11/30/2015

Scarecrow at Murdoch Cornfield










Today we are pleased to present Gerald Florshan as our guest poster on the topic of the paranormal/supernatural.  Gerald has been happily married to Betty Florshan for the past 41 years.  The couple have four sons, ages 38, 35, 33 and 30.  Gerald is a retired employee from a chemical company in central Iowa.  His hobbies consist of genealogy, wood sculpting, reading and doing work with the church in his area.  Gerald is also a big fan of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes of which, all four sons attended and graduated.

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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I grew up and have lived my entire life in the central part of Iowa.  Some call it God's Country.  I just call it home.  If you love cornfields, Iowa is the place for you.  Don't settle for that cheap corn they have in that forsaken place called Nebraska.  Cornfields are common a sight here as lakes are in Minnesota and wheat fields in Kansas.  Miles and miles of nothing but cornfields in Iowa.  What is also common in those cornfields are scarecrows.  For the most part, scarecrows do serve as a way to deter crows and other scavengers.  But, I can't tell you the number of times I have personally witnessed crows just sitting on the "arms" of scarecrows just whiling away the day.  However, they do usually work.  In fact, some scarecrows work too well.  Hence, the basis of my story...

We moved to a nice home out in the farming country of Iowa.  Hell, all of Iowa is basically farming country.  But, this was really out there.  I was all of 6 years old when my mom and dad moved out to this small, but quaint little home.  My father was an interstate trucker and stayed gone most of the time.   His visits were brief, but always a joyous occasion for both mom and me.  As it turns out, I never had any other siblings.  Mom had a girl that was stillborn when I was only 3 years old.  My parents avoided that subject like the plague.  It was just too painful for them.

As the years rolled by, I grew accustomed to country life and the nice people that you meet there.  One of those people was Mr. Murdoch.  Mr. Murdoch had a farm of cornfield after cornfield, sheep, cows, pigs and so forth.  He was one of the few wealthy farmers I had ever met.  Mr. Murdoch was also an extremely nice man.  He was great to my mom and me when dad was on those long-distance hauls.  He always told dad he'd "look in on us" to make sure everything was okay.  I think he visited us mostly because he was enamored with my mom who was a real beauty back in the day.  A bit more on that later.

At age 12, I no longer had to take the bus to go to an elementary school 10 miles away.  I was now in walking distance of the junior high school (or middle school as it is commonly referred to nowadays) as a lean, mean 7th grader.  I only had to walk about 2 miles down a dirt road to my school.  I was tall for 12 years old and had long legs.  So, that 2 mile walk was nothing to me.  Sometimes, Mr. Murdoch or another neighbor would give me a lift to school.  Most times, I just enjoyed the walk.  The dirt road encompassed one of the many cornfields owned by Mr. Murdoch.  It was at the midway point of this walk when I would see one of Mr. Murdoch's many scarecrows.  THE Scarecrow, as I frequently would refer to it.  This particular scarecrow was just...different.  The other scarecrows didn't bother me in the least.  But, I got the distinct feeling this scarecrow was staring at me as I passed by.  Sometimes, I would look over my should to get another look.  It seemed as if it also had partially turned its head to take another look at me.   I would look again and it was looking straight ahead as it normally would do.  I know it sounds ridiculous.  But, it seemed this scarecrow was alive.  I got to the point, I dreaded my walk due to this one particular scarecrow on Mr. Murdoch's Farm.  I looked for alternative routes to school.  There were none that I could find.  I could walk through other cornfields of other farmers.  But, while most farmers are friendly folks, they would want an explanation of why I was walking through their cornfields instead of taking the dirt road to school.

