There’s Nothing in Forest Glen National Park

-By: J.J. Cheesman

-Contributions by: Marcus Damanda

cove-man

 

God damn, where to begin?

Here are the facts: I have a friend named James. And he’s a true friend, although we’ve yet to meet in person. He lives in Illinois, and I hail from the scenic and relatively toothless state of Virginia. We know each other via Facebook and by mutual interest. We share our work, vent our shared frustrations—help each other out as we can.

Not long ago, he got in touch with me, emailed me a detailed account of his encounter with something that he claimed took on the shape of another friend of his, some guy by the name of Robert. He said it came from a park called ‘Forest Glen’, and that it hounded him at all hours of the night. Then, about a week later, he followed up the first email with another:

‘Marcus, I’m sending this to you in sections from a password-protected Email. That way it can’t be edited, it cannot be changed. Only the facts will remain. The police have been no help, as I’ve explained. No one believes me, but I know the truth. There’s something out there.’

As he promised, James sent three others, day by day, so that his personal thoughts could not be tampered with. I thought he had lost it, truth be told. And I was worried about him. That being said, coward that I am, I remained silent about it. James had been my friend for a long time. I wasn’t about to tell him that his paranoid delusions had gotten out of control. With every email James sent, however, my opinion of his mental state began to shift. I’m finding it increasingly difficult to dismiss his rantings as mere fabrications from a broken mind.

To make it more coherent, I’ve consolidated every email James sent to me into one transcript. The following is his complete account of everything that happened to him on the days after his first encounter with that terrible monster. Take heed and fair warning, I expect you won’t like what you find within his words. I certainly didn’t.


Today was bad. It was worse than bad. It was a NIGHTMARE.

I’d expected him to be there last night, ya know? Like he’d been for the past two weeks. I was ready.

Every time I called someone, every time I tried to get help, he would disappear. But he would always return. I was scared, Marcus. I was so god damned scared. I knew it couldn’t last though. Day in and day out I was forced to barricade myself in my house, listening to that thing beg for me to let him in.

“PLEASE!” It would howl.

“I just want to be friends, I PROMISE!!”

I hadn’t even been to work in two weeks. In fact, I hadn’t had any human contact in that time. Robert, the real Robert, had called me several times. I’m sure he was worried about me, but I didn’t answer. What could I say, how could I explain what was going on?

Thanks to the month of vacation time I’d saved, I wasn’t worried about leaving my home. I just called my boss and told him that I had an emergency with family from out of town. He told me to take as much time as I needed.

Last night, I finally got the courage to face him. I decided I would not be a victim. Instead of hiding inside with a knife clutched to my chest, I waited on my front porch. A stiff drink in my hand, I sat down in a lawn chair on the deck. My other hand was placed above the blade that sat in my lap. I waited and I drank. The scotch went down more smoothly as the hours ticked past, as I’m sure you can imagine. It’s funny, I’m not a straight liquor sort of person, not under regular circumstances… but I’m getting way off topic.

So, I was waiting, right? Drunk as all hell by the end of it. My street is not a busy street. There’s no outlet at the end, and I’m the very last house on the left, so there’s no reason for cars to come all the way down to my home. That being said, nothing came by to keep my inebriated-self occupied. It wasn’t long before I just simply fell asleep.

I awoke with a start and stood quickly. Both the knife in my lap and the glass tumbler that was in my hand fell to the wood of the deck. I looked around my front yard and all around the deck, but there was no sign of that Robert imposter. Call me crazy, but I walked all around my house and then went inside to search every room. My head was splitting from a hangover, but I pressed on, searching every corner of the house. He wasn’t there.

To my surprise, he hadn’t come to terrorize me the night before, but why? I sat in my living room considering that very thing. Was it because I stood my ground? Because I simply got fed up and decided I wouldn’t be afraid anymore? That was the only conclusion I came to.

My thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of my phone elsewhere in the house, and I’d realized I left it in the kitchen. When I found it, I already knew whose name would be on the screen.

Robert. I had to go see Robert. I had to try to explain to him everything that had happened. He was going to think I was crazy, but he and his family wouldn’t be safe unless they knew.

“Hey man, where have you been!?” He said when I picked up the phone.

“I thought something had happened, I’ve been call…”

I cut him off.

“Robert, listen. Something’s happened and I need to talk in person, can I come over?”

Robert waited a moment before replying.

“Err… yeah, but what’s going on man?”

“I’ll explain when I get there. I’ll be at your house in ten.”

I quickly hung up without another word.

Robert’s two girls, who are 7 and 9, were playing out on the front lawn when I pulled up to the house. They both waved at me and ran over to give me a hug when I got out of my car.

“Uncle James is here, Daddy!” Katie, the youngest of the two called back to the house.

Robert stepped out of the front door and waved, and I nodded back.

“All right girls, I have to go talk to your father, you play safe, okay?”

“We will!” Katie and Alexa said in unison, bounding back to the trampoline they’d been jumping on.

When I approached the front stoop of the house where Robert stood the first thing he did was embrace me. I didn’t want to let go. It was the first time I’d spoken to another living human being in weeks. It was a good, warm feeling. Christ, I wanted to cry.

Robert stepped away and looked me over.

“God damn man, you look like hell.” I couldn’t help but smile at that.

“Come inside.”

We made our way into the kitchen, where the smell of fresh coffee hung in the air.

“Where’s Cheree?” I asked while we walked. Cheree is Robert’s wife.

“Ah, she left for the store, should be back any moment now.”

