This is a continuation of my short, true-life story ‘My Haunting’. If you have not yet read part one and two yet, then please follow the links below to begin.
In the foothills of Appalachia, everything looks the same. Even in the summer the ground is concealed by a layer of dead leaves from the past year. Maples, oaks, and pines reach high into the sky in all directions, and not even moss sticks to the rules of only growing on a single direction of the trees.
When you are lost in the woods, there is this primalistic fear that seems to settle in. Although we couldn’t have been more than three miles away, we knew each wrong step could quickly escalate that number. We tried to create reasons for what direction had to be the right one. We attempted to mentally retrace our steps, but there had been no room for memory as our fears had pushed us to run into the woods. After a silent debate between what I viewed as logical and what my heart was telling me, I turned down a narrow hill and my friend followed.
We walked for what felt like a long time. It was getting late as we came to a shallow creek, no more than three inches deep. The fissure in the canopy of trees brought on by the meandering stream gave view of an oranging sky. I knew there was a creek just like this which passed near the barbed wire fence surrounding our home; I hoped this eventually led to it. We continued silently onward, occasionally stopping to cup our hands in the cool water and take a drink; our empty Gatorade bottles thoughtlessly littered somewhere behind in the woods.
As I knelt on the soft mix of soil and rock to dip my hands again, I uncovered something. There in the shallow waters was a bit of chipped flint shaped like a long, narrow triangle. I plucked it from the silt and smeared some of the black off with my thumb. It was chipped and worn, the base of it broken cleanly off and only leaving the tip of the arrowhead. I showed it to my friend, who of course wanted it but I refused. We dug around in the shallow water some more, clouding the liquid and making it hard to see anything. After ten or fifteen minutes though, we had each found a few more bits and pieces.
Before we could keep digging for artifacts long lost, a woman’s voice bounced off the hills and rung in our ears. My mom was yelling as loud as she could for us to get back for dinner. The sound of her voice seemed to be coming from the exact way we had already been traveling. We shoved the arrowheads in our bags and took off sprinting down the waterline, eventually crossing an old, familiar barbed wire fence and entering the inconspicuously ordinary house.
After our dinner we headed back out to the tent. Neither of us seemed brave enough that night to discuss either the photo or the graves. There was a tension there, though, as thick as the humid summer air. As we once again filled ourselves with junk food and played video games, we tried to forget. Eventually we fell asleep, and I dreamed.
I dreamt that I was awoken to the sound of drums. They were close. A mysterious light, different than the ones I had seen previously, shown through the plastic of the tent; it reminded me of the orange sky we had seen. Another rhythmic pounding joined the sound of the drums, but I couldn’t place what it was. As if watching my body from the outside, I panicked when I saw myself rise from the sleeping bag and start unzipping the door. I tried to scream to my body, to warn it not to go, but it was too late. I stood outside. A low ring of fire was burning around the tent and a group of ethereal people were encircling the flames, dancing. The smell of smoke and melting plastic engulfed my senses and I began to cough.
I woke up sweating and choking, bolting up from my bag to notice my friend doing the same. We looked at each other with an unbelievable knowing. Yeah, me too, he said. It was all either of us needed to hear to know we had both had the same dream. We burst from the tent into the morning sun. My friend walked straight to the house and called his mom to come get him. He didn’t tell her anything that happened, just that he needed to go. He took his bag, but left his arrowheads on the tent floor. He never spent the night at my house again.
Much of the remainder of my summer was spent at my grandma’s house. In the early mornings I would go with her into the brier infested hills of the hollow and fill buckets with blackberries. In the evenings I would ride my bike up and down the road with my cousins. In time, I had convinced myself there was nothing to worry about. After all, there was no way to know if my friend had really had the same dream. He never described it to me. We had both had a nightmare, for sure, but that was expected after our long, scary day in the woods. Heck, it hadn’t really been that scary when I thought about it. After all, I told myself, all we saw was a rock. And I knew where we were the entire time. We hadn’t even gotten out of shouting distance from my mom.
When a new school year came, I found myself still coming up with as many excuses as I could to spend the night at my grandma’s. The bus route went by there too, and I was relieved my mom often let me go. As adamant as I was though, I always eventually had to come home. And when I did, there was always a part of me that remembered everything.
On a long weekend (thanks to Labor Day), I once again had a friend over. He and I did the typical and stayed up late playing video games, only this time we were indoors. On a Saturday which still vividly haunts my memories, we decided to head out and explore some places I had not been to yet.
We sat out in the late morning and headed straight towards the mountains behind the house instead of the woods to the side. The fields here were longer than the ones to the side, but they too eventually collided with the green foot of the mountains. After traversing seemingly endless amounts of rolling hills, each growing slightly higher than the last, we came to a small plateau.
The area was strange. The trees still grew here, but seemed more sparse and less aged. The ground was mostly flat, aside from strange mounds that seemed to be positioned around the trees. There were countless numbers of them, and I somehow knew they were not natural.
One of the mounds seemed shorter than the others. It was flat but covered in large mossy stones. For reasons I cannot fathom today, we decided to go to it and pull the rocks off. Underneath we saw several bones partially sticking from the ground, mostly small but one larger that resembled a jaw. We realized what we were seeing. We had uncovered and disturbed some sort of old grave. Were these part of the three hundred lost graves that the other grave stone had talked about? Surely not. That stone was five or six miles from where we now stood. And who would bury all these people up in the mountains?
