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Something Broke Up Our Date

Katharine, CA, USA
January 2003

What I am about to explain is something my boyfriend and I experienced a little over a year ago.

I was enjoying my summer vacation after finishing my freshman year in college, and he was working part-time. In early July of 2001, we had been together for almost a year and, as we are both nature fans, we loved taking long walks and hikes together. I say "loved" in the past tense because one particular adventure changed all that.

I had decided it would be romantic if I gave him a tour of my old elementary school, Chatsworth Hills Academy. We all call it "C.H.A." for short. It was built over a Chumash Indian campsite, which was also used as their burial ground. It's a beautiful location up in the desert hills, right next to a sulphur spring (which is why the natives chose the spot). To this day there are still rock paintings on the boulders behind the third grade classrooms, and every so often a child will find an arrowhead, or other artifacts, while digging around in the sandbox on the playground. The campus buildings are trailer rooms because the founders of the school decided against digging into the sacred ground, as it would have been disrespectful to the Chumash tribe.

This lovely and historic place was a colorful backdrop to my education as a child. But at the same time, it has always had an odd energy about it. Perhaps I ought to give some past examples of that energy before I relate this most recent tale...

I remember that in the first grade my best friend, Kia, told me that she'd discovered something special about the large tree that loomed over the sandbox. Namely, she said that "he" had begun to talk. She, along with a handful of other young classmates who had heard it as well, dubbed the tree "Mr. Yackety" (as in "yackety yak, don't talk back") because it seemed to grumble at them when they got too close for its liking. I myself believed what I was told -- being six years old at the time and afraid of my own shadow, I figured it would be unwise to test the warnings of the other children, so I was never bold enough to approach Mr. Yackety alone.

I can also recall one frightening afternoon in 1991 (the third grade), when a large group of other girls decided that they were going to play "Bloody Mary" in the bathroom during our lunchtime. Again, being faint of heart at that time, I was the only girl in the class who did not go along with this. On the off-chance that the game might actually conjure a spirit, I opted to remain outside, in the safety of the sunny playground. But I kept watch for teachers while all the others crept into the bathroom.

About 15 minutes later I heard all of them screaming in terror, and saw them race back out the bathroom door. None of them would tell me what had happened until finally, after lunch was over, one of the girls spoke to me about it. Her name was Lindsay, and it just so happened that her desk was next to mine in class. She leaned over during a reading assignment and whispered to me, "We saw Bloody Mary! She showed up and she was mad! She tried to break the mirror and come into the room to get us!" And she would say nothing more than that, no matter how I pressed her.

Now, looking back, it may have been that since they were excited and were hoping to see something, they had mistaken one of their own reflections -- or a trick of light coming through the one bathroom window -- for a ghostly apparition. But being a bunch of third graders, we didn't question such things. Bloody Mary or not, all of us kids agreed that our little school was the center of a connection to something beyond what the grown-ups deemed "realistic." Our teachers had told us about the Chumash people who had lived there long ago, and my best friend and I had always wondered what we would see if we were ever at school in the dark of night. Did the ghosts of Indian braves emerge when no one was around to see them?

This was the unique environment in which I lived and learned from kindergarten until the end of fifth grade. During that time I never had the chance to stay there late, so the spiritual goings-on of the campus remained a mystery. Kia never made any midnight ventures there either.

Fast forward to one fateful night in July 2001. Shame on me for not writing this down immediately after it happened -- for I can recall everything about it except the precise date. I do remember that it was a Wednesday, because Josh, my boyfriend, had to close the store where he worked on Wednesday nights. He gave me a call on this particular evening and told me he was off. He had just closed the store and dropped off the deposit, and wanted to know if I'd eaten yet. I told him I hadn't, so he stopped at a nearby Taco Bell and bought dinner for both of us before coming to my house. It was about 10:00 pm when he arrived.

We took our tacos to the park near my house and had a nice picnic there under the stars. After eating we sat there and chatted for over an hour, then decided that we wanted to go walking. But where?

I remembered that C.H.A. was a beautiful place, and that he had never seen it before although I had described it to him many times. I also knew that there was no security there whatsoever -- having been a student there as a young girl, and having driven by it at night in later years, I had seen that the campus gate was always wide open, with no sign of guards or alarms anywhere. It would be easy for us to sneak in and out without being questioned.

So we got in his car and drove up to the campus gate just before midnight. Sure enough, it was open, and when we drove into the parking lot we found it completely empty. We parked the car and got out to take our stroll.