At the table, I sat down, while Robert stayed standing.

“So, what’s been going on?” he asked. “I’ve been trying to get a hold of you forever.” He crossed his arms.

I took a deep breath, and I began to explain.

“Okay, this is going to sound completely nuts. You know how you told me they shut down Forest Glen because of the bodies they found?”

Robert raised an eyebrow.

“Yeah?” He said with an air of concern.

“I know what did it.” I said.

Robert unfolded his arms and places his hands on the table.

“What do you mean, what did it?”

That’s when I went into my story. I told him everything I’ve told you. How I went out into the woods, following someone who couldn’t be him, someone who was watching us in the forest ever since we were younger. Then I described how I ran and made it home, how the police were no help in keeping that thing away. Finally, I ended with how I’d decided to stand up to the creature, but he was nowhere to be found the night before.

I expected Robert to stop me during my tale, to call me insane and tell me I needed to get out before I scared the kids, but he didn’t. Instead, he simply nodded as I spoke, listening to every word of my story. His face never changed, his expression never wavered. Never once did he give me an indication that he didn’t believe what I was saying. The same concerned expression he wore at the beginning of the story, he still had by the end. He was a good friend. “Holy shit, James, what are you going to do?” he asked.

I was a bit taken aback by that question. I hadn’t expected that sort of reaction.

“Well, I don’t know exactly. I just knew I had to come here and warn you before anything happened. These few weeks have been a nightmare. Honestly, it just feels good to be with someone and tell them, you know?”

Robert nodded solemnly and said, “I bet, I really wouldn’t want to be in your shoes, but I’ll do whatever I can. The girls love you, wouldn’t want anything to happen to their uncle.”

I smiled. I wasn’t their real uncle, of course. Robert and I had been friends for so long, that’s just what they knew me as. In that moment, I turned to look out into the back yard, where I expected the drive to be empty, but it wasn’t.

“Nothing will happen to my brother, I promise.” Robert said.

Shivers like spiders crawled frantically up and down my back as I stared out at Cheree’s car.

“Well, listen man, come out to the garage with me. We’ll crack a couple of beers and put together a plan.”

I stood from my seat at the table and turned to look him dead in the eye. For the second time I found myself in that terrifying situation. Only this time I didn’t run in panic and instead, took a moment to examine the beast wearing my friend’s skin. Studying Robert’s expression, the way he held himself, the way he spoke. Holy shit.

You really couldn’t tell he was a monster.

Thinking quickly, I said, “No, I think I better head out, it just occurred to me that I might be putting you in danger by being here.”

His face became hard, and I kept my eyes locked onto his. For the briefest of seconds, I saw a hot flash of anger in those eyes. It Knew I knew.

Then, his expression softened.

“Well, if you feel the need, don’t hesitate to come back and let me know.” He smiled a devious smile and nodded.

“No judgment he brother, I promise,” He added.

I nodded and backed slowly out of the kitchen. Once I was out I strode out the front door and made my way to my car.

“Uncle James! Are you leaving?!” Alexa said, her bright blonde curls bouncing as she ran to me. I looked down at her and stared at her bright blue eyes. Right then and there I wanted to take her and her sister. Stow them in my car and simply drive away, but I didn’t. Looking up at the front door of the house, I saw Robert standing there, as I knew he would be. His arms were crossed, and his eyes were narrowed, watching me closely.

Instead, I knelt and embraced her tightly. When Katie ran over I pulled her close as well. Then I leaned back and looked sincerely at both of them.

“I love you girls very much.” I told them, holding them by the shoulders.

“I’m coming back to see you very soon, okay?”

“Okay!” They said.

They both said goodbye and bounded back to their play.

I am ashamed to say, I did nothing. Of course, I worried about them. I worried about Cheree too. My heart ached at the thought of what has or might happen to her. Not to mention, I had no idea what happened to Robert. I was so, so scared Marcus. What could I do? What would you have done?

I slid into my car, and I cried the whole way home as I drove. I feel so alone. What is that thing’s plan? Why is it doing this?

I’ve resolved to go back there, to that place. I believe that’s where I’ll find my answers. I need to move quickly, I don’t know what will happen to Alexa and Katie if I don’t. Maybe I can find proof, maybe I can find something the police haven’t.


Marcus I’ve been such a fool. Everything has come crashing down on me. I’ve failed Katie, I’ve failed Alexa, I’ve failed Cheree, and I’ve failed Robert. I was such a fucking coward before. I should have done something much sooner.

I made it out to Forest Glen about a quarter after four. I parked on the side of the road about a mile from the park and hit the hazard lights. That way if anyone drove by I could just say the car had broken down and I’d been looking for help. I’d expected to run into some resistance. Police tape or maybe a patrol or something, hell I didn’t know. All I knew is that I didn’t want to get caught before I’d made it to the trail. The trail I’d told you about before, the one that thing tried to lead me down.

I jogged from the road to the park entrance. Before I’d left the house, I’d made sure to bring a good-sized pocket knife, and as I jogged I kept touching my back-right jean-pocket where I could feel its shape. It made me feel a little more secure about going into those woods.

Surprisingly, I saw no police tape when I’d made it to the park entrance. There was no patrolman posted either, at least, none that I could see. From then on, I walked slowly toward the trail. I stayed close to the tree line, ready to duck into the woods if anyone drove by, and if need be I could run out into the road if anything came out of the woods. It felt like I was walking for hours, stopping often to listen for anything that might indicate someone’s approach. I heard nothing at all, and I mean nothing.