I need to describe this scarecrow.  For starters, it had the pumpkin cutout, for a head, that you see on Halloween. Over time, that pumpkin head would shrink, making it even scarier looking.  Mr. Murdoch was known for his sense of humor.  He said this worked better than a long, floppy hat on a ball of straw.  There was an old overcoat on the scarecrow, with the coat arms covering up the sticks.  It was spooky looking.  I thought that the way it looked was making me have delusions. I was wrong about that.  I was not delusional at all.  This thing was not shifting in the wind.  It was not "settling in" on support beams.  This thing had movement.

One cold November morning, it was still dark as I walked on the dirt road to my school.  I knew Mr. Scarecrow would be dead ahead.  I was scared, damned scared.  As I approached the midway point, I noticed the scarecrow was not on his usual perch.  Relief just washed over me.  Perhaps Mr. Murdoch had grown tired of it or had no use for it.  I thought, why didn't I just tell Mr. Murdoch he didn't need a scarecrow that close to the road anyway.  As that thought crossed my mind, I saw the scarecrow.  It was sitting about 10 feet from it's perch looking my way.  I stopped dead in my tracks.  I've been scared in my life many times.  But, I was never more scared than I was that moment as a 12 year old.  I could not decide what to do.  Continue on to school past this damn demon from hell or turn around and lie to mom about a sore throat.  Mom already had enough problems to cope with and didn't need the added worry of a "sick" child.  It was dark, even at 7AM, it was like midnight in November.  As I steadily and hurriedly walked past the scarecrow, I breathed a deep sigh of relief.  I did that just a second too soon. "What's wrong, sonny boy?  Cat got your tongue hee hee heeeee?"  I instantly froze.   I slowly turned around and looked at the back of the scarecrow.  "Come on back and let's chat a while.  I'm just here all alone with nothing else to do."  I turned and ran toward the school as fast as I've ever run in my entire life.  I was out of breath.  I doubt I ran that last mile under 4 minutes.  But, I bet I came damn close.

I was in a daze most of that day as a result.  My math teacher asked me if I was okay.  I told her I didn't feel good, but I felt I could make it through the day.  Once I got home, I had to tell mom, at long last, about THE Scarecrow in Mr. Murdoch's cornfield.  After I told her the story, I was waiting for her to either laugh or give me an understanding, but firm talk.  I got neither.  She just looked at me with those big beautiful blue eyes my mom had, with her arms crossed and a wisp of her red hair falling down across her forehead.  "I've noticed something unusual about that scarecrow also, Gerald.  When Henry takes me to the vegetable stand in his little blue truck, I've noticed that thing kind of twist its head to look at me," my mother said.  I learned two things right away.  I learned what Mr. Murdoch's first name was.  I learned that mom and Mr. Murdoch went to places together.  But, that didn't interest me at the time.  "Mom, he spoke to me this morning.  I know how this sounds.  But, this thing did speak to me.  I'm scared," I told my mother.  My mother looked at me a bit concerned now.  I didn't know if mom was just humoring me or if she was being serious.  "Did it make any threatening words to you, sweetheart?," mom asked.  I told her no.  My mother assured me that she would ask "Hen...aaah, Mr. Murdoch to do something with the scarecrow.  That thing is scaring you and me both."  When my mom said she was going to do something, she did it.  She sealed her promise with a big smile and a kiss.

The next morning, the scarecrow was up at its usual perch on the support beams.  I stopped and looked at it.  I was so scared, I was about to pee in my pants.   Mr. Murdoch was supposed to take the damn scarecrow down!  I walked slowly toward THE Scarecrow.  It appeared especially sinister looking this cold, dark morning.  I could hear my feet cracking the frozen ground as I walked up toward it.  "YOU LITTLE SONOFABITCH!!! HAVE ME TAKEN DOWN, YOU LITTLE SHIT? I'LL TAKE YOU DOWN INTO THE BOWELS OF HELL WITH ME!, the scarecrow screamed at me with such venom and hate!  It jumped down off its perch and started coming toward me.  I threw down my notebooks and ran as hard as I could back home.  I heard something behind me....IT WAS THE SCARECROW AND HE WAS GAINING ON ME.  "MOM!!!! MOM!!!  HELP ME!!!  HELP ME!!!" I screamed at the top of my lungs.  My mother heard me, in the dark, in the cold, she heard me.  Out she came out of our home and she saw in the moonlight what was chasing me.  "GET THE HELL AWAY FROM MY CHILD YOU DEMON FROM HELL!!!  YOU CAN'T HARM ME OR MY BLOOD ANY LONGER!  BE GONE NOW!" my mom roared at the scarecrow.  The Scarecrow saw my mom, roared back at her and then just ran back down the road from whence it came.  But, mom then yelled something unintelligible (at least to me) at the scarecrow.  To this day, I don't know what she said or what language (if, indeed, it was a language) that was used by her.  It appeared to do the trick.  The Scarecrow hauled ass back down the road.

