Thursday, January 24, 2013

Look closely. Boo!

A fine day for ghost stories

The Hauntings 
By Ronnie Powell

Highway K quietly strays away from State Road 64 south four miles to a small village, where it unexpectedly enters the settlement, then crosses the Niangua River a mile or so on. It turns westward between Four Mile Creek and the river into hills laden with forests and deep hollows and emerges at last into Highway 32. In late spring and summer, Black Eyed Susan and Queen Anne’s Lace crowd the roadside, dreamily nodding to those who pass, and like dream catchers, spider webs glisten between strands of rusty barbed wire fence. Only a small road sign, obscured somewhat by cedar boughs marks the north boundary of the village, allowing just seconds to glimpse the community as one passes through.
The road rushes between two old store buildings, fronted by the Moon Valley Road and Highway M. The smallest building is vacant, its weathered front faded, draped with vine and shadowed by the canopy of a huge elm tree. Across the road to the East stands another general store, a large, stately structure with a high false front where faded letters proclaim its beginning in 1921.
This spacious old store has changed little in its 75 years; but its owners have changed many times. A short distance behind the store is an old tomato canning factory, a relic of the depression era. A rusty tin roof, loose in many places covers most of the weary structure. It is a lonely building, windowless and holds many secrets within its perpetual darkness. A post office and another small store are also located approximately fifty feet east of Highway K. Seven dwellings and a community building completes the cross roads settlement. Most people who pass through the village would never guess what bizarre occurrences have plagued the community and surrounding area over the years. Much of it has become legend, passed down over several generations often reluctantly – by descendants of those who have claimed they have experienced the frightful happenings. Some people scoff at the idea that supernatural entities often come at night to haunt the innocent. Others are skeptical, but some residents are uneasy and uncertain of their convictions. 
It has been speculated that desecrated graves of the Osage Indians, numerous in and around the unique village, are perhaps in part the reason for the majority of the mysterious happenings. Like other native tribes, the Osage Indians of the Niangua River Basin had sacred rituals, ceremonies and customs which demonstrated their sincere belief in a supreme being, a hereafter and also the presence of evil spirits. As exiles from their ancestral lands, the Osage people were eventually forbidden to return to the burial sites to pay homage as their custom demanded. The burial of their dead has been defiled countless times over time and skeletal remains  are often unearthed in plowed fields, hog yards and cattle lots.
It is not just the Osage who believe the spot where a person is laid to rest never forgets and the person in some ways is still there and can actually partake of a living being’s spirit and breath.
A mile or so south of the village there once stood a house besieged by unexplained events in and around it. Rocks were said to fall suddenly from the ceiling or from the trees outside. Many claimed to have witnessed the phenomenon. The owner of the house disappeared without a trace and it was believed his wife and her lover killed him and hid his body in a cave on the Niangua River.
In a house at the center of the community, across from the largest general store, a young boy was badly frightened by a loud wailing in a second story room. His parents told him it was only his imagination. The boy’s father learned that an old man had passed away in the room several years before, after suffering dreadfully from a mysterious illness. A few years later the father himself while standing on the back porch one night felt a heavy hand come to rest on his shoulder.  When he turned to see who it was, he found no one there.
In 1994 after a local woman’s untimely death, her ghostlike image appeared briefly in the above house in question. She was the picture of youth again, clear of skin with flowing raven hair to her hips and she wore a long orange dress.
The old canning factory has not being spared in the haunting of the village, for there have been claims of frightful screams and loud pounding from its shadowy interior. A man repairing a nearby fence decided to take a look inside the building. A door that had long since given up its hinges stood partly ajar near the end of the building. He carefully picked it up and placed it against a tree. Inside the only light shone through the cracks in the walls eerily distorted by the dust. Littering the floor were empty tomato crates and brown glass jugs. Dust lay heavy over all the debris, but no tracks of animals or humans was noted anywhere on the floor.
Above him the explorer could see a loft, half the width of the building and at one end a ladder ascended to the darkness above.  Still at ease and curious, he started up, but stopped abruptly when he heard what he said sounded like shuffling feet overhead.
“The noise sounded, “The said man, “as if someone was trying to creep toward the edge of the loft.” Not one to frighten easily, he scrambled up the ladder and peered around, expecting to confront somebody or some creature.
