Friday, October 27, 2017

The Waking Dream- About Footprints from Across the Void

          The night was indeed the night of the big snow of my fourth grade year.  It was cold as it always was, and Pop had everyone sleep downstairs to ensure that everyone would be safe and warm near the fire. Brigetta and I still laugh about the incident of her bouncing my head like a basketball on the pillow because I wouldn’t wake-up.  I had a few other incidents happen in that room long before I moved upstairs, but those are legends for another time.  I hope you enjoy this tale and I will see you in the shadow~

Footprints from Across the Void

          It was the night of the last big snow that Granite Falls would see for years to come. Randy was dreading another day in his fourth grade class as he stood dripping wet from the bath he’d just taken by the wood stove which served as the heat for the Old House. The Old House, as it were, was drafty, and even with the layer of plastic which had been fastened over the windows, still took a great deal of effort to warm up. The towel draped around his shoulders soon collected enough heat that the cloth began to sting his skin. Having grown up this way, he knew that it was time to turn over and cook his backside. As he stood basking in the warmth, he could hear his father and mother talking in the living room.

          “It’s going to get colder than a well digger’s ass tonight,” Gene said as he sipped on a glass of Pepsi. “We’d better make sure that there’s plenty of wood in, and pack the stove full before bed.”

          “I know it,” Edna replied with a hint of concern in her voice, “they’re calling for snow as far as Charlotte tonight; from eight to twelve inches is what they said on the radio.” She looked over the edges of her book as she regarded him. He sat in his usual spot by the dining room entryway watching the TV and soaking up the warmth from the living room stove. “Do you think we need to have Brigetta sleep downstairs tonight,” she inquired knowing that it would be too cold for anyone to sleep in the drafty halls and bedrooms that lay beyond the landing of the upstairs. As if to prompt an answer, a breeze shifted rattling the great curtain of plastic which had been put up to seal the windows?

          Gene took a deep breath as he thought it over briefly. “Yeah, she’d better sleep downstairs tonight; it’ll be way too cold for her to stay up there in that room. She can stay in Randy’s room that way they’ll both be warm.” They discussed the issue further, but for the most part it was set, Randy’s older sister was going to be sharing the bed with him that night.

          For Randy that meant sleeping in his favorite sweat suit, the self same that he used as his Ghostbusters’ Ensemble. It sure beat sleeping in long-handles; they were itchy- now if only he could get out of going to school the next day it would be better. While most little brothers would be crestfallen at having an older sibling, especially an older sister spending the night with them, Randy didn’t mind. He and Brigetta were rather close for the given circumstances. They would often hang out, and she would take him to see movies, or the arcade even though she herself didn’t play games like Karate Champ or Kicker. It was she who took Randy to see Ghostbusters in the theater a few years back and would often take him Christmas shopping at the mall. So having her stay in his room was almost like having a friend stay over, almost.

          The night carried on and as the stoves gat loaded up with a solid mixture of dry cured oak and some green maple to ensure that the fire would burn hot all night long, everyone went to bed. Randy was out cold despite the wind that whistled just outside, the wind which would soon bury the countryside in a glistening blanket of satiny white.

          The lights were out and Brigetta lay next to him glad to be warm but wishing that she was in her own bed rather than that of her younger brother. Despite the heavy rise and falls of Randy’s deathlike slumber, she could hear the roar of the fire in the dining room. Every so often there would be a mild shift that would shake the floor of the house as a log adjusted in one of the stoves. She lay there listening to the wind whispering its secrets to her from outside, and the rattle of the plastic which covered the windows of the living room, dining room and, kitchen, as it protested the churn of the icy cold wind. Every once in a while a singular breath would find its way through the cracks in the wall, or through the hole where the dryer exhaust pipe ran and remind her why she was downstairs on a night like this. While she didn’t know when it had happened, Brigetta drifted into the land of dreams as sleep crept into her form the way that a cat slips upon its prey.

