10/26/2015

Screams in the Night










Today we have Charlotte Patrick as guest poster on the topic of the paranormal/supernatural.  Charlotte is a 46-year old civil engineer from Ohio and a proud alum of Ohio State University (Go Bucks!)  She has been married to her husband, Tom, for the past 21 years.  They have one daughter who is 18 years old and a freshman at OSU and 15 year old son who is in his sophomore year of high school.  Charlotte's hobbies consist of writing for technical publications, horseback riding, tennis, camping and family time with her husband and children.

If you have a story to share relating to the paranormal/supernatural, click HERE for details.  Also, to answer many questions, there is no charge for guest posting on the topic of the paranormal/supernatural.

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In my early teens (13-15 years old to be precise), we lived wherever my father found work as a construction worker.  As a result, we never laid down roots in any one place for long. As it turned out, we lived in Pine Bluff, Arkansas for nine months due to a job Dad had there.  We got there in the summer of 1983.  It was in July when we moved into the 2-bedroom apartment about two miles from Dad's work site.  The heat was unbearable.  To make matters worse, this is the delta region of Arkansas.  Swamps, bayous, everything that made summer worse.  Of course, there were mosquitoes the size of sparrows at night.  I hated the place.  I wanted to go live with my grandparents in Ohio.  But, mom and dad said no.  The only thing that brought some joy to my life was a new friend I made shortly after we moved into the apartment.  Shirley was a transplant from the Midwest like me.  She made things more bearable since we shared basically the same background, including fathers who worked in construction.  We went to a strip mall quite frequently to do girl things like shopping for makeup, dresses, jewelry.  In short, we shopped for everything we knew we could not buy.  But, it was fun looking around.

That soon changed as I was intrigued by the thick, dense growth of trees, huge grassy knolls that seemed to just pop up out of the ground, in the swamp behind the apartment complex where we lived.  Shirley's entire demeanor changed when I brought up the subject of venturing into the area.  "No, I won't go there with you, Charlotte.  There are people that have gone into the swamp and have never been found", Shirley quickly replied.  I told her we would not have to go far.  It just got boring going to the playground every day, doing the same thing every day.  "Promise me you will not go into the swamp, Charlotte.  It's not safe!", she said.  I told her I would not go into the swamp.  I said it to placate her.  I was going into that swamp, at least, to stay within sight of the apartment complex. My feelings on that notion changed early the next morning.

It was difficult living in a 2-bedroom apartment.  It was even more difficult to sleep with my brother snoring on the couch.  Zeke (my little brother) was a pain at times.  But, for the most part, he was a good kid.  I got up to go look out the living room window.  I could not sleep.  I casually looked in the direction of the much-dreaded swamp.  I saw something moving in the shadows of the thick brush.  Thinking it was a dog or something, I started to leave and try to get some sleep.  But, this thing suddenly stood up.  I'm not good at judging distance, the height, and weight of people.  But, this thing was very tall....maybe 8 feet or even more.  I know that sounds incredible.  But, it is true.  It had broad shoulders.  I doubt it could have walked through our door without going sideways into the apartment, not to mention ducking since it was so tall.  Then, without any warning, I hear the loudest scream (as best as I could tell it was a  scream) coming from this thing.  It made the living room window vibrate!  My brother woke up, along with my parents and virtually everyone in the apartment complex.  Many people stepped outside to see what it was making such a loud scream (imagine the scream of 100 horses all at once).  Apparently, this was all new to the people in the apartment complex (I say complex, but it was probably no more than 24 apartments, top to bottom).  They were all most likely construction workers who were there only for the work.

My father had a shotgun, as did many other men there that night.  Some said they should go look to see what it was.  I noticed no one bothered to make the first step into the swamp to investigate.  There was no point in calling the sheriff.  No crime had been committed and no one seemed to know exactly what it was we were dealing with in the swamp.  It was just a stroke of luck I happened to see it before it let out the terrible scream.  Whatever it was, it definitely was not human.  There was nothing else from the creature that night.  Dad said he would make mention of it to his construction boss when they got to work that morning.  None of us really slept the rest of the night.

The next morning, Shirley came to our apartment looking like me, sleepy and tired.  I told her I still wanted to go into the swamp.  "Are you out of your ever-loving mind, Charlotte?" she asked.  I told her we needed to see if there was any evidence of the creature that screamed last night.  Shirley looked at me as if she were looking through me.  I can't say that I blame her now.  Looking back on it, it was a foolish thing to even suggest, much less actually do.

For the next 4 nights in a row, the creature screamed.  It was a scream that indicated it was a very powerful being and one you might not want to bother in any way, shape or form.  By this time, everyone at the apartment complex had had enough.  Some men went into the swamp after work to see if they could find anything.  After two weeks of nightly screaming, half the apartment complex had left.  They could not take it any longer.  Nerves were frayed, people were not able to sleep and the apartment owner said there was nothing he could do.  But, no one really believed this was the first time this being had screamed from the swamp.  After doing some checking around, it was found out this is an occurrence every year from July to sometime in September when the heat starts to dissipate.

