Sunday, October 28, 2012
In 1976, when I was 12 years old, my mother upped and moved us to a place called The Colony. It was a Seventh Day Adventist community on the edge of the little town of
It was an odd time, an odd life (we were not Seventh Day Adventists) and some
odd things happened there. Three odd things in particular, two of these were
actually places rather than events. But there was one disturbing event that,
while not spectacular on the whole, still skitters through my mind on occasion
and makes my skin crawl. Jefferson,
The Colony was 100's of acres of land, owned by the church and people. It was a sort of self contained village with a little store, school, college, church, clinic, library and more. The land and houses, which stretched out for miles, centered around the church and grounds. The grounds housed the college, dorms, pool, gymnasium, library etc. There were also a couple of small businesses, privately owned but governed by the church. One was a broom factory, at which my mom worked for a time. All of the irony, considering who and what we are.
Which brings me to a short explanation. We were not raised in any conventional way by my mother. Rather, we were taught not to fear or judge the unknown as being sinister or malevolent. In fact, I personally understood that the dark is rarely sinister in any way and that which is not known is simply waiting to be discovered. The dark is in balance with the light and night was just as sacred (maybe more so) as the day.
With that, I think in some ways we gained a greater respect of the beyond-normal. An understanding that, even though some of it is dangerous, certainly not all of it is and we must use common sense to decipher which is which.
At there center of the church grounds there was a large and lovely area with a fountain, where people often gathered and loitered. One day, as my sister and I were walking down the road past, there was a crowd and some uproar around the fountain. My mom rushed out from the crowd toward us and instructed us to hurry home, she would meet us there momentarily. We did so and she showed up shortly after. She told us the hullabaloo was about a ouija board that had been found in one of the college student's room. She said that the officials were going cast the devils out of the poor student and burn the ouija board for good measure. She told us that we had to stay home, inside the house. Not go outside and not come near the church grounds that night. She said that all the adults in the community had to attend and that she had to go.
>This was not our first knowing about a ouija board and would not be our last, bad voodoo all around, and other stories to come. <
Being the horrible child that I was, we waited about an hour then set off to see what was going on. It was early evening, not quite dark but not bright either. We stayed off to the side of the road that went by the front of the church and grounds. When we got there we kept walking but very, very slowly. Trying to act like we had no idea and were just minding our own business. All the while staring intently at the goings on.
We could see a large group of people gathered behind the fountain but it was hard to make out anything specifically. There were one or two people talking loudly but I couldn't make out any specific words. The voices had the tone of preaching to me. Then suddenly a small fire roared up, in what I believe was a metal barrel. They must have added some accelerant because it roared and licked, and was much bigger than it seemed it should be.
That kind of gave us a fright and my sister was wanting to go back home. I was saying we should wait and see what happened next. But when I looked up, I saw my mother staring at me, giving me the evil eye. How she could see us from that far away and being only 5 feet tall in a crowd of people ....
I quickly turned to head toward home. I'm sure my poor sister was glad of it. But I wasn't fast enough.
Out of the roaring fire came a scream. The likes of which I've thankfully not heard before or since. I cannot say how it wasn't human, only that it definitely was not. It was something else, something much different, something we weren't ever meant to hear. And it wasn't a scream of pain or anguish. Whatever it was that made that sound was angry, outraged and filled with hatred. My ears still sting when I think of it.
I took my sister's hand and we ran. Ran as far as our ribs would let us go, thankfully our house wasn't to far down the same road.
Once inside we huddled together in my room and waited for my mom to get home.
When my mother arrived home she also looked shaken, something my mother rarely was, if ever. She didn't say much about what happened except that she said it was the board that screamed and we were never to touch one in our lives. This is not the first time she told us this but it sunk deeper this time. We didn't question it.
My sister and I never talked about it. Never retold the story or discussed any part of it until recently. And even then it went something like ... "Do you remember the ouija in the Colony?", "yes, I remember it.", "Do you remember the sound we heard?", "yes, I remember." Otherwise, we've just remained quiet about it and life went on as usual. I suppose that when you experience these things so often there is a numbing normality that allows you to carry on. Like people who live in the city and get used to hearing sirens.
The Mining Company
I spent much of my time at The Colony alone with my pony and dogs. We would most often be riding deep into the woods, way back where no one else ever went and, where they told us not to go.
On one of my day-long rides with my pony and only one of our dogs, I came upon an abandoned mining station, or something like it. There were a lot of huge metal machines and vehicles ... there were pickup trucks, dump trucks, a giant backhoe, trailers with tool boxes, other trailers of several kinds ... all kinds of things just left to rot. Things that could have been sold or moved.
There were also buildings with huge chains and locks through the doors, an office with a bunch of small widows, an outhouse with a chain around it, storage buildings locked tight. And, like most abandoned places, every pane of glass had been broken out. It just seemed like an abandoned and deserted old business. Except for the rust and the tires.