I remember distinctly the sounds of wildlife the last time I had visited the park. Now, as I crept along the road, all was silent. Not even the buzzing of insects could be heard as I went.

At last, I reached the entrance of the trail that had been the cause of my nightmares for past several days. I pulled the knife from my pocket and flicked it open, holding it low. I walked throughout the trail as slowly as I had when I walked the road. The fear I felt was great, but the urgency I felt was greater, so I pressed on. At any moment, I was ready to lash out with my weapon, and holding it tightly gave me the strength to keep going.

Even that far into the wooded area of the park, I heard no sounds. Robert had told me they closed Forest Glen, but I saw no sign of that. Other than the absolute quiet, there was nothing to indicate the park had been closed. No keep out signs, no police tape, nothing. Soon I reached the stream and still I pressed on. As I reached the point of the trail where I’d first realized something was wrong and ran from Robert, I wavered.

When we were out there, the Robert imposter told me that he had wanted to show me a bridge that I’d remembered from when we were kids. Below, the water was crystal clear, I remembered that, but that wasn’t what frightened me. When we were on the phone, the real Robert told me that people had died from drowning. My suspicion was that they had found the bodies under the very bridge the Robert imposter had wanted to show me so badly. I shivered and, not for the first time on that trail, I tightened the grip on my knife and pressed on.

Finally, the rotted wood of the bridge was in sight, and I froze. My eyes narrowed, and I strained them hard as I scanned the woods around me, looking for Robert to be waiting behind one of the trees, ready to pounce at any moment. After a couple minutes of waiting and seeing nothing, I took a deep breath and walked toward the sound of running water.

The smell hit me hard. I reached the high bank of the stream down below, and before I could even look over it, I gagged a vomited as the rotten stench of decaying flesh hit my nostrils. I wiped my face with my sleeve and covered my mouth and nose as I looked over the side, placing one foot on the bridge for balance. The wood was wet, and my foot slipped, and I fell to the grass on my hands and knees. My knife fell over the side, and I watched as it tumbled down and landed on a corpse.

Robert told me there had been four hikers found dead out there in those woods by drowning.

It’s so strange how in moments of absolute shock, a person can do irrational things. When I looked down into that water, the shock I felt along with the memory of Robert’s claim, made me laugh, and I laughed loudly. The stream was deep for a stream, but for a person it was shallow, and a body could not easily be carried by its water. Let alone dozens.

In absolute horror, I looked up and down the stream as my mind tried to process exactly how many there were. I couldn’t even venture a guess, but there were too many to count. In the throng of bloated and decaying corpses, there were many I could make out and recognize.

There was the guy who owned the laundromat in town, and a woman that I knew was a cashier at the gas station, and there were so many more that I knew. I had been cooped up in the house for days sure, but I hadn’t seen any of these people go missing on the news, and Robert made no mention of any of them. These bodies had been there for weeks judging by the state of their corpses. It didn’t make sense. Then, I saw the two bodies that made me finally understand.

They were lying on top of a few other bodies, almost directly next to the corpse that my knife had landed on. Their hands were joined together, as if they had been put on display for me to see. They stared back up and my red and crying face through milky-white eyes. They had not died recently, the pale-white shroud of death had been long set into their cheeks. Even if they had begun to decay, they were sisters. There was no way I could mistake that curly blonde hair.

I fell to my knees and I screamed down at them in anguish. I cried and bawled and begged for it not to be real. I screamed their names to the sky and I howled for their forgiveness, but I knew forgiveness would not come. I knew this was real. Alexa and Katie were not there when I promised them both I would be back to see them, they looked like them, sure, but it wasn’t them.

Defeated, I walked all the way out of the park and to my car. I was slow and deliberate. Nothing was coming for me, I knew that too. They wanted me to see it, what they had done. The state of the girl’s bodies, the way they were presented, it sent a clear message. I was truly alone.

I drove all the way back here, and I’m telling you all this now Marcus, because you have to know. Do not come to Illinois. Stay away and stay safe.

When I first began, I told you there was something in Forest Glen, but Marcus, I was dead wrong. There wasn’t just something. No, not at all.


That should have been the end of it, the final part of James’s story. And that would have been bad enough. For three days, I’ve been trying to reach him. For three days, I’ve been paralyzed by indecision, crippled by dread and doubt. What would a normal person do? What would a friend do? Call the cops? Get my friend incarcerated while people who won’t understand the background try to dig up the “truth,” whatever that is? Drive out there?

If it’s true—and the more I think about it, the more that possibility grows in my mind—then how the hell does the whole world not already know about this? And then my rational half reasserts itself, and I think, has my friend lost his god-damned mind? That’s got to be it. By now, someone’s clued in on his issues and he’s already getting help. Seems reasonable, right?

And then, this. Another email. God help me. I don’t know what to think anymore. And I sure as hell don’t know what to do.


Dear Marcus. Please disregard my previous correspondence. I was simply out of my mind. I hadn’t been taking any of my medication and I concocted a story to gain attention. As I said, I was wrong when I said there was something in that place.

There’s nothing in Forest Glen, I promise. There’s nothing in Forest Glen, I promise. There’s nothing in Forest Glen, I promise. THERE’S NOTHING IN FOREST GLEN, I PROMISE.

 

There’s Nothing in Forest Glen National Park

Ocean of Blue

melancholy-finished

-By J.J. Cheesman

 

 

I heavily protested going to stay with my Aunt Rita for seven days while Mom and Dad went to Vegas. It was the summer, and as a thirteen-year-old girl I could think of a million better things to do out in the country where we lived, than being stuck in town in an apartment building with my boring Aunt. It didn’t help that I was home-schooled, so I didn’t have many friends in town.

