It all started with a search for the Devil's Hole.
In case you didn't know, the aforementioned cave is a 125 foot vertical drop in what we used to call the Burger Mountain.
It's much too dangerous for rank amateurs to explore, but we started out looking for it one cool fall day in the recent past.
So we found it, considered it and soon drove away looking for other adventures in the Short Mountain part of Cannon County.
It was a good thing we were riding in a four-wheel-drive vehicle because we soon found ourselves crawling up a narrow dirt road that led to a lane that almost dropped out of sight.
No, it wasn't Parchcorn. The hollow was deeper and quieter and didn't seem _ at first _ to be inhabited. No power lines, no telephone poles, this place was isolated and seemed perfect for a roadside picnic.
Time seemed to slip away as I soaked my feet in an icy stream that ran besides the old dirt road. In fact, the road was little more than a wide path and looked like decades had passed since the last vehicle passed this way.
I was quietly eating a ham and cheese sandwich while my thoughts drifted miles away, when my wife elbowed me. The subtle jab got my attention and I looked up and saw her looking wide-eyed down the little lane. There stood a ramshackle old house next to the shambles of an old barn.
It almost looked like people were there … a man, a woman and a cluster of little kids. The light down in that deep hollow was dim and it was almost like the early evening. Twilight it seemed, but my watch told me it was only 3 p.m.
The children, the oldest couldn't have been more than 8 years old, seemed to be playing. They grabbed each other's hand and began to dance in a circle almost like the old "ring around rosy" game. They appeared to be singing as they merrily danced, but we could hear no words. Maybe we weren't close enough?
Quietly, we inched closer and it almost seemed that we could hear words "they all fall down" whispering in our ears as the children seemed to laugh and tumble on the ground. Suddenly, the "father" of the little group ran forward swinging his arms. He seemed to cover his ears with his hands and his face was contorted with a grimace. We couldn't hear him, but those pale kids could. They stood up and started running away.
My eyes were straining, but it seemed the father had a big butcher knife in his hand.
His wife ran toward him, her arms raised in surrender, but he slashed at her, again and again. She fell to the ground as the children ran in obvious fear. But it was still unearthly quiet. It seemed that time was almost standing still as I watched the horrific scene unfold before my very eyes as the man chased the children with that bloody knife.
One, after another, they fell and almost seemed to disappear.
Then suddenly, the last child ran toward us. Were we to be next? I stood there, frozen in fear. The child….I could see the horror in his eyes…ran right toward me and then suddenly through me. He was a specter….a ghost…and so was his father who dissipated yards away. I could feel myself screaming as my wife shook me … awake. It was all a horrible dream.
A smile wreathed her face as her laughter broke the doom. "You having a nightmare?" she asked.
"I, uh, ah….it must have been. You're not going to believe this one," I told her.
I, uh, ah….it must have been. You're not going to believe this one," I told her.
"Spare me the details. Let's find out where this trail ends," she grinned.
Eventually we did. All I know is that we ended up in Smithville as the sun was setting.