           The dreams were simple and enlightening as she dreamt of days at the beach with her aunt and uncle’s family. She dreamt of driving and of laughter. It was a moment of joy and wonder as she journeyed through the realms of slumber. It was in this realm she lived another life, as most people do. There was excitement, and fun, but most of all there was happiness…but that came all crashing to a screeching halt when the scene abruptly shifted from a sunny day on the beach to the outer view of herself and Randy laying in the bed. She felt a sense of urgency course through her very being and found it realized as a massive arm reached through the window and began strangling her against the red bed rails of Randy’s bed. Randy lay motionless, unaware of the plight she was in though she fought and flailed against the forceful arm of her attacker. Though she fought with all she had she could not prevail against the murderous grip of whoever held her pinned against the headboard. At the final moment when she knew the struggle to be about over, she snapped out of her dream and back into the waking world.

          The room looked no different than it did in her dream. Even Randy was still on his side, dead to the world around him. Unable to shake the horrific feeling of being choked Brigetta turned to look outside. Snow had been falling for a little while, and goose feather flakes fell as pale shadows falling from the heavens casting the world aglow with twilit obscurity. For many such a scene of serene beauty would bring a simple pleasure to the mind, conjuring the most splendid of childhood memories. That could not be said with this night however, for amidst the ivory blanket that had cloaked the earth, Brigetta beheld a most unnerving sight for there in the snow were pointed boot prints, much like that made by cowboy boots. Someone had been standing at the window and probably left during the time she was dreaming of the attack. Immediately she began shaking Randy to see if he saw it them as well, and when he did not wake right away, she dribbled his head upon his pillow like one would a basketball, waking him immediately.

          “Randy,” she hissed!

          “Hmm,” Randy groaned at being woken from his hibernation?

          “Look! Do you see them,” she inquired her whisper as harsh as metal scraping across concrete? “Do you see them?”

          Randy rubbed his eyes and peered out the window, and immediately he was excited. It was snowing, and that meant the possibility of there being no school. “Yeah,” he exclaimed in a low voice that border lined a whisper and a vocal impression, “It’s snowing!”

          “No,” Brigetta spat, “not the snow, look!” She pointed toward the ground.

Randy strained his eyes, and then it became clear. “Who was outside?”

          “I don’t know,” she replied more than a little freaked” but I knew they were there because I had this dream that they were reaching through the window and choking me against the bed rails!”

          At that moment Edna walked in wrapped in her nightgown. “What’s going on?”

          Brigetta wasted no time in telling her the details concerning the dream and how she woke up to find the footsteps outside of the window. It was almost as if she picked up on some mental signal that revealed to her what was in the other person’s mind, however, that wasn’t where the craziness ended. It wasn’t until Gene went out and checked the prints that it became clear that something obviously had been overlooked. Something that was put into perspective after Gene had went back to bed.

          The footprints started at the window and led away, in the snow. In other words, the footprints originated at the window, packing down the fresh fallen snow and then walked away, but from where did they come… that is an answer the family does not know to this very day…

Friday, October 20, 2017

Commentary on “I’d Better Go”

          Charles and I were always close, or so I would like to think as many of my best pre-middle school memories are rooted in the times when he would come to visit.  Though time would bring those merry times to an end of its own accord, the restless spirits of the Old House made that finality come sooner than it might have been.  As is mentioned in the story, Charles and I did a lot together during those years he came to stay, and even on one of my recent camping trips I introduced my son Brandon to the summer tradition that Charles had hooked me on, Crackers, candy, potted meat/Vienna sausages, and a cream soda.  Some things may end but the impact made is etched in us forever more.  This story is more than just a ghost story; it’s a flashback to a simpler time, where fun and creepy things often shared the same address.  I hope you enjoy “I’d Better Go.”

W. R. Frady

“I’d Better Go”

          Charles loved staying at the Old House with his Uncle Gene and his Aunt Edna. Every couple of weekends or so, he would gather his things and stay with them for the weekend. During the summer, when school was out, he would gather his fishing gear and stay for a week or so at a time, sitting with his younger cousin, Randy and doing minor chores like mowing for his uncle. In their spare time, which was rather often, he and Randy would go to the river fishing or wander the woods just to see where different paths led. If Charles had some spare money from working with Gene or the like, he would borrow Randy’s BMX bike and ride out to Northside, a local gas station on the outskirts of Granite Falls, to grab snacks for the river excursions. Though there was a four to five year difference between them, Charles and Randy had a lot of fun together. During one of his stays, Charles began talking to one of the girls from down the road. As they grew closer, Charles found an additional reason to stay at his aunt and uncle’s more often

          There were countless days when fishing trips and woodland excursions were traded for time hanging out with the girl down the road, while Randy played the Atari. When they weren’t hanging out they would spend time talking on the phone like most teenagers do, or did. During those times when Charles was held captive to the thralls of teenage romance, Randy would usually go outside and ride his bike to the end of the road and back. Randy didn’t care much either way as he was only nine years old and he, being a kid who didn’t understand the complexity of teenage affairs, was going to have fun no matter what.