“It’s only for the week Jamie, your father and I have been saving for a long time to have some time to ourselves. Besides, you never get to see your Aunt Rita.” Mom said over breakfast a few days before she was sending me away so she didn’t have to deal with me. I know that’s not really how she felt. My parents worked hard, they deserved their vacation, but teenagers tend to not think of anyone but themselves.

“It just isn’t fair. I don’t see why she can’t come stay here.”

“Your Aunt works in town, it’d be awfully inconvenient for her to drive back and forth all the way from here to there every day.” Mom said.

“Not to mention that Rita works third shift. You’d be out here all alone, and what if something happened?” At least in town, help would be just moments away.” My Dad chimed in.

I thought about reminding him that the criminals were moments away too, but I kept quiet.

When finally, the day came to ship me off at my Aunt’s, I was in extremely low spirits. I sulked the entire twenty-five-minute drive into town. My demeanor didn’t change when we walked up to the apartment complex and Aunt Rita was standing outside waving excitedly. She gushed about how big I’d gotten since she last seen me, and chatted with my parents a bit before they gave me hugs and kisses and left in the family car.

“My place isn’t as big as yours is,” Aunt Rita said as I followed her with my bag in tow to her second-story apartment, “But I hope you’re comfortable enough here.”

As she said, Rita’s apartment was small. The entrance opened up into the living-room, which was furnished with a leather couch and matching recliner. A pristine coffee table sat in front of the couch, and just a few feet away a wide screen T.V. hung on the far wall. There was a sliding-glass door with its curtain drawn on the west wall of the room that led out onto a small terrace, and to the right of the door sat a good-sized fish tank with a multitude of colorful fish inside.

Immediately to the right of the entrance, was an open kitchen and small dining area complete with a table and chairs, and beyond that was a door to Rita’s bedroom.

“If you don’t mind sleeping on the couch, it’s a pull-out, but if you’d like you can take my bedroom and I can sleep out here. It’s up to you.” Rita said.

I was unhappy with staying there, that’s for sure, but that didn’t change that my parents raised me to be respectful. Like it or not, I was Rita’s guest, and it would have been rude of me to take her bed.

“The couch is perfectly fine.” I said. I didn’t lie either. I wasn’t a spoiled kid, I didn’t mind sleeping on a pull-out. What I minded was being stuck in an apartment building.

“Alright dear, well I didn’t get much sleep and I have to leave here at twelve for work, so I’m going to get some rest. There’s snacks in the cabinets, have whatever you’d like from the fridge as well, I stocked up when I found out you’d be staying with me. I don’t watch much T.V. any more so I don’t really remember what all I have but feel free to watch it whenever, I sleep like a rock, it won’t bother me at all.”

With that, Rita smiled and made her way into the bedroom, and shut the door. I dropped my bag on the floor next to the couch and made my way over to the sliding glass door. I tried to slide it open, but it caught before it moved an inch and wouldn’t move any further. I looked down and saw that a piece of wood was wedged between the door and the frame that prevented anyone from outside getting the door open too far. I now know this is a common thing for most sliding glass doors, but it was new to me then. I removed the wood, opened the door, and stepped out onto the terrace. I looked down at the street below and watched cars pass lazily by. The township of Paris wasn’t a ‘happening’ town back then, and it still isn’t today. It’s a pretty quiet place as far as towns go.

I happened to glance to the right at two boys riding their bicycles a couple of blocks away, heading in the direction of the complex, when I saw her. She was standing at the end of one of the streets nearest the apartment building. Holding a blue balloon, wearing yellow polka dotted-clothes, she stood out like a sore thumb on the street. There was no mistake. by looking at her giant shoes and tie-dye wig, it was clear she was a clown. I hate clowns.

She stood there on the street corner, not moving an inch as cars passed by. The boys on the bikes were coming near her location, and I watched to see what would happen. When they got to her though, they just went around her, as if she wasn’t there. Minutes went by and she still stood like a statue on the sidewalk. It was such an odd scene. I couldn’t help but wonder what exactly she was doing there. Then it happened.

The clown’s head snapped around, turning and staring in the direction of the apartment complex. It was sudden and immediate. I was entranced, wondering what would happen next. I could hear the sounds of lawns being mowed and the pounding of hammers from workers somewhere nearby as I waited. My heart began to thud rapidly, as a realization slowly came over me like a tired wave washing over a shore. She wasn’t just staring in my direction, she was staring right at me.

I couldn’t see her clearly given the distance between us, but there was no doubt. She was looking right up at me. There was sudden movement, as the woman dressed in full clown attire began walking toward the complex. My face grew hot and I turned away. Making my way back inside quickly, I replaced the block of wood that kept the door from opening too far, and then hurried over to the couch. I scooped up the remote from the coffee table and turned on the T.V., simply trying to ignore what had happened. I was more than a little scared. After a moment or two passed I became a little brave, and I walked back to the sliding glass door to peek out down onto the street. The clown was nowhere to be found.

There was a sudden knocking at the door and I jumped. I spun around and began to call out, but I stopped. That wasn’t my home, I had no idea how often Aunt Rita received guests, so I decided to walk over and stare through the peep-hole first. It occurred to me as I was nearly to the door, the awful thought that I’m sure would have crossed any child’s mind after what I had seen. It’s the clown.

But that wasn’t possible.

