Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Television Premonition

Rachel from Michigan sent me this story:

Hi Jason,

It figures. A month after I get my license I wreck my brand new car! Not to mention my leg. Okay, so it’s ten years old—the car, not my leg—and it used to be my dad’s, but to me it’s new. Anyway, the car was back from the shop, but I still had two weeks to sit around the house by myself with my left leg in a cast, hobbling on crutches.

I was soooo bored! I never thought I’d say this but I really missed being in school. I mean, all my friends are there. There’s no one to IM during a boring weekday afternoon, so I’d just sit around and watch daytime TV. LAME!

Then one day the really weird thing happened. I was watching some dumb soap opera on a local channel when they broke into the show with a special news bulletin.

“This is a special report,” the announcer said urgently. “An explosion has ripped through Lansing High School.”

“Oh my God!” I shouted, grabbing the remote and raising the volume.“Two students and one teacher are confirmed dead, and dozens more are injured. The fire continues to rage out of control, as firefighters from four communities battle the blaze. It is believed that the explosion took place in the chemistry lab.”

I watched in horror as terrible images flashed across the screen. The school was a blazing inferno. Orange flames and thick black clouds of smoke poured from every window of the three story building.

“The chem lab!” I cried, looking over at the clock. I realized with horror that if I’d been in school that day, I would have been in chem. class at that exact moment.

Robin! My best friend and lab partner Robin Richards was in that class room!

I snatched up my crutches and hobbled across the living room. Where did I leave my cell phone! Got to call Robin! Oh my God, how can this happen? Where’s the damn phone?

I looked over at the kitchen table. Right where I had left it. A couple more crutch hops and I was there. I hit Robin’s cell number on speed dial. Come on, come on, why do they call this stupid thing speed dial!

It’s ringing.

Pick up, pick up, pick—


“Hey, it’s Robin. Tell me something exciting. Call ya back. Bye!”


“Robin, I heard about the explosion,” I practically screamed into the phone. “Tell me you’re all right. Please tell me you’re all right!”

I clicked off and stared down at the phone. Like that was gonna make Robin call me back. I had to do something. I couldn’t just sit around here while my school burned down. Looking back, maybe it was crazy idea. Maybe I should have called the school. But I wasn’t thinking straight. All I could think about were those poor kids in my chem class.

All I could think about was Robin.

I grabbed my car keys and hobbled out the front door. I sat behind the wheel of my car with my crutches in the seat beside me, and my left leg in its cast extended next to the brake. The doctor told me not to drive until the cast came off, but this was clearly an emergency situation.

As I turned the key and the car started a wave of fear rushed through me. This was the first time I had been in the car since the accident. My mind flashed back to the impact, the horrible crunching sound, the screeching brakes, my own voice screaming, the searing pain in my leg. It all rushed back to me, mixing with the terror and worry I now felt for Robin and everyone else in my school. I burst into tears. But I had to go. I slipped the car into reverse and backed out onto the street.

I’m only five minutes away, I thought, as I put the car into drive and stepped gently onto the gas pedal, my right hand shaking on the steering wheel, my left hand holding my left leg off to the side. I’ll make it.

With one hand on the wheel I started the trip to my school that I had made hundreds of times before. But somehow it all felt strange, as if I’d never driven on these roads. The houses and stores zipped past. I knew them all like I knew my own name. But today they looked different.

My brain began to argue with itself.

She’ll be all right. Everyone’ll be all right. How can she be all right? They said that the fire was raging out of control!

I forced myself to focus on driving.

As I approached the school I peered into the sky, expecting to see smoke.

The sky was clear.

I rolled down my window, listening for sirens.

Everything was quiet.

Is it all over already? Is the whole school gone?

I swung around the final bend to school and held my breath. I bit my lip. There it is!

There it is? All of it. Perfectly normal. No smoke. No flames. No nothing.

Was I losing my mind? Did I fall asleep and dream that TV report?

I pulled up to the curb right in front of the school building and left the car beside the “No Parking Anytime” sign. Struggling out, I reached back in for my crutches and made my way slowly into the building.

The rubber tips of my crutches squeaked against the linoleum floor and the bottom of my cast clunked hollowly as I rushed toward the chem lab.

They’re gonna think I’m nuts. They’re gonna say I fell asleep and dreamt this, or that I’m bored and this is some stupid prank, or—

I stopped short at the door to the lab and peered through the glass.


The lab was fine, but no one’s in the class? What is going on here?

I spun around on my cast leg and shrieked! I was face to face with Robin.

“Oh my God, you’re alive!” I cried, dropping my crutches and throwing my arms around her.

“Yah, Rache,” Robin replied, returning the hug before picking up my crutches. “I didn’t die, I still come to school even when you don’t. Which brings me to…what are you doing here?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I had this crazy dream, and—I better get home before my mom does. She’ll go nuts if she finds out I drove!”

“Come on,” Robin said. “I’ll help you to your car.”

“Weren’t you supposed to be in chem lab?” I asked as we reached the front door.

“Hello! Today’s Thursday, not Tuesday. Lab’s fourth period, not third,” Robin said.

She was right. It was Thursday. Since I’d been home, the boring days just blended into each other. Half the time I didn’t know what day it was.

“I was just getting to lab a couple of minutes early when I saw you and your four
legs.” Robin explained.

She helped me down the stairs and opened my car door for me.


The bell sounded.

“And now I’m late,” she said.

“Sorry I—”


A thunderous blast exploded from the school. The ground shook and I fell against my car as glass, steel and brick rained down on the parking lot.

I screamed. Flames poured from the far end of the building where Robin and I had stood just five minutes earlier.

“Oh my god!” Robin cried.

The front door burst open and panicked, screaming kids poured from the school, followed by thick black smoke.

Robin and I huddled across the street, watching the terrible chaos. I searched the crowd for the other students in my chem. class. I spotted a few of them, but some were missing. I could have done more to save them if I’d only trusted whatever power had shown me this tragedy in advance.

