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This Party Tip submitted by BizGirl - Aug 25th, 2008


    • Scary as Hell Ghost Stories 2

    • A Foggy Walk By Bill Odell

      Go Back to Scary as Hell Ghost Stories

      When I was a youth, Mom and I moved to her family’s farm after she and Dad got a divorce. The farm lay in a remote valley in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. The local inhabitants were part farmer, part hillbilly or in other words, poor.
      Town consisted of three hundred people and a few dogs and cats. Once you got off the main drag of town, the niceties of civilization vanished with the paved roads. The county and local lanes were a mixture of black loam and red clay.
      Modern conveniences such as indoor plumbing and telephones were much desired. However, once you left town, even running water in the homes was a rare find. Toilets were a fast jog down a worn trail with Sears & Roebuck catalogs, the favored reading material.
      In other parts of the country, television was fast becoming the national pastime. In our neck of the woods, it was a curiosity and nothing more. With the nearest television station a hundred miles away, every Tom, Dick and Harry had an opinion as to the best location for an antenna. On a good night you might get several fuzzy stations.
      In the Appalachia boondocks, if you hadn’t been there for three generations you were an outsider. I was the fifth generation, but sired by an outsider. So I was regarded with suspicion and in some cases outright hostility.
      Being somewhat a loner didn’t help either. But being taller than most I was needed for the basketball team, and that balanced my situation somewhat. For some reason I was liked by the girls, which didn’t help my popularity with the boys. Since there were more girls than boys in the school, I didn’t let it bother me.
      One Friday night in October, the school bus was returning late from a basketball game. Midnight had come and gone, and fog lay thick upon the ground. I knew that I probably didn’t have a ride home because Mom had a date.
      I got off the bus and looked around the parking lot. I couldn’t see more than ten feet. Our station wagon wasn’t there, so I decided to walk home.
      When Mom wasn’t there to pick me up, I was suppose to let the coach know. He would find me a ride or provide one. I didn’t; I was in a bad mood and wanted to be alone. A larger school had out played us, and the loss rankled. With the visibility near zero, no one noticed as I stepped off the asphalt pad that was the parking lot. The fog billowed about me and mostly by luck I found myself on the path that led across a pasture-like field toward the truck stop.
      It was seven miles to the house, far enough for me to get it out of my system. I walked along the pavement only moving to the shoulder of the road for two cars to pass. I made the turn off the much-patched asphalt surface of the highway onto a rutted country lane.
      A mile further, my feet carried me up a hill and around a curve. Suddenly I stood under a clear, richly encrusted sky. An owl greeted my arrival with a questioning remark. A crackling in the underbrush sent a chill down my back.
      One too many novels by H.P. Lovecraft and Thorne Smith, I told myself, not to mention the morbidity of Poe’s The Telltale Heart. All the same I was uneasy and anxious to be home.
      I knew where I was, but paused and looked around. The driveway to the old Kent place gave me an idea. An old logging road started near the ruin of their house. Down their driveway was a shortcut that I had walked it in daylight but never at night.
      I shrugged and started down the overgrown driveway. Several years ago, a fire had trapped the old couple in their bedroom. They perished with their house, and the ruins set abandoned, deserted, by the two daughters who came for the funeral and returned to the city.
      Fog lay low about the foundation and charred walls of the old frame house. The driveway appeared to end at the old one-car garage, mostly standing. A track beside the structure was the beginning of the logging road. It was shaggy and would be overgrown in another decade. I headed up it, wincing occasionally as a blackberry bramble reached out to snare my ankles.
      The crackling continued in the underbrush, and I was glad to stumble, literally, over a piece of wood. It was part of an old branch off a tree, about the length of a baseball bat. I picked it up and used as a sort of cane. I didn’t need it but it sure felt good in my hand.
      The logging road was in deep shadow from the trees close on both sides. Occasionally I came to a meadow, once I heard the friendly sound of a cowbell in the distance. I came around a curve and saw the fog across the clearing. From a distance it looked solid as it lay across the clearing. From a distance it looked solid as it lay across the road. A bat buzzed my head before I knew it was there. I said a few words that Mom wouldn’t be happy to hear.
      Once I entered the fog, sound became softer, more intense. My legs began to ache; it felt like I had walked twenty miles. The fog thinned again and I found myself near an ancient cemetery.
      It lay in a small clearing beside the road, enclosed by a fence of native stone. Rocks are something we had in plenty around the area. In the center of the field a single tree sat with a few concrete benches. Tendrils of fog filtered through the weathered headstones.
      I paused to consider the old graveyard, I had forgotten about it being there when I started down the logging road. Mom called it the Union Band Cemetery. I had never wondered about the name until then.
      Under the moonlight it made a beautiful scene. For a second I considered getting Alice to walk home this way Saturday night. She’s quite an artist, and might paint a picture of the scene for me.
