The Followers in the Woods
The woods can be a very beautiful place thanks to the wonders of nature and the peaceful feeling it can bring on. But have you ever had an unusual sense of danger or unsettling moment when there was no reason to have one while alone in the forest?
It could be the middle of the afternoon, completely bright and sunny out, and yet you get the sense that something is watching you; something dangerous and scary. At first, you think it might be an animal, but you can’t see or hear anything that could cause you to have such a strong feeling of danger. So you try to forget about it and continue on your way with your hike until you get back to whatever park center or parking lot you started in. Anyone who’s spent any time out in the woods alone has likely had this kind of experience, but what if you saw what it was making you feel this way? You’d probably never venture out alone again. And that is what happened to me.
You see, I actually caught a glimpse of what it is that made me feel so worried and afraid in an otherwise safe environment. I was at my favorite state park, hiking the trails like I always did on the weekend, when I started to get that sense of fear creeping up the back of my neck. I would usually bring along a friend or my dog, Davey, but decided to go alone that time. I am not sure if I would have witnessed what I ended up seeing if friends were with me or even the dog, because what I saw seemed impossible even to my own eyes. Part of me wonders if I really saw them, but I know that they were really there and not just a trick of the light or something like that.
The way the trail worked is that you’d have to go about four miles out and then turn around and come back down a different trail that ran somewhat near the first one. That was the best way to experience the park, since you’d get to see a little bit of everything it had to offer throughout the entire eight miles of trails. I had just hit the turn-around point when I had the strong feeling to…turn around. I could have sworn that I heard what sounded like a few extra sets of footsteps before I turned, but I did not see anyone else near me on the path or anywhere in the woods off the trail. The first time I heard it, I figured it must either be an animal scurrying about or maybe the wind causing the branches sway, but it wasn’t really that windy and there wasn’t anything other than birds around me.
The further I went, the more often I’d hear what sounded like people walking almost directly behind me on the path. I could hear the crunching of sticks and leafs under “their” feet, but every time I turned back to look, I’d see nothing and the sound would stop. That quick moment of uneasiness had turned into several minutes before I finally heard something that sounded like whispers directly into my ears on both sides. I spun around once more and instead of seeing people standing right behind me like I had suspected, there were two very distinct shapes far down the trail from me.
It looked like two people, a man and a woman, dressed in very dark robes with hoods pulled up. They were moving in my direction, but instead of walking, it looked as though they were floating just above the ground. I couldn’t see their faces, but knew that I didn’t want to wait around for a closer look. They both had very poor posture and their movement was so smooth that it was unnatural. I don’t know whether they were ghosts or spirits or demons, but I nearly fainted at the image of them moving towards me.
I turned back away from them and made a mad dash the rest of the way out of the park. I never once stopped to look and see if they, whatever they were, were following me still because I did not really want to find out. I never went back to the park, and gave up hiking as a hobby altogether. I haven’t really told my friends why, because I know they wouldn’t believe me. I just tell them that I get the creeps out there and prefer to just walk Davey in the dog park near my house.
The Battle of the Mississenewa
The Battle of the Mississenewa was one of the bloodiest fights in the War of 1812. It involved American soldiers and Indians of the Miami tribes in Northern Indiana. Many Soldiers and Natives lost their lives during the battle and the site remains as a state historical sight to this day. Every year, in October, they reenact the battle on a large scale. Though, the battle itself occurred on December 17-18, which is generally very cold and snowy by that point in Indiana. My paranormal ghost hunting group decided that we were going to do an investigation of the battlefield on the anniversary of the battle. So, we got a small group of regulars willing to brave the cold, packed up our gear, and headed out on the evening of December 17th.
It had been snowing for the entire day and by the time we arrived at the battlefield it was basically completely covered over in a few inches. Our team had been ghost hunting for nearly 3 years, but this was the first time that the entire investigation would take place outdoors. We were all excited about being at the actual location on the anniversary and we were all bundled up in heavy winter clothing. The biggest challenge that we were going to face was dealing with the effects of the cold weather on our equipment. And we had to make sure that we paid attention to how our bodies reacted to being the cold that long and take breaks in the cars and near the campfire pits that were at the park.
On the bright side, the moon was almost completely full and was reflecting off the snow to the point in which we did not need our flashlights. That made it easier to use multiple different types of equipment such as a digital recorder, camera, and the I.R. temperature gauge. One of the first things you notice when arriving at the battlefield is the row of headstones that represents the Americans were killed during the fight. We started doing the EVP session at this location because it seems like a symbolic place and figured it would be a good location to possibly capture the voice of the spirit.
My own personal technique involves just allowing conversations to flow naturally and not to “question” the spirits. I’ve had success just speaking normally and allowing anything supernatural to interject with their own replies and comments to what we happen to be talking about. I also don’t rewind and listen to the recording at the location, as I feel as though it might cause whoever is speaking to be wary and not talk anymore. I don’t claim to be an expert when it comes to ghosts or paranormal investigations, but I do what has worked for me in the past and I stick with it.