Now kids were dead—kids I knew. I knew this wasn’t my fault, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I might have saved some lives, somehow. That’s why I wrote to you, Jason. That’s why I need to figure out what happened to me. It had never happened before. And now I live in fear that it may happen again. And if it does, what will I do?


Lizard Man

My IM buddy MonsterMavin sent me this story about Dave from South Carolina:

Jason, check this out:

One night I had just finished working the late shift at a local restaurant. Driving the familiar winding road through the swampland that surrounded my home town of Bishopville, South Carolina, I fought to keep my eyes open, battling the sleepiness I always faced after an eight-hour shift. I didn’t know that in a few minutes I would be more awake than I had ever been in my life.

After six months on the job, I felt as if my car could drive the route back home itself. Then, suddenly—BLAM!— my right front tire blew. My car skidded out of control on the damp road beside Scape Ore Swamp. My eyes opened wide as I tapped the brakes and eventually got the car under control. Bouncing to the side of the road, I was thankful there were no other cars out there or I surely would have caused an accident.

Still riding the adrenaline rush, I pulled out my flashlight, jack and spare tire, and began to change the flat. When the car was jacked up and I was struggling to loosen the lug nuts, I heard a low squishing sound from the swamp just off the road.

thwish thwish thwish

It sounded like large flippers slapping though the soupy mud. But who would be out here in the middle of the night, tromping around this mosquito-infested marsh? I cast my flashlight in the direction of the sound but saw nothing. Turning back to the tire, I managed to loosen a nut when I heard the sound again—louder this time.


Peering into the darkness, I caught a glimpse of two glowing red dots. I’ve got to be imagining this, I reassured myself. I was just remembering all the scary swamp stories my older brother told me when I was a little kid.

I pulled the flat tire off the car, and slipped the spare on, relieved that I had remembered to fill it with air the last time I checked all my tires. As I spun the final lug nut back into place I heard the squishing sound again, accompanied by a thin hiss.

Again, I swept the beam toward the swamp, and that’s when I saw it. At first it appeared to be a tall man in a long green coat. But as my eyes adjusted, I saw a seven and half foot tall lizard, walking upright on two powerful legs. Its skin was green and brown. Every inch of its body was covered by thick scales. I looked down at the creature’s three-toed, webbed feet, twitching in the mud.

The monster hissed again, and stared directly at me. The lizard man’s head was huge, and its bulging froglike red eyes glowed like coals in the flashlight beam. But this was no frog. Its broad mouth opened to reveal two rows of razor-sharp teeth. The three thick fingers of its hand were also webbed, and ended in long sharp black claws. Brown, brackish liquid oozed from the side of its mouth, as if the creature had been formed from the very muck of the swamp itself.

Okay, focus. Get the car down and get the heck out of here…NOW!

I fumbled with the lug wrench. The monster continued toward me, hissing as it increased its pace.

Yanking hard on the wrench, tightening the last nut, I chucked the wrench into my trunk, then frantically pumped the jack to lower the car.

Come on! Hit the ground! Hit the ground!


I turned and found myself staring at the lizard man’s legs!

I yanked the jack from beneath my car, holding it front of me, trying to figure out some way to use the tool to defend myself.

An overpowering stench of rotten swamp poured forth from the creature, stinging my nostrils and bringing tears to my eyes. The beast hissed and lunged toward me, swiping at me with its scaly clawed hand.

I instinctively raised the jack, smacking the lizard’s hand away. The creature howled in pain, then stepped back. It’s like somebody crossed a frog with a huge bear, I thought. Now that sounds funny, but it wasn’t then. I realized that my defensive maneuver with the jack had bought me only a few precious seconds.

I jerked open the car door, threw the jack in the backseat, and jumped inside. Reaching out to close the door, I felt a sharp sting in my wrist. I looked down and saw the lizard man’s slimy but powerful hand wrapped around my left wrist, its claws digging into my skin. The creature stood outside my door, hissing and drooling. Its disgusting stench made me nauseous and I felt my stomach tighten.

I gripped the steering wheel tightly with my right hand as the beast began pulling me from the car. I didn’t want to die on a lonely road, dragged to a watery grave in the stinking quagmire of Scape Ore Swamp.

My eyes scanned the dashboard frantically for any kind of weapon. I spotted a pen in the change holder between the seats. With no time to think I released the steering wheel and grabbed for the pen.

Got it! I felt myself being pulled from the car. Whipping my right hand across my body, I drove the point of the pen into the creature’s arm. The beast snarled in pain, then let go! Tugging my door shut, I turned the key and the engine roared to life—just as the lizard man grabbed my door handle.

Punching the button to lock all the doors, I stepped hard on the gas and pulled away. In my side view mirror, I was shocked to see the lizard man running after me.
I knew it could never catch me. I took a deep breath, looking down at my throbbing, bleeding left wrist.

But I was wrong about the Lizard Man.

I glanced at my mirror. The monster was catching up. Even as I accelerated, the creature gained on me. Moving closer and closer, its face now filled the mirror. The creature’s arms and legs blended into a green blur, lit by the moonlight. And then, the lizard man vanished from the mirror.


It was on the roof! Black claws edged over the windshield, digging into the roof, trying to peel it open like a can of sardines. I swerved hard to the left, then back to the right, trying to shake the creature off. Its foot slipped from the roof at one point and slammed down on the side view mirror, snapping it from the car.

I spotted a diner just ahead.

People! I thought. Maybe someone here can help me!

It was early morning but about a dozen cars filled the parking lot. I wasn’t sure what anyone else could do against this beast, but I at least I wouldn’t die alone!
Slamming on my brakes I turned into the lot, scattering a large group of people who had just gotten off a bus. As I skidded to a stop, the Lizard man tumbled off my car, hitting the blacktop hard, then rolling back onto its feet. It released the sickening hiss I had heard back at the swamp and charged toward the crowd.