You needed a key to get into the building. Unless the clown-lady was a tenant in the same building, there was no way she could have been knocking at that door. I was a rational kid, and I knew that my fears were silly and most likely, unfounded. The lady on the street was probably just planning on going in the direction of the complex anyway, seeing me was just a coincidence. Most likely, she was a performer that did children’s parties or something and one of her clients was on this street. I reached the door, and I put my eye against the keyhole. On the other side, staring back at me, was an empty hallway.

I breathed a sigh of relief and turned around, walking over to the couch, forgetting for a moment that someone must have knocked on the door. There was a shift of movement, and my head snapped toward the sliding glass door. Sudden chills crawled up and down my spine like spiders. There, tied to the railing of the terrace, was a blue balloon with a large red ‘M’ drawn on it. It bobbed and weaved in the breeze, an unassuming object of most children’s adoration, but the result of my own horrified and gaping expression.

I was terrified and I didn’t know what to do. If I called out and woke up Rita, I would have to explain the series of events that led to me being scared of a balloon. I JUST got there, and I hadn’t seen Rita in years. I was uncertain by how she would react. I didn’t call out.

Instead, I walked over to the glass and pulled the curtain closed, concealing my vision from that awful sight. I hurried away from the door quickly and I stepped into the dining area of the small apartment. My breathing was heavy and shallow as I tried to think of what to do. Being young in a scary situation can be a cruel prison. Sometimes simply being unsure of the consequences of your actions can cripple your resolve. I rested my hands on the dining table and I tried to calm myself, but my thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the sliding glass door being opened.

I turned, shocked and fearful as the tell-tale sound of the wood sliding in its frame caused me to whimper. Then, I heard the door get caught on the block of wood I’d put back in its place on the inside of the frame. Relief washed over me.

There was no way anyone could get in through the small space provided by the sliding glass with the wooden block in the way.

“Oh Jamie, don’t you want to come out here a moment?”

The sickeningly silken female voice floated into the apartment from just feet away. The voice made me cringe and wince and I felt sick to my stomach the moment I heard it. It was the lady clown’s, of that, I had no doubt.

“I have a blue balloon for you Jamie, it’s my favorite color, I’m sure you’ll love it too. Just come here, and let me give it to you.”

To my horror, a white hand attached to a yellow polka-dotted sleeve reached in from behind the curtain. The image was a ghastly sight to behold, so surreal that I thought I surely had to be dreaming as the hand beckoned for me to come outside with its index finger.

“Please go away!” I sobbed.

“Oh Jamie, I know you’re scared, but it will only hurt at first, I promise.”

The white hand began to feel around the curtain for a moment and then, to my horror, it began to stretch. Stunned, I listened as the sound of bones being split filled my ears, and I watched as the hand stretched to an impossible length as it crawled to the other side of the glass, where the block of wood kept it from opening all the way.

“No!” I yelled, and ran toward the hand without thinking.

Suddenly, it jerked, and sprang towards me. It caught me off guard and I fell back in surprise, hitting my head against the dining table, and losing consciousness.

 

 

I awoke to my aunt Rita, shaking me fiercely and crying.

“Rita…?” I said

“Oh my god Jamie, are you alright!? What happened baby!?”

She was still shaking me. I pushed her away gently and got slowly to my feet, rubbing the back of my head. There was a bump, but luckily it wasn’t bleeding. It hurt like hell though.

“There was… a clown” The words just came. I didn’t know exactly what to tell her and my head was throbbing too hard to think of anything else.

“She came…”

“A clown? You said a she!? Are you sure!?” Rita asked, cutting me off and sounding hysterical.

“Err… yeah. She tried to get in through the…” I stopped as I saw the wide-open curtain and glass door of the terrace.

“Jesus Christ in heaven…” Aunt Rita said as she grabbed her phone and began dialing rapidly.

What happened next was a series of blurred events in my mind. When Rita finished talking on the phone in her bedroom and out of earshot, she came out and asked me if I was okay, and if I needed anything. I told her I was fine, and made no mention of my bumped head. She already seemed like she was in a panic, I didn’t want to give her a heart attack.
Moments later, two police officers showed up at the apartment. They asked me all kinds of questions about the clown I’d mentioned. What did she look like, what was she wearing, where did she go, all of the typical stuff. I hadn’t really expected to talk to the police, Rita remained silent with watery eyes as if she might burst out bawling at any moment, so It was even more of a surprise when my parents showed up not long after the police did. After the two officers left, my parents and I left Rita’s. My mother said thank you to my aunt before we headed out the door.

It was a relatively quiet car ride home aside from some snippy comments from my father.

“Your sister is bat-shit insane. Martha Flannigan…” Mom cut him off.

“Joseph! Watch your mouth!” she hissed.

“She got the Police involved for Christ’s sake. Jamie probably just got scared, and now our trip is shot in the ass!” Dad complained.

At that, Mom gave Dad a hard-stern look, and he kept quiet for the remainder of the ride as he drove. I didn’t fully understand what was going on. I was scared and confused, and just before we left Aunt Rita’s, I took a look back at the apartment and saw something that disturbed me so badly I didn’t say anything once we got home either.

At home, I didn’t speak, I just went straight to the bathroom. My period had started, which made the drive all the more uncomfortable. After putting in a tampon, I got changed into pajamas and went out into the living room where my mother and father were talking quietly. Dad seemed to be in a better mood than before as both of my parents offered warm smiles once I entered the room.

“Hey sweetie, I’m sorry I yelled in the car, are you feeling better?”

