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The Exit Ramp Calling

 

I like to write and I'm always conjuring story ideas. I pull ideas from real-life experiences or simply imagine scenarios and ask myself "what if?" questions about them. But it's said that truth is stranger than fiction, and I have to agree.

A few years ago, while driving my usual route home from work, I had a "what if?" moment when I reached the exit ramp. It's a circular ramp, which is common in Michigan. There are no trees or thick bushes in the center of this particular ramp. You can tell it's somewhat marshy because there are cattails standing behind tall grasses, but there's nothing eerie or unusual about the area. When I drove by that day, I started thinking "what if a body was lying in there" somewhere beyond the center of that circular ramp, hidden beneath all the cattails and tall grasses?

The next step in my head was to try to figure out why it would be there. Nothing I could pull together made sense. A murder story didn't sound right; no murderer would dump a body there. It's too public, too open. (Yes, fiction writers can have macabre imaginations.) I never even considered any sort of accident story. It's a freeway, after all. If there'd been an accident, someone would notice. It was a bad idea for a plotline, pure and simple. There was no story to be found there. So I put it out of my mind, forgetting all about it by the time I got home.

But I had the same thought when I drove past that same spot the next day. And then the day after that. This happened time and again. Day after day I drove by with the same thought striking me. All I had to do was drive onto that ramp and it was like someone flipped a switch to put that idea into my head again.

After several months of this, I was driving home as usual one day and started to anticipate exiting when I saw flashing lights. My exit ramp was blocked by police cars and a very large black van. As I drew closer, I saw the words "mobile command unit" painted on the side of the van. I hadn't reached the exit yet, so my "idea switch" hadn't triggered. My first thought was that maybe there had been an escape from the small prison up the road. But my first thought was very wrong.

Yes, you've guessed it. Someone had found a body. I learned on the news the next day that a worker cutting down some of those tall grasses and cattails found skeletal remains right where I'd imagined a body might be hidden. Eventually, the news reported they'd been the remains of a man who'd gone missing the previous winter. He'd abandoned his broken down car on the freeway during a snow storm. How he ended up in that particular spot remains a mystery, but when he reached it, he collapsed. It wasn't long before he became covered by snow. As winter turned to spring, the snow melted but the cattails continued to shield him. Then came summer, and...well, eventually the worker found him.

Had his ghost been shouting at me all those days, desperate to get discovered so he could finally be put to rest? Was I the only one who heard without knowing how to listen? And if so, why me? I have never been sensitive to ghostly presences. Sometimes I think I don't sense ghosts because I was introduced to their existence from the womb--I was conceived and raised in a haunted house. Other times I think my active imagination holds the key, and I just need to figure out the difference between true imagination and ghostly whispers planting thoughts in my head. Often when I'm writing it's almost as though I'm channeling the words. After I've produced some of my best work, I tend to stare at the words in amazement, wondering how on earth I came up with them. A recent example involves a poem in which I used phrases like: "milked from the moon" and "minnows swimming skyward."

With all that said, I wish I *could* hear ghosts, at least when they need for me to. I feel terrible about ignoring that poor ghost when he'd been trying so hard to get me to hear him.

By the way... That particular "idea switch" never did turn on again after that day with the police cars and mobile command unit. Now the exit ramp is just another exit ramp.

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Comments about this paranormal experience

The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by yourghoststories.com. Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, B4Freya, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

B4Freya (4 stories) (25 posts)
 
4 years ago (2013-10-26)
elfstone: so sorry about your nephew and his wife. I'm sure that felt like an even bigger punch in your gut than the warnings. 😢 I'm definitely going to try to pay attention to physiological responses going forward.

Argette: Yes, definitely a sad story. And sometimes people do just *know* things. My mother and older sisters had several instances of just *knowing* things, but I've never really noticed it in myself. I suppose I just haven't paid attention--which is something I need to change.

Miracles: until about 2 years ago I kept up journal entries focused on my trying to make sense of signs, portents, totems. Unfortunately, I used those entries to try to find philosophical excuses to turn what were clearly bad signs into something hopeful. I now know they were warnings, but I just didn't want to believe it at the time. (Things like a mourning dove flying into my windshield on the freeway, and a turtle laying eggs right in front of me... Which never hatched.) Warnings come for a reason, so we can prepare. I guess I just didn't know how to prepare, so I tried to cling to hope instead. Fortunately, I've been seeing more signs lately that have a positive edge even without my looking for excuses to make them positive.

Going forward, I'll pay more attention to how I'm feeling physically when I notice signs. And yes, write it all down, including dates.
Miracles51031 (36 stories) (4802 posts) mod
 
4 years ago (2013-10-26)
B4Freya - thanks for adding your notes. I keep a Journal, and have since 2000. My Journal, as well as my ghostly experiences, also includes the "other" part of my life that I don't share very often at all on here.

