Ghost Stories

Through The Fog

Another story from Gardigan Tales, that I thought you guys might like. Sorry if its a little long.

Back in the early 80's I worked at an all night gas station close to the Kentucky Dam. You may have guessed already, that yes, this story takes place during the midnight shift, and it was the same business I worked at when first hearing about what the Beast of LBL had supposedly done to a unsuspecting family while camping between the lake area. (Scary stories always sound better when they take place at night, but this was not my choice mind you, it just happened this way.)

These incidents happened before and after the knowledge of the Beast, but keep in mind that knowing of a creature that could possibly exist in the surrounding area did not perk my imagination, nor spark hallucinations. Whether they merely happened by coincidence or by chance, they happened nonetheless. The following events added to my already established genuine, abiding regard concerning those mysteries that are left undiscovered and unapproachable, out in the dark of night. To this day I carry a healthy respect for things that go 'bump' in the forests, and treat other's similar stories with the same consideration.

Several times during the midnight hours of my first summer working there I would hear what seemed to be a woman screaming. This echoing sound would come from the marshes that surrounded the gas station and would continue into a slow rolling roar that would have sent chills up the spine of even a deaf man. Many people told me it was just a bobcat, which had been spotted in the area before and to be cautious when crossing the parking lot to use the restroom, pick up litter or do some general cleaning outside at night.

I never got used to that lonesome curdling shriek that would erupt the silence of the early mornings. Sometimes it would come from way off in the distance, out of a line of trees that ran along the borders of a large creek. Other times it was closer, coming from the blackened swamp areas, and sometimes it was too intimate; like it was just behind the building I was working in at the time. There was never any warning to its beginnings; the shrillness of the volume would fill the humid air in the summer time and hang on like an eerie floating adhesive, sticking to everything it could adhere too and continue reverberating like the rasps of a beached whale. When the bellowing outcry was within the boundaries of the parking area it would make my legs shudder and grow weak. There was no getting use to this animal's selfish display of needed attention.

What ever it was it could not be seen as the outside light poles only illuminated the four corners of the lot. The land up to the concrete curbs that squared off the property was lost in the darkness of nature. From down the road or from the nearby interstate the service station looked like a small four sided box with lights in the corners and a tiny building in the center of the lot.

The closer the outcries were the more distinguished the tones and I couldn't help but compare the sound to what an old biology teacher of mine would do to get the class's focus at times. He would take these fist-sized geode rocks that had been busted in half, revealing large protruding crystals from the inside, and scrape them across the blackboard, one in each of his hands. The ear piercing screeching did not cease until he had run the length of the 8-foot slate. It was a hideous torture to the senses; enough to make your teeth hurt, put Goosebumps on top of Goosebumps and make you squeeze your bladder in while a trembling of microscopic marbles shot up your spine. The effect left everyone in a quivering state on the verge of momentary lunacy. Besides being quite deafening, it produced separate tones of raucous discord; some crystals formed a variety of high-pitched abrasive sounds while the larger ones created cantankerous, lower, gravely vibrations. All of them mixed together in some insane symphony. This was the sound that the unseen animal in the marshes would broadcast through the stifling heat of the summer nights.

Its secret invisible visits happened with great frequency at first and then the events would die down and then disappear all together, not revealing its intolerable cries for months at a time. The next spring it started up again, but further away this time in another section of fields that lay beyond the marshlands and closer to a government tree farm. It wasn't long after it made its presence known again that the two officers came into the station with the tale of the campers found torn to pieces in LBL.

Myself, having been born and bred in a large city up north, did not want to fancy the notion of the alleged 'beast' being a Bigfoot or a werewolf, but fashioned my opinion around more logical explanations; bobcat, bear or wolves. Blaming an unknown hairy creature in the forests for being the culprit was not a fathomable answer to someone who grew up in the concrete and steel jungles around 'real monsters' called murderers and rapists. Even though several years prior while visiting one summer in Kentucky, not far from the Kentucky Dam at my aunts house, there was an encounter with a very unexplainable life form that knocked my 'logical thinking' into the ground. This particular event left me more confused then afraid and I had to change my way of perceiving certain 'hairy beast legends' in a new light. But that is another story. (Soon to be written, just hold your horse'

Nonetheless, the idea of a bobcat, beast or a stereotype movie monster, doing that amount of damage to a human being sparked my uneasiness over hearing a possible relative lurking in the shadows around me where I worked. Besides, I knew that the typical murderer or rapist usually didn't give out a war cry quite as unnerving as this one did, so I knew it had to be in the animal category of the food chain. (Speaking of the food chain...isn't it ironic that even though we as humans think of ourselves as at the top of the chain, we still fear that which is below us? Not much to brag about is there? Hmm...)

