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In Thessaloniki

September 2004

This is not a ghost story, though no less strange. It is my contribution, having read "Twilight Zone in West Virginia" under the August 2004 listing:

A number of years ago, my father was transferred to Thessaloniki, Greece. The move was rather sudden, so though I was to study at the Pinewood American School in Pilea, the best place his company could get us was at an apartment complex almost an hour's drive away, somewhere in the boonies. After a few months, they were able to get us more suitable accommodation in Panorama, a bare 15 minute drive from the school.

I remember one Saturday morning (about two weeks after moving in) finding myself bored to tears. The only friends I had were those I made at school, as I couldn't speak Greek & most of my neighbours (though very friendly) couldn't speak English, hence, playing with them was quite awkward. That morning, I wouldn't have minded the inconvenience, save that Greek kids take mandatory military education on Saturday mornings. To top it all off, my parents couldn't drive me to some friend's house that day, so I stormed out of the house after breakfast in a huff.

I decided to take a walk, not minding where I went. After about 10 to 15 mins of this, I suddenly took stock of my surroundings & found myself in the woods. I did not find this strange, as I was still getting to know my neighbourhood; besides, I was still on a sidewalk on a well paved road. I remember thinking something like: "Wow! I didn't know there were woods in this area! Rather like the one we just left behind!"

After a bit, I found it strange that I didn't see anyone at all, nor other buildings or cars. Panorama is a district of Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city, you see, but what did I know? I thought about turning back, but as I was still cross with my parents, I decided to keep going. "Let them worry," the perverse part of my then immature mind thought.

Following the road which seemed more & more familiar ("thank God! I' NOT lost!" I thought), I followed a bend & found myself shocked to see the apartment we'd just vacated. I remember standing there probably looking rather stupid, I imagine, when I realized its probably just ANOTHER building that looks identical to the one we'd occupied? modern, cookie cutter architecture & all that, you see.

Just as my heart was settling down, it goes into overdrive again when one of my English speaking ex-neighbours, comes out, sees me & calls out, asking what I was doing back! To make a long story short, she takes me to her apartment, calls my parents & they refuse to believe I'm back at the old apartment, especially since barely an hour had passed. Finally convinced I was there, they had to send someone out to pick me up & drive me back to Panorama, almost two hours both ways.

To this day, they still ask me how I managed to pull that one off. No one believes I was able to walk that distance, convinced I probably hitched a ride with someone & somehow got to the old apartment in under an hour.

I (half) jokingly refer to that incident as my "Warp Speed on Foot Day".

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