Those are what seemed out of place to me, even as a 12 year old girl. Everything was covered in extreme rust. Unnaturally thick rust, an inch or more thick in some places.
is not near the sea or any large body of water. And more so, everything looked
current, as in manufactured in the last 10 years or so. Not things that would
have been sitting there for decades, certainly not old enough to have had as
much rust as these thing were covered in. Texas
I've seen things that have been sitting for much longer but with much less rust. In fact I have never seen that much rust on anything anywhere in my life. The rust smell was also very strong, it permeated the air, everything smelled of it and, while it wasn't actually stinging the only way I can describe is that it stung my lungs. I pulled my shirt up over my mouth and nose and worried about my pony and dog breathing it in.
But then I noticed the tires and forgot about the air. The tires on every vehicle were aired up and appeared in at least fair condition. I didn't check the treads but the tires all had air and were black, not gray with dry rot. They were all in good enough shape to still be supporting their various machines and vehicles. There was one exception, the pickup truck closest to the way in had one flat tire and it seemed to be much less rusted than the other things. Still very rusty but not nearly as thick as on the other things there.
Now I understand that having been just 12 people might think that it was clay or some such. But I was and am positive that it was rust. It felt, smelled and looked like rust and I was fully aware of what clay and rust looked, felt and smelled like.
I don't recall my pony or dog acting oddly or uncomfortable at all and I didn't feel anything untoward. Except that I definitely didn't want to be there when the sun started going down. As we were leaving the area my dog yelped and I discovered that he had cut his foot badly on something in a mud puddle. I walked home carrying him and leading my pony. Nothing else happened, no loss of time, no feelings of being watched or followed etc.. In fact, I was determined to return as soon as I could and investigate further. I never lost my way and remembered exactly how I had gotten there. Even so, I was never able to find my way back. I tried to find it many times after but to no avail.
The House in the Woods
The other odd place was the house in the woods. One autumn day my sister, two friends (boys) and I were walking through a forested area, way out past where we usually went and much further than we would have been allowed. We were walking along among the trees, crunching the dried fallen leaves beneath our feet. Talking and dreaming and doing what children do. Eventually we came upon a clearing, a wide span of waist high grasses, a few acres worth at least. Across the clearing, just in the edge of where the woods began again, there was a house. Nothing special, just a small, simple, little white house. Old but not ancient, in slight disrepair but far from falling down.
At first we thought someone lived there because there were curtains in the windows and it just seemed lived in. However, the closer we got the more we thought that it was abandoned. It was so quiet, no sign of any life at all, no dogs or cats, no chickens, no vehicles, nothing outside the house. No toys in the yard, no trash cans or anything else people might have outside around their home. Aside from the house itself there was just the forest. There wasn't even a driveway or walkway up to the house.
I don't know why but we started peeking into the windows and discovered it was empty, of anything living. We tried the doors, there was one on opposite sides of the house, but both were locked. We found one window that had been left opened a few inches and one of the boys crawled in. He went on to open what seemed like the front door and one by one we invaded someone's long forgotten home.
The inside was quite amazing to us. Even as young kids, I was among the oldest at 12, we realized the wrongness of what we were seeing. Everything, and I mean everything, was in it's proper everyday place in that house. It appeared that nothing had been disturbed, nothing had been taken or moved, nothing had been touched since whatever day it's occupants left it.
There were tea cookies in an open tin on the coffee table, an ashtray with cigarette butts, toys, clothes, food in the kitchen cabinets, dishes, pots, pans, knickknacks, candles, a coffee cup with coffee looking liquid sat on a side table... and photos of a family everywhere. A mother, father and 2 young boys. Photos on the walls, on the tables, on the two dressers. A seemingly happy family. Who leaves without taking precious photos?
Everything looked as if they would be back at any moment. Everything except that, it was all covered in thick layers of dust and cobwebs. Even the dishes in the cabinet were covered in that thick layer dust, so thick that it was almost dirt. Else wise, the things seemed current, not ancient or overly outdated. They looked similar to things we all had in our own homes.
We lingered there a while, sat on their forgotten coudh even with the hairs on the backs of our necks tingling. We discussed what might have befallen the family ... had they been murdered? there was no sign or feel of violence. We discussed the oddness of there being no driveway to the house, no barn, garage and outbuildings. Maybe there was a small footpath now covered over, and they had always walked. But we were so far from anything there, that just didn't seem to fit. There was a brief discussion about taking a few small things but that was quickly decided against because of the wrongness of it all.
Eventually we left and as we did, we all kept looking behind us. We started feeling nervous and weird. Paranoid and as if someone was watching us. We all said so in whispers and hushed voices. We were suddenly quite sure there was someone or something watching, and stalking us.
The next thing we knew, we were home. At least my sister and I were home. I don't really know if the boys were home or not, although we saw them a few days later so they must have made it home. I don't recall anything after we all agreed we felt like someone was watching us. It seemed like time slipped or bowed and we the journey home.
The four of us never talked about the house or the experience. In fact even my sister and I didn't talk about it until recently. It's not that it was some great secret that we wanted to keep or that we felt we had done something wrong. It was more like it just never came up, as odd as that sounds. We did tell our mom about it the same day or day after and here reply was simply to stay away from it, to never go near again. It was easy to comply with because in truth, I don't think any of us could have found it again even had we wanted to. I was a born tracker and navigator, I never got lost and could find anything again if I had been there once. But I had no idea how to get back to that house. And what's more, I never wanted to be anywhere near there again.