Panicked screeches filled the parking lot as people scattered in all directions.
A man dropped his cell phone, which began ringing as it bounced across the blacktop. He started chasing after it, then thought better and turned and dashed toward the diner.

A woman shrieked in fear, threw her backpack to the ground, and started running.
Several people bolted into the woods behind the parking lot. A few turned back to the bus.

Big mistake.

The Lizard Man grabbed the back end of and the bus and began shaking it violently. The people who were heading for it stopped and turned in the opposite direction.
The beast hissed again, then headed full speed for the front door of the diner! The customers inside stared in terror at the huge creature racing toward them. They began scrambling toward the back of the building.

There must be a back exit, I thought, thankful the creature seemed to have forgotten about me, but now desperately hoping everyone else would escape its wrath. After all, I was the one who had brought it here. I had put so many others in danger. What was I thinking?

By the time the Lizard Man crashed through the locked front door, the diner had emptied completely. In a rage, it ripped up tables that were bolted to the floor and flung dishes in every direction. As I grabbed my cell phone to dial 911 I watched as the creature smashed a full carafe of coffee with its fist.

The Lizard Man howled in anguish as the scalding liquid seared the scaly skin of its arm, which bubbled and oozed. The monster exploded through a window on the side of the building, and vanished into the darkness. Its horrible hissing faded from the morning air and people crept out from their hiding places.

They surveyed the damage and tended to those in shock, but I was too exhausted to even talk to anyone. I headed for home.

When I finally arrived, I was shaken up and bleeding, but at least I was alive. After cleaning my cuts and scrapes, I went back outside to check my car. The side view mirror was gone and the roof was carved with long deep grooves. To think it all started with a simple flat tire.

My wrist would heal in a few days, but one thing was for certain. As long as that thing was still out there, I was going to find a new route home!


Helping Hand

This story was sent to me by Robin from Oklahoma

Dear Jason,

My mom was working the late shift and called to ask me to pick up my 11-year-old brother, Jeff. Christmas was coming and Mom was trying to put in as much overtime as she could. I didn’t mind being Jeff’s chauffeur if it helped Mom.

“I should be home by the time you and Jeff are getting ready for school tomorrow,” she said. “Make sure he’s got his backpack with him when you pick him up, okay.”

“Sure, Mom.” I said. “See you tomorrow.”

I’d made plenty of trips to shuttle Jeff to and from movies or soccer practice. This cold evening, Jeff and a bunch of his friends had gone bowling.

As I drove the forty-five minutes from home to the bowling alley (why does everything have to be so far apart in Oklahoma?), I couldn’t help thinking of the prom, so many months away. I needed a lot more babysitting jobs if I was going to save up enough for the dress I wanted, not to mention the jewelry, tanning sessions, and shoes. As I started to make a mental budget, I got discouraged. As I drove along narrow two-lane roads lined on either side by high banks of snow, the strapless pink dress I hoped to wear come springtime felt a million dollars away.

When I arrived at the bowling alley Jeff and his friends were in the final frame of their last game. I hung out with a couple of my friends who worked at the snack bar. We gossiped a little and talked about the huge winter storm that was supposed to hit the next morning.

The kids soon finished bowling. My friends’ manager was hovering around the cash register, which meant they were going to get in trouble soon if we didn’t stop talking. Jeff and I each said our goodbyes and headed for home.

“How’d you do?” I asked once we were in the car.

Jeff shrugged. “I bowled a 110,” he said. “Pretty good. Two guys were ahead of me, though.”

Normally I don’t try to engage in conversation with Jeff. Since he’s six years my junior, we don’t have a whole lot to talk about. But I knew he liked bowling a lot.
“So you had fun, right?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Jeff replied. “Especially when Matt Peters threw three gutter balls in a row. You know, he’s Mr. Perfect Form.”

“Well that’s cool.” I said, finishing my sisterly duty for the night.

I turned on the radio and Jeff pulled out his PSP. Because everything is so far apart in Oklahoma you learn to entertain yourself in the car. When we were about halfway home, I glanced in my rear view mirror and spotted a red light that appeared to be trailing us. “Oh, man,” I said, thinking it was the cops. Following driver’s ed procedure, I started slowing down and began to pull over to the side of the road. That’s when I looked into the mirror again.

The red light was rising into the air.

“What the heck? That’s no police car,” I said, looking back over my shoulder.

The red light pulled up alongside our car. This is going to sound crazy, but the light was attached to a cigar-shaped metal craft which hovered beside us, keeping pace with the car.

“What is that?” Jeff shouted, the panic obvious in his voice. “Is that a UFO?”

“I don’t know! I don’t know!” I shouted back, desperately trying to find another—any other—explanation for what we were seeing.

The craft rose above the sightline of my window. Based on the eerie red glow bathing the road around us, it now seemed to be directly above our car. Suddenly a brilliant crimson light, many times brighter than the soft glow flooded the car. Total panic overtook me as I realized I could no longer see the road. I kept my foot on the gas, though. Maybe that was stupid, but I didn’t want to stop and be at the mercy of whoever was driving that ship.

“What’s happen—” Jeff started yelling before his voice was cut off suddenly.

“Jeff!” I shouted, stories of UFO abductions flashing through my mind. “Jeff! Are you all right?”

Jeff only stared straight ahead into the blinding red light coming through the windshield. His mouth hung open and his body appeared rigid, frozen in some kind of trance.

Just as I realized that there was something very wrong with my brother, I discovered that I couldn’t move. My limbs felt locked, my head forced by some outside power to turn and stare straight into the radiant scarlet light. Then a terrifying thought seized me.

If I can’t move, I can’t control the car! We’re going to crash! I felt the car drift over toward the shoulder of the road. I mentally braced for impact, certain we were about to smash into a tree or a road sign, wishing I could at least lean over to protect my little brother.