Tears welled in my eyes, and both of my parents rushed to my side, pulling me in a tight embrace.

“It’s okay sweetie,’ Dad said,

“We don’t have to talk about it ever again.”

It the morning, I found to my surprise that my tampon was dry, and the bleeding had stopped. Walking downstairs into the kitchen, I found my mom cooking breakfast and my dad was sitting down, reading something on his phone.

“Hey!” My dad said when I entered the kitchen.

“Feeling better baby?”

“Yeah.” I said, taking a seat at the table across from him at the table.

“I’m making blueberry pancakes!” Mom chimed in,

“And there’s juice in the fridge!”

I didn’t get up to get juice, and I didn’t feel hungry. The day before had been weird, and even though Dad said I didn’t have to talk about it, I needed to know what happened.

“Who’s Martha Flannigan?” I asked

Dad looked up from his phone, and Mom stopped what she was doing.

“You said her name in the car dad, who is she? Was she at the apartment?”

Mom and Dad looked at each other, exchanging hesitant glances.

“I can just look it up if you don’t tell me.” I said flatly.

Dad sighed heavily and Mom turned back to the stove.

“Martha Flannigan is dead. Your aunt just got a little spooked when you mentioned a woman dressed as a clown. She used to work in Paris and she lived just down the street from your Aunt. She just got spooked is all.” Dad said matter-of-factly.

There was a clown though, I thought. A clown with a blue balloon.

“’M’ for Martha” I whispered.

Dad had a quizzical expression on his face, but before he could as what I meant by that, I asked another question.

“How’d she die?”

Once again, hesitant nervous glances were exchanged by my parents, and it was my Mother’s turn to sigh.

“She died in prison dear, can we stop talking about this now?”

“Why was she in prison Mom? Why did Aunt Rita freak out?”

My dad interjected.

“She was locked up for molesting children.” Dad said solemnly.

“She was a filthy and disgusting woman, and I’m glad she’s gone, but she IS gone. There’s no way she can hurt you or anyone else baby. I think your Aunt is crazy, but I understand both her fear and your own.”

Dad looked at me right in the eyes.

“I promise Jamie, no one will ever hurt you.”

I nodded, and I excused myself from the table to go wash up in the bathroom, leaving my parents in the kitchen. Once the door was shut and locked behind me, I put my hands on the sink and cried. I cried there for a very long time, because my parents didn’t know the truth, but I did.

I knew that Martha Flannigan still, somehow, remained in that neighborhood. I knew that she hadn’t stopped the awful things she hadn’t been doing to kids. She hadn’t stopped, I knew that for sure, because I knew why I had been bleeding on that car ride home, and it wasn’t my period.

What haunts me isn’t the awful thing that Martha Flannigan did to me, however. It isn’t the terrible image of her ghostly hand crawling towards the other side of that door to allow herself inside. It was the image I saw as we drove away from Aunt Rita’s apartment complex. Every single apartment building had a small porch or terrace attached to it with a guard rail.

Tied to each one of those railings, was a blue balloon that bobbed and weaved in the breeze, like a macabre ocean of blue.

 

Ocean of Blue

Coldwell Inn

cove-girl-003

-By: J.J. Cheesman

Have you heard of the Banff Hotel in Canada? If you haven’t, all you need to know is that it’s a hotel famous for its ghostly hauntings. Since explaining the following account to Shelly, she’s mentioned it often. Indeed, the Banff hotel came up in my browser a number of times while trying to research Coldwell Inn. I’ve looked everywhere for SOME scrap of information about that hellish place, but I haven’t found any. This may be due, at least in part, that I’m actually not entirely sure if what happened to me just last month can be classified as ‘a haunting’. It also may have something to do with Coldwell Inn being just a little run-down shack with rooms for rent on the side of the road just outside of Brant County.

I was passing through Brant on my way to Toronto to visit an old friend. I live in the U.S., in a suburb of Chicago. My plan was to drive the entire seven hours in one day. The long but manageable drive was one I made several times to see Shelly. Some people might say that having to make a drive like that would be out of the question. I say it’s preferable to the $300 plane ticket.

Shelly and I have been friends a very long time. We met online through some mutual friends. We’re both aspiring artists, although Shelly is a much better painter than I am if we’re being honest. When it comes to Shelly, her and I just click, ya know? We get each other’s sense of humor, we feel the same way when it comes to creating art, and we both suffer from ADHD which often times keeps us up at all hours of the night, talking to each other on skype. We got along like guns and bullets, and it was eventual that we’d kicked around the idea of meeting in person.

One summer day, Shelly showed up at my house, just like that, out of the blue. It was a welcome surprise of course. Shelly ended up staying the entire week and we had an absolute blast together. It was at the end of that week, that we had resolved to make it a tradition every year to visit one another so that the other wasn’t having to make the trip every time. Once a year turned into once every six months. That is, more or less, how I ended up on the side of Ontario Highway 403 with a flat tire yesterday.

It was my turn to visit Shelly, and I had made three mistakes before I left that day. The first mistake, was not making sure I had adequate sleep the night before. My second mistake, was not leaving earlier than I did. So, by the time I’d passed the city Woodstock, it was already well after Four P.M. I was able to Google the number for a tow back into Woodstock and have the tire replaced at a shop. Once the tire was fixed it was already Seven, and the sun began its descent over the horizon. I may be used to staying up at all hours, but that was the very thing that came back to bite me in the ass.