Summer passed with the occasional screeching howls in the background of the quagmires. They would still send me into an instance of cowardice and anxiety but knowing the being was so far away gave me a hollow sense of security. It wasn't until the late autumn, when the thick fogs began rolling in off the boggy mires, that a foreboding panic would invade me to the very marrow of my bones and create within me a lasting impression of authentic terror.

I had somehow made my way through the dense mist, mostly by memory alone, to the restrooms that were on the back of the lot to replenish the supplies and do some regular cleaning. Because the weather made it impossible for travelers to drive and see at the same time more then a few feet in front of them, I saw it as a great opportunity to get some work done knowing I would have very few customers if any.

It was well into the early morning, around three AM, and I was inside the women's restroom slinging a mop when I heard a new sound, very different from the one of the bobcats. This one was like someone was riding a bike outside that had playing cards attached to the wheel spokes with clothespins along with balloons rubbing along the same turning tires; riding slowing, methodically, creating a sort of rough clicking growl. 'Maybe it's a car with a really bad muffler', I thought to myself, wondering how it had found it's way through the lot, or even found the drive way for that matter.

Just as I was putting the mop into the bucket to squeeze it through the wringer that old familiar scream was heard once more. Right outside the small building I was presently in at the time. The bucket turned over from the jerk I gave the mop after being startled over hearing the animal at such a close range. The bleach from the spilled water climbed through the air and stung my eyes but I couldn't blink, couldn't move any part of my body at the time; I just stood there staring at the door, waiting, listening.

The beating of my heart seemed so loud I thought that the animal outside might hear it. I really wasn't aware of how much time had passed as I kept that paralyzed stance, trembling as if freezing from a wintry breeze. After awhile of listening to it's grumbling low stifled growls outside the door I heard a police siren in the background, coming from the road. I could tell the vehicle was going at a slow pace, and I could just imagine it trying to creep through the cloudy atmosphere towards an accident no doubt. The animal's commotion ceased from the other side of the door and all went quiet except for the wailing of the sirens that seemed to be coming directly from across the station out on the road.

A few more moments later I heard another scream from the same animal but this time it was further away, like it had retreated back into the wet bogs. This was my queue to get the 'hell out of Dodge' and back inside the safety of the front office building. Hastily I mopped up the mess on the floor, grabbed all the cleaning stuff and made my way back through the thickened clouds using my internal compass to the main building, locking the door behind me. The police car was still going down the road but it's sirens seemed further away by now.

About thirty minutes later, after calming down a bit from the encounter and while taking some inventory I saw a shadow from the corner of my eye run past one of the windows. It shook me up a bit and I turned to concentrate on any more movement from outside. Again the shadow ran past but this time in front of another window. (The building I was in was surrounded by three sides of glass windows, and was actually quite small compared to other gas stations. It was all self-serve and there were no garages attached. There was room inside for a few candy racks and a couple of large coolers to keep sodas and sandwiches in. There was also a back storage room but it was more of a walk in closet size, and then there was the cubicle up front surrounded by bullet proof glass where we conducted all the money transactions and stored cigarettes.) (NOTE: A photo of this station, now long closed and unused, is below.)

The shadow was very tall, way taller then the average man and was rather large in stature and moved in a bouncing motion as a man of sizeable bulk would move when trying to jog, and it appeared to have a coat on or at least something bulky. I heard a trash can turn over, heard the debris scatter across the concrete, (empty glass soda bottles, used oil cans and the rattling of other things) then heard the same can crash into one of the gas pumps outside as if something had picked it up and hurled it. This was no bobcat. This was someone having some fun outside at my expense.

Anger began growing within me as I was thinking that this was not a very humorous practical joke and I actually yelled out loud my dislike of the whole scenario, "This isn't funny you @$$#&*%!!" Laying my clipboard down on the counter I began looking out the windows straining to see the mischief-maker again, all the while double-checking to make sure the doors were locked. (It was standard procedure to lock the doors after 10 PM and serve the customers through a sliding drawer, much like a bank tellers at a drive through service lane, inside the bulletproof cubicle.) While peering through the middle window, that same methodic grumbly growl introduced itself once more from outside. I was momentarily confused, 'Was the bobcat back? Could the idiot outside hear it? Was there danger in store for the stranger who was trying to tease and terrorize me?'