And then the car slowed down, coming to a gentle stop on the shoulder. The bright red light faded, replaced by a spinning circle of white light. As the white light flashed through the car, I became aware of a low humming sound which grew in intensity.
This is it! I thought. This is when they beam us up to their ship and we’re never heard from again. Or worse, they cut us open and experiment on us, then send us back, and we spend the rest of our lives completely traumatized and deformed!

But I was wrong.

Through the dull humming sound I began to hear a voice, faint at first, then growing louder. The voice was jerky, uneven, as if a foreign language were being translated into English by somebody who didn’t quite understand what he was saying.

Holding my breath, I listened as the words became clear. “Mother…in trouble,” the mechanical-sounding voice stuttered. “Mother…accident…Hiline Road…” Then it continued. “Mother…needs…your…help…Branson’s barn.”

The voice concluded with a single word: “Hurry.”

The humming stopped. The bright white light disappeared, and I watched through the windshield as the space craft drifted slowly upward, its red lights fading into the star-strewn sky.

I could move again, and I turned to Jeff, who was breathing hard. I was grateful to see he could also move and speak again.

“Did you hear that, Robin?” Jeff asked excitedly. “Do you think something’s wrong with Mom?”

Putting aside the fact that Jeff and I just lived through what I could only call a UFO encounter, I thought of Mom working the late shift. She always drove on Hiline Road, a back road, on her way home from work. But she wasn’t due home until tomorrow morning. She wouldn’t be on Hiline Road now.

“I don’t know,” I told Jeff, pulling back out onto the road. “Call Mom’s cell and find out.”

Jeff tried calling but there was no signal. “We’re in a dead zone, but I’ll keep trying,” he said.

As I drove, I tried sorting through the details of what had happened. Jeff was asking me a million questions, but I ignored him. I needed to think. If someone had told me that morning that I was going to come that close to a UFO, I would have thought they were crazy. I also expected to be more upset by the experience. Now it actually seemed sort of cool. For a moment I pictured myself becoming one of those wackos who hang out by the side of the road waiting for their alien friends to return.
But then I thought about the message. Was it true? Was Mom in some kind of danger? It made no sense--she was at work.

“You okay?” I asked, looking over at Jeff who had finally fallen silent.

He nodded. “A little freaked out,” he said. “Now I’m really worried about Mom.”

“Me, too,” I replied.

Driving quickly, I turned onto Hiline Road and sped toward Branson’s barn. “We’re getting close to the barn,” I said. “Roll down the window and look out your side.”
Jeff rolled down his window and stuck his head out into the darkness. Just past the barn, he spotted something.

“Robin!” he cried. “Stop!”

I slammed on the brakes and pulled over. Jeff and I scrambled from the car. I tried not to scream as I spotted a car that had slid into a ditch off the side of the road.

“It’s Mom!” I shouted, climbing down into the ditch.

The front end of the car was embedded in the far wall of the ditch. I flung open the front door and saw my mother slumped against the inflated airbag. Blood trickled down the side of her face. Groceries were scattered all over the car.

“MOM!” I screamed, hoping against hope that she was still alive.

I gently took her hand into mine. She stirred and moaned.

“She’s alive!” I called back to Jeff. “Try the cell phone again! Call 911!”

Jeff ran back to the car. “We’ve got a signal!” he yelled as he called for help.

I knew I shouldn’t move her, so Jeff and I just stayed by her side, holding her hand, whispering softly that everything was going to be all right. She moaned and managed to speak just a little. I pieced together the fact that her manager let everyone go home early because of the approaching storm.

A few minutes later the ambulance arrived. The paramedics carefully removed Mom from the car.

“It looks like cuts and bruises, and maybe a mild concussion, but no major injuries,” one of them said. “We’ll take her to the hospital for tests, but she should be fine.”

I nodded, tears or relief running down my face. I actually gave my brother a hug.

“Good thing you found her,” the paramedic said as they loaded Mom into the ambulance. “This is a pretty quiet road and she could have been lying there for hours, even days. With this cold and the storm coming in she would have froze to death. You kids saved her life.”

We had a little help, I thought as Jeff and I got back into the car to follow the ambulance to the hospital.


Peering into the Past

Dan from from Kentucky sent me this one:

Hi Jason,

I’m eleven. My sister is nine. We live with my mom and dad in a small house in Louisville, Kentucky. About a month ago, Karen started telling me that she believed there was a monster living under her bed.

“Give me a break!” I said, being my usual compassionate big brother. “That stuff is for babies. When are you going to grow up?”

“Danny!” she whined. “I heard a strange noise. I was sure it came from under my bed, so I stuck my head down there and it was really weird. It was like I was looking at a picture or a movie of another place. It was all white and snowy, and someone was walking through the snow. Then I saw the monster, like a big dog, growling. And—Danny, stop laughing at me!”

I couldn’t help it. It just sounded so weird. My sister was pretty frightened by scary movies and stuff like that, and I knew she had a vivid imagination, but this was way wilder than anything I had ever heard her say.

“If I see it again, can I knock on the wall?” she asked, not letting it go.

“Sure,” I said smiling. This was the signal we had used since we were little kids. Whenever Karen got scared at night, she would knock on the wall and I’d come into her room until she wasn’t scared anymore.

The next night, I was awakened by a knock on my wall. I slipped from bed and headed quietly into Karen’s room. Our folks were downstairs with some people and I didn’t want them to know that we were still awake.

Stepping into Karen’s room I found her leaning over the edge of her bed. She tightly gripped the blanket which draped over the side. “It’s back!” she whispered, as if the creature she believed to be under her mattress might hear her.

I knelt down beside the bed. “Go ahead,” I said, rolling my eyes.

She pulled the blanket up, then hung her head over the edge of the bed. I flattened myself onto my stomach and stuck my head under the mattress.

