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Out Of The Gloom In Gladstone

 

In Multnohmah County, the city of Gladstone on the whole has a very weird vibe, like a bomb site or a slave plantation. When I lived there it was a pretty neighborhood on the riverbank, with big yards and nice trees. I believe this lingering gloom is because of some forty thousand Multnohmah people who died of smallpox. The whole scene there, of Gladstone, and old downtown Oregon City is always so forlorn, for such a busy, picture-postcard area.

This incident happened in 2000 or 2001. If grim historical fact comes into play, it is more likely that of people freezing to death beneath overpasses in modern shanty camps. I avoided the easy bike route along the I-205 after dark, just in case you wonder, in part because of these hidden camps, but mostly because of the people who prey on them.

Years before I lived in a little house there, I would ride my bike home through Gladstone, east over the hill, when I stayed with "Marco's" grandmama. There were two routes over the high ridge. One was a steep, blind intersection, tricky either way. Even in daylight, riding or walking my bike up that hill was not safe. I worked at a cinema, and usually got home around three a.m.

(In any case, I kept an eye out being alone after most traffic and all the good people were off the roads. I am always armed, but the only trouble I have ever had has been from the police. I am not afraid of anyone else. So, I always ride super legally, with a headlamp, and two headlights, plus taillights, on the bike itself. There are bike lanes/routes, and it is legal for bikes to take the whole proper lane on roads with less than 35 mph limit.)

So, I picked the longer way over the ridge. This was a wide, well-lit residential two-way, with parking and painted bike lanes on both sides. This wide street went straight and very steep for about eight blocks. One could see all the way up to the top of the hill. Even in the rain, I could pick a mailbox, or a jeep or something, and set a goal to pedal at least that far up the incline. As weeks passed I made it a little farther every time I tried.

One very wet, dark winter night after work, the residents had put out their bins, blocking off the bike lanes. It was probably around 1 a.m., so after spotting on a red truck parked halfway up the hill, I began huffing and puffing right up the middle of the auto lane. I made it to the red truck. The road ahead was clear. I did not want to give up yet.

My hoodie was steaming in the streetlights, a buttery topping-flavoured halo of my own warmth. There was no wind. It was so quiet I could hear the water flowing downhill over the blacktop, every individual tooth of my chain on each gear. My own blood was loudest in my ears. I weaved a little, trying to maintain momentum. Not exactly the Grand Prix.

I was struggling very slowly, standing up on my pedals. I looked down into the fog of one breath, and when I looked back up, he was suddenly there, motionless at my right hand. If he had been real I would have hit him, I should have knocked into him. I swerved and almost tipped off my bike, heaved sideways uphill, into him. But there was no impact, somehow.

He did not move, and stared me straight in the eye as I passed within a breath of him. There was no fog from his breathing. He had shaggy, light hair, with a long mustache. He was all pale grey, like ash or snowy, but not reflecting wetly in my headlamp or the streetlights, as one should. He had no smell or warmth. His eyes were desperate. He looked bone cold. That downward pedal's worth of a moment seemed like several minutes, but it was less than a blink of time. He could have grabbed me if he were trying to, as I wobbled in toward him. I looked right in his eyes. He was so cold.

I was so scared I did not look behind to see if the pale figure was following me, or even really there. God rest him. I can barely remember correcting the bike, or getting home. I only know that was the only time I ever pedaled all the way up and over that hill; and the last time I rode home along the East side of the Willamette, through Gladstone, after dark.

I would prefer that this was a person picking trash, who caught me by surprise. But as I swerved, they would have either jumped back instinctively, or reached to brace himself/catch me. How were they suddenly in the middle of the road? I should have hit them, would have smelled someone that close, and felt his body heat. His smallest breath should have been like smoke, like mine.

Also, I would have seen his breath, then simply rode up the (downhill) opposite side of the street, from the bottom of the hill. A person in a blanket, picking trash in the wee hours, would not have been frightening in the time before fentanyl.

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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, BettinaMarie, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

BettinaMarie (14 stories) (80 posts)
+3
9 months ago (2023-10-16)
Linjahaha-not today, but "THE day" last week when I types this up that detail came back and gutted me. It is embarrassing to admit how scared I was and that I am still scared. Like most of my stories. Cheers-Bettina
BettinaMarie (14 stories) (80 posts)
+3
9 months ago (2023-10-16)
Valkricry- Thank you, for the historical note. I did not grow up in Oregon so I only know bits and pieces of history. Plenty of people die in frozen begging misery every winter on the streets. This person looked light complexion and had blonde or grey hair and moustache. Blanket over the head is sort of ahistoric fashion wise. I did not mean to imply in any way that they were Indigenous People, or small pox victim. The Oregon Trail ended in Oregon City. The waterfalls just south of the oak flats where Gladstone is, are scared to the first peoples here. Massive trees are all that is left of those peaceful times before the european colonisation. Thank you, Bettina
BettinaMarie (14 stories) (80 posts)
+3
9 months ago (2023-10-16)
Linjahaha-Thank you for reading my stories, and for your theories as to what I saw. When it happened this scared me through and through. I have always considered this was a real person, until today when I realized they were matte instead of refective or wet. This two second clip of memory makes a hole of fear in my guts, and not because once some poor bum got the drop on me. I like Gladstone, and lived there for a couple years later, safe and unbothered.
I appreciate your comment-Bettina
Linjahaha (24 stories) (151 posts)
+3
9 months ago (2023-10-11)
BettinaMarie: I enjoyed this rather unnerving encounter you had. Is it possible that the man you saw was a possible residual haunting?
Considering the history that you included in you account about what happened in the area in another time period. It's a possibility to consider.
I, also, read the post you wrote on the horrible, no-good schoolhouse. I found that one particularly intriguing. Not to mention frightening.
I have worked in only one haunted building, & that was about a dozen years ago in a hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. I worked in the radiology department. We, sometimes, had to go to the basement to retrieve patient x-ray folders. This was before we went digital, & all that information was then recorded into the computers, & then burned onto C.D.'s.
There was a ghost in the basement file room. I saw him only the one time, but wasn't frightened by him. Just surprised when he disappeared right in front of me. He looked like a Dr., & we all surmised that, possibly, he was so devoted to his profession in life, that he continues in the after-life. I saw him as clearly as any human being. He was not vaporous, or ethereal. He looked like a solid person. I was quite fascinated.
I read your spooked in Portland post, also. Your accounts are well-written, & very interesting. Keep them coming!

All the very best! 😉 😊
Rajine (14 stories) (827 posts)
+3
9 months ago (2023-10-11)
Oooh OK... My apologies, that was a mistake on my part, I misread the story.
valkricry (49 stories) (3276 posts) mod
+3
9 months ago (2023-10-09)
Rajine, I believe the OP speaks of the smallpox epidemic of 1834. However what happened to her was in 2000/2001.
Rajine (14 stories) (827 posts)
+3
9 months ago (2023-10-09)
Was this smallpox epidemic during 2000/2001? If so I'd think that cures for such things were already long established at the turn of the century, especially for a first world country like USA.
BettinaMarie (14 stories) (80 posts)
+3
9 months ago (2023-10-07)
LadyGlow-Thank you. I had cry on the porch while I was trying to type it up. BettinaMarie
lady-glow (16 stories) (3163 posts)
+2
9 months ago (2023-10-07)
Hi BettinaMarie.

I really like your writing style. Such a wonderful way for describing such an unnerving encounter.

Thanks for sharing.

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