A Visit from A Spectre In the Marsh
Richard Hess, PA, USA
It was about ten years ago, but the vision remains very clear in my mind.
It was a late Friday night towards the end of September or the beginning of October. The exact date is unimportant. Days before, my girlfriend and I had planned on going to the shore for the weekend. My parents always made their summer home available to us. Although the summer was indeed over, Jill and I both still loved the shore during the off season, for its peacefulness and tranquility.
Unexpectedly, my friend Tommy had called on Friday afternoon and asked if he might "hop" a ride with me that evening, as his girlfriend would be down there with her family, albeit in a neighboring town. I assured him that it would be no problem at all. The actual travel time would be about two and one half-hours, about one half hour longer since Tommy would be aboard.
Jill, upon us picking up Tommy, had insisted that he sit in the front passenger seat. "I am tired anyway," she said. "I will almost definitely fall asleep." And fall asleep she did. We were in the last leg of our journey. Tommy's destination was in fact past my folks' house. We passed through the town of N. Cape May, and onto a throughway that actually cut directly through a number of marshes and back- bays near the southern most tip of New Jersey. We were headed for a small town called Wildwood Crest.
The conversation had kept up the entire drive. Tommy and I always had much to talk about. But now, with midnight fast approaching, and Jill conked out in the back seat, we both clearly became somewhat quieter, and we both craved a soft, warm bed and a good night's sleep. With the dark, quiet throughway ending and "the Crest," as it was called, fast approaching, a night's slumber was becoming much more of a reality.
But on this night, before the blackness of the connector road emerged into the quaint summer-residential town, we were paid a visit from a mysterious pedestrian, who came out of nowhere; out of the darkness.
The road was pitch black. The headlights, providing the darkness' only contrast, shined only a couple of feet in front of the car. Of course, with no other traffic around I was driving quite fast; probably fifty to sixty miles per hour. The next thing Tommy and I witnessed was very abnormal. Just at the edge of the headlights' glow, where illumination and darkness met, a boy, perhaps in his early teens, stood staring at us. He came out of nowhere and he was totally emotionless. No fear, no humor, no desperation, no nothing. He just stared at us expressionless. What we saw next did not happen in what might be called a normal visual sequence. Instead it appeared to be a series of about eight to ten still shots delivered to our consciousness in very rapid succession. Almost like a quick sideshow presentation. Very quick.
The boy next appeared right at the bumper. His hair was a dirty blond color and somewhat unkempt. His clothes were plain: faded blue jeans, old sneakers and a bluish, long-sleeved, button-down shirt, quite worn. He was then up in the air slightly, leaning toward the windshield at a similar angle. He was then parallel to the road. This was the last time I saw his face. This was the last time I saw his eyes. He remained void of any expression, any emotion. He eyes were somewhat sunken and sullen and they pierced my eyes hauntingly. My final vision of the boy, of this specter, was from my rear view mirror. His face and features were now black, from the darkness and lack of light. He stood normally, facing the rear of my car as it continued onward in the same direction. I looked back at the road in front of me and then back in my rear view mirror, but he was gone.
Tommy and I just simply looked at each other in the din of the car's front seat, our eyes bulging open wide with both fear and amazement, and simultaneously asked, "What the --- was that?"
Jill woke up from the noise and excitement, but was not really enthralled with the story. Tommy and I, to this day, have a sort of understanding, that if you hadn't witnessed this firsthand, you really would never be able to do the story justice.