The grumbling sound traveled around the corner to the back end and then the building shook from a massive hit to a wall. I could hear some stored items fall off their shelves and deposit themselves all over the floor in the storage room. There were no windows in the storage area, thank goodness, but there was a back door. I raced back there and started stacking cases of soda and boxes of oil against it to secure it even more. There was a low mumbling on the other side of the door and the sound came from up high; what seemed like around the top of the doorframe. A low and deep toned breathing could be heard also as I just stood dumbfounded staring at the grayish brown steel door. Two deliberate solid 'thumps' met with the door from the other side like someone who had just pounded on it with their fists and along with it came that unceremonious squall.

'This was no bobcat! Nor was it some intimidating prankster!' my mind screamed. In those few seconds a parade of memories sped through my brain, each of them crashing into one another as they raced to the finish line to see who would win, sanity or insanity. The image of an upright wolf like creature that I had seen years before at my aunt's house, howling on top of the hill, was fighting for position with an overly large bobcat, and then the vision of a Bigfoot was lumbering along side of them. All the words from the two officers stories from a few months before echoed inside my head as these pictures within me created a macabre movie. Dizziness overtook me and I fell backwards onto some other cases of stacked sodas.

I remained there for the longest time, not knowing what to expect next, not really wanting to know actually and definitely not wanting to go back into the other part of the building where I or 'IT' could possibly get a better look at each other through one of the many windows. That terrifying thought was brewing when through the open door facing one of the candy racks I could see a shadow moving along the right side of the building, slowly through the fog. It was like not having your glasses on and trying to make out what something looked like through the entire blur of an unfocused silhouette.

Then briefly, ever so quickly a considerably large hand materialized and reached out from its secret form in the mist and touched the window. My first thought was 'gorilla', as in just that glimpse I saw the darkened nails, the blackish brown leathery skin, along with long dark hair hanging from behind the knuckles, spreading up the wrist, and up part of the arm that seemed to be floating in the whiteness of the fog. Then it was gone, replacing the horrifying scene with silence for the remainder of the morning.

I dared not move, or maybe I didn't think I was actually capable of motion, either way, I remained on the stack of sodas for the few hours I had left on my shift. About an hour before the next crewmember was due to arrive the newly dawned sun began burning off the fog, making it retreat back into the marshes, back into the pores of the earth, like the ghosts of the undead. It was only then that I cautiously made my way outside and cleaned up the mess from the thrown trash receptacle. My mind was still trying to rationally explain the hours before but unconsciously I had already decided that the events would remain hidden within my memory, never to be discussed, only to stay buried under the clouds of my own inscrutable mystical fog.

That decision did not last very long as within a few weeks I had transferred to the afternoon shift, with a new guy taking the midnight shift. (Thank goodness for It wasn't a few days later after this change that the new guy started telling me about the 'sounds and howling' he would hear from the night before. I re-assured him it was probably just a bobcat, and his reply was, "Yeah, right. I've lived around here all my life and I never heard no bobcat ever sound like that!" It was then we struck up a conversation about local Bigfoot stories and I then confessed as to what I had experienced a month prior. Needless to say, it totally freaked him out and he started having a friend come up and keep him company during the midnight hours. He never actually saw anything but the squalls would continue every so often about once a week and then it died out all together by the time winter rolled around.

I believe that in these days and times of the world, that the ridicule endured for these types of witnessing tales is not as straining as it use to be. It is acceptable now for people to come forward and tell of things they have seen or heard that are completely foreign to a logical explanation. The truth is out there, and most of us know it or have witnessed something to help substantiate the basis for the truth to be honestly believed.

Here on San's web site, witnesses can come forward without fear of being pointed at, laughed at, mocked, scorned or sneered at. We here are family and support one another's strange and often unexplainable occurrences. To all the non-believers, we leave you an open door to exit through, but will welcome you back if and when you ever have a hard to define experience and need some reassuring to let you know you are not imagining things.

In the words of a great woman, "You can't tell me there's no such thing!'

-Jan Thompson.