garden area. But if you do, beware: if local legends are to be believed, you might find yourself in a nightmare world of terror.
Before the advent of the Trail of Tears, this part of Florida was once inhabited by area natives; in the intervening years since then many have moved back, and some of them have tales to tell of the spirits who used to roam the woods.
Most of the stories you'll hear have the soulful sentimentality one would expect: the spirits of creatures and natives past mingling together in the woods and celebrating nature even on the other side of life's great divide. But a few of the stories you hear are not so rosy - a few of them might send chills down your spine.
Some People Call The Area Outside Williston The "Garden Of Evil"
Day visitors are rarely accosted, but local lore tells of a number of people who have been out in the woods at night, and almost invariably these people have claimed to have been visited by dark spirits, both animal and human. "Sometimes," says one former hiker who refuses to go in the woods these days, "you can hear them screaming in terror. Other times, they'll scream in a different way, and the terror will be all yours, my friend.
"Somewhere in the long history of this part of the world, some terrible things happened out in those woods," he says. "And the ghosts of the people and the animals who died as a result of it are still wandering the area, crying out and alternating between anger and sorrow. If you're the type of person to listen to good advice when you hear it, you'll stay as far away from that place as you can get."
The Ghosts In The Garden Know Of The Evil That Lurks There
Some people describe the thing that these ghosts seem to be warning of as a demonic presence; there have been alternating reports of diffused malevolent lights shining out of the forest at night, or of disgusting skin-walker creatures - often things on four legs moving as if they existed in the unholy realm between animal and man - moving through the woods and carrying in their wake a chill of fear so palpable that those who have seen it scarcely can stand to recount the horror they felt when retelling the story.
Those who walk among the leaves as the sun sinks into the west - those brave enough to walk there at night - will tell you in hushed tones that if you go, be aware that you walk in the most haunted of graveyards. Keeping away might not only preserve your life...it could also preserve your soul.