After an EVP session at the headstone markers, we decided that we were going to go further into the forest around where the fighting would have actually taken place. It was around this point that things began to become interesting for us. My dad, who was the other regular member, happened to notice a light anomaly hovering slowly through the trees. It seemed as though it was the light of a lantern being carried through the trees, but the closer it got to us, the clearer it was that there wasn’t anyone or anything causing it to be there. There was no sound and no person carrying any kind of light, yet there was a light slowly making its way around the trees.
And if that wasn’t interesting enough, as we began to try and get a closer look at the light, I felt someone grab a hold of my bicep through my jacket. It was obviously a hand grabbing me, but there was not a single person near enough to touch me. I thought that I may have snagged my jacket on a branch, but I was not near any and could describe the sensation of feeling fingers and a thumb grip my arm. At that time, I had never been physically touched during an investigation, so it was a big surprise to have it happen in the least likely of places.
Had that been the only two odd things to happen that night, I would have considered it a successful investigation, but that was far from the only events. Not long after I was grabbed on the arm, the entire group heard a disembodied voice yell out “Stop!” as we walked further into the woods. It was the voice of a woman, and seemed to be distressed at the idea of us going any further towards where the battle took place. Again, hearing disembodied voices was not a common occurrence for us, and to have it happen while we were freezing in the middle of the night during winter was extra shocking.
Once we reached the area that was marked as seeing the most violence, we set up and hoped to see or experience more strange things. I started a fire for the group to stand around and keep warm as we waited for another sign of the unusual, and it wasn’t long before we had that experience. Off in the distance on the other side of the field, we began to see flashes of light going off spread out in a line. They would appear and vanish quickly, and appeared to be flashes of gunfire from the muskets that would have been used during the battle. There was no sound, but the pattern of the “shots” and the duration seemed to point towards them being the left-over remnants of the event replaying itself.
We couldn’t stay out there long, thanks to the harshness of the weather, but we all felt that we experienced enough that night to believe that there is still a battle going on there all these years later. We can’t say for sure whether it is like a recording of the event playing over and over, or if they are aware of what happened and where they are now. Nobody will really be able to answer that question, but sometimes it’s just nice to know that the stories are true and that there are things in this world we don’t truly understand. War can be scaring on many levels and may leave wounds that will never heal long after the fighting stops.
The Cranberry Bogs
The Pine Barrens of New Jersey are known for many unusual and unexplained happenings and stories. The Jersey Devil supposedly lives there, there are roads that teleport you to different places while stealing moments of time, and even entire villages said to be the home of goblins and trolls. It would not take much for a person to get caught up in the unsettling feeling of the wild wilderness and think that something evil was lurking there. But in reality, there isn’t anything to be afraid of besides dangerous wildlife and the elements. They are secluded woods that are easy to get lost in, but there is no reason to be afraid of them. That is, unless you happened upon the Cranberry Bogs many decades before when a serial killer was on the loose; and maybe even now.
The bogs themselves are the major supplier of cranberries out of New Jersey and a popular attraction for people visiting the area during the time of the year that the harvests happen. But there are also many bogs that have been abandoned for many years either because of low yield or for more sinister reasons. Back in the late ‘70s, one of the small bogs was closed due to a crazed murderer attacking young men and taking their bodies to one of the old pump-house buildings. The hysteria of such a tight-knit community being targeted was enough to cause a panic among the locals and tourism suffered thanks to the stories of the cranberry fields being tainted by dead bodies. None of that was true, other than that they found the guy hiding out in one of the buildings after a large manhunt for him, but it didn’t stop many of the cranberry farmers from closing up shop.
Most of those old bogs and their various supply buildings still litter the Barrens to this day. Some are just a few hundred feet from the still active harvesting spots. The tourism and cranberry business recovered after the murders, but people were still well aware of what happened and that those old buildings stood as a reminder of it. When I was a kid, I knew all about the story and its many different versions of events. Some people would say that the man kept his victims hostage for weeks before finally bleeding them out into the cranberries. Another version says that he actually grinded them up, mixed them with the berries, and was somehow able to get away with it. A more supernatural story was that he was killed in a shootout with the police once they surrounded him in the bogs and his spirit still roams the area looking for new victims. You’d be just as surprised as I to learn that that is the version of the story that I had an encounter with many years ago.
One of my close childhood friends lived just outside of the barrens and would often have sleepovers during the summer. Being as that we were all familiar with the stories involving that entire area, we would often end up going on long adventure seeking walks through the trees. Sometimes we’d be searching for the Devil’s lair and other times we’d be looking for a portal into another dimension. There was never much of a discussion about what we would do if we found those things, but that didn’t keep our young minds from searching for them. I can’t remember exactly who brought up the story of the cranberry bog murders, but we all decided one night that we would visit one of the abandoned shacks about half a mile from his house.
It seemed like a longer walk than it was because of having to slowly maneuver our way through the thick forest before finally coming upon the old fields. We could make out the shape of a building near the center of the opening in the dim glow of our mid-90s flashlights. It was ominous and entirely uninviting all at once. None of us wanted to be the first to get anywhere near it, but we found ourselves moving together like a school of fish until we were standing right outside of it. The only sound we could hear was that of our breathing and the cavalcade of insects that were seemingly getting louder and louder the longer we spent out there. The building, an old pump house or tool shed, was in surprisingly good shape considering how long it must have been left empty. There was no longer glass in the window frames, but otherwise it looked like it might have when it was still being used.
