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Real-life creep-outs

Brian Coltrane

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It's that time of year where people indulge in horror flicks and pay good money to wander through haunted houses. And why not?

There's something foreboding about the waning light of day, something repelling in the slow decay of leaf and lawn. The air itself seems thinner, emptier, absent of the summer hum of insects and the trill of birdsong. The warmth of day weakens; the chill of night deepens; and the trees stand silent and bare beneath a cold, pale moon. A bitter wind gives sway to the barren branches; they creak and lift towards the mute, shadowed sky...but they will not be spared the winter.

With nature's quiet, whispered reminder of our own mortality surrounding us, it's only fitting we go beserk in frenzied attempts to scare ourselves silly. It's the human way, perhaps, of giving our innermost fears the finger, by openly seeking what could rightfully freak us out.

On the other side of the crypt, there's a few of us who have had enough creepy stuff happen that there's no need to watch a horror flick or to tour a haunted house. This post is for YOU. If you've seen a ghost, or had some unexplainable event freak you out, or you've lived someplace haunted, take a moment and tell us about it.

I've got a few freaky stories. The one experience I never got over is a run-in with a will-o' the wisp. A will-o' the wips is a hovering, glowing and fading collection of pale, spectral light. It's like a small patch of fog with a dim glow, that hovers above the ground, and slowly drifts away as you approach it. Lore has it, that if you follow one of these, it will lead you to your doom - or at least, get you lost as hell.

I used to live on 40 acres of woods and swamp, and I enjoyed walking around the trails at twilight, especially in the fall. Sometimes I'd see a deer, or see a fish jump. I liked to watch the sun sink down over the oak trees. I'd wait for that final blast of dying light that turned the low clouds into painted, cotton-candy colors.

Well, one night I stayed out there way past the last fade of light. I'd been watching a doe and her fawn and lost all track of time. It wasn't until I couldn't see the deer for the darkness, that I decided to head back home. I knew the trails well, so I wasn't worried, though the sky was moonless and I had to be careful of my step. There were a few steep, rocky slopes that could cause a busted ankle to the unwary.

I was completely alone, save for the call of a social-minded barn owl. I zipped up my jacket against the cold; the loss of the sun had caused a sharp drop in the temperature. I had a ways to go yet and now it was freezing out. I quickened my step...

....and then froze in my tracks, because there was this cluster of pale, winking light, in something like a soft, standing fog, just about twenty feet ahead of me. It was beautiful. I was transfixed by it. In truth, I was also a little bit creeped, because it seemed to be alive in it's own way. I wasn't sure if it found me, or I found it, but there we were.

It was on the trail, dammit. That's the thing that got me, right then. I couldn't go home without either backtracking a long ways - in the cold and pitch dark - or, I'd have to walk forward and get closer to the mystical light. I was shivering by now and I couldn't tell you if it was just the weather.

I took a step forward. The light hovered, bobbed...but didn't seem to retreat. It wanted me to come closer. I felt foolish for thinking it. Well, maybe it was just swamp gas, or a trick of a moonbeam. So I took another step, and another, thinking the thing would vaporize as I closed in on it, like a mirage.

Interestingly enough, as I progressed, it was no closer, and no further away. I felt like I was following it without trying to. I tried to ignore it. Yet even while looking down at my boots, I felt the thing hovering in front of me.

After several shivering minutes I realized I wasn't on the trail anymore. It was the absence of sound that tipped me off; there was no dry earth scuffing under my boots, no small stones. I was in the edge of the swamp, stepping through soft, mossy turf. It had been dark enough that I didn't visibly notice the change in terrain. I wasn't using the trees as markers as I usually did, as my eyes had been avoiding the creepy, drifting light that danced ahead of me.

I looked around. I didn't see the creepy light; I didn't see anything other than the close, gnarled reach of bare, ancient oak trees, long dead, their roots rotted by the swamp. It was here, in this circle of dead oaks, that the only living sounds were those of my own heart and breath. No frogs, no crickets, on this cold night. The owl was silent. I couldn't even hear the sound of a car, so I couldn't tell where the road was...and therefore what direction the house was. How far was I from the trail? Which side had I stepped off ? The swamp covered this section of the woods like patchwork, so being at this spot, meant nothing. I could even be in the swamp proper, and a step to the right or left could sink a boot into deep, soft muck.