          One summer day, Randy decided to go out and ride his bike while Charles talked to his girlfriend on the phone. Charles didn’t mind as he enjoyed the privacy of not having his little cousin around during his talks with his girl. Some things kids just didn’t understand, and he knew that Randy always had something better to do than listen to a personal conversation, especially when it involved what most kids would consider the mushy stuff. Charles took a deep breath and sighed, he was glad to have the house to himself for a while. Randy was fun for a kid, but he was a kid after all. He and his girlfriend talked for a while discussing everything from the movies they had seen or wanted to see, plans for the future, people, places, and various other things. Charles sat in the chair by the downstairs phone, which faced the front door and allowed him to see if someone were to come up to the door. As they were in the heat of a deep conversation, the front door opened and someone walked in. Charles looked up half expecting to see Randy strolling in but was rather surprised to find no one there. Whatever it was walked across the living room floor, right by him and went down the long, dark hallway. For that moment Charles was speechless, for he knew that even though he was alone, he was in fact, not alone. Just then the back door opened and whatever it was left, pulling the door to behind it.

          Silence fell over the house once more. Once Charles knew that he was truly alone again, he interrupted his girlfriend’s discussion, cutting their conversation short uttering only, “Uh, something just came to my attention,” he stammered, his voice shaking as his mouth became dry, “I’d better go.” With that he hung up the phone and made tracks for the door. The hot summer sun felt wonderful on his face as he was glad to be outside once more. With all the stories he had heard about the Old House on Lacy Road, Charles knew that things would never be the same around there again. He looked down the field to see Randy riding back toward the house on his bike; and with a shudder at the recent events still fresh in his mind, put on a happy face and strolled down to meet his younger cousin.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Concerning The Peculiar Case of That Which Dwelt in the Field

Camping was a big part of my life, in fact you will see this in many of my stories.  For as long as I can remember or should be able to remember my brothers, sisters and I were as often as not dragging the blankets out of the house to camp out in the yard even if we couldn’t go to the river or somewhere else.  we would simply enjoy laying out underneath the stars and looking into the depths of space with naught but our imagination to tell us what lie beyond the ebony velvet sky and the glittering diamonds that sparkled thereinIt was usually a time of  good memories and sibling community, however as things changed around the Old House, so did the strange occurrences that took place there.  Perhaps these things were going on all along, and I strongly believe they were, but we were to captivated in our own discussions to see what was around us.  There is a memory I have, however from my first summer, when we, Crystal, Brigetta, and I were staying outside, and while they were drifting off to sleep, I could see something Big tromping through the woods just beyond the curve at the base of the hill.  I do not know what it was to this day, but the memory has stayed with me all my life.  After the Crescent Timber Company cut the trees in the forest surrounding the Old House, I never saw such a massive thing again, but I remember thinking that it looked like the silhouette of one of the giants from an old illustrated book of fairy tales.  I can reattempt to write this as a story if you like, but you’ll have to let me know via my Facebook page or my Google Plus page.  Anyway the events of this story took place the summer just after my Freshman year of High School, and while the images if this still haunt me to this day, I’ll never forget the memories these experiences made. 

The Peculiar Case of That Which Dwelt in The Field

          Of the following events of which I cannot explain, I would not be so inclined as to begrudge you should you not believe me. In fact had I only heard this tale and not experienced it first hand, I would be hard pressed to find truth in it s telling; however, I was there and can assure you that what I speak here to be the truth. The only other party to share in this weird tale is that of my friend and comrade Clint who plays a key role in this. You see it was he and I who bore witness to the thing of which I am about to tell you, the thing which dwelt in the field.