We weren’t sure what it was we were actually going to do now that we were there, but we eventually decided that we’d vote on which one of us would be the unlucky one to have to open the door and step inside. You can’t imagine just how happy I was that it wasn’t me who got picked at the time, but looking back at it now, I wish that I had. Our friend tried to stall as much as he could before we all but forced him through the rickety old door and into the building. His “final request” was that we kept talking to him while he was in there and that he would stop being our friends if we ran away and left him in there. We were usually pretty mean, but we weren’t that cruel and weren’t going to leave him in there alone. The lucky group outside kept asking him what he saw and if he saw any dead bodies or dangerous weapons. The longer we spent out there, the more lighthearted it was starting to feel.
That good time quickly turned south at the sound of what could only be described as a blood-curdling scream emanating from deeper in the old bogs. None of us knew what to do or how to react, but there wasn’t really much time to react before we saw him. Standing in the darkness just a few dozen feet away from our little group was a man clad in all black. He had on a black brimmed hat and was holding in one hand a large blade and in the other…a human head. Or at least that’s what I thought it was in the dimness of my light as I shown it on him. We all let out screams and shouts just as loud as the one we heard before and fled as quickly as we could back towards our friend’s house.
It wasn’t until we all got back home that we realized we have left our other friend inside of the old building, presumably to be killed by the man we saw. We loudly argued in his front yard about what we should do. The consensus was that we should call the police, but we were worried that we’d get in trouble for trespassing. The next option was to go back and try to rescue him, but that was met with the fear that we’d all just end up dead. Somewhere in the middle of the argument, our friend came walking out through the trees unharmed. He was pissed off that we had left him when we said we wouldn’t and didn’t think that it was funny to scream and run like we did just to give him a spook. We told him what we saw and why we ran, but he didn’t believe us at all because he said there wasn’t anyone there when he left the barn.
He never did believe us when we told him what we saw and I guess I can’t really blame him. I can’t say for sure whether we saw the ghost of the murderer or just another psychopath out there who had the same idea to use the isolated bogs as a hiding place for his awful deeds. I never wanted to go back out and check to see which of those two options the true one was. And I can’t really say I’m a fan of cranberries at all anymore either; you never know what that red juice in them might be.
The Tale of Black Annie
She lost her children in a horrible fire due to no fault of her own. But now she roams the alleys and faintly lit streets at night in search of them for eternity. It was the anguish of such a sudden, heartbreaking loss that tormented her and cursed her into becoming the hideous being that she was now. A tattered, blackened dress did nothing but highlight her pale, near-glowing and hallowed face. Anyone unfortunate enough to meet her alone at night would be rushed upon and thrashed about by her while she bellowed the words “My children! My children!” over and over until the victim went mad. That is the myth of Black Annie, or Black Annis as she was once known in old England. What if it wasn’t a myth at all and the stories are true?
I believe that I may have had my own experience with Mother Annie and was fortunate enough to escape with my sanity. I had only just moved to Illinois after completing my degree in Psychology and set up my own practice in an average, unassuming town just outside of Chicago. I figured that it would be a good place to gain experience without having to deal with the hustle and bustle of the big city. And once I gained a reputation, I’d be able to open an office somewhere closer to the city. And I always felt like I’d enjoy getting to know a community on a more personal level, so it seemed like the perfect place. I was able to rent one of the older houses in the downtown area and lived in the upstairs to save money. It was a wonderful first few months and things were starting to really take off for me on a professional level.
One of the benefits of making your own work schedule is that you get to avoid the times of day that don’t agree with you. I’ve never been a morning person, so I would never schedule a patient before ten A.M. so that I could stay up later into the evening. I never did much besides read on the back porch or go for walks, but it was that peaceful time of night in which small towns come to a standstill. Only a few cars would be out on the roads after nine at night and I could enjoy the sound of the crickets and peaceful atmosphere in the dim light of the old-fashioned street lamps.
Even though I had been living there long enough to know my way around, there were still some side streets that I hadn’t yet ventured down, so I’d make a habit of finding new ones on my evening walks. That’s what first led me into my regrettable meeting with that woman in black. I turned down a very dark alleyway without much thought, as there was no real crime to be worried of in our town. I got about halfway down the path when from nearly out of thin air came a horrid looking woman scurrying towards me from somewhere hidden in the shadows. I heard her at first, feet dragging along through the gravel. My first reaction was to just freeze and put my hands up, but before I knew it, she had hold of either side of the collar on my jacket and began violently shaking my upper half around. It took a moment to process what was happening or what I was seeing due both in part to the randomness of the encounter and the darkness.
Once my eyes focused, the sight of her horrible visage was enough to send me stumbling backwards, though she had such a grip on my coat that she too moved with me. Her face was an unnatural white color and wrinkled with what must have been decades of sadness. She spoke in a gravely, strained voice that was not natural sounding at all as she said the words over and over again just inches from my own face:
“My children! Where are my children?!”