It took the rest of that day for both me and my mom to calm down.  I was almost in a catatonic state.  Mom said some words in a language I, again, did not recognize.  But, it seemed to calm me down and her as well.  My mother seemed to know what it was that was chasing me.  I asked her about that.  She dismissed it as just her recognizing evil.  And that scarecrow was evil.  I didn't buy that at the time.  I still don't.  There was more to this than mom was letting me know.  Was my mom some kind of witch or something?  She always had a "way" about her.  My mother was just different.  Whenever I got very sick, I would hear those strange words again.  In just a few minutes, I was much better.

That night, as I lay in bed, I heard mom talking on the phone.  I had to get up to listen. "...you know damn well what I'm talking about, Henry.  That Voo Doo woman is the cause of all this.  I warned you about her.  But, no, you didn't listen.  Now, burn that damn scarecrow witch doll with the potions you have now....you'll do it or you won't get any more from me....oh, I think you know what I'm talking about, Henry.  You won't be getting any nookie until you do as I tell you to do.  End of story.  Now, do it."   I was only 12 years old.  But, I knew what was going on now between mom and Mr. Murdoch.  I knew what "nookie" meant also.  I suddenly felt sorry for my dad.  But, he probably knew mom got lonely.

As I got up for school the next morning, mom told me she was going to walk me to school that morning.  I told her she would have to walk back that two miles also.  She said Mr. Duncan, who owned the general store a few miles from us, would be there to drive her back home.  It seems that mom was spreading her wings, as it were.  But, she was a beauty and knew the effect she had on men in order to get what she wanted. As we started our walk toward school and, hopefully, a missing scarecrow, she told me there was no need to tell anyone what we witnessed with the scarecrow, especially dad.  I asked her why she wanted to keep all this a secret.  She told me that a lot of people in the "natural world" don't believe in evil spirits and the occult.   I didn't quite understand that.  But, I did as mom told me....until I got married and told my wife all about that time at Mr. Murdoch's farm.  We made it to the midway point, and as expected, the scarecrow was gone.  Even the support beams were gone.  I guess the threat of "nookie" (or lack of getting it) was enough to get Mr. Murdoch's attention.  We made small talk the rest of the way to school and, sure enough, Mr. Duncan was there waiting on mom. I also noticed our kitchen had more groceries than usual that day when I got home from school.

I loved my mom, warts and all.  By no means was she perfect.  But, she loved me with a ferocity that was overwhelming at times. Was she into witchcraft, or possibly Voo Doo?  Maybe.  It didn't matter at the time.  When something from that world reached out to cause harm to her baby, she reacted as any mother would when her "blood" was threatened. Mom's claws came out and she would defend me to the death. She always showed she loved me more than anything on earth.  She proved it not only that day "The Scarecrow" gave chase to me, but for the rest of her life until she passed away at age 85.