I’m only 11 but this was the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me. It’s hard to explain. It was as if the small space between the bottom of the mattress and the floor had opened up into a vast arctic scene. It was not so much like watching a movie, but more like poking my head through a hole into another place.

With Karen’s head upside-down next to mine, I watched as a man in what looked like a soldier’s uniform trudged through the snowy wasteland.

“This is exactly what I saw last night,” Karen explained. “It’s like a movie that keeps playing. The monster should show up any second now.”

Sure enough, a few moments later we heard growling, then suddenly a four-legged beast came tearing through the snow. It had thick white fur and long teeth. Its face and teeth were drenched in blood, fresh from a kill.

“It’s a wolf!” I said. “An artic wolf.” I’m an animal lover and I can identify animals from around the world, and this one was pretty obvious.

The soldier stared at the beast, terror in his eyes. And then the weirdest thing happened. The wolf turned and looked right at me! I swear! Our eyes locked and the wolf snarled as if it meant to charge right at me. Then it turned back and attacked the soldier, teeth sinking into the man’s leg.

“Make it stop, Danny!” Karen screeched.

I yanked the covers down to cover the scene. When I peeked again a second later, the snowy scene was gone. There were only toys under her bed.

Then I heard someone downstairs sobbing. It didn’t sound like my mom or dad, so I went back to bed. The next morning I asked my mom if everything was okay, and she explained to me that her visitors were sad because their son had died.

About a week later, my folks had company again, a woman I didn’t know. Then, an hour after I went to bed, Karen knocked on the wall. I scooted into her room.

“It’s happening again, Danny!” she cried, pointing under the bed.

I ducked my head under and once gain peered into some kind of opening. I saw a man running down a dark, deserted, rainy street. It looked like a city, but it was hard to tell. He kept looking back over his shoulder as he ran.

Suddenly another man came running onto the scene. He was much larger than the first man. His brown hair was disheveled and he had a wild look in his eyes. The second man quickly gained on the first and within a few seconds had caught up to him, tackling him to the ground.

“What’s going on?” Karen asked.

“Shh!” I said. “Just watch.”

The larger man had the first man pinned to the ground. He reached into his long overcoat and pulled out something that flashed in the streetlight.

“He’s got a knife!” Karen whispered.

Down came the knife, again and again, into the first man’s chest. It made a sickening slicing sound with each stab.

“He killed that guy!” Karen shouted as tears poured down her face.

The murderer stopped as if he had heard Karen’s shout. He turned and looked right at us, the bloody knife still dripping in his hand.

“Now you two kids didn’t see anything, did you?” he asked, standing up.

“Danny, he sees us!” Karen whispered, grabbing the sleeve of my pajamas.

Still clutching the knife in his black gloved hand, the murderer slowly walked towards us, his boots sloshing in the puddles on the pavement.

“I asked you a question!” he shouted, picking up his pace, coming closer. His eyes glowed with rage. “Did you see anything?”

His body filled the entire portal now as if he were just a few inches away. We froze in terror.

“What’s the matter?” he snarled. “Cat got your tongue?”

Karen grabbed my other arm. The killer kept coming. I could feel the dampness of the rain and the power of his anger pouring through the portal.

“Well maybe I’ll just cut out that tongue!” he barked, reaching through the opening and grabbing Karen’s hand!

“Help!” she screeched. “Get him off! Get him off!”

The killer’s arm and shoulder were now in the room. His huge hand closed around Karen’s wrist. Then he began pulling her toward the portal.

“You’re coming with me!” he shouted.

“Danny! Help me!” Karen screeched hysterically

I scooted behind her, wrapped my arms around her waist and yanked with all my strength. We both fell backwards onto the bedroom floor.

Then the portal snapped shut.

“Ahhhhh!!!” Karen screamed, completely freaked out.

“Stop screaming!” I yelled. “He’s gone!”

Karen stopped, but a horrified scream continued from downstairs.

“What’s going on?” Karen shouted, running for the door.

She yanked open her bedroom door, and jumped back, startled. A large figure filled the doorway, then stepped into the room.

“Dad!” I said, relieved. “What’s going on down there?”

“I thought the screaming might frighten you,” he said, as Karen climbed up into his arms. “I came to check on you guys. That’s a client of ours downstairs. She’s very upset.”

“What kind of client?” I asked.

“Do you know what a séance is?” Dad asked me.

“Well, duh, Dad, everyone does,” I replied.

“Your mother and I conduct séances for people trying to find out what happened to missing loved ones,” Dad explained. “We just helped our client find out that her husband was killed. The poor woman’s so shook up. We were able to identify the murderer as a large man with wild eyes and red hair.”

“Actually, Dad,” I said. “His hair was brown.”


Dudleytown: The Scariest Place in New England

This story was sent to me by Doug from Connecticut:

Hi Jason,

My name is Doug. I read on your website about haunted buildings, curses on families, and attacks by strange creatures. Well, there’s an evil forest in northwestern Connecticut that combines all of those things. My buddy Andy and I knew about the 400-year-old family curse, the weird lightning strikes, sightings of dark spirits, glowing lights, weird creatures, bizarre phenomena of nature, madness, death, insanity, and lives destroyed by the Dudleytown forest. We just never thought it would happen to us.

Andy and I grew up in Ellsworth, Connecticut the best of buds. Every Halloween we talked about spending the night in the creepy Dudleytown forest. When you grow up in Connecticut you get used to playing in the woods, but everyone talked about how there was something sinister about the trees up around Dudleytown, and the place was always dark.

Of course, no one ever actually spent Halloween there. Even after Andy and I were in high school and could drive, fear always won out over our curiosity. Well, fear and girls. You ever notice how girls like to wear skimpy outfits on Halloween, even when it’s really cold out?

So our senior year finally came. We were each going to different colleges and this would be our last Halloween together for a while.