A very prominent part of my mind was ready to lose all control and I knew enough about the human psyche to sense that it was quickly coming to fruition. The uncontrollable fear that surrounded the entire encounter was nearly too much for me to withstand, but I somehow managed to block it out and break free from her tightened grasp. I believe I said something that was meant to resemble “I don’t know where you children are!” as I turned and retreated back down the alleyway. I wanted to run, but instead I just swiftly walked away from her as she continued to moan in sorrow. I did not hear stunted walk following me, however, which I was unbelievably pleased to realize.
I returned to my home and immediately went about trying to process just what I had experienced. I can’t say for sure what happened, but I knew that it wasn’t normal. I called an old professor of mine who I assumed would also be awake at such an hour, and told him what had transpired. He recommended that I not speak of the event and try to move on from it. He would not say whether or not he thought it was just a vagrant or something more sinister, but I could tell in his voice that it was a subject that I should just leave be. And that is what I tried to do.
It was not until many years later that another patient brought up an almost exact retelling of my encounter with that ghastly woman in black. He said that the only reason he escaped with his sanity that night was that he was aware of her existence since he was a young boy; the tale of Black Annie was one that his mother told him to keep him from going out late at night. I did not mention to him that I had my own run-in with the being, but reassured him that he was not crazy and that the world was full of very mysterious and sometimes awful things.
The Not Santa
Like most children, I loved everything about the Christmas holiday growing up. The music being played everywhere we’d go set the atmosphere of pleasantness, presents, and family warmth for the entire month of December. I loved seeing all the decorations around the neighborhood and joy of the snowfall. Even the anticipation leading up to the day itself was and always will be a fond memory of my youth. I loved decorating the tree and seeing all the neatly wrapped gifts slowly being built up below it. I would patiently wait every evening before being allowed to open my advent calendar while wearing my Christmas-themed pajamas. I would fall asleep to the flashing pattern of lights off my bedroom wall through my half opened door down the hall. One of my dreams was visiting Santa’s workshop and seeing all the toys being made for the good boys and girls around the world.
Every Christmas Eve, I’d leave cookies and milk out for Santa to snack on during his long journey. And every morning I would wake up see that he had nibbled on a cookie and drank a bit of the milk. I know now, as an adult, that it was just my Mom or Dad taking the bite and sip to humor me, but it was a nice thing to do for someone that I admired so much. I once even dreamed that Santa had visited my house and ended up staying too long because he loved our tree so much. These are all fond memories I have of the holiday season, but they will always be overshadowed by that one strange night.
At first, I thought I was just having another vivid dream about the jolly old man delivering me my most desired gift, but that was not the case. I awoke to the sound of bells being disturbed in the living room sometime in the middle of the night. I never slept much the night before Christmas, so I was sure that I was no longer sleeping when I heard them. I was old enough to know that it was probably just one of my parents putting out the last few presents, but I loved Christmas so much that I just had to have a look and see if perhaps it was really Santa making so much noise.
I slide out of bed and put on my slippers before silently tiptoeing out of my door and down the hallway towards the flickering lights of the tree and the sound of the bells. I stopped at the edge of the hall so that I could just peer out around the corner and catch a glimpse of whoever was tossing around the gifts and shaking the tree. And that is when I saw…him. It wasn’t Santa or at least the image of Santa that I had always been taught.
What I saw instead was the faint, almost transparent, image of a man thrashing about at the tree. I couldn’t make out much detail other than that he seemed very angry and was trying very hard to knock the tree over. He kept swinging his arms at the tree, but it was as if they got partially adsorbed into it with every swipe and it caused the tree to move only slightly. He was also aggressively kicking at the wrapped presents under the tree, but was only able to toss them on their side.
Whoever or whatever he was, he was making enough of a racket that my parents woke up down the hall. I did not want them to think that it was me who was causing such a disturbance, so I quickly ran back into my room and hopped back into bed. I listened as my parents went into the living room to investigate, but it did not sound like they had witnessed the same thing I just had. I heard one of them open my door just a bit more and have a look in, but I was doing my very best to pretend that I was still asleep.
I eventually did fall asleep and woke up a few hours later, almost completely forgetting about what I had seen the night before. I went into the living room and saw the usual sights of fresh gifts and full stockings awaiting me. My parents woke up not long after, along with my older Sister, and we began to open the presents. No-one mentioned anything about the sounds from the night before and I did not tell anyone about the angry, hazy man I saw trying to knock over the tree. One strange thing, however, is that Santa seemed to not want to nibble on his cookies or drink any of the milk I had left out for him. Maybe my parents forgot? Maybe Santa didn’t feel comfortable visiting my house that year?
The Light of my Father
Life is often said to be unfair due to the many different ways that it can change so suddenly and leave you feeling betrayed. One moment you can be living in happiness and the very next complete sadness due to no cause of your own. This happens when a family member, close friend, or love is taken from you in a sudden accident or unforeseen health problem like a heart attack. Before it happens, you have your life together and then a piece of it is stripped away. It’s a terrible feeling and leaves you with a hole in your soul that will never truly be replaced. You are left with questions and a yearning for closure that you know will never go away. It’s an awful experience that I wouldn’t wish on even my most bitter of enemies.