          It was in the gloaming of a mid-summer’s day that Clint and I were outside enjoying the relief from the hot and sticky afternoon which was common in the western foothills of North Carolina during the summer season. The sun had dipped below the western horizon, casting the land in deepening hues of crimson which inlaid even the silhouettes of the barn, and various hardwoods that bordered the yard of the old Victorian-style farmhouse with highlights of rich vermillion. We had been laughing and carrying on as we talked about everything from video games, to girls, and movies, as well as countless other topics.

          “Terminator 2 is awesome man. I’m telling you, Randy; you have to see it,” Clint said as he pushed up his wire-framed glasses. We had been throwing daggers at the old oak tree which had in my earlier years been struck by lightning leaving the front scarred and lifeless while the rest of the old tree lived on. Clint did a two-step and turn to add a creative spin to his toss. The dagger, an Arkansas toothpick style knife made a rattling clank as it bounced harmlessly off the dead wood, We laughed despite the failed attempt, as we didn’t expect the knife to actually stick anyway. There had been more than a few times when we were pleasantly surprised by the random success of a particular throw, and when it happened, Clint and I would spend the next hour or so doing it over and over again to see if we could get the throwing style perfected. Such were many of the days we spent laughing and carrying on as we developed our craft. As the sun sank lower behind the distant mountains, it quickly became too dark to continue our game.

          Nightfall soon found us sitting on the steps of the front porch of the old house wondering what to do next. Sure, we could have gone inside and played Nintendo, or watched a movie or something of the like, (…and I was never opposed to a good game of Simon’s Quest) but we weren’t like that, for there was a call of the outdoors that overrode the desire to be stuck indoors, even after nightfall. In the east, we could see the deep golden-orange hues of the lunar disk peering over the edge of the trees. It was clear that tonight would be one of those nights where the moon was so bright that it would be almost like daylight even in the dead of night. So after a little bit of talking, we decided that we would gather our things and camp out in the field for the night.

          By the time we gathered all that we either needed or wanted to take with us on our expedition to the middle of the field; it was getting pretty close to midnight. Pop and Mom had lowered the lights, with the final one being the porch light giving us just enough time to light the lantern which we used for such excursions.

          “We better light the lamp,” Clint remarked, imitating one of the Halloween Sound Effects tapes that I had. At that, we laughed, and so it was with good humor that we set off carrying our things to the center of the field. A fairly large piece of old paneling lay out on the ground where we had dragged it to serve as a barrier between us and the stiff hay stalks underneath. Upon this we laid out our bedrolls and set up our gear. The lamp gave off a warm golden glow which sharply contrasted the silvery pale of the moon which hovered over the horizon like a cold unfeeling eye. The old house and its surrounding environs seemed like an eerie caste of etch art which had been brought to life as shadows and moonlit highlights gave the whole a monochromatic etherealness which put Clint and I into the mind that it appeared as though we had somehow been transported into the setting of an old black and white horror movie. As if to accentuate upon that notion a cool breeze stirred the air, lending a chill to the already cool evening.

          “You know we’re not going to see anything,” Clint stated, his typical skepticism poisoning the statement. I had grown used to this sort of response from him, but there were times when it got under my skin but it was who he was and the Old House had a tendency to make believers out of those who were skeptical when they least expected it.

          “We may or may not,” I replied as usual, “but I still love being out here in the dark, especially when the moon is full and on the rise.” The pale silver of the moon had become more prominent in the last few moments setting the nightscape aglow in a pale imitation of the daylight. One could vaguely make out color in the bright nightly hues, yet as a rough drawback it made peering into the heavens a chore as the halo surrounding the moon obscured the stars beyond. Somewhere a screech owl began its eerie moaning, its mournful sound carrying through the midnight air.

          We sat upon the paneling which separated us from the damp ground and the blankets spread there. The lantern’s glow cast a warm golden light onto the immediate area, as Clint and I talked about a variety of subjects. Time passed and we were talking about one of the incidents which had happened concerning the hallway between the dining room and my bedroom (which was downstairs at this particular time) and a creature of some sort with a weird potato –shaped head or cowl and red, burning eyes. Clint listened but being the skeptic he was, doubted the validity of the claim. A cold breeze stirred across the dew laden field chilling us with its, out of place, icy touch and snatching our attention away from the immediate conversation. We looked around as the whole mood of the night seemed to change. The shadows seemed to encroach upon us, despite the full-moon looming high overhead. I looked at Clint and asked him if he remembered me mentioning something about a strange shadow which had managed to pace my every step through the field one night merely weeks before.