I think continuing to keep records like that would be good. Include those thoughts when you have them, with the feelings at the time.
Argette (guest)
+1
4 years ago (2013-10-25)
Really sad story, in a way, because the man's family had no closure for so many years.

Sometimes we just KNOW things. I don't understand it. It probably happens to people who are especially attuned to others. Writers, who have to be good observers, would be likely to have that kind of intuition, I guess.

I really hope we don't get into the old "if it's well written, it must be fiction" argument here. That gets old.
elfstone810 (227 posts)
 
4 years ago (2013-10-25)
B4Freya, with me, I've figured out that (this only works with bad things) things I * know* sit down deep in my stomach and make me nauseous -- this has GOT to be where the term "gut instinct" comes from. Stuff I imagine, on the other hand, sits high on my chest and chokes me, like a panic attack. Don't know if that would work for anyone else. Of course, that makes me really paranoid every time the flu makes its rounds! 😆

And, of course, I don't get warnings about everything. My nephew and his wife were killed in a motorcycle accident last summer and that came completely out of the blue.
B4Freya (4 stories) (25 posts)
 
4 years ago (2013-10-25)
Miracles: I wish I knew what I'd felt physically, but I didn't notice.

I've actually been trolling the Internet trying to find the story behind my story, but apparently news archives don't go back much farther than a few months, unless it's a particularly sensational story. I did, however, discover 2 posts I made to a private Yahoo group with some writing friends, dated July 1 and July 2, 2009 (I'd also posted a news link, but it no longer works). And, apparently, my memory made it seem a MUCH shorter time frame than the reality. See below from what I'd written to my friends at the time:

[begin paste] July 1, 2009: I could not take my usual exit coming home from work today. Police had it blocked off. More police than are on duty on any normal day, (rural area). My exit is also the exit for a maximum security juvie prison that was converted in May to house adult male maximum security psychiatric inmates. I noticed when driving past that all I saw were police--no firetrucks. No ambulances. No wrecked cars. But I did see what at first glance appeared to be an RV. On closer look I saw the words "mobile command unit"! WTF?! You can imagine all the thoughts that went through my head, especially all the story plots! But the reality turned out to be beyond my wildest imagination! Bones. They found human bones!

July 2, 2009: This may be hard to believe, but several times as I've driven on that corkscrew exit ramp I've wondered if anything unusual could lie in the tall grass and cattails in the center. No one is going to be walking there. Grass cutting is limited to the area near the road. But as to the reality... The story in the below link says what I started to wonder before I saw the news report. They think it's the remains of a 62 year old man who went missing 4 and ½ years ago, in January, when the area was covered with snow... It's just way too sad to imagine that man falling into the swamp in frigid weather conditions and dying there, so close to 'civilization' and yet so invisible to other people.:- (It's also a bit disconcerting to know that I have driven past him nearly every day of every week for over 4 years. Maybe somewhere deep inside me I knew he was there in an ESP sort of way; maybe that's why I have so often had wild imaginings driving by there, wondering what could lie in those reeds. But since I'm not in tuned to ESP or anything like that I didn't "listen".[end paste]
B4Freya (4 stories) (25 posts)
 
4 years ago (2013-10-25)
Elfstones: I wish I could distinguish between *knowing* something and imagining! (Yes, you made sense!)
elfstone810 (227 posts)
+1
4 years ago (2013-10-25)
I think you mods do an awesome job! Especially with stories by posters whose first language isn't English.

And I'm not dissing the posters who speak English as a second (or third or fourth!) language! The fact that you can put a story together at all in a language you're not a native speaker of just impresses the heck out of me and I really appreciate the chance to read first-hand ghost stories from around the world!
zzsgranny (18 stories) (3311 posts) mod
+6
4 years ago (2013-10-25)
elfstone: There are a lot of aspiring writers on this site. All that means to me as an editor is that their stories will be better written, grammatically correct, and a hell of a lot easier to edit LOL 😆

Please people, give us Mods some credit. 😊
elfstone810 (227 posts)
+1
4 years ago (2013-10-25)
Thanks Miracles! 😁 We may be crazy but at least we're all crazy together, right? 😆

And B4Freya, I am totally favoriting this story!
Miracles51031 (36 stories) (4802 posts) mod
 
4 years ago (2013-10-25)
elfstone - to me, it made perfect sense 😉 But, and I mean this in the funnest way possible, I don't always make sense myself 😆

And don't worry about putting your foot you in your mouth. Lots of us have done it. I did it not too long ago myself. Was unbearably rude and had to apologize. One of our members just happened to pick the wrong day to make the same comment that a zillion others before him had done. I just took strong offense to it that day. We're human and those emotions get the best of us sometimes LOL
elfstone810 (227 posts)
 
4 years ago (2013-10-25)
I should probably keep my mouth closed, lest I put my foot in it again, but as someone else who writes fiction -- it says so on my profile -- I think it's a little rude to accuse someone of dishonesty just on the basis of their profession.