I have experienced what it’s like to lose someone close without any kind of warning, but I’ve also had the very unique experience of an unexplainable bit of closure. My father always had problems with his heart since as early as I could remember as a child and everyone in the family always had a feeling that he’d go out some day because of it. It was a grim truth that we all, including him, had come to terms with. But you never truly know when something like that is going to finally strike and take a person away. Dad was not afraid of death and always had his priorities in order in case it finally came. The only thing that always really bothered him was not being able to say goodbye. I often wonder now if that’s what let him visit me the night he died even though I was in a different country and thousands of miles away.
It was a very unassuming weekday night for me as I was preparing to go to bed. I work in sales and often travel abroad for my job and happened to be in Singapore this time around. I was staying in a hotel near the airport and had such a busy day that I pretty much resigned to my room as soon as the work meeting had ended. I skipped dinner and just ordered up to my room. I spent the rest of the night just writing emails and listening to music. I had an early day the next morning, so I figured I should get to bed and got under the covers before flipping off the light next to the bed. The city lights illuminated the room in a blanket of dim blue light. I had only been in bed a couple of minutes before I saw him.
Standing near the door to the room was a man that I immediately recognized as my father even in the dimness of the light coming in from the windows. He had on his what he always called his “pajamas” which was just a white tank top and boxer shorts. I should have wondered what he was doing there or even how he was there, but I did not. I knew exactly what he was doing there. I didn’t move and didn’t say anything at first, instead just watching as a soft blue glow of light formed around his outline. I can’t say for certain how long he stood there, but it seemed like long enough for me to feel safe and loved. I smiled at my father and he returned the smile before I closed my eyes and went to sleep.
The next morning, I woke up to a few family members messages on my social media account saying that it was urgent and that I should contact them right away. But I already knew what the news was going to be: my dad had passed. I never questioned what I saw that night and just knew that it was his way of making sure that neither of us would ever be left with that dreadful feeling of loss without closure.
The Drowning Spirit
Legend tells of a Native American being buried up to the neck and drowned around these parts; or at least that’s the story as I’ve heard it. She was accused of speaking with the spirit of an animal thief and dragged out to the shore with no chance of telling her side of the story. They dug a hole and placed her in and said that it would be up to the spirits to spare her or take her away for her transgressions. She did not go willingly and claimed that the spirit she spoke with was simply just an ancestor of her family. The elders did not believe her and carried out the punishment. She spent three days buried, unable to move, being burned by the sun, bitten by bugs, and slowly dying of thirst. But in the early morning hours of the fourth day, it began to rain. Her first thought was of thanks, as she was able to tilt her head enough to drink some water pooling around her neck. But what she did not know is that the lake she was buried near was prone to flash flooding. In just a few hours, she found herself completely emerged under the muddy waters and succumbed to death.
She was neither the first nor the last of her tribe to meet her end in that way, but she was the only one to stay long after. And that is wear my part of this story comes into focus as I would end up having my own encounter with a spirit on the shores of the lake. I was unaware of the story, or legend by this point, of the spirit woman who haunted the area when I began spending more time fishing there. I just always appreciated the calm waters and lack of people disturbing me as I relaxed my weekends away. I almost always arrived early enough to set up and toss out a line before the sun broke over the hills surrounding the lake and that was true of the day that I had my experience with the ghost.
When I first heard that unusual gurgling sound I thought it was just some fish or other animal splashing about somewhere in the darkness. I wasn’t afraid, but just curious about what was gasping in water in such a disturbing way. I stood up out of my folding lounge chair and quickly looked through my bag for the flashlight that I used to bait my hook and set up my pole in the dark. Once I found it, I quickly turned it on and began searching the immediate area around me for any sign of whatever was gurgling and bubbling. I had been checking in the shallow part of the water since it made the most sense that whatever was making the sound had to have been doing it in the water. But I did not see anything other than a few small fish darting around in the beam of the flashlight. The sounds were getting more intense and I was feeling more and more on edge. So I began scanning the beach around me when my light finally discovered the source of the awful noises.
Even though I recognized what I was seeing, a human head that was blue tinted, bloated, and pouring water from its mouth and nose, I still was unable to really form any kind of logical reasoning or explanation for how or why I was seeing it. Had it been someone in the water fighting for air or even some kind of awful act of a murder that I discovered, I would have jumped at the chance to save the person as I consider myself a compassionate individual. But that was not my first reaction upon seeing that horrid looking head; my reaction was fear and I wanted to run as far away from it as I could.
And I did just that, leaving behind all of my equipment and even my cell phone and car keys. I ended up just sitting in the cab of my truck, trembling, and still wondering what it was I had actually just witness. But my thoughts were interrupted once again by the sounds of the woman struggling to breathe through the water in lungs. It was getting louder and more intense even though the windows to my truck were closed. I was panicking and found myself more scared and confused about was happening to me than anything else in my life up to that point. I was terrified; confused as to what was happening, full of panic, and that is when I realized that I could not breathe. It was as if I was experiencing the exact feelings that the woman had when she was first buried all those years ago.
