Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Update: Waiting for the School Bus (Photos)

I was fortunate enough to get permission to go back on the property and take pictures.  

With the first pic, I tried to stand where I was when I first saw the apparition.  This pic shows you how narrow our yard was and how sudden the drop off is from this angle. 

Next up we have two more pics looking down from the edge to help give perspective on how steep it is.

I took another picture of what the other side of the road looks like.

I knew that I would have to find the tunnel from my childhood, the tunnel that spooked me to no end. I set off into the wilderness.  The path from my younger years was no more. Now the area was covered in brambles. I could barely go a yard without having to pull a briar off me.

Nevertheless, I soldiered on. And then I found it. 

However, it didn't look anything like my childhood memory. I didn't recall having to slide into it when I was younger. I decided to take a closer look at my surroundings.  Suddenly, the answer was clear. 

Time had not been kind to this place.  Part of the tunnel had collapsed. The idea of being caught in a cave in frightened me more than any booger I might encounter inside.  I readied myself and pressed forward.

It would appear I wasn't alone.  No, I didn't see these guys when I went in. Besides, a few creepy crawlies aren't too unexpected. I didn't have to travel far before I started seeing obvious signs that someone had been in here.

The weirdest part of the items found here was the remains of a fireplace someone had built and abandoned. There were hardly any ashes. Why would someone set up shop in a dank old tunnel that is no more than 5 feet high?

I kept moving hoping to see the end of the tunnel soon enough.

I apologize for the shoddy camera work.  I was a little spooked by the whole ordeal and the fear of being crushed by a cave in was actually looming over my head.

But I reached the end of the tunnel. The clay sediment made it appear that there was a corner at the end of the passage, but it was just an optical illusion. I took one last picture as I turned around and faced the entrance.

It is both creepy and beautiful.  

When I emerged from the hole, I was very relieved that I managed to escape without causing a cave in. Once outside, I noticed something odd.  There was no noise. No birds, no critters going through the brambles. Stillness. 

I decided that now was as good a time as any to get the hell out of there. And I made my way through the overgrowth as fast as I could, which admittedly wasn't as fast as I would like it to be.

When I got back, I showed the owner of the property the pictures.  He didn't even know the tunnel was there.  It was then that he shared something with me that I never knew.  He said that he wasn't surprised that something like the tunnel was there, since the whole lot was on top of a gold mine at one point. In fact he almost lost his car to a sinkhole that developed in his driveway a few years back. 

My next step of this mission is to look up the gold mine and see if anything went awry during its operation. 

Upon retrospection, this tunnel still seems out of place.  The height of the tunnel seems too small. It ends abruptly and there seems to be shelves dug into the wall.  The fireplace also seems off. I think someone tried to live here.  

Here are some more pictures that I took that don't really belong anywhere else.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Waiting for the School Bus

When I was seven years old, we moved from Banner Elk to Lenoir, NC. Despite being closer to the Piedmont region, there were plenty of hilly places and the mountains seemed to never be out of eye shot.

We moved into a trailer on the top of a hill. Our yard was very narrow and there was a steep incline at the edge. It is hard to impress upon the reader how steep this incline is.  I can recall several times having to descend down it to retrieve an errant kickball.  There was no way to scale it without grabbing onto the vegetation with both hands.  This unfortunately meant that when I found the ball, I was forced to throw it as hard as I could so it would crest the top. Many was the time it wouldn't make it to the top and would roll even further down the hill. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.

Because we were at the top of this hill, the road was visible from half a mile away. When I was in the fifth grade, I was trusted enough to watch for the school bus at the bottom of the hill. Since we had a neighboring kid who rode the bus too, this afforded me the time to grab my book bag and wait at the road just in time for the bus to arrive.

Over time, I trained myself to where I could listen for the bus to drive up with its diesel engine.  And one morning I heard the bus's engine and quickly grabbed my gear and headed outside.

I stood in my driveway waiting for the school bus to come. But it didn't. Nothing did. So I thought to myself, "Well, it is almost time for the bus.  By the time I get back inside, it will be coming. I really don't want to dig in my book bag for the keys."  I decided to wait for the bus.

