"The Magic Tree" Submitted By Daniel

I used to go to a small private school about 30 km from Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. I was living on campus, which was surrounded by beautiful virgin temperate rainforest. near the school was a prison, just a way down the coastline. i had not been there long when one night i went out to a place i knew in the forest near the water. students would often go to this place at night, it was called the "magic tree", because the tree actually grew out over the intertidal zone, so when the tide was up all sorts of fish and crabs and such could be seen beneath you when in the tree. i went there one night for a smoke. to get there i had to walk about 150 m down to a path and then go off the path to the left, going down a hill, go through a bit of forest go through the forest about 100m. I was not very far from where I lived, but still far enough. I was sitting there smoking when I heard a sound, about 50m away or so, like a really loud, deep raspy breathing. at first i was just like "what animal could that be", and then it stopped...i waited, and continued to smoke, and the same sound resumed much closer, perhaps half the distance. then it stopped for another couple of minutes and resumed, this time much much closer, closer than 10m...I started to wonder whether I should run or what...I am someone who is very comfortable in the forest at night and I had never heard anything like this before. It stopped again, I relaxed a bit and then, louder than ever this deep, struggled breathing was right in my ear. I was so shocked that i quite litterally jumped out of the tree into the knee deep water below and started running upshore. i ran for a minute and came around a bend, and decided i wasnt going to let anything stop me from finishing my cigarette. a minute later, the same sound again, very near me once again...this time I took off in such a panic that I fell into a hole, got out of it and kept running all the way back to my door...i had cut myself when i had fallen and had blood running down my knee.
The next day I went back alone during the day. What I found was quite scary...I had fallen into a hole in the ground the shape of a grave, and there were two other such holes nearby.

This whole experience was bizarre, but I attributed it to animals or something, until about a month later. I was staying at a retreat center on an island north of vancouver. I ended up meeting a couple who had taught at my school in its first years. They started telling me many stories about the history of the area, including some grim details. Where the prison had once been was a tuberculosis quarantine center mainly for chinese immigrants from late 1800s to early 1900s. Apparently, the quarantine center would bury dead detainees in the forest several km away...that is to say underneath the tennis court and the forest beyond....they described precisely where I had this crazy experience. I told them about the holes in the forest, and I was told that they were the graves that had gone unfilled. How does a person with tuberculosis sound when they are dying? Struggled, raspy breathing, such as I heard?...very creepy.

I have never returned to that place at night alone. one other time i heard the same sound again while sitting in the same tree with a friend...it didn't come any nearer.




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