Tunuyán’s legend of the whispering forest

Dear readers, we are a literature Argentinian website that compiles different styles. We write about humour, politics, urban legends, social critics, bizarre humour, erotic literature, short stories, novels and photographic humour. We own all of our stories and we have been doing this, as a hobby, for the last six years. From this story onwards, we are going to translate the best of us into your language, so you can read anywhere in the world. Today we leave you one of our urban legends.

A few months ago we heard a comment about a forest located in Tunuyán city, province of Mendoza, Argentina. It is located near National Road 40. We decided to find out what was going on, or how true the rumours were, at the weekend. We just went to spend a different afternoon. We could have never imagined what we were going to find…

My friends and I stopped by a small restaurant to have lunch. While we were waiting for the bill, pretending like we were clueless about it, I asked the owner about the forest. The owner was an old lady around her eighties, green eyes, reddish skin and happy face. The moment she heard the question, her gaze turned wandering and her face dark. She told me it was best not to meddle in past issues. That we should enjoy the city or the river, and that we should forget about digging over in rugged subjects. Rather than scare us, it just caught more of our attention. The darkness surrounding the old lady´s words made us realize there had to be something real about that urban legend.

We drove for a long while till we got to the signalled spot and parked at the side of the road. We found the path that was given to us as a reference without hesitation. It was a kind of lugubrious, light-dark, thick path. We ventured it quietly for a kilometre approximately. Clouds were darkening nap time, proclaiming a thunderstorm. The foliage of the trees was thick. Together they prevented the little light left to shine on us. This had transformed the landscape into a gloomy and humid forest. The silence, the suggestion and the environment made possible to just hear the beats of our hearts.

The trees seem to close on us on every step, like hands wanting to catch us. The more we walked, the more it was got darker. And the path seemed narrower. The air also got thicker. Suddenly, my friends and I reached and old abandoned house. It was completely destroyed. Only the walls were still standing. The roof was shattered, there were no doors and some of the windows were covered. Some walls had been fire victims, inside and out. The ceiling and hallway rubble were surrounding the remaining walls. We decided to head towards the house, and that is when the three of us heard it…

Till this day none of us can exactly say what we heard. But the three of us remember a short sound, like several voices speaking at the same time. Whispering voices, pleading voices, hesitant… similar to a song played backwards. The sound seemed to come from everywhere.

The three of us looked at each other, our faces a mixture of terror, feeling like to run and disbelief, till I asked them if they heard the same I did, even though I already knew the answer. The first thing we did was stand still, trying to focus all of our senses in listening to the sound, but it was gone. All of a sudden, a thunder whipped the sky and it began to rain. This was the excuse to leave. We could feel that someone was chasing and staring at us during the whole way back. I was the last one so I could watch my friends peeking back from time to time. I honestly did not have the courage to look back. But I can assure you that someone was stepping on the leaves behind me. The forest turned even gloomier and the way back longer. The noise of the foliage was mixed with our fear and the rain, which made us walk faster.

There were more thunders. The sky was practically black and suddenly, after a loud thunder, the voices came back. My friend, the one up front, abruptly turned, asking if we heard… even though it was not necessary. The look on my face was proof enough. The three of us started running desperately towards the car. We actually did not know what we were afraid of. However, it was the scariest feeling of our lives. I could hear the sound of leaves being stepped on louder.

After we got to the car, we started the engine and drove back to the restaurant. It was almost dinner time. The old lady with light green eyes was surprised to see us. She must have guessed what happened by our shocked expressions. “Are you coming from the forest?” she asked. We sat and asked her to tell us the story. We told her that we already knew part of it and that we just wanted to confirm what we experienced.

Rumour has it that at the beginning of the last century, a foreigner came to Tunuyán with his three boys. His wife had died on the journey due to a horrible and strange disease that killed her in less than forty days. The outsider bought the land where the whispering forest is now and farmed it. The boys were rarely seen buying supplies in town. Their father was seen a lot less. However, everyone who remember the boy stated that their gaze was kind of lost, looking dead.

By the end of the 1920´s there was a cholera outbreak in the zone. Some of the cases were registered at the local hospital, none of which were relevant… except for the death of the foreigner´s boys. We whole town spoke of the outbreak, but the two doctors that dealt with the boys said they had never seen such a horrible disease. It was not cholera or any other disease known to them. They also asserted that the three boys died in less than forty days. The rumour spread fast because the boys´ bodies were never recovered. There was no funeral and no burial. Gossips grew so much that the police interrogated the father, but they got no answers. Then, the investigators wanted to talk to the doctors attending the case. However, they were never found and nobody knew their whereabouts. Although everybody swore that both doctors were last seen at the town´s inn telling about the dreadful disease.

It is said that Hermes himself buried his three sons in the middle of his field and then he threw a fistful of poplar seed in each grave, so that none could desecrate their remains. People stated that Hermes believed that the growing of those trees would be the same as his sons. After a little while, all his crops died. Only three poplars were left around Hermes´ house. They grew at an amazing speed.

The story is sad and kind of beautiful so far. But it turned kind of macabre over time…

A lot of people from town claimed that Hermes was actually a necromancer, and that he used to practice with his family. His incantations murdered his wife and they also resulted in the death of his sons. That the trees were only a cover so that none could see what he had done to their bodies.

This version of this myth attracted the attention of lots of young people from Tunuyán, eager for adventures. That is when they started to disappear.

Two Lopez cousins were the first ones to disappear. Then, a group of five friends. The police searched the area but were not able to find them People were afraid of a killer on the loose. What none realized is that there were ten poplars, not three…

Fear settled in town. People started locking their houses and children were not allowed to wander in the streets. The last traces of the missing ones led to Hermes´ forest, so that was enough to deliver the full weight of the law on him. People wanted justice, they blamed Hermes and wanted him in jail. This was the perfect excuse for the inefficient local police. After a brief trial, Hermers was sentenced to jail time in a prison at the south of the country. However, he never left the prescient because he killed himself the day before being transferred.

The rumours reached Mendoza city and they caught the attention of the city youth. It is said that there are more than fourteen missing people whose destination was Tunuyán. By mid-eighties, people spoke of hundreds… as the hundreds poplars that had grown in Hermes´ forest, Tunuyán´s whispering forest.

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