“It’s now or never, dude,” I said to Andy about two weeks before Halloween. “Are we really going to do this, or are we going to spend the rest of our lives e-mailing each other about how we really should have done it that year when we had the chance?”
Andy rubbed his chin for a moment, probably weighing the choice between really cool bragging rights and hanging out with our friends.

“Yeah,” he replied shrugging. “This is our last shot. Let’s go for it!”
Bragging rights won.

Andy and I ended up taking his car on Halloween night and headed out towards Dudleytown. I think back on that moment every day. My life would be completely different now if I had just gone to a party or maybe TP’ed someone’s house instead.
The sun was starting to set as we drove the half-hour to Dark Entry Road.

“Dark Entry Road! Man, if this were in a movie, people would be laughing. Could it be any more obvious?” Andy laughed.

“It is cursed, you know. It’s the only forest I’ve ever heard about that’s actually evil,” I said.

“Yeah, I know. All that stuff in England. Henry VIII was pissed Edmund Dudley tried to overthrow him so he chopped off his head and cursed the whole Dudley clan. Horror! Death! Insanity! Hemorrhoids!” Andy joked. “One of the Dudley kids thought he could escape the curse by coming here in the 1700s but he just brought the curse with him.”

“Remember the dude who bought the place after the Dudleys bolted? His whole family got some weird sickness and croaked. Then there was the general in the Revolutionary War whose wife got struck by lightening…even though it was a clear sky! That dude went mental.” I said, trying to remember even more crazy stories we’d heard over the years.

“Oh, oh!” Andy cried, “We’re leaving out Dr. Clark’s nutcase wife! Remember he bought the place in the 1920s? He had to go into New York City for two days and when he got back, his wife was flipping out about that dark creature who ran out of the forest and attacked her. She went mental, too and they put her in the nut house!”
“Duh, lady, don’t you know Big Foot when you see him?”

Even though we continued to laugh at all of the horror stories we knew, I was starting to get a little scared. I couldn’t admit it to Andy, but by the time we reached Dark Entry Road—which, despite its name is actually an idyllic-looking lane that leads into Dudleytown forest—I was thinking about bagging the whole idea and turning back. Unfortunately for us, Andy parked the car and started to get out.
“Doug, come on. Let’s go.” he said.

“We could just go back and hang out with Mike and Jordan instead. Tell them we got lost on the way.” I offered.

“What? Dude, ‘A,’ we drove all the way here and two, we would get so much crap from them about being complete chickens. I’m gonna see me some DEMONS TONIGHT, BABY!!!!” he yelled.

There was no use arguing with him. His reputation was at stake. Now we had to go through with it.

We left the car at the start of the road since we’d told everyone we’d go into the forest on foot, with nothing to protect us except our own wits. The sun was dropping low in the sky. It was starting to get dark.

Almost at once I noticed the total lack of sound. Whereas a second before I could hear the wind in the trees, birds chirping, and the scurrying of squirrels and chipmunks among the fallen leaves, now, nothing. Not a peep.

“Did it suddenly get colder?” Andy asked, turning up his collar and zipping his jacket up.

“Now that you mention it,” I replied. “The temperature did seem to drop when we stepped in here. And is it just me or is there no sound whatsoever? Where’s the wind? Why don’t I hear animals?”

“They’re probably all POSSESSED! M’uh a ha ha ha ha!” Andy shouted, doing the world’s worst Count Dracula impression.

We continued on in silence.

About half a mile in we heard a weird scratching noise behind us. We looked around but couldn’t see anything.

“What’s that?” Andy whispered tensely, pointing to the ground behind them.
There, carved into the soft dirt were the words: “NEVER RETURN…SATAN!”

“Shut up. You just did that on the ground. I’m not a moron.” I said, punching Andy in the arm. “The Satan part is a little over-the-top, man.”

“Doug,” Andy said seriously, “You and I both heard that noise and I’ve been standing right next to you the whole time. I didn’t do that, dude.”

“Fine,” I said, “Someone put that there to freak out people like us who were coming here to check it out.”

“I don’t know,” said Andy. “It looks like it was only drawn there a minute ago, like it was just scratched into the ground. Look at the piles of dirt around each letter. If this had been here for a while, they would have blown away in the wind.”

“Come on,” I said, actually surprised to find myself being the brave one. “There are supposed to be some ruins of old Dudleytown houses at the end of this road. Maybe we can spend the night there.”

As we left Dark Entry Road and entered the dense forest, the final crimson rays of sunlight faded to gray behind the stone foundation of an eighteenth century house.

“There’s nothing left of this place but some stones,” Andy said, peering over the edge of the foundation.

Suddenly a white circle of light moved across the trees.

“Don’t turn the flashlight on yet,” I said. “Let’s wait until it’s really dark.”

“Uh, Doug, I-I didn’t turn on my flashlight,” Andy stammered. “Did you?”
I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

“No,” I whispered.

“Then what’s that?” Andy said pointing at three white glowing orbs dancing among the trees.

Not waiting for my reply, Andy took off, running deeper into the woods.

“Wait for me, dude!” I shouted, following my friend. I’ve got Satan telling me never to return and now weird orbs flying around. Now was not the time for the two of us to separate.

Andy stopped running and I practically crashed into him.

“It’s really dark,” Andy said, trying to catch his breath. “I’m going to put my flashlight on so we can find our way back.”

“What about those white floating things?” I asked nervously.

“I don’t see them any more,” Andy replied, clicking on his light. “I think we should head back.”

“Yeah,” I agreed. “We’re totally telling Mike and Jordan we got lost. I don’t care how much grief I get. Now let’s get the heck out of here.”

Andy’s eyes suddenly opened wide. Looking down, he began grabbing at his shirt and pants. “Doug, get them off of me!” he shouted. “Get them off!”

I shined my light along Andy’s body but I saw nothing.