          “Uh, yeah,” he replied with a look that plainly stated that he did not understand? “Why is that?”

          “I don’t think we’re alone anymore,” I returned with a wary glance around.

          “It’s just your imagination, Randy, there’s nothing in the field with us,” Clint stated sardonically as he adjusted his glasses. He didn’t notice that the shadows surrounding us had moved, and in all truth neither would I had it not been for the position of the moon, high in the night sky, casting it’s pale silvery glow upon the surrounding landscape. Being used to the night, especially in this field of which I was so familiar, I could tell that there were shadows where there weren’t supposed to be. Somewhere around the back of the house our dogs, Baby, Trouble, Rascal and Julius (AKA Hogdog) began barking at something only they could see. In many ways I wanted to get us out of the field even if only for a little while until the shadows dispersed, so I grabbed my handmade rope whip and looked at Clint with a daring look in my eye. “Let’s see what they’re barking at!”

          With that Clint and I grabbed the lamp and made our way up the field toward the back of the house but not before Clint could put in his statement. “It’s probably a squirrel, or a skeleton; who knows around here?”

          I looked at him with a chuckle as we trudged up through the field, though it was meant in sarcasm, there was still a ring of humor to it. Just as we reached the front yard we stopped, seeing the dogs trotting back toward the front porch. Maybe it was a squirrel, or an opossum or something of the like. We stopped by the oak tree and watched as they filed onto the porch, with only Rascal and Julius fussing as they always did amongst themselves. Clint and I looked at each other and shrugged.

          “I could have told you that it wasn’t anything,” Clint said.

          I regarded him a moment and then replied, “…and one day you’re going to see that there’s more in this world than can be dismissed by skepticism.” I gave him a resigned smile that didn’t let him know what we had really left the field for, however, as we turned back toward the “campsite” we were stopped by a spectacle that neither of us were expecting, for from the twilit shadows of the field, something had risen and stood upright like a man, though that was where the resemblance ended, for this thing was as a living shadow, and bore no other likeness of anything in earth or heaven. The pale light of the full moon glimmered along its back as it shambled along the grassy dip where our bedrolls lay on the paneling. Clint and I did a double take, regarding one another for the briefest of moments and by the time we looked back it was gone.

          “Did you see it,” I asked?

          Clint nodded. “It looked like-” I stopped him before he could go on.

          “Don’t say anything, instead of telling each other what we saw, we’ll get some paper and draw it to see if we saw the same thing,” I stated, knowing that if we began talking about it, we might interfere with the reality of what each of us had perceived in that moment.

          The door creaked open and my heart sank because I knew that we would manage to wake up Mom or Pop and that would quickly end the purpose of our trek indoors. Once we knew the coast to be clear, we made our way, silently as the two of us could back to my room. Once inside, I turned on the light and fetched each of us some paper to draw what we had witnessed. To keep from drawing upon what the other was doing we sat on opposite sides of the room, our backs toward one another. The minutes thundered slowly by as I sketched out the shadowy humanoid figure that I had bore witness to only moments before. Clint was intent on his sketch and with heavy anticipation, he was soon done. We decided to reveal the pictures at the same time and on the count of three presented them. The air was heavy as each breath came out like an iron lung. Then it was done; the images revealed. And with the exception to particular drawing styles the pictures were of the same shadowy form lurking in the distance with the moonlight shining on its back, Clint and I had indeed seen the same thing… and we could not explain what it was, nor could we dismiss that which Dwelt in the Field.

~Fin~

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

About A Bath Time Surprise

          This event in the uncanny life of our Family on Lacy Road has always been one of the more comical, despite its apparent awkwardness.  While this incident can be laughed off, there are few others that can be so easily disregarded.  This particular story conjures that old song by Rockwell, I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me yet it did ring with truth in this old house.  Mom’s incident in the bathtub echoes another tale of someone who had the feeling of being watched…and then strangled through the window, but that is a Legend for another day.  I hope you enjoy A Bath Time Surprise

W. R. Frady