As I drove from Woodstock on Highway 403, my car swayed just a little as my eyes drooped intermittently, and I knew it was unsafe to stay on the road for long, and I would have to find a place to stay for the night. Seemingly in answer to my thoughts, I spotted a billboard as I passed it that read,

 

Coldwell Inn!

A place to hang your hat!

 Take a right onto Highway 55!

Only being an hour away from Shelly’s house, I REALLY didn’t want to have to pay for a room to stay for the night, but I also didn’t want both me and my car to end up all over the side of the highway if I fell asleep at the wheel.

When I reached Highway 55, I hit the turn signal and got off of ON-403. I was a little worried at first, I had not seen a sign for Coldwell Inn aside from the billboard, but it soon became apparent why. In just a few moments of drive time I spotted the neon sign raised high on the side of the road outside the motel. The words ‘Coldwell Inn’ were displayed in bright blue on the sign, along with the words under them that read, Vacancy.

The motel rooms were single-tiered and were arranged in a ‘U’ shape around the parking lot, with the manager’s office located off to the side. I pulled into the lot and parked in front of the office. When I walked in, there was an older gentleman behind the counter who immediately looked up from whatever he was reading at the sound of the chiming bell that heralded my entrance.

“Hello Miss!” He said sweetly.

“What can I do for you?”

The man’s attitude and voice was so welcoming, I couldn’t help but smile despite my exhaustion.

“I’m looking for a room.” I said.

“Of course you are! After all who comes to a motel if they aren’t looking to stay!” He chuckled at his own joke, and I feigned laughter. I was too tired to find much of anything funny.

“It’s fifty dollars a night, if that is acceptable.”

It certainly was acceptable. I was expecting at least a hundred bucks. I really wasn’t too ecstatic about the price though. I had to wonder about how a motel was able to survive with such low prices when, if the mostly-empty parking lot was any indication, they didn’t get much business.

“Uh… yeah. That’s alright.” I told him. Briefly, I considered trying to find somewhere else, but I was already there, and I was so tired.

I handed the old man my credit card and filled out an information slip he handed me to put my name and number down on. Once he ran my card and I gave him my info, he handed me a key with a metal tag that had an outline of the number ‘1’ cut into both sides.

“You’ll be in room one, it’s the quiet season so you should find your stay to be a peaceful one. There is only one other guest staying with us tonight.”

I thanked him and headed back out to my car. I pulled over to one end of the ‘U’ shaped building, and parked in front of the door with the number ‘1’ on the front. I was dreading what I would find in the room, but I tried to keep my spirits high. Each room had one bay window to the left of the door, but all of the blinds were drawn, so I couldn’t see inside any of them. As I got out of my car, I took note of the room directly across the parking lot from my own. In front of the door labeled ‘24’, a red Taurus was parked. It was a nice-looking car and in pretty good shape, which helped assuage any fears that I might have to guard my belongings. I didn’t want to lug any of my bags into the motel, only to bring them right back out again in the morning. Still, I made sure my car alarm was functional and pressed the lock button on my key-remote three times before I entered my room.

I was pleasantly surprised immediately upon opening the door and flicking the light switch on the wall. A standing lamp by the bed-side lit up and I could see the room was actually… nice. It wasn’t extravagant by any stretch of the imagination, but it wasn’t the run-down piece of shit I was expecting. The bed was a queen, and someone took care to make sure it was neatly made. A couple reading chairs accompanied by a small table, sat in the corner. No T.V. to speak of, but that didn’t bother me any. The only unpleasantness I found was that it was a little stuffy inside. I cracked the screened-in bay window just a hair before turning in. Hitting the light switch again, I fell flat onto the bed flat on my stomach without even taking my shoes or coat off. Before I feel asleep, I pulled my phone out and set an alarm for 5 A.M. As soon as I put the phone down beside my head, I was unconscious.

Remember when I said I’d made three mistakes before leaving Chicago? Well, the third mistake was the big one. I don’t know how long I was asleep for exactly. It couldn’t have been longer than a couple hours, but because I forgot to charge my phone before leaving, there’s no way for me to know. All I know is at some point in the night I was awoken with a start by a knock on the door.

“Hello dear, can you come out here a moment?” A woman’s voice drifted in from outside.

I was confused and groggy, and the words spoken by the mysterious voice only half registered in the fog of my mind as I rubbed my eyes. Picking up my phone on instinct, I pressed the ‘home’ button, steeling myself for the blinding light, but it didn’t come.

“Wha…?” I said, slowly moving off the bed and putting my unresponsive phone in my pocket absent-mindedly.

“There’s been an issue dear, I’m going to have to talk to you.” The woman’s sweet voice drifted musically through the air.

Slowly, my legs began moving toward the door. My heartbeat thumped in my ears as the early pain of a headache just settling in gnawed at the back of my skull.

“Hold on.” I grumbled. Before I reached the door, I began to regain some of my sense in the dark. As the drunken spell of sleep left, another feeling began to replace it. Something was off about that voice outside my room. I realized that I’d recognized it, from somewhere.

“Hurry up dear, It’s chilly out here.”

I did recognize the voice. It couldn’t be who it sounded like though. There’s no way, not here.

Now moving with caution, as silently as I could, I crept to the side of the door to look out the window. I’d open the window earlier, but I left the blinds shut. I lifted a hand and moved up one of the blind slats just enough so that I could get a peek out onto the parking lot. I could feel the color from my face leak out from my pores.