“Get what off of you?” I asked, alarmed by the terror in my friend’s eyes. “There’s nothing on you, Andy!”

“The bugs!” Andy screamed, clawing at his clothes, his face contorted into a mask of horror. “They’re crawling all over me. Get them off of me! THEY’RE EATING ME ALIVE! DOUG, HELP!”

“They’re not real, Andy!” I screamed, recalling stories I had heard about people in Dudleytown suffering from hallucinations. “It’s just in your mind! Dude, you have to focus on me. Andy, focus!”

Andy dropped to his knees and began yanking at his own hair. He actually tore a bloody clump of hair from his head. “Get them off!”

I grabbed my friend by his shoulders, forced him to his feet, and shook him hard. “Andy!” I shouted, slapping him right in the face. “Andy!”

Andy jerked backwards, pulling away. Breathing hard, he looked down the length of his body. “Oh my God, Doug,” Andy cried. “It was so real. I saw big, disgusting bugs crawling over every inch of my body. I felt them! I felt them bite me!”

He clawed at his clothes looking for marks; looking for the creatures that had just tormented him.

“Come on,” I said, grabbing Andy’s arm and handing him a bandanna to hold against his bleeding head. “We’re leaving before anything else happens.”

With each step, the gnawing sense of doom inside me grew. Someone…no, something, was watching us. Waiting. Small shapes darted through the darkness on either side of us. The perfect silence was broken by high-pitched shrieks echoing in the trees. I felt my chest tightening as we retraced our path. Andy clutched his head and breathed hard. I wanted to assure him that we’d be okay. Dark Entry Road was just ahead, I noticed, as we approached the foundation. I was about to say, “We’re going to get home safe,” but before I could speak a flash of movement caught my eye.

We both froze in terror at the sight of a swirling back shape rising from the foundation. The expanding blotch changed shape, its inky blackness so thick it stood out against the night sky.

“I can’t move,” Andy groaned through his clenched jaw. “I’m trying to force one leg to go in front of the other, but I just can’t move.”

Before I could respond, the shape enveloped me.

I gasped for breath. The very life was being sucked from my body. I was about to pass out when images began to fill my mind. Mutilated, maggot-filled corpses lay strewn around me. I knew I would soon be one of them.

Then I blacked out.

Soft rays of sunshine woke me. Andy was sprawled out on the forest floor next to me. The corpses were gone.

“Andy? Wake up,” I shook him gently.

He opened his eyes with a start and jumped to his feet. Without saying a word to me, he headed towards Dark Entry Lane.

“Wait up!” I shouted. Andy turned and peered at me with fear.

“Never return,” he croaked. Those were the last words my best friend ever spoke to me.

We made it back home that morning. We had spent the night in Dudleytown and lived.

But from that day on, Andy never spoke another word to anyone. The doctors at the institution have tried shock treatment to see if he’ll even cry out in pain, but they say he’s like a walking dead man.

As for me, pre-Dudleytown, I had always been a pretty happy kid. Post-Dudleytown’s another story. The voices and the visions start each day around sunset and torture me through the night. Yeah, I don’t have to be in a mental hospital like Andy, but I don’t exactly get out much.

Why didn’t I just stay away?


The Ghost in Aisle 15C

Here's a story sent to me by Amanda from California:

Dear Jason,

My name is Amanda Walker. A friend told me about your site. You have stories about hauntings on there but nothing like mine. I still have nightmares about what happened to me the summer after my sophomore year in high school.

I took a job at a large toy store in Sunnyvale. I’m not even sure where you’re from, Jason, but Sunnyvale probably wouldn’t fit your image of California. There aren’t any palm trees or beaches or celebrities driving around in convertibles. It’s pretty much just a regular boring suburb. Anyway, the store was pretty close to my house and since I’m a vegetarian, it beat working at McDonald’s, my other great summer-job offer.

The creepy stuff started on my first day. The other kids working at the store told me that all new employees started over in aisle 15C, as a kind of initiation. I just shrugged. “Whatever. Doesn’t matter to me.” Hey, I was only going to be there for two months. I could deal with some lame pranks.

So I got to work, stacking boxes and boxes of dolls onto the shelves. Bo-ring! About ten minutes into it, though, I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. I figured someone was going to give me something else to do, or maybe even ask me if I wanted to join them for lunch, since it was my first day and I didn’t know anybody. I turned around, but no one was there. I went back to my work, and then it happened again. I was positive I felt a finger tap my shoulder, but again, nobody was anywhere near me.
All right, who’s the comedian? I thought. Is this your version of “initiate the rookie?”

I went back to stacking when suddenly a blast of cold, rank-smelling air hit me right in the face. Whoa!I thought, coughing and waving my hand in front of my face. Did something crawl into the air conditioning ducts and die?

I took a step back and the temperature raised instantly, the smell of new plastic replacing the stench of rotten flesh. I was now officially freaked out! Not wanting anyone to think I was weird, though, and mostly not wanting to get fired on my first day, I just went back to work.

I pulled over a ladder and climbed to the highest rung so I could stack dolls on the top shelf. As I reached up to put a doll in place, I felt fingers running through my hair. My hair’s pretty long and I’m kinda proud of it, so it really freaked me out to think that some stranger was touching it. Then I remembered that I was on the top rung of a ladder!

I shrieked and lost my grip on both the ladder and the doll I was holding. The doll fell to the floor and I was sure that I was about to follow.

Reaching out at the last second, my fingers gripped one side of the ladder just as my feet slipped from the rung. Struggling with all my strength, I grasped the other side of the ladder and regained a foothold. As I caught my breath, the adrenaline still coursing through my veins, I looked down at the doll that had fallen.
The doll’s unblinking eyes stared up at me, its tiny plastic lips curled into a frown, and a small tear escaped from its left eye. “Help me,” it hissed. “Help me find Elizabeth!”