It was with that thought that everything returned to normal and I could take a breath again. I was still shook, but no longer fearful for my life. I sat in my truck for another ten minutes or so before being calm enough to finally get back out and return to my belongings. The horrid sounds had all stopped and I could only hear the slow moving water of the lake, frogs, and birds waking up. Everything was peaceful once again, but I chose not to stay or return to that place again after that. I did, however, begin to research the area and learn about the story of the Indian woman, the spirits, and the sadness that was the end of her life.
The New Glasses
It had been a few years since that last time I had an eye exam and a new pair of glasses. I'm near sighted, so I never felt the need to get an update as I really only used them to drive or to watch movies. My cheap, flimsy old pair were starting to fall apart on me though and I decided that it was time for replacements. So I made an appointment with an optometrist and picked out a new pair the same day. It was one of those places that have to send away for the lenses, so I went about a week before I was able to come pick up the new ones. I had sort of forgot about them about ten days later when one of the women from the glasses store called and said that they were finally ready and that I could stop in and pick them up. Looking back on the things that would happen soon after, I sort of wish I hadn't.
The store was inside of a busy mall, and I made the mistake of going during the lunch time rush. I had to fight my way through the food court to get to the shop and the place itself was packed full of people picking up their glasses or trying on new ones during their break. I had to wait around for about ten minutes before someone was free and could help me. The lady told me to have a seat and she went into the back to find my glasses. I had picked out a pair that were kind of “heavy duty” because I planned on wearing them when I went hiking or played sports. They were shaped more like shooting googles than normal glasses. The woman came back out and sat across from me and pulled out all the stuff that comes with a new pair of glasses: cleaning wipes, a strap, demo lenses, etc. And the glasses themselves.
She hands me the glasses and I put them on. Anyone who has ever gotten a new pair of glasses known that the first few seconds of your eyes trying to adjust are weird and it makes it even more-so when the person is sitting there and staring at you waiting for your judgment of how well you can see. I sat there with that fish in a tank stare as my eyes tried to focus through the lenses. Everything around the edges of my vision were blurred and I felt like I was looking backwards through a telescope. I tried closing my eyes and blinking a few times, but it didn't seem to really help. The woman said something along the lines of “Are they blurry? There is a transition period that your brain has to make sometimes with a new prescription.” That made sense to me, so I just let it go and let her adjust the frame to my face so that they fit right. Afterwards, I took them off and put them back into the case they came with and left.
I didn't want to risk driving with them since they were so...odd looking to my eyes, so I just used my old pair on the way home. I had nowhere to be afterwards, however, so I put them on while I was watching television and playing around on my laptop. Even sitting there, it felt as though I was getting a serious case of vertigo, and my eyes felt as through I had been drinking even though I hadn't. I would get up to walk around and seem as though I was floating rather than actually taking any normal steps. And the blurring at the corners weren't getting any clearer after the few hours I had been wearing them. I thought that it may have been caused by the curving of the lenses, since they weren't like a normal flat style. Whatever it was, it was strange to look through. But surprisingly, I wasn't getting a headache or anything like eye strains from it.
The next day, I again wore them around the house and the sensations hadn't really subsided at all. In fact, they somehow got worse. I began to see what looked like shadows moving around the edges of my vision, but when I would turn my head to look directly in their direction, nothing was there. The shadows started off generally the same sized blobs but as the day went, they started to have more definition. It was like someone was walking just out of view and would disappear as soon as I turned my head to look their way. It was a very unsettling feeling and it only got worse during the day. Eventually I couldn't really handle it anymore and took them off for awhile. I started reading online about the adjustment periods that your eyes have to make to new glasses and thought that maybe that was what was going on. But that wouldn't explain what happened later that evening.
I wanted to see how well they would work in that period of day that was always the hardest for me the see: when the sun is going down but it's not completely dark yet. So I put them on, tried to adjust as well as I could, and got in the car. I could see more clearly through the front of the lenses, but was still have the blurring and shadows around the edges. The trip I was planning on taking wasn't going to be all that far, just to a fast food joint, so I thought it would be okay to still give it a try even through things were still fuzzy. The neighborhood I live in has a lot of foot traffic of people walking dogs, taking kids out for bike rides, etc. But this time of year, when it's colder, there weren't usually that many people out when the sun would start to go down. I came over a hill and was only going about 20 miles per hour when down at the end of the road before a stop, I started to see another shadow form at the edges of my glasses. Only this time, it was like the shadow was forming far out in front of me.
The “shadow” was crossing the street out in front of me, and once it got the clear center of the lenses, it became the complete shape of man walking. He was wearing dark colored pants and a light short sleeved shirt, which wasn't normal for this time of year. He crossed by slowly, and I had to hit my breaks a bit because I wasn't sure he would make it to the other side of the sidewalk before I got to the stop sign. Though it seemed weird and out of place, I didn't think much of it at the time. I gave him a glance as I went by and he turned back into the shadowy form as I passed by him. The rational part of my mind kept saying “it's just the glasses, just let it go.”