Eventually, the sheriff did come out and people voiced their concerns.  The sheriff confirmed there was screaming.  But, he insisted it was a panther.  No one believed that.  The screams were far, far too loud.  He left and everyone who remained at the apartment complex contemplated what they were going to do.  For us, there was no choice.  We had to stay.  Dad said we could not afford any place else but this old, dilapidated apartment complex.

The unholy screams continued.  I stayed up one night to wait on it.  It usually started the screams about 2AM and continued, off and on, for a good 15 minutes or so.  As I waited, I saw it slowly saunter into view.  The full moon gave me a good look at this thing.  It was actually closer to 7 feet tall and probably weighed about 350lbs. That is my best estimate.  The screams started again.  By this time, people did not go outside any longer.  Well, no one but me, of course.  I carefully opened the door to our apartment and stepped outside.  This thing was screaming for all he was worth...until he saw me step outside.  It may have been my imagination.  But, this creature appeared to have yellow eyes.  And he was looking straight at me.  I froze in my tracks.  He was approximately 150 yards, a football field, and a half, from where I stood to stare at him.  He (I say "He" in the figurative sense since I did not know if it were male or female) did not move, nor did he scream again.  The creature kept staring at me as if transfixed by me.  I don't know how long I stood there.  Maybe five minutes or a bit longer.  But, he screamed as loud as he ever has and then disappeared into the swampy area.  I got inside before my parents noticed I was not in my bed.

Everyone in the apartment complex eventually left due to the constant screaming.  The apartment owner tried to convince people that the screaming would end soon (which tells me he had heard this previously).  As it turns out, we were the last remaining family in the entire complex of 24 apartments, both levels, by the first week in August.  Even my Dad, who had said we could not afford to leave, was contemplating going to another construction job somewhere else.  But, it would be hard on us.  We would probably have to live in the van if we left now.  The screaming continued each night, mercilessly.

One night,  about the 2AM time when the creature would begin screaming, I decided to do what I swore I would not do to Shirley (who I missed very much).  I decided to walk the 150 yards or so and try to speak to this creature.  I realize that sounds impossibly stupid to you, dear reader.  But, we were in bad financial straits and could not afford to really leave this area just yet.  I walked out to within 50 yards of the area where I last saw this creature.  I was so scared, so very vulnerable.  I spoke to it..."Please...I beg of you, please stop your screaming.  It is disturbing so many and scaring so many people.  Whatever you are, if you have any compassion in your heart...you will move on somewhere else now.  My family is poor like you are.  You are causing so much harm.  Please stop.  I plead with you."  I will remember those words for the rest of my life.  I spoke from the heart that night.  Probably the only time I spoke more passionately was on the day I married Tom when I gave my wedding vows.

 I saw or heard nothing at first.  Then...slowly, ever so slowly, something moved from beyond the shadows.  It was the creature.  Even from approximately 50 yards, it had an odor that is simply, to this day, indescribable. I gagged for a few seconds it was so bad. Under the brightly moon-lit night, I could make it out quite well.  It was just simply HUGE.  But, for whatever reason, I did not feel threatened by this thing.  It did have yellowish eyes.  This creature could have easily snatched me up and ran away with me, never to be found again.  But, it made no threatening moves at all.  All it did was look at me.  I did not speak.  I just got the feeling it wanted contact with something, anything.  No, I wasn't going to go up to it and ask it to come to the house for breakfast.  But, I could sense immense loneliness from this creature.  Eventually, it turned to leave.  But, not before it turned back to look at me one last time. Then, with amazing speed and grace, it disappeared into the swamp.

From that night/day onward, we did not hear any further screams from this creature, this swamp monster.  It could have easily killed me with one quick thrust from it's massive hands.  But, it did not do so.  The creature made no threatening gestures toward me at all.  Did it understand me?  Did it make sense of my plea?  Did it take pity upon us?  I have to answer all three questions in the affirmative.   I don't know how else to explain this.  But, this creature, this Arkansas swamp monster did, at least on a basic level, understand my plea.  There were no further screams from it until my Dad's construction job played out in March of 1984.  People started coming back to the apartment complex.  My dear friend Shirley was not one of them, unfortunately.  My dad did hear from people that this creature could have been the Arkansas Fouke Monster.  I don't know.  I don't even like to call it a monster any longer.  I never told my parents what I did that night.  They would have grounded me until I was 30 if I had.  I eventually told my brother years later.  He told me I was insane.  He was probably right.

In 2005, I had to go to Little Rock, Arkansas for a seminar.  As you can probably surmise, I just had to go to Pine Bluff.  The apartment complex is no more.  In fact, there is virtually nothing on that site where we once had many sleepless nights due to the screams of the creature.  I looked out where I stood over 20 years ago that night.  I wondered if the creature was there...looking for me to come back, if only for a little while.

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