I considered calling out to somebody. Anybody...but the silence around me was a suffocating thing, discouraging my voice. The only thing to do seemed to be to turn around, in an exact 180-degree pivot, and face back from the way I came, and hope I could backtrack more or less to the trail.

I turned around, and there was the will-o' the wisp, which had been waiting behind me. OK, I was ready to scream. Literally.

Something beat me to it, though, and the sharp, high-pitched shriek cut through the silence like a steel blade. A chaotic flutter of wings exploded in the brush not far from me, as the owl finished off its prey. I figured that out belatedly, though, because right then I was running like hell, straight through the will-o' the wisp, around the trees, through the brush. The deer spooked and bounded away, crashing through the undergrowth in their flight. I even flushed out a startled, under-sized coyote that bolted off with its tail between its legs.

My headlong, thoughtless sprint accomplished a gain of my bearings. I reached a familiar point in the woods, seeing the leaning pine that the trail curved around. I knew the direction home from there. East, where the trail sloped down towards the road. If that friggin' will-o' the wisp was behind me, it better have some serious wattage to keep up, because man I was a track star by this point. I didn't worry about breaking my ankle anymore because now I was more likely to break my neck if I tripped. I scattered out more startled wildlife and burst into the clearing, jumping the ditch and crossing the road in seconds flat. I flew into the house, slammed the door and locked it. Then I turned on every light in the place.

To this day, I'll never be certain if the will-o' the wisp was trying to help, or hinder. If the thing was a natural, scientific product of barometric pressure and humidity, or a woodland wraith. Whichever, it had a sense of presence that I'll never forget.


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First off... holy--! Okay I wont use any bad language here but man that was creepy! Im glad you came through in one piece and didnt end up being a swampy Coltrane. Youre right this is the time of year for scares and lots of them, I myself am a huge fan of scary movies so you know this is one of my favortie times of year. My reasoning is simple...things are starting to fall asleep, hybernating for the cooler weather and the appraoch of the long winter. Then when it does come, the ground is cold and everything is in a peaceful repose waiting for the warm sun to once again awaken it. I like that...being asleep and waking up to start life again, things are reborn for a fresh new start. But anyway... you mentioned the dark and the scary things that are there and yes while it is true that things do go bump in the night, here's a tale of a good daylight scare...

When I was four years old, I had a death in the family. My mother's youngest brother, who was only fifteen, got sucked into a pipe while wading in a drainage ditch and died. I never met him but there are loads of family photos and a few videos of him playing with me so I do know his face. Growing up, I knew that Uncle Raul was always around, things would fall off shelves, foosteps heard on the carpeted hall, whispered names...but I seemed to be the only family member that experienced any of these things. Though a little annoying and sometimes scary, I knew who it was and that Uncle Raul would never hurt me. Though he always made himself known, occassionally flipping off the kitchen light while doing dishes and knocking a gallon jar full of ice tea all over my floor, I had never laid eyes on my mischevious uncle. That is until one day...

The back part of my house once served as a seperate apartment complete with entertainment center, ETC. While back there one day, my two dogs and I were enjoying a little daytime TV. Here I am harmlessly flipping channels when suddenly my two dogs start to growl and every hair on them starts to stand on end. Naturally I got a little alarmed, especially when they both seemed focus on the far side of the room near the door that led into the rest of the house. I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and with my heart slamming into my ribs I slowly turned my head in that direction. What I saw there literally made my mouth drop open and my breath catch in my chest.... A young teenage boy walked across the floor. He turned to look at me and gave a grin before he vanished right into the door. Naturally I was too scared to do anything but gawk, not believing what my eyes had seen. He was sort of tall, wore faded blue jeans and a green sweater. After a moment or two I managed to breathe again, get up from the couch and despite my trembling legs I went into the house. As I headed inside with that image so plain as day to me, a sudden thought stopped me. Why did that kid look so familar? As I once again started to move, I went through the kitchen into the living room where my mother sat watching tv. I guess the look in my face was just like the ones in the movies because she turned to me, blinked and said... You look like youve just seen a ghost! I said...um I think I did. I then looked at her and asked.. Mom, what was Uncle Raul wearing the day he died? My mom sort of shrugged and said, well he had on jeans and a sweater. Still looking at me puzzled, I asked if the sweater was green. My mother's eyes got big and she asked how I knew that. Without hesitating and as seriously as I could I told her... I just saw him in the backroom and he went through the door.