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11/16/2015

Near Death Experience











Today we are pleased to present William J. Bartean as our guest poster on the topic of the paranormal/supernatural.  Born and raised in Austin, Texas,  William is a 54-year-old microbiologist with undergrad and postgraduate degrees in Microbiology from a New England university.  William has been divorced for the past eight years, with four wonderful children, three handsome sons, and one beautiful daughter.  In William's spare time he devotes himself to such endeavors as golf, skeet shooting, tennis, jogging, rock hunting and participating in Regenerative Farming with Planetsave, in an effort to combat Global Warming. 

 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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To begin, I must say to one and all, that I have not ever believed in the paranormal or in any type of supernatural phenomena.   I have been an avowed atheist for as far back as I could hold a cognitive thought process.  I was never allowed to believe in Santa Claus, the tooth fairy or any other childhood nonsense.  So, from the very beginning, my perception of life was colored by my parent's way of thinking.  This being said I did find it remarkable that so many people believed in a supreme being who is creator over all (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary) in this universe. That's as far as I will go in my proselytizing as I promised the owners of this blog.

What also puzzled me is why are there so many people who believe in an afterlife or a Heaven, as it were.  Again, I considered the very notion of afterlife absurd.   Eight years ago, my entire perception went about a fundamental change (which I will get to in a moment).   Oh, I can't say to you I believe in a supreme being, Heaven....but, the subject of an afterlife has caused me to carefully weigh my teachings, my very work as a researcher.  I know there are those who say that death causes the brain to undergo certain chemical changes to induce people into believing they see a bright light, long dead relatives and so forth.  I am at a crossroads on this issue.  But, let me begin my story.....

In October of 2007, I had just completed the paperwork on my divorce to my wife of 27 years.  We were in the 90 day period of waiting before it went into effect.  I was devastated.  I was unable to concentrate on my work, I was not eating well and was losing weight (that's about the only good thing about a divorce).  I decided I needed some time away from work, family, and friends.  So, I decided to take a month off despite the protests of my superiors who warned me I might not have a job when I came back.  I told them I was more than willing to take that risk.  But, I knew that they would never do that.  I'm too valuable to them even if I do say so myself.   So, I packed as many belongings as I could get in my 2004 Jeep Liberty and took off from my quaint New England home.  I had no real destination in mind.  I was just going to go as far west as I could go.  Hell, I might even write a book about my adventures!  Things never quite turn out the way you want them to in life.

I took off on a Sunday morning from my home and decided to make my way to Davenport, Iowa where one of my best friends from college had given me an open invitation to stay with him and his wife.  So, off I went.  I was in no hurry.  I would drive about 4 or 5 hours and then explore wherever I was on I-90.  As it just so happens, I noticed this incredible rock formation on the third day of my journey in northern Indiana.  Those rock formations appeared to be prehistoric.  I just had to stop.  I got my handy rock hammer, steel brush and started looking around.  After about an hour, I decided it was nothing there that would warrant any further analysis.  So, after taking a couple of samples, I put my tools away and got back in my Jeep.  I noticed traffic had picked up on the interstate since I had been rock hunting (one of my hobbies).  I was going to have a hard time getting back on the interstate and into the flow of traffic.

I remember getting into the merge lane and no one was letting me merge back onto the interstate.  I was pissed!  I found myself driving on the emergency lane now still trying to get back on the interstate.  I was concentrating on the driver-side mirror and felt myself going down a slope. I was probably doing about 55MPH.  It was too late to stop in time for the parked semi-tractor trailer.  The last thing I remember was a loud WHOOSH, like a large gust of wind, had hit me.  I didn't feel any pain,  Everything around me was totally black and silent.  I had no idea where I was.  I just knew I was not on I-90.  I'm thinking...."This must be death...I'm dead."  But, I knew that was not possible.  Dead men don't think or even dream.  I think, therefore, I am.  I still had my sense of humor.  So, reasoning told me I was still alive.  But, where was I?  The total darkness began to give way to a tiny dot of light above me.  The tiny light began to lighten everything around me.  It still was not like daylight.  But, I could see.  It was like wearing dark sunglasses in the sun.  It was about that much light.  In front of me was a building.  I noticed I was standing up.  Before the light, I did not know if I was sitting, laying or standing.  So, I started walking to the building.  It was a sort of plain, concrete building that you see in industrial complexes all over the country.  As I was walking, I noticed there was an echo from my steps.  This scared me for some reason.