But more and more of those “shadows into people” kept popping up the entire way to the restaurant. And each and every one of them just looked so out of place. I was more confused than I was afraid, but none of it made sense. There were a group of maybe a dozen of them, all dressed the same, standing in the road when I made a turn. I quickly hit the breaks, squeezed my eyes shut, and pulled off the glasses. When I opened my eyes, not even a second later, the street was completely empty. I looked all over, and spun around in my seat to look behind me, but there was nothing. No people, no shadows, nothing.
I drove the rest of the way home without glasses, and left them in the car after I got home. I was on edge and had no clue what it was I was seeing with them on. But whatever or whoever they were, I didn't want to find out. The next morning, I put on my old pair, and got back into the car. But I couldn't find the new ones at all. I remember just tearing them off my face and tossing them into the passengers seat the night before, but the seat was empty. I got back out and went around to the other side, expecting that they had fallen between the door or on the floorboard. I couldn't find them anywhere, though. They were gone. I checked to make sure that all the doors had been locked, and that nothing else was missing from my car. The only thing I couldn't find were my new glasses.
But, even though they cost me $250 bucks, I didn't really mind all that much that they were gone. I'll stick with my old ones from now on.
The Savage Little Men
I was walking home alone last night, as usual, when something happened that I am still in shock over. No, I wasn’t mugged, but I think I probably would have preferred that over what actually went down. I’ve walked that way hundreds of times after work and never once felt like I should be worried or on edge. It’s just a couple of blocks, a path through the woods near a bunch of convenience stores, and a jump over the fence in my backyard. The worst thing I ever came across was a crazy raccoon that may or may not have had rabies. Well, that WAS the craziest thing I’d seen, until last night.
The moon was out, so I could see pretty easily, when I usually have to squint for most of the way back through the trees. I liked nights like this because it sucks having to dodge branches and other stuff scattered along the makeshift path. I was pretty tired after a long day and just wanted to be home on the couch relaxing. I was struggling between wanting to just run home and being too tired to pick my legs up to walk. The thing is, though, I wasn’t so tired that I was delirious or anything, so I can’t really explain what it is that happened.
It normally only takes me about ten minutes of walking down the path to get through the mini-forest area, but it felt like I had been walking for an hour without really getting anywhere. I blamed that on being tired, but now that I think about it, it must have had something to do with the crazy shit that was going on around me. It was the one night that I didn’t have my headphones in, and that’s the only reason I noticed the sounds at first. It was like shuffling of little feet all around me, and the sound of small bells, like you'd hear on a cat collar. In fact, that’s what I assumed it was at first, a bunch of outdoor cats that were following me in the dark. If only it was…
After straining my eyes trying to see the “cats” off the path surrounding me, I heard the giggles of someone from the shadows. And then I heard a bunch more from every direction around me. It didn’t sound like an adult, but was too deep and scary to be children. My first reaction was to bolt and get the hell out of there, but that turned out to be a bad idea. Something had reached out and grabbed both of my ankles at the very moment I tried to run. I went face first into the dirt and fell hard. The wind was knocked out of me and I cracked my chin on the ground.
I’m not sure just how long I was down for, but I rolled over and sat up just in time to see what had tripped me. I’m not entirely sure how to explain it, but it looked like a little man. Not like a little person, but rather like a doll sized man. He was dirty, greasy, and had on strange little clothes that didn’t look like anything a normal person would wear. They were like patched together pieces of cloth and leather, almost as if he made them out of random scraps he found of other clothes. He had a scraggy beard and angry looking eyes. That’s when I noticed that he wasn’t alone; I was surrounded by dozens of those little…things.
I tried to get up and run again, but it felt as though I was being held down by something from behind me. I swung my arms back to feel for what was holding me; tiny pieces of rope had been snatched onto my jacket with little fishing hooks. I tried pulling on one, which caused a few of the little men to topple over as I was much stronger than they were. I let out a frightened bellow and stood up, pulling the rest of the rope with me. The little creatures all began jumping around in panic and excitement, yelling at me and at each other in their scary, pitiful little voices.
Somewhere above me, in the trees, I heard more of them chattering. And before I could sprint away, a bunch of sharp torpedoes began to rain down on me. I couldn’t tell what they were exactly: either needles or sharpened branches. It didn’t matter though, since they weren’t big or sharp enough to pierce through my clothing and none of them managed to hit me in the face or the hands. I wasn’t about to hang out and let them continue to pelt me with them, however, and I ran as fast as I could away from there. I ran until I got home and leaped over the fence in a single bound.
Stopping to see whether or not they were chasing me was not something that ever crossed my mind, but I didn’t want to take the chance, so I just ran the whole way and into the house. I collapsed somewhere in my living room, and did what I could to catch my breath. My mind hadn’t really processed what had just happened, and my lungs hated me for what I had put them through. My teeth hurt a lot, as well, and still do. I didn’t really want to believe what I had seen the next morning, but the pain was a pretty good reminder that it was real.
I don’t know what those things were, but I know that I don’t ever want to run into them again. I’m not sure what they wanted with me, but the encounter was not a peaceful one. I bought a bike today, and plan on just sticking to the long way from now on. I also bought a few mouse traps to put around my yard. Just in case.