B4Freya, that was a sad, yet cool experience. And what you said about not being sure when you've got a genuinely intuitive feeling and when it's your imagination really strikes a chord with me! I can literally make myself sick with anxiety worrying about things I've dreamed up out of whole cloth. Because sometimes I'll know something, just know it with a concrete certainty, and when that happens I'm always right. So if I don't make a point of not doing it, I tend to give the things I fear the same weight as the things I know.

Did that make any sense?
Miracles51031 (36 stories) (4802 posts) mod
+1
4 years ago (2013-10-25)
B4Freya - and you are very welcome 😊 For the defense and the lesson 😆
Miracles51031 (36 stories) (4802 posts) mod
 
4 years ago (2013-10-25)
B4Freya - the only advice I can give to you is to try and remember the feelings you had, if any, and if those occur again...well, I'd definitely pay attention 😊 What I mean by feelings is physical by the way. Like when I can feel someone trying to talk to me, sometimes my head feels "full". No other way to explain it. It gets a thick feeling. Usually starts on just one side. This is just one example and everyone is different.

But if you can recall if there were any physical indications, and you notice those again, just be a little more aware of what's going on around you. Or what isn't 😉 😆
B4Freya (4 stories) (25 posts)
+1
4 years ago (2013-10-25)
Miracles51031: Thank you for both the defense and the lesson! 😊 Part of me hopes nothing like this ever happens again; another part of me sort of hopes it does, so I can act more quickly... Or really *act* at all... If I can find a way to pay better attention. Maybe that just means parking my car somewhere and taking a little walk around to see if the sense grows any stronger or if another sort of feeling starts to develop.
B4Freya (4 stories) (25 posts)
+3
4 years ago (2013-10-25)
girlymadness: I can appreciate the skepticism. I figured I might encounter skeptics by admitting to the fact that I write fiction. But in all honesty, I can get a much bigger readership elsewhere if I want to post a story simply to be read. I could actually earn a buck or two by releasing it to an e-book site like Smashwords. I also would make it more...interesting. I have to admit, this story by itself is pretty boring. Driving by a site and getting a weird feeling or simply the inspiration to plot a story is hardly enough to make a movie-of-the-week. To make a story exciting, it needs a whole lot more than that. Maybe a voice, or an odd mist or... Certainly something other than a feeling.

Bottom line is: I didn't post here to win any sort of popularity contest for spooky stories. I posted here to see if maybe there was something trying to reach out to me, and if so, try to find out how I can pay better attention should it ever happen again.

I also often wonder if the fictional stories that I get inspired to write somehow don't come entirely from *me*...whether muses or ancestors or who-knows-what somehow plant seeds in my head. Just about every writer out there is quick to blame brainstorms and writers block on shouting or silent muses. Who knows, maybe whatever-they-are also acted as intermediaries with the ghost of this lost man, i.e. I didn't get the nudge from the ghost, himself, but rather from the "muses" who tried to make themselves useful for something else for a change. Clearly, I have no idea, but I can do a whole lot of speculating! 😉
Miracles51031 (36 stories) (4802 posts) mod
+2
4 years ago (2013-10-25)
B4Freya - I had my thoughts all ready and then they kind of went kaplooy 😆 so now you get the "by the seat of my pants" comments 😉

I definitely think this guy had been trying to communicate with you, I'm sorry to say because I know that could make you feel bad. The thing is, you can't do anything about and you know it. Maybe his energy was so strong, and your guard was down enough, that the timing was right and you were able to sense him. Could be that this was the only time that it will happen for you; then again, who knows? Maybe you have suppressed your gift...

But I am very happy, for both of you, that he was found. Thank you for sharing this with us.

And for those who don't know what it's like. Let me just give you a quick little lesson, okay? Sometimes it happens EXACTLY like B4Freya explained. It's just a feeling, knowing something that you can't possibly know. Sometimes you hear might hear words, or see a vision with it; sometimes you don't. You can't explain it, but you just know. After it happens so many times, you stop questioning it and stop doubting yourself. You start believing IN yourself. Thank you, that's the end of today's lesson LOL
Miracles51031 (36 stories) (4802 posts) mod
+3
4 years ago (2013-10-25)
girlymadness - I understand your comment; however, just because B4Freya admitted to being a fiction writer doesn't mean that this experience is "made up". What it means is she was honest enough to admit to her profession. She could have hidden that from all of us and gone on and continued to submit her stories and we'd have been none the wiser. Until someone found out and "spilled the beans" and then B4Freya would have looked like she kept it from us and then all of her experiences would have been questioned.

I appreciate the fact that she told us upfront that she writes for a living. A lot of people on this site lie to our "computer faces" on a daily basis, and most of the time we believe them. 😐 😢
girlymadness (1 stories) (16 posts)
-2
4 years ago (2013-10-25)
After reading this story you said you were a fiction writer so now i'm wondering if this story is real or just fiction? If it's real then definitely is an interesting story but if not, shame on you.

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