Without bothering to cover the shallow grave back up with the stones we had removed, we took off in a sprint back home. This time there was no doubt in my body from which way we had come, and before I knew it we had made it to the pasture. We stopped running then, and started to talk about what we had found. This was a different sort of friend than my last adventuring partner. He didn’t seem afraid. In fact, he said we should take a shovel and hoe back the next day and dig it up. What if there was treasure or something? He said. Thankfully, I convinced him otherwise, and we finished out our weekend uneventfully.
The night my friend went back home, I had trouble sleeping. Every time I closed my eyes, I remembered the grave. Something about that always led my mind back to the dream in the tent. I clutched my quilt to my throat and tried to force myself to think of something else, but the more I tried, the more my thoughts were filled with foreign imagery I had no way of knowing.
I saw people dancing again, only this time they were solid. I heard them chanting in weird tongues and saw a dark skinned elderly man throw a handful of dirt over a sleeping woman who lay by a tree–no, a dead woman. The drums seemed to vibrate and pulse through my entire body until I shot up in my sleep. Only a dream. At some point I had fallen asleep amidst my plagued thoughts, but now I was awake. The only problem was that I could still hear the drums.
I once again ran to my parents for solace. I shook and pleaded with them to wake up, and eventually they did. As my mom’s eyes cracked open the sound once again vanished. I was sent back to my room.
Over the net two weeks I heard the drums every night. The dream preceding it was always the same. By then my parents had given up on trying to get me to stop waking them up and simply let me jump in their bed for the rest of the night. Just as I had grown afraid the dream would never stop or change, it altered.
One night after succumbing to sleep despite my best efforts, I once again dreamed. This time, though, I wasn’t in the woods. In the dream, I rose from my bed and approached the strange set of mirrors over my dresser. The glass seemed black aside from my own reflection. In the darkness a figure materialized. It was hooded and cloaked in a thick, white material. I turned to look behind me, but nothing was there. I turned again toward the mirror and came face-to-face with the being. It had made its way out of the glass and stood in front of me.
Every fiber of my being urged me to flee, but I was paralyzed. I couldn’t speak or even blink as I watched two old, wrinkled hands extend upward and push the hood backward. The face was human, but not alive. The skin had tightened and some looked rotted. The eyes were nothing but sockets which seemed filled with white light. It took me by the hand and I followed it against my will as it led me entirely through a closed door into the living room, then another. The being guided me out into the yard, then turned me around and pointed to the house. I could hear a strange beeping noise as if an alarm clock was going off. The sound of drums began, seemingly in rhythm with the beeps. I could smell smoke, but saw no fire. I began to cough as the sky turned orange.
My mom shook me awake screaming. All I could hear was loud crackling and the same beeps from my dream. I was groggy and didn’t understand what was going on at first. She screamed again that the house was on fire and pulled me from the bed by my arm. I grabbed the door handle from my room to the living room, but pulled away as the hot knob burned my skin. My mom reached out and turned the knob, pulling the door open. My view was instantly filled with thick blackness. I began to gulp and gag as the dark smoke filled my lungs. The heat was extreme, and among the darkness I could see flickers of orange flames far to my left. I fell onto my knees, but my mom pulled me up again and opened the front door. We ran and jumped off the concrete porch, the roof collapsing behind us.
My mom commanded that I run as fast as I could to our closest neighbors and tell them to call 911. She, meanwhile, ran around the side of the house screaming for Wesley, neither of us knew if he was okay–only that he had not come out the front with us.
I ran barefoot up the rocky driveway and eventually reached our neighbor’s house coughing and with bloody soles. By the time the fire truck got there it was too late. My mom, Wesley, and I stood up on the street before our driveway and watched as flames devoured every physical thing we owned. Even from that distance, the heat of the flames was intense.
I was happy to be alive, but devastated I had lost so much. I remember missing the things that only a kid would think of first–my video games, my toys, my movies. Along with those, we lost physical reminders of our lives. My birth certificate was gone. My baby pictures and tape of my first birthday were gone. These were the things that crushed my mom. Wesley was also upset that he had lost his family bible, and the only photo he had of his dad.
That reminded me of just what else the fire had taken, and even to this day I feel regret at the thought. I was glad the house was gone. I was glad I would never see the strange light in the closet again. I was happy that the owl, drum, and mirrors would no longer plague my existence. It was over. I’d be safe now. That old, seemingly haunted place had finally died, taking its curse with it.
That was my hope. That was my relief. But it would not be so.
Thanks for reading part three of ‘My Haunting’! I know that much of this is unbelievable, but it is all true. Even down to the ‘scene’ where my mom and I leapt from a burning house as it collapsed. We lost everything, and it was a traumatic time in our lives. Having to rebuild the material part of life from scratch with little more than the clothes on our backs was tough. It was hard on me–I can’t imagine how hard it was on my parents.
I spent the next two years mostly living with my grandma, and occasionally staying in motels with my parents. That is how long it took to put a new place to live on our three and a half acre plot. Right after the fire, my school put together some funds and bought me some new ‘toys’, mainly video games and some CD’s. During those two years I never felt incredibly scared. I never had fears or nightmares outside those of a normal kid of that age. The memories of all the strange stuff in that house would cross my mind from time to time, but it felt like a lifetime ago. It felt as if it were memories I hadn’t really experienced. Almost like a movie I had seen but couldn’t remember completely.
I wish I could say that was the end of any seemingly paranormal activity that happened to me, but it started again after we moved back, and I wasn’t the only one it happened to those times. But that is another story for another time. That’s for Part Four.
As always, thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, feel free to click any of the share buttons below.