The Rotten House
Moving into a new house can always be a big challenge. Whether it’s finding the right neighborhood, getting the best deal that you can, or just the act of packing everything you own up and adjusting to someplace new. It is probably safe to say that nobody likes the process of moving, but they do enjoy being someplace different and having a fresh start. There is something to be said for the feeling you get finally settling into an unfamiliar house and starting what is a new chapter in your life. It is usually a good thing and a happy event. But that is not always the case, and was very true for the house my family moved into a few years back.
Things started off great, as I had gotten what I consider to be my dream job in one of my favorite cities. My wife wasn’t thrilled with moving, since we have three young children, but it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up at the time. The company that hired me had given me a stipend to use while searching for a new place to live, and I spent the first two months looking for a house that I knew would be great to raise my family in. I found a good deal on an older colonial style house that had been recently renovated. It was in a good neighborhood, had terrific schools near it, and most importantly it was within our budget. Even my wife thought that it was perfect once I had shown her the photos and told her all about it.
The move itself went off without a hitch, much to our surprise. We signed all the paperwork, hired movers to pack up our things, and made the trip by car with little to no issues along the way. It was as if we had struck gold in terms of everything working out the way we wanted it to. Somehow we had managed to get a great deal on a huge, old house that was basically brand new thanks to all the work the previous owners had put into it. There was fresh paint, new carpet, and not a single problem with anything. Well, except for the smell.
It wasn’t the overbearing smell of new paint that was of concern, no, it was something much more unsettling. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was at first, but I knew that it wasn’t right. It was like a stale, decaying smell. You know when you’re driving down the road and you pass by a dead animal that has been sitting there for a while? And how that gross “dead” smell gets into the vents of the car and takes a few miles to completely get out? It was like that, but only never actually went away.
We opened up all of the windows and turned on a few of the fans we had, including the central air unit. For a few days, it seemed like it was helping, but the weather was getting worse and it was getting cold out. We had to shut the windows and turn the heater on at night, which only made the smell all the more vile and unbearable.
My family was getting tired of it, so it was left up to me to try and find out what the smell could be. I spent an entire Saturday looking through all the air vents around the house. I also pulled out all the cabinets and appliances in search of something that had recently died behind them. That turned up fruitless, however, and I was left with looking inside the walls for the source of the smell. I had to take a hammer to walls of our new home just to try and find out what the hell was causing it to smell like a morgue nearly all the time. But even than ended with nothing more than a bunch of holes that needed plastered back up.
To say that I was fed up at that point would have been a massive understatement. I couldn’t think of what else could be causing such a rancid odor and nobody that I could get in contact with seemed to have any idea either. But after digging around online for days, I found some articles about how new carpets can sometimes contain chemicals that when mixed poorly may cause unpleasant smells. I figured that this was the last thing that could be causing our house to stink so badly. That meant one bigger job of ripping up all the new carpet and replacing it with some that we bought ourselves. It was a large, costly job, but we had to do it at that point. The smell was causing our clothes to reek like death and my wife was going to take the kids to a hotel if this didn’t work.
Since we were new to the area, I didn’t know anyone that could come over and help me tear out the carpets, so it ended up taking me a couple of days to do the entire house on my own. I started on the first floor and worked my way up, until finally I had removed all but one room worth of it. That last room was a smaller bedroom that my middle daughter had claimed when we first moved in. I took all of her things into the hallway, and began removing the carpet section by section. That’s when things turned from inconvenient to just disturbing.
As I was pulling up sections of carpet in that room, the smell was getting worse and worse. I thought to myself that I must have found the source of the odor and that removing the carpet would finally solve the problem. But with each piece that I cut out and pulled up, the smell became more and more pungent. I almost couldn’t handle it, even with a painter’s mask on, and had to leave the room a few times during the process of removal. All that remained was one final patch, and when I pulled it back to reveal the floor, the realization that the smell was coming from a different source than I had thought finally sank in.
On the wooden floor that had been exposed was the outline of what seemed to be a body. It was almost as if someone had been laying there when they died and melted into the wood as they decomposed. I couldn’t tell you how long they had been there, but it was long enough to stain the floor as they rotted away. It was obvious that the smell was coming from that stain on the floor and I was stumped about what to do. So I just went outside, called my wife, and let her know what I had discovered. She was just as shocked as I was about what I had found.
We managed to get out of the mortgage after we discovered that the previous owners failed to mention to the realtor that their uncle had shot himself in that room while the rest of the family was spending the summer at their vacation home down in the Caribbean. They didn’t find him until they returned, and he had spent the hottest months of the year wasting away. He apparently had mental health issues, and the family all but ignored him. We figured that anyone who would be evil enough not to mention that sort of thing would be inconsiderate to those levels, as sad as it was.
Even stranger, however, is that after I pulled up the carpet and discovered his final resting place, the smell went away. The carpets were still all in the house when we came back to pack up our things, but yet it was like the smell had been washed away. The stain was still there, but somehow uncovering it seemed to “cure” the odor.
We eventually found another nice place in the same area that thankfully was free of any dead body stench. I always wondered, though, was someone or something trying to tell me to look under the carpets? Is that why the smell went away almost as soon as I discovered the source? I’ll probably never know, but I’ll always remember the brief time we lived in that rotten house.
Just a places to archive some stories that will eventually be included in a book release.