The building had no parking lot.  It was just a very fine grain of sand, not unlike what you would find at any of the white beaches in Florida.  I remember opening the door and walking inside.  There was a spiral staircase and a desk like what a receptionist would have to greet visitors.  But, there was no one around.  "HELLO!" I yelled.  It was an immediate echo right back.  Suddenly, without any warning, I was once again surrounded by total blackness.  This time, I felt my body moving at an incredible rate of speed!  I don't know how long this lasted.  But, I suddenly found myself laying down in an open field.  The sky was an incredible blue, more beautiful than any other blue sky I've seen in my life.  There was a mild temperature.  A light breeze was blowing.  This seemed real to me, unlike the building with the echoes.  I stood up, looked around and saw only a smattering of trees to my right.  I was in a field of maybe knee-high grain that seemed to whistle with the light breeze.  I slowly looked around.  There was nothing to see.  I remember I decided to walk in the direction of the trees.  They appeared to be about a mile away.  But, no matter how much I walked, I didn't seem to be going anywhere.  I was frustrated beyond words.  "Where am I?  What do you want with me," I asked fervently to the blue sky above.  Nothing in reply.  I pinched myself to make sure I was real.  I felt the pinch, but there was no pain.  Just a slight pressure.  "Yes, you are real.  And, you are in a real place, William," said a voice completely out of nowhere.

I know this sounds like all the other proverbial stories of an afterlife.  The man in a white robe, and a white beard floating toward you.  That's exactly what happened. It's almost a cliche.  But, that is what I saw before me.  Now, I was really scared.  He came to a stop approximately 10 feet in front of me.  "Am I dead?  Is this Heaven?" I asked the long-robed man (whose feet didn't seem to even touch the ground).  The white-robed man looked at me with an amused look on his face.  "Heaven?  How can you be in a place in which you do not believe, William?"  I really hate people answering a question with another question.  But, decided I was in no position to bring that up.  "I don't know where I am.  I'm scared and I'm alone.  Please help me. Please", I pleaded with the white robed man. I started sobbing.  I don't remember the last time I truly cried.  "There, there William.  You have nothing to fear.  You are in no danger. In fact, you are about to go back to your life soon enough.  But, you are in a sort of weigh station of life right now.  I want to remind you that Man doesn't have all the answers to the vast universe as you and others of your persuasion seem to think.  Man has this idea that his answers are absolutes. You are babes lost in the wilderness of ignorance. You know as much as an infant child, maybe less in some respects.  Just remember this....open your mind to other possibilities, William.  Now, I've done as I was told to do. The rest is up to you."  After saying this, the man in the white robe gave me a kindly smile and faded away into nothing.  What I typed above is what he said as best as I can remember.  I think I got the gist of it, regardless.

After the man in the white robe vanished, I thought sure I was going to wake up from this dream or nightmare.  I was wrong.  I stood there for a length of time of which I'm still not sure how long it really lasted.  So, being the impatient man I am, I asked, "Okay, what's next?  Is this all there is?  Is this my eternity now, to spend it here in this cow pasture?"  Those were the wrong questions to ask.  Upon that last question, the wind picked up quickly, very quickly.  I was now in the middle of the pasture with gale force winds.  The blue sky, that was so pristine and beautiful, now was dark, foreboding with rumbling clouds rolling.  I was very afraid, very confused now.  The wind was so powerful now that I was in danger of being blown away completely.  Eventually, that is exactly what happened as I had nothing to hold onto to prevent myself from going airborne.  As I'm flying through the air, I screamed out, "Is this all you got?  You can't do any better?"  I got my answer on that one also.  The wind died down completely, and I started falling.  I was falling so fast until my eyelids would not stay shut.  I tried to scream, and nothing came out.  I felt as if my body was going to be ripped apart by the speed I was approaching.  Then, I came to an abrupt stop in an evil, sinister darkness.  Looking around, I saw distant fires and heard screams pleading for mercy.  I felt an intense heat of which I have never felt before.  It was unbearable.  I thought to myself, "Is this what religions refer to as hell?"  I was completely ignorant about what the various regions believed due to my parents refusing to let me read the Christian bible or any other religious documents. Yes, I tried reading the bible and other religious literature. I just couldn't get interested

