Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ditched Spooks

Sometimes the paranormal finds you when you least expect it.  This was the case one night when my cousin called me up and asked if I wanted to go ghost hunting.  Of course my answer was yes.  She wanted to know where we could go.  I decided on a lonely mountain road that crossed from Letcher County into Pike County.
Around 40 years ago a man had went missing from town following a poker game in which he had been accused of cheating.  Weeks later a deer hunter discovered his body.  It appeared as if he had been killed and driven up this mountain road, turned off on a dirt road and driven as far as it went, and then dumped out.  Growing up I heard tales of people driving along late at night spotting his ghost walking along the side of the road.  My cousin said it sounded as good a place to go hunting as any, so we sat out.
We drove across the mountain.  The moon was full and it was very bright outside, but bitterly cold on that January night.  I had thought ahead and put on thermals under my clothes, and would be glad I had a little later on.  At the top of the mountain there’s a dirt road that goes higher up, part of an old strip mine. She had never been that way so we decided to go exploring.  We were lost in conversation and enjoying splashing the car through mudholes.  I told her about a guy I had dated telling me he had seen shadow people up here, although he hadn’t known to call them that.  Another guy swore something black flew beside his car as he drove up the Pike County side one night.  She agreed that the place had a certain creepiness about it.  I’d never gotten that vibe from this place but saw how one could, especially in the middle of the night with a reddish-tinted full moon overhead. 
                We had driven for miles and the condition of the road was getting progressively worse.  I suggested we turn around and head back since you couldn’t go much further anyway.  By this time she had started down a hill and we agreed we’d turn at the bottom of it, wanting to get back to one particularly deep mudhole and use our cameras to film the car splashing through it instead of trying to catch a ghost floating by.             
                I got a text message and was busy typing out a reply when I felt the front of the car go down fast and with a thud.  “I hope you didn’t just get us stuck,” I said jokingly.  She had pulled to the side of the flat area at the bottom of the hill in order to back up and head back up the hill, only we weren’t going anywhere.  She put it in reverse and the tires just spun.  I got out to inspect the situation, and saw that she had driven the front tires into a ditch that was overgrown and pretty much hidden in the dark.  We tried every trick I knew, pushing from the front, sitting on the trunk, putting rocks under the tires in hopes of getting traction, but we just kept digging the tires deeper and deeper into the mud.  My cousin had a big Maglite that had worked fine when we tested it before we left, but when we tried to use it to see how deep we were stuck, it wouldn’t come on.  We took out the batteries, put them back in, and nothing.
                Knowing that we weren’t going to drive out of this situation by ourselves, I called my uncle who lived at the bottom of the mountain, hoping that he was home.  I knew that hooking a chain to the car and pulling it out was the only way we were getting out of this one.  My aunt answered the phone, and a few calls back and forth later, after explaining as best I could where we were,  I felt reassured knowing that my uncle and his son-in-law were on their way to rescue us. 
                I walked to the top of the hill a couple times, wishing there was something more I could do.  Those mining roads went on forever and splintered off every couple miles.  I knew it would take them a while to get to us, assuming they didn’t take a wrong turn, because of the rutted out roads and mudholes big enough to go swimming in.  Thinking I could help the situation by walking out to meet them, I called down to my cousin, asking if she wanted to come.  She said she’d stay with the car.  I asked if she’d be alright by herself and she assured me she would.  So with my flashlight whose batteries were weak-going-on-dying I set out. 
                Other than the cold it was a beautiful night.  The sky was full of stars and because of the full moon I only used the flashlight when I had to cut around one of those big mud holes and through the weeds.  I’d walked about 15 minutes when I thought I heard my cousin a little ways back.  I could hear her talking.  Figuring she’d got spooked staying by herself and had set out after me, I got out my cell phone to call her.  I thought about just yelling, but if she was spooked that might only make it worse.  I had great service on top of that mountain, but when I called her phone I got a recording that said she was out of the service area.  I tried a couple more times, getting the same result, so I texted her.  When I didn’t hear anything back from her, I kept on walking, hoping our rescuers would come rolling up any minute. 
                After another 10 minutes or so of walking, I heard something in the weeds to my left.  They cut those mining roads into the mountains, so the edge of the road dropped off steeply down the hill.  I stopped dead in my tracks, and immediately thought about what a bad idea walking off by myself had been.  Now here I was, with nothing but a tiny flashlight to defend myself, and a bear or bobcat was 20 yards away from me.  I decided it was time to turn around and go back to the car.  I made much better time going back. 
                Twice more while walking back I heard what I thought was my cousin.  It was always in the direction back where the car was stuck, but was too far away to make out any words.  I tried calling again, just to be told again that she was out of the service area.  I finally made it back to the top of the hill and saw that she had started a little fire at the bottom.  I called out to her, asking if she was okay.  She yelled that she was.  Then I heard the ‘critter’ again, about the same distance away.  My first thought was ‘I’m being stalked.’  A mountain lion was hungry and was hunting me.  I stopped where I was, just below the top of the hill, and shined my flashlight in that direction.  It was too weak to see anything more than the moonlight already allowed. 
Just as I was about to start back down the hill to the car, I heard small rocks hit in front of me.  I looked down and saw them skip to a stop just in front of my feet.  I had been standing still for several seconds, so there was no way I had kicked them myself.  That was the first time in a long time that I had been genuinely crept out.  I forgot about the cougar and briefly entertained the idea of a Sasquatch toying with me.  I called out for my cousin again, this time telling her to come up the hill and meet me.  I could hear the fear in my own voice and didn’t like it.  She didn’t ask why, but started up the hill.  Once we were close enough that I felt a little easier I told her it was okay and she waited, then we walked the rest of the way down together.
Once we were back at the car and in the comfort of the fire’s light, I asked her if she had started walking in the direction that I had went.  She said no, and asked why.  I was puzzled, “Because I heard you.” 
“No way!  I kept hearing you.  I texted you back and told you.  I thought you were just standing up there.”  She said that she couldn’t make out any actual words because the voice was too far away, but had clearly heard a woman talking.  She thought it was me and that I was on the phone with someone.   I told her I hadn’t spoken a word aloud since I had left.  We both had a serious case of the creeps.  A couple minutes later my phone beeped, and although I’d had perfect service it was the text she had sent me, “Yeah, I’m fine.  I can hear you lol.”  She showed me on her phone that she had sent the text 20 minutes before.  For arguments’ sake I texted her back, and the delay between me sending it and her receiving it was about 5 seconds. 
                I got out my audio recorder and walked back up the hill to where I had last heard something and saw the pebbles thrown at me.  I just had time to state where we were and say if anything was with us, make yourself known, when headlights appeared at the top of the hill.  Our rescuers had arrived.
                Getting the car unstuck was no small feat, but they didn’t give up until we were out of the ditch.  They insisted on following us off the mountain to make sure we made it safely, so there wasn’t an opportunity to try and connect with whatever both of us had heard.  We had decided to ditch ghost hunting for some four-wheeling, and the ghosts seemed to have found us. 
A couple days later I got out my video camera, which I hadn’t taken out at all that night, to discover that it was dead.  I tried two packs of brand new batteries and it wouldn’t even turn on.  I’d never had any problems out of it before.  I’m convinced the woman on the mountain killed my camera, as well as my cousin’s flashlight.  I’ve never heard any stories connected to the part of the mountain where we were, but there’s no doubt in my mind that something is lurking there, hiding in the dark.

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