It was a really quiet morning. Normally, our road had the passing car come through, someone trying to get to work no doubt. But even the bugs were quiet.  I didn't think anything of it, because Socks, our dog, was noisily gnawing at his groin. 

And then I heard a noise. It sounded like some critter scurrying through some underbrush.  Only it was happening at the edge of the yard.  So I looked over there and caught a glimpse of a white figure.  Or rather certain parts of it. A translucent white bald head was peeking over edge at me. I could see a set of pink eyes and the bridge of the nose.  In addition to the head, its hands were visible on along the edge. 

Our eyes met and we stared at one another for what seemed like a long time, but it probably wasn't longer than 10 seconds.  And then I blinked.  And it vanished.  I thought it was all in my head, and even tried squinting to see if I could trick my eyes into seeing it again. But this didn't work.

Then suddenly, I heard the noise again.  Only this time it was from across the road, where the forest is. The idea that I may see this spectre again was not what alarmed me. When it was at the edge of the yard it was a good distance away.  Now that this noise was coming from across the road, it was moving closer. I ran back to the house, fumbled in my book bag for the keys and hurriedly unlocked the door.  I almost missed the bus that morning because I wanted to be sure not to fall into the same trap again.

To this day, I do not know what that thing was. I call it a ghost because I don't know of anything else to call it. What I did discover one day is that there is an old man-made tunnel nearby in the forest.  It looked like it hadn't been used in years. And inside there were what appeared to be shelves cut into the earthen walls. As a child, I wouldn't go very far in the tunnel, but one day I intend on returning and seeing what there is to discover inside. I hope somehow it will give me some insight into what I saw that morning.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

My First Ghost Sighting

One of my earliest memories was attending a viewing. I know it sounds weird, but I can distinctly remember whining that I couldn't see what was in the casket and why everyone was so sad.  I was about to throw a tantrum when my mother raised me up and let me look inside. 

I didn't grasp the situation at the time, since I was around 3 years old. But later on I learned that the guy's name was Larry.  He and a friend of his were drunk one night. They fell asleep with the car running and asphyxiated on the fumes. Larry was a close neighbor to my grandmother. They didn't talk much or have much to do with one another. But rather, you could throw a rock from her back porch and hit his house.

During my childhood, we lived in a trailer at the bottom of a steep hill. At the top of the hill, my grandmother had her home.  We spent more time at my grandmother's house than we did the trailer and it seemed superfluous to us. Sure it housed our things, but it wasn't a home. 

One summer day, my friends Jody and Jason came over to play. They were 1 and 3 years older than me. I would guess their ages to be around 7 and 10 during this story. 

It was a pretty day, just a little cool from an early morning shower. But the sun was out and they wanted to play outside.  My grandmother told us not to go behind the trailer because she had spotted a snake there. We said that we wouldn't go near there and out the door we went.  Being the boys that we were, our first stop that morning was to be behind the trailer.  My grandmother was so insistent we shouldn't go there, surely there must be something remarkable.

When we reached our destination, we were let down.  Nothing interesting was going on at all. Even the itty bitty stream behind the house didn't show signs of life, preventing any hopes of catching a lizard or small frog. 

Suddenly Jason said, "Oh my god, guys look!" He pointed frantically at Larry's house.  In the few years following Larry's death, the place had fallen into disrepair. The wood on the outside looked to be rotting and the tin roof was completely covered in rust. It didn't take long before I saw what Jason was pointing towards.  In the window of Larry's house, we could see a silhouette of a figure slowly walking past. 

I yelled the only curse word my young mind knew, "Shit!" We all ran up the steep as fast our short legs could carry us. My grandmother was surprised to see us back so quickly. We told her the harrowing tale, even leaving in the part where we disobeyed her. She nodded and suggested we watch TV inside until we calmed down.

To this day, she does not question what we saw. I think it was so easy for her to believe us because she had some experiences of her own when she was younger.