      She was a year younger and her mother wouldn’t let her date yet. However, Alice said her mother agreed to me walking her home from the community supper.
      “Hey, Marco Polo, you’re out awful late. Miss your ride?”
      I jumped a foot and would of taken to my heels. I looked around, ready to take off.
      “Well?” The voice asked.
      There was a boy about my age sitting on the fence.
      “No, Mom had a date and I was feeling grumpy.”
      “Aren’t you worried about ghosts and such?”
      “Na, ghosts are just shadows trapped in time.”
      “Hey Sarge, did you hear that?”
      Suddenly there were four men in what I recognized from pictures as Union Army uniforms. “Yeah. Do we look like shadows, kid?”
      “That’s what my preacher, Rev. Dougan says!”
      “Your preacher only knows what he’s read. Who wrote the Book? Men! Anything done by committee is dangerous.”
      “That’s heresy!” I warned them.
      “No, hearsay,” The sergeant came back at me.
      Before I could say anything, a fog bank rolled over us like it was swept by a tide. Almost instantly the visibility was reduced to pea soup. The fog seemed different, denser and had a wet smell to it.
      “Ah, declare! The Fog Express is gonna roll tonight!” The youngest said.
      “Private, I’ve warned you about talking southern!”
      “Oh, hang it in your ear, Sergeant! We ain’t in the army no more!”
      “Private you and I are going to fist city if you don’t close your trash talking mouth!”
      The boy looked over at me with a smirk. “Tell Alice that I said hi.”
      Another spoke, a dark-haired man with an almost cartoon Maine accent.
      “Shall we take a ride?”
      “Ah, hell why not? We can do some visiting before we have to walk back.”
      A glow of lights appeared in the fog, an approaching car swept over the hill and charged toward us. I stared as it approached, when I glanced at my companions, the five were gone.
      A dilapidated ancient pickup that seemed more rust than vehicle rattled to stop beside me. The window was cranked down and a gray-haired man with a cheerful smile beamed at me.
      “Hey, Marco Polo, need a ride?”
      What was with this Marco Polo stuff? I had never heard the expression before and now twice in one night.
      “Well? Cat got your tongue?”
      “Sorry. Yes, I sure would appreciate a ride.”
      I didn’t think twice, I walked around the cab and opened the door. The air smelled musty but the cab was as new as the outside was old. I sank gratefully onto the upholstered leather seats and shut the door.
      “You live on the Hapner place?” He asked.
      I hadn’t heard it called that before, but my great granddad was Luke Hapner.
      “Well?”
      “That’s right.”
      “Hum, you kind of look like him.”
      “Thanks.” I didn’t know what else to say. I had never seen a picture of Luke Hapner. The driver shoved in the clutch, slid the gearshift lever into low and we moved almost silently into motion.
      I looked at the gray-haired man in the darkness.
      “Thanks, I really appreciate the ride.”
      “Not a problem, it’s nice to see some manners in the younger generation.”
      We cruised through the fog. Once I looked out the back window and saw the five union soldiers riding in the back. The wordy private waved at me, still smirking.
      “Don’t mind them, they’re Yankee trash.”
      The tone of his voice was about the same as I’ve heard Mom use when she referred to White Trash.
      He slowed and came to a stop at four corners, half a mile from the house.
      “Here’s where I turn. Tell your grandfather that an old codger by the name of Martin gave you a ride.”
      I got out and watched the dim taillights disappear as the mist closed in behind him.
      A few days later, I walked over to my grandparents’ place after school and told my grandmother about my experience.
      “Are you sure he said an old codger by the name of Martin?”
      “Yes, ma’am.”
      “Strange. I wonder . . . Come fix us a cup of tea. I’ll be right back.”
      The teakettle was whistling on the kitchen range, a tea bag was setting in one of the cups. I poured the water, when I turned around, Grandmother was setting a photo album on the table.
      “Is that the man?” She asked after opening the book a few pages.
      I looked at the faded old picture of the gray-haired man standing by the door of his truck.
      “Yes, I rode in a truck just like that one.”
      “Todd, that’s your great grandfather’s brother, Martin. He died in a car wreck in nineteen twenty eight.”
      The hair on the back of my neck stood up and I had goose bumps on both arms. Grandmother sighed deeply and looked sad.
      “We need to talk, Todd. Have a seat and listen to me, there are things you need to know.”
      I had never seen her so serious. I sank into one of the chairs at the kitchen table.
      “We have in our family a gift, or a curse, depending on your view. In the old days we were known as witches, or wise women. Because until now it’s been only passed to the distaff side of the family.”
      “I don’t understand. You can do magic?”
      She laughed sadly. “No, we see things that most others don’t. The door to the spirit world is slightly ajar for us.”
      “Wow!”
      “I hope you can still say that in five years. Being a male, the gift is going to manifest itself differently in you. I can and have seen Martin, but I was never able to talk to him. You’re going to see and know things that you don’t want to know. I wish I could get you some training, but- ” She shrugged helplessly and a tear rolled down her worn cheek. “Just remember that being dead doesn’t make them saints. In the spirit form, they’re just as mean or good as they were in the flesh.”
      “Wow!” I repeated. Normally I have a larger vocabulary.
      And that’s how it all began.

      Go Back to Scary as Hell Ghost Stories

       


    • Tags: halloween scary ghost stories hell
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