Basked in the light of the hanging lamp outside the room, dressed in a yellow sun dress, was my mother. She stood smiling, as if it wasn’t strange at all she was in a different country in the earlier hours of the morning outside motel. I could feel myself shaking in my shoes. This wasn’t right, that just couldn’t be Mom. Not here of all places, not now.

“Hello dear?” Came my mother’s voice once again, and she NEVER ceased her smile.

It was then I noticed the sound of knocking coming from the other side of the parking lot as well. In front of the red Taurus stood a man wearing a green parka, and he had a large bald spot on the back of his head. He had his left hand behind his back, and he was holding something, though I couldn’t tell what it was from that distance.

“Hello?” I could hear him call.

“Billy, open up man!”

Moments later, the door opened, and a young-looking man in plaid pajamas was standing in the doorway looking astonished.

“Carl?” The young man said. Thanks to the open window, I could hear them both clearly.

“What are you doing here?”

The balding man in the green parka laughed.

“What do you mean what am I doing here? Are you going to let your brother stand out here in the cold?”

“Oh, shit man I’m sorry! Come on in!”

Mr. Green Parka stepped into the room. He shut the door behind him, obscuring my view from what was going on inside, but not before light from the hanging lamp outside room 24 bounced off the object in his hand, and I saw it clearly. It was a knife.

I jumped as the face of my mother appeared directly in front of my vision. For a moment, I was paralyzed with fear while her piercing blue eyes were like daggers that stabbed into my own.

“Carolyn, honey, you really shouldn’t be snooping in other people’s business,” My mother’s smiling face cooed out that sickeningly sweet voice.

“It just isn’t polite. Open the door for me honey, it’s so cold out here.”

I slowly backed away from the window.

“You’re not my mother!” I screamed hysterically at the closed blinds.

“I don’t know who the FUCK you are, but you aren’t her!”

I pulled my phone back out of my pocket, holding the power button in a desperate attempt to get help, but there was no use. The phone would not turn on.

“Oh honey, I just hate it when you swear.” The door handle rattled and jiggled as whatever was standing outside began to try to come in by force.

“FUCK YOU!” I screamed with tears in my eyes.

“Go away! Leave me alone!” My mind was breaking, I didn’t understand what was happening.

There is a fear beyond what most people know, a primal terror that breaks down logical thought and reason, I know because it began to ravage my mind in that very moment. I was shaking so bad that steadying my hands were impossible, and I wasn’t able to think clearly. For a single, awful second, I’d believed I’d lost my mind.

“I just don’t know why you make everything so difficult on me Carolyn, you never treat your father this way.” My mother’s voice was mocking me.

Then, a ripping sound through the air silenced every screaming thought in my head. I knew immediately what the sound was. She was tearing the screen off of the window. She was going to get inside. She was going to kill me.

My survival instinct kicked in, and I knew I only had one shot. I walked as quietly as I could over to the door, and I twisted the deadbolt as slowly as I could so it wouldn’t make a sound. Then I pulled out my car keys from my coat pocket, waiting with my finger above the unlock button. Those few seconds were hell as I waited, listening to the screen in the window tear. Finally, I could hear the window begin to rise, and the blinds slowly moved as a hand began to emerge from behind the bottom of the blinds. That was when I acted.

I tore the door open and sprinted the few feet to my car while rapidly tapping the button on the key ring to unlock it. As I had hoped, the woman pretending to be my mother was caught off guard, and by the time she’d realized what was happening and started to pull herself from the window, I already started my car and shifted into reverse. In the rear-view mirror, I saw Mr. Green Parka walking at a quick pace toward the car from room 24. Without a second thought, I slammed on the gas pedal, backing into him and crushing him under the weight of both my rear and front passenger-tires. I then quickly shifted into drive, and my tires squealed as I tore out of the parking lot and back onto Highway 55.

 

 

I didn’t stop driving until I reached Shelly’s house. When I got there, I explained to her what happened, and she listened to every word. I told her everything that happened down to the smallest detail, as I’ve described here, and though she looked concerned, she did not interrupt or question any of it. When I’d finished my story, the water in her eyes suggested to me that maybe she thought I’d gone crazy. After all, Shelly knew me very well.

Shelly offered to call the police for me, but we haven’t yet. I don’t know what to say. My dead mother rose from the grave and tried to kill me? They would laugh me all the way back home with a shiny new white jacket. Still, I had to call someone and report something. I was still shaking hours later in Shelly’s home while she made us coffee and I plugged my phone into a charger she let me use.

When my phone booted up, and I saw that I had a voice mail message, and I let it play on speaker without looking at who it was from. I assumed it was from my brother, he’d gotten into the habit of checking up on me a lot lately, but it wasn’t my brother’s voice on the message.

“Hello Carolyn!” The familiarly sweet voice of the old man from the Inn rang out from my phone.

“Hey, couldn’t help but notice you left in a rush, I was just calling to remind you that you still have the key to one of our rooms. You must have forgotten to drop it off in your hurry to leave. I don’t mind though, drop it off at your earliest convenience, and don’t forget…”

The old man’s voice suddenly changed into the soft cooing voice of my mother.

“Mommy misses you.”

The voice mail ended, and the two mugs of coffee that Shelly was holding fell from her hands and onto the floor.

I’ve said it before, but I can’t stress it enough. Shelly and I were very good friends. She’d met my mother on numerous occasions. Mom was easy to talk to, and she never made you feel wrong or different in anyway. As such, she left quite the positive impression on Shelly, as she did a lot of people.

So much of an impression in fact, that she even made a special trip to the U.S. to make sure she was there for her funeral last year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coldwell Inn