I'm sure you will agree that encountering a ghost ranks right up there on the Richter scale of scary as one of the most bizarre, metaphysical stories we might come to share huddled around our campfires on a chilly night. With your permission, I have another story to tell, arguably not the same as a ghost, but just as unusual, nevertheless.
I was 14 when what should have been an unforgettable life-changing event happened to me. More precisely, this happened to both me and my stepfather way back in the early 1960's while we stomped around deep in the woods one misty October morning. Over the years that followed, neither of us ever spoke regarding it. Not one word did we share, unaware it ever happened. And it's too late now.
You see, my memory of the event returned only after my stepfather, and God rest his soul, passed away from a well-aimed self-inflicted gun shot to his head. Not saying when his memory returned, or if it ever did. But I do wonder about him pulling that trigger. He might of remembered.
As I was saying -- those woods - It should be understood the woods were generally an ignored expanse lurking at the outskirts of town, where decades of undisturbed grasses and twisted trees coexisted with the rusted wire boundaries of the near defunct Olin factory, a struggling Southern Illinois ammunition plant and home to those nationally distributed (you may have seen one) red road-side emergency flares.
The woods simply put were a no man's land. Isolated and devoid of life, save it for the occasional darting rabbit, or croaking frog, or maybe the late afternoon harrowing 'screech' of one lonesome katydid calling from any of a thousand shadowed entanglements alongside the gentle creek that meandered quietly, almost snake-like, inside this place of isolation. I loved it there.
It was on this one afternoon, my trusty. 22 rifle in hand, while traversing along the banks of this wooded creek, that I spied what I thought to be a child's wagon sitting further back from the water's edge.
Upon closer examination, its size was about right, but this metallic-looking, two-tone thing, a light-grey on top and a light-blue on bottom, was of a different shape. There were two tubes extending its length, one on each side, with a flat, boxed-in area on top between the tubes. A sort of truck bed, I thought. But more so, this thing might make a sporty raft; and the flat area, a perfect place for standing with pole in hand. Put this in some pond water... Yeah the fun from it sure seemed promising. And for that matter it might just as well make for a nice spaceship, came to mind. Confused over such thoughts, I stood looking in wonderment:
But for those tubes -- and no place for wheels -- and that streamlined, metallic look -- well? -- I just didn't know what the heck it was.
Whatever it was it was certainly off the beaten trail. And it surely hadn't floated here for it was too far from the water to be connected. And it made no sense for someone to drag it here just to abandon it.
But as much as I was wanting this makeshift raft, I finally decided it would be too much for me alone to lug home. That's when I thought of my step dad, I would ask for his help. We'd return the following day, he would later agree, and determine then whether it was worth dragging home.
The morning came and we headed out. Again me toting my.22. I always took my rifle when walking those woods, for target practice mostly, but also the comfort it gave me having protection against the unknown. Wish I'd left it home that day.
With some initial difficulty, I located the object. Hidden in among the camouflage, we had walked right past it. "It's sure going to make a great raft," I found myself thinking out loud. But taking a closer look, noted to my dismay a large crack across the flat area.
How could I have missed something like that?
I'm not sure who spoke first but the conclusion was this 'thing' was worthless; impossible to repair. As we turned to leave, movement caught my eye.
I stopped, aware my step dad had also stopped. But when I went to speak, or turn in his direction, I couldn't do either. I was restrained, literally frozen from head to toe. But frozen didn't keep me from seeing the two approaching creatures.
In no time -- Two, huge and bulky, 7 or 8 foot humanoid 'reptilians' stood towering over us. I couldn't do a damn thing other than stand fixated; silently screaming, extremely horrified.
How odd it was that our 'reptilian' confronters were wearing uniforms; an odd thought to have all itself. A form fitting cut from what looked to be brown canvas. Complete with boots, gloves and matching skull cap.
Surprising me equally, if not more so, was the one speaking: I was hearing English. But hearing the words in my mind only.
The one speaking was loud and angry. And addressing me! Menacingly drawing nearer, asking if I had intentions of shooting him?
Pointing towards my rifle, he repeated his question: Just as loud and just as angry, but nearer and all the more threatening. It was at this time that his companion, and thank God for him, stepped forward, and in a much calmer voice said "... Stop, this is a child, he is of no threat to us."
Unable to move, still screaming inside, my eyes strained for Dad. I could see him standing there, the tears running down his cheek.
The much calmer 'reptilian' seemed to be in-charge. And for that I will be eternally grateful, for he communicated on a friendlier, reassuring basis. We learned that yes the metallic object was a spaceship. And that these two beings were explorers, on a mission the nature they did not share. Our fears were quieted as the calmer one continued, saying they would not harm us, saying they intended to release us, saying we would soon forget our encounter. Words and concepts that came ever so pleasing to my mind's ear. With passage of time, and nerves settling all around, I alone was permitted a limited exchange of thought, much as one would do verbally, but using mind only. The angrier 'reptilian' having placed himself in front of Dad.
When I questioned how is it two large (whatever they were?) could fit inside such a small space as that toy-sized wagon? A chuckle was heard. It was explained they possess technology allowing them to shrink their ship -- the smaller size giving an advantage in avoidance. It was by sheer chance that we had stumbled upon it. Any damage to their ship was a mind trick. That they were aware of me the day prior. That they had chosen not to confront me then but became curious when more of our kind returned. What they actually were is still a conundrum.
There is little more to say. I do have vague memory of Dad and me walking, and the trees and such moving steadily past. Dazed, neither of us speaking, just headed for home. And very relieved to be doing so.
Spring Branch, TX 78070