The first thing I have to do is get off this ladder, I thought, fighting to hold back the wave of terror sweeping through my entire body.
“Help me!” the doll whispered again.

Stay focused, Amanda, I told myself, concentrating intensely to find a foothold on the next rung down. I lowered myself, rung by rung, at what felt like a snail’s pace. One foot after the other. That’s it, girl. Gotta get to the floor.
And then I was down.

Stepping around the doll, I hauled butt to the ladies room.
Gotta calm down! I thought, leaning over the sink and shaking with fear. Turning on the faucet, I splashed water onto my face, again and again. Okay, that’s better.
I turned off the faucet and grabbed a paper towel. There’s got to be a perfectly logical explanation for all this, I thought as I patted my face dry. What that explanation might be escaped me at the moment.

Taking two deep yet shaky breaths, I headed for the door. Suddenly the faucet came on again, full blast, splashing water over the edge of the sink.

“I turned that water off!” I screamed, as if the sink itself could offer some answer.

I stepped back to the sink and turned off the faucet. When I reached the door I heard the water come on again. I didn’t even turn around. I just ran from the bathroom.

Either someone at the store was pulling pranks on me or I was losing my mind. I kept one eye over my shoulder for the rest of the day, but nothing else happened. I finished my work and went home.

The next morning I arrived at work and looked into the eyes of my fellow employees. People nodded politely but no one gave any hint that they were aware of the creepy stuff that had gone on the day before. If someone had been playing tricks on me, they were doing a really good job of keeping a poker face. I had almost convinced myself that I had dreamed it all when I turned, once again, into aisle 15C.

“Who did this!?” I screamed, pissed beyond belief. The dolls I had so carefully stacked the day before were scattered all over the floor, as if some jerk had spent the night yanking each one from its place on the shelf.

This little game has gone too far! I thought. I hurried down the aisle toward the employee lounge in search of my obviously demented co-workers. I no longer cared if they thought I was crazy, or even if I got fired.

I swung around the end cap display of toy trucks and turned into aisle 14. There, spread out across the floor were about 50 skateboards arranged into letters spelling out a single word—“Elizabeth.”

I turned and ran, cold sweat now pouring down my face. As I passed the toy trucks again, they came flying off the shelf, one after another. I ducked, covering my head with my arms. The trucks slammed into me, almost breaking my wrist and elbow.

I ran, faster now, scooting past a group of large colorful rubber balls, which were all bouncing up and down by themselves. The lounge was just ahead. As I reached the door, a glint of metal caught my eye.

Stopping dead in my tracks, my eyes locked on an image that made my heart stop. The picture haunts my nightmares to this day. Not more than a few feet away stood a man wearing overalls and a red flannel shirt. A brown bushy beard covered his dirty face. In his left hand he gripped an axe. Its blade dripped with fresh blood. Where his right foot should have been there was a jagged stump, bleeding all over the linoleum floor.

“Elizabeth!” the man whispered, reaching his right hand out toward me, staring me right in the eye. “Help me find Elizabeth!”

Stifling a scream, I yanked open the lounge door, ducked inside, and slammed the door shut, imagining the cold blade of the axe slicing through the door behind me. Once inside, I found a group of my co-workers staring at me.

“You lasted longer than most, Amanda,” said Todd, who had worked at the store for about five years. “I was surprised you even showed up today. But it should get better. They usually only bother the new people.”

Still wide-eyed with fright, I managed to stammer, “Todd, what’s going on here? There is a man with an axe covered in blood right outside the door!”

Then Todd told me the story. One hundred and fifty years ago the land on which this store was built was a working ranch. A man named Johnny Johnson, a traveling preacher, moved out to California to work as a hired hand on the ranch. He quickly fell in love with a young woman in the area named Elizabeth Yuba Murphy Tafee, only to discover that she was engaged to an East Coast lawyer. Elizabeth soon left the ranch, leaving Johnson with a broken heart. A short time after this, he accidentally cut off his right foot while chopping wood and bled to death.

His spirit has haunted this land ever since. In the 1970s, some famous psychic named Bertha Silver held a séance at the store and made contact with the spirit of Johnson, who still pines for his beloved Elizabeth.

It turned out that everyone who ever worked at the store knew about this. Some stayed, some left. Maybe it did get better after you worked there for a while, but I wasn’t going to stick around to find out. When Todd finished his story, I rushed out of the store as quickly as I could, not daring to look and see if Johnson was still there. The rational part of my brain told me that I didn’t believe in ghosts, but the events of the past two days felt all too real.

No job was worth putting up with this. I decided right then and there that even though I was a vegetarian, next summer, I would take the job at McDonald’s. At least the only thing there that scared me was the food!


Friday, February 2, 2007

Welcome to the Scary States of America

My name is Jason Specter. You might be wondering how an ordinary kid like me came to be the official collector of all things weird and scary in the USA.

It's a long story. But it's one I tell, along with 50 others in my book, The Scary States of America. The book contains one story from each state, stories about ghosts, aliens, monsters, and all things weird, creepy, and scary. So look for it in your favorite local independent bookstore. To find the closest one, check out Booksense. Or order it online.

But enough about me.

I'm just as interested in including on this blog what's happened to you. Do you live in a scary state? Have you had an encounter with a ghost a UFO, Bigfoot, time travel, spirit possession or anything else really strange and terrifying? Let me know.

Send your scary story to me here at jason.paraguy@gmail.com (tell me your first name and what state you live in) and I'll include it for everyone to read. Because if there's one thing I've learned as I've traveled the country and collected scary stories from my e-mail, IM, and paranormal blogging buddies it's that there are tons of amazing stories out there. Meanwhile check out the stories people have already sent me, some of which are in my new book, The Scary States of America. Just click on a state here on my blog and read about the paranormal stuff going on in that scary state. So many people have been touched by the paranormal...how about you?

I can't wait to read your stories.