This is my first submission to the site. I have tried to be detailed in my description of the physical surroundings to help readers understand why this occurrence was so disturbing to me.
On St. Patrick's Day, either 2011 or 2012, I was out with my friends at a sports bar when our designated driver saw an ex-boyfriend and did not want to be in the same room with him. It upset her so we cut our night short and she drove everyone at home. I lived in Poulsbo, WA, and my house was about 2 miles from the quaint downtown area so I asked to be let out there, so I could hit up the local watering hole since it was only about 10:30pm. I do drink, but that night I remember I was fighting a tummy bug so I was taking it easy on the beers, so I ordered my third for the night and sipped on while catching up with some folks I knew. The overall mood of the place wasn't very fun, too many people were sloshy-drunk and those who weren't drunk also weren't very festive so after less than an hour I decided to walk home. It wasn't super cold, and it wasn't raining, and I had made that walk many times so I didn't even give it a second thought. I should also say that generally this town is pretty safe, and that I am taller than most men I know and have an imposing frame, and carry myself with purpose (thanks to my military time), so I don't get harassed much.
My walk home followed the street that ran parallel to the bay, the road and sidewalks were well-lit and about 30-50 ft above the water level, and set back from the water by a thin strip of land and trees. There are a handful of small homes and businesses situated between the road and the water, but next to downtown a strip of that land is comprised of a park. During the day it's a nice place to walk on the shady path by the water, and in that park is a peculiar tree that has a small half-stump sticking out of one side, that resembles a toilet seat. I remember some acquaintance of mine once called it the "leprechaun toilet". I never asked about it and just assumed that it was a name he came up with on his own. I've seen and heard people in that park after dark, and when I do I try to hurry past it because I don't want to get involved with whatever they are up to. Anyway, I wasn't surprised that on that night, while passing the park, I heard rustling in the bushes and a high pitched, eerie laugh. It lasted quite a few breaths. I figured it was some kids trying to mess with the girl walking home alone at night. So I hurried my step, felt to make sure my cell phone was in my pocket if I needed it quickly, and kept my head on a swivel in case kid's hijinks turned out to be a real street assault.
I stayed alert but it became clear that no one was following me, and the road was pretty straight so I could see well either direction with the streetlights. My walk home was about a mile along that road, then would take a right on a perpendicular road for about ½ mile that bordered another small park, then I would turn left across the street and into my neighborhood. All of the way home was well-lit and pretty free from obstructions to see who was coming. I didn't run into anyone else on the sidewalk, and only remember a couple of cars driving past, opposite of my direction home. It seemed to me that whoever was trying to mess with me at the park near downtown was not pursuing me.
I made the right hand turn and after passing a few small businesses on my right, I came up to where the second park ran along the sidewalk. The city had put in a new sidewalk there a few months earlier and I often walked my dog in that park, and knew its layout well. The sidewalk was uphill from the park, in a way that there was about a 5-6ft drop from the sidewalk to the park, so the city had put a handrail along the sidewalk. On the park-side of the railing, a large amount of invasive blackberry bushes were going crazy, often my dog and I would spot a rabbit or two bounding through the paths they made under the thorny branches. This particular night, there was a rustle as usual as I disturbed something with my footsteps, but this time it was accompanied by the same high-pitched eerie laugh that I had heard at the last park. It startled me and scared me to the core.
I instantly began running, I crossed the street and ran to where I turn into my neighborhood, and then -a bit short of breath- I turned around to see if anything was following me and I pulled out my cell, intending to call 9-1-1. The whole time I was running I could hear the laughter coming from the park, but it didn't move closer, and now that I stopped, I heard nothing and saw no one. I was shaken up, and even though my house was uphill from there, I ran home and turned on all the outdoor lights and double checked the locks on everything.
I know the first assumption is that it was someone playing a joke on me, or harassing me, and I think that's what I reacted to, and I had expected to see a person emerge from the bushes. But if you knew the layout of the second park, you would know that there is physically no way for someone to get themselves from the first downtown park into position in the second park without being VERY fast, and also having some sort of path/tunnel already cut out of the blackberry bushes so they could get into that position without cutting themselves to pieces and making a ton of noise. Or to have something that would rustle the bushes and project sound. To me, its equally scary to think that someone would pre-meditate something like that, or if it was something that can't be explained.
I personally have never heard a laugh like that before in my life, it was high pitched but not feminine, and kind of evil or mischievous sounding. I know how calm and quiet the night was, and am pretty confident I would have heard a car, or running, or any footsteps of whoever would have to do that. I've told friends and neighbors, worried there's someone messing with people, but no one else ever heard of anything. In hindsight it wouldn't have been a bad idea to call the police, but the sound was so odd that once I got home I thought that maybe I had misheard another noise, or that it wasn't anything but a raccoon. Most of the people in Poulsbo are Scandinavian decent, as am I, so there is a tradition of forest people like elves and trolls, and being on St. Patrick's Day it's hard to ignore the Leprechaun link as well. Only months later did I remember the name my friend gave the tree stump, and for some reason that brought to mind this incident immediately. I'm not sure I even really believe in those types of things, but it was just such a weird experience.
I'm not sure what exactly that was, but I never walked home at night again, and since have moved out of the town.