I felt as if my flesh would melt right off me.  I knew I would not be able to stand this for very long.  I too began to ask for mercy, for a reprieve from this godforsaken land of hell-fire.   I received no answer this time.  I tried walking on the slippery rock and gravel that was before me now.  I slipped and remember feeling tremendous pain and heat in my left knee.  I got up and tried walking again, only to fall onto my left knee again.  The pain was more than I could take.  I was now screaming, screaming for all I was worth.  It was a scream of outrage, of horror and despair.  I remember screaming, crying and asking for mercy from someone, from something.  Anything.  Finally, I said something I thought I would never say, "God...please help me. Deliver me from this horror." 

My next conscious thought was looking up at some florescent lights that were above me.  I was in, what appeared to me, a recovery room.  I had a tight plastic wrap around my chest, my right arm was in a splint, I was able to move my left hand and felt another huge wrap around my head.  I tried moving my right leg only to discover my foot was heavily wrapped as well.  My left leg was very painful, but I could move it.  As it turns out, I had suffered head trauma and other injuries so severe, I had been placed in a medically induced coma for 36 hours.  The physicians thought I would most likely have brain damage.  I had a broken right ankle and foot.  I had a crushed sternum, two broken ribs and a dislocated right shoulder.  That doesn't take into account all the contusions and cuts I had.  I was told when I regained consciousness my chances of surviving this were still about 50/50.  Four weeks later, I amazed everyone by sitting up in my bed to eat solid food.  All in all, I was in the hospital for six weeks and in rehab for three months.  I endured five more surgeries to my shattered right ankle, foot and to my sternum over the next three years.  I still go in to see doctors about pain in both legs.  I have dizzy spells and probably will for the rest of my life.  Doctors are amazed I'm alive.  Quite frankly, so am I.

As I was leaving the hospital for my journey to the rehab center near my home, one doctor came up to me to ask a question.  "William, do you remember a fire of any type breaking out in the car upon impact with the tractor-trailer rig?," he asked.  I told him the last thing I remember was seeing the semi and knowing there was no way I was going to avoid hitting it.  He said there was no report of fire breaking out when I hit the semi.  The doctor further stated he was one of the doctors who evaluated me when I was brought unconscious into the ER.  One of the things he noticed was that I had a third-degree burn on my left knee about the size of a baseball.  When he came back to check me out post-op, the burn was virtually gone.  He had never seen any kind of burn fade that quickly.  A third-degree healing time is much longer, at least three weeks, he said.  I told him he must be mistaken.  No one had mentioned anything about me having a burn.  He shrugged and walked off.

Of course, I had an idea why my left knee was burned as I already stated.  But, I did not want to talk about my experience and it was an experience.  I do not now believe it was a dream or nightmare.  Do I believe I was in hell?  I don't know how to answer this.  I know all my education and training teaches me that God, Heaven, an afterlife is for the simpletons of the world.  I also know what I experienced and I will go to my grave believing it was all real.  It was all too real.  So, I am on a journey of discovery, much the way I am as a microbiologist.  I collect samples, weigh evidence and reach conclusions based on what I learn.  I'm doing presently the same thing in my search for evidence of an afterlife.  My Near Death Experience (NDE) was my first bit of tantalizing evidence.  I am continuing my journey into the unknown even now.

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