Now she was the one that looked stunned and questioned me thoroughly about what I had seen. Digging into a photo album, she produced the last known photo of my uncle and sure enough...that was the teenage kid I saw walking across my floor.

Is my uncle still in my house? Oh yes...Raul is fond of playing tricks on me, but for the most part hes sort of a comforting presence that I've learned to get along with. When he gets too bad I simply say.. Raul...I think youve had enough fun... and things settle down for awhile LOL.

As Brian said, you dont necessarily have to fork out ten bucks for a scary movie, or go walking through a cemetary for a good scare. Sometimes scary things can happen in broad daylight and in your own home! LOL


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Ok, those are both freaky... I got one as well but it's not as creepy but still gives some chills when I think about it and makes me curious to this day.

Durring the summer months I work at a bar on an island in one of the country's 'Great Lakes'. It was August of last year and I was told I had to stay with one of my bosses so that the band that was playing at the bar had a place to stay the weekend on the island.

So I stayed with the kitchen manager at that time at her place. It was this old victorian home that was on the edge of the island located right on the water's edge. The house was very stylish and when you walked in you could tell how old it was and how well kept the owners have taken care of it over the years. However, when you walked it... it made you feel cold and it seemed quiet inside. When I first arrived there, my boss was at work and told me where the place was and how to get there and where my room was in the house.

I remember walking into the house and stepping on the floor boards and hearing the creeking noise. The house just seemed too quiet and too neat, almost unnatural the way it seemed so prestine. I walked down the hall to the back screened in porch and relax until I had to go into work. I opened my flip phone and sat down on the wicker furniture and called one of my best friends. We started talking and she then asked me in a concerned tone, "Where are you?"

I told her I was at my boss's house and that I was staying there for the weekend until the band was gone. Now I don't know how many of you do this when you're talking on the phone but I'm one of them that likes to get up and wander around when I talk on the phone. I decided to get up from the sofa and walk up the steps to the upstairs when my friend on the other line stopped and asked again saying my first name this time, "Where are you? You're being watched."

I wrinkled my nose at this and looked around, a chill went up and down my spine at the words as I stood on the steps, "I told you... I'm at my boss's house. I'm alone. How can I be watched? That's silly."

"You're being watched. I'd be careful if I were you. And move off that step... You're making someone mad." she told me over the phone.

I looked around and at the staircase I was on and proceded up stairs to the landing. Looked around and continued to talk but then walked back down the steps and on the same step my friend warned me again, "Get off of the step. You're irriating someone."

I look around the house and go, "Who! There is nobody here! I told you I'm alone."

However, I was kind of freaked out feeling from my friend's warnings and the erie silence of the house. It was soon getting time for me to go into work and so I got ready and drove my old blue pickup that the bar owner let's me drive when I'm on the island back to the bar. I walked into the bar kitchen and met my boss and asked her about the duties of the day when a co-worker passed by and asked if I seen any ghosts. I looked back confused and answered no, why would I see any ghosts.

Come to find out, the house is supposely haunted. In the early nineteen hundreds when steamboats traveled the Great Lakes, a steamboat captian and his family lived in that house. He was in a race one night and fired up the boiler too hot and the boat exploded. Supposely the wife was waiting for him to come home and was pacing up and down the steps and seen the boat explode as it passed by on the lake when she was on the steps. The house has had reports of pictures falling off walls or the sound of pictures falling off the wall and you walk into the room where the crash is and nothing is out of place. The wife's spirit also is known to open windows and doors after you close them at night.


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Looks like a freaky film probelm or just a double exposure I've done those before.
Hmm. If a picture paints a thousand words, can you see what I'm saying?


Julie pointed out double exposures, this wasn't the first photo that sacred/mystified. I've encountered peculiar moments with photography from 110's to digital equipment.

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  • 3 years later...

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