“The light was poor, the man continued, “but I could see the entire length and breadth of the loft and nothing was there, not even a track to mar the dust on the floor. I guess I lost it then,” he laughed, “for I flung myself down the ladder and ran for the doorway. But when I got there, I found the door had been placed over the opening. I tell you one thing for sure; I didn’t waste anytime busting though to the outside. And I’ve never been back since.
One Sunday morning two people observed a small tin bucket hanging on a peg in the front display room of one other store building, banging violently against the wall. It continued its erratic movement for nearly five minutes. Several times heavy footsteps have been heard in the attic above this store, along with the scraping sounds of something being moved. An aged woman living in a house next door to this store reported she was visited by small children, unfamiliar to her in the close knit community where everyone knew everyone. The children never uttered a word, but ran about pilfering her belongings. One night, she said she saw a group of men killing another on the front lawn and for many nights afterwards she saw them hiding behind trees watching the house. Most people considered her demented.
In the spring of 1992, another woman of senior years was sitting in a chair on her front lawn, directly behind the post office drinking a cup of coffee. She said a blue bird began singing in a tree above her. Delighted by the sweet sound she listened, but said, “At first the singing was that of a bird, but then there were words. It was a sad song of a lost love and I wept.”
A stranger wandered into town one morning in the spring of 1992, weary and haggard from a chilly night lost in the woods. He claimed to have no idea of where he was and wanted only to return home to Springfield. He said he had spent the night huddled beneath a huge oak tree where demons leaped from the tree and danced around him. “They taunted me,” he said, “and they stank like no other creature I have ever known.”
When I asked him if he had been drinking, the young man looked me straight in the eyes and replied, “No sir. I am a Christian. You must believe me. May God have mercy on all of you, for those creatures are everywhere.”
Another stranger passing through Windyville in late summer of 1993, said the town was disturbingly full of spirits. When asked how he knew, he said, “There is an unearthly coldness here and I can feel them.
A child walking with a parent along the south road that leads out of the village suddenly burst into a fit of tears and pointed at a vacant house near the side of the road and cried. “There are ghosts in there.” The house the little girl had so tearfully referred to has suffered the most. Occurrences there have struck terror in many of its occupants and sent them fleeing. Foot steps on the stairs in the middle of the night that finally enters a bedroom to reveal the ghost of a man who once resided in the house. Spiders by thousands suddenly invaded the house, only to disappear and be replaced by an equal number of cockroaches. Strange pale faces appeared at the windows and footsteps hurrying away leaving no tracks. The ghost of the man who once lived in the house has also been reported seen in front of one of the stores in broad daylight, entering a closed window.
For awhile after the above house in question was vacated and often in the evening about dusk a curtain would flutter part way open in a second story window. It has also been reported that an unearthly coldness often settles in around the house in late evening and would chill the bones of anyone who ventured too close. Once a stench emitted from the old structure and neighbors likened it to rotting flesh and the same scent was said to come-from the grave of the man who had once lived in the house.
In the spring of 1994, all the birds in a portion of the village disappeared and did not return until the autumn of the same year. Not even a sparrow could be seen, yet a few hundred feet outside the affected area birds flourished.
 Sometime in the year of 1934, two young women walking along a road near the Lone Rock Cemetery, a couple of miles  from the village reported a cold burst of wind swept out of the graveyard, scattering leaves and other debris across the road where they stood. Seconds later a horse and rider rose up from the cemetery to approximately fifty above the women and hovered there motionless for a few seconds. The rider raised an arm and appeared to be shouting. As quickly as it had appeared, the specter vanished. Sightings of this horse and rider had been claimed for several years prior to that of the young women. No sightings have been reported since.
As I promised, I have not identified the village location or anyone who revealed to me their stories of ghosts, spirits or otherwise unexplainable events in and around the community. This is not a unique phenomenon for there is countless other location, past and present where such events have taken place. Many though scoff and say, “There is no truth in it all.” But there are also those who do believe. I cannot honestly say I believe in ghosts or sprits, however, I will admit there have been and are many seemingly unexplainable paranormal events during the many centuries of man’s existence on Earth.  Most important to me at least, I love to write ghosts stories and they should not me taken literally. In others words my ghosts stories are as far as I am concerned fiction. Adios 

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