There was no moon that night, so the only light we had came from a single pair of floodlights that had been attached to one of the trees by the soccer field. Because I remembered the lay of the land so well, I had not brought flashlights or anything else for us to carry. This is important to remember.

The place was noisy at the time because the sprinkler system was watering the soccer field. Near that field is a frog pond as well, and the frogs -- who are always lively -- were ribbeting and croaking away. This, also, is important to remember.

Well, Josh and I walked through the dark, hand in hand, and even with the limited amount of light I could point out what had been my classrooms, the cafeteria, the music building and computer lab, and some of my favorite places to play. After a while of this we got tired of walking about, and did something that, in retrospect, was probably not very intelligent. We decided to head back to the car and have a little fun, if you know what I mean.

We didn't get caught by anyone or anything... at least, not right away. It was when we were finished that we noticed something wasn't right.

As we were getting dressed and chatting in the back seat, we noticed that the two floodlights outside were no longer on. It was now completely black out there -- we could see nothing outside the windows, even if we leaned right up against the glass. Upon discovering this we also stopped talking for a minute -- long enough to notice that the sprinklers weren't on either, and that the frogs had stopped croaking.

The lights and sprinklers, we concluded, might have been on automatic timers and went off on their own. But what was the matter with the frogs? It didn't make any sense. Those frogs only stop croaking when they hear a predator approach. When Josh and I had been out walking, they had temporarily stopped when we went right up to their pond... but they had started again as soon as we began to walk away. They had also been noisy when we were back in the car. What reason would they have to be silent now? We were no longer close to them, and we were the only ones there, after all.

Or so we thought...............

We were still sitting in the back seat, and had begun discussing how strange this was, when I saw Josh cast a quick glance out the back windshield -- as though he thought he had seen something. I looked out as well, wondering what he had been looking at, when I saw something that made my heart stop.

It was a small orb of light, swaying ever so slightly from side to side. And it was coming straight to us.

My immediate conclusion was that unbeknownst to me, the school had hired security guards after all, and what we were seeing was a flashlight that belonged to one of them. "There's someone coming!" I screeched to Josh. He jumped into the front seat and turned the key in the ignition, hoping that we could get away without being arrested.

The car wouldn't start for about 30 seconds. Then, when it finally did start, it wouldn't move. I was still in the back seat, watching with horror as this light got closer and closer to the back windshield. I became even more frightened when I realized that no matter how close this light got, I never saw the person that was holding it. It became painfully obvious that this was no security guard.

Finally after almost a full minute of struggling with the engine, Josh got his car to move -- but it went in reverse, top speed, right towards the light. I watched through the back windshield as this orb came closer and closer to us, until it was literally on top of the trunk and right in front of the glass -- the only thing that separated it from my face. And then, when it was that close... it randomly disappeared. Immediately after that, the car went forward as it was supposed to, nearly crashing into a tree before Josh finally got control of the steering.

We floored it. I don't remember Josh ever driving as fast, or in such a panic, as he did on this particular occasion. Both of us were thanking our lucky stars that we had gotten away in one piece, let alone scott free. Josh's old Pontiac had gotten the workout of its life that night.

We still talk and debate about exactly what the hell that thing was on that eventful evening. We both know that there was no way it could have been a human being. For one thing, the car had stalled for so long that if indeed it was a guard, he would have had plenty of time to just stroll right up to the driver's side and demand that we get out of the car. I had also been watching that light for the entire duration, and there was no sound coming from it. No, "Hey, you" or, "Stop where you are..." no nothing. Not a word. But the most important detail of all comes from the fact that the car went into reverse. We flew backwards, right towards this thing, at such a speed that if it had been a human -- or any physical living thing -- we would have backed over it, no question. I saw that light come right on top of our trunk... and it would have been accompanied by a sickening crunch or crash, along with loud cries of pain and a serious dent in the car, if it had been a living thing we'd hit.

I have since told my best friend, Kia, this story and she doesn't know what to make of it. She supposes that after all these years, we have finally gotten an answer to the question of what exactly comes out to roam the campus after sundown. My experience has awakened her curiosity enough that she has asked me to take her there at some point, to see if we can get E.V.P. readings or "ghost photography" from the area.

I must admit that although it was a frightful shock to me at the time, I have had a year to get over it and wonder about it myself. I do have questions that I hope to have answered someday about what exactly greeted us that night. Was it the ghost of a Native American? And if so, was he or she simply trying to get a closer look at us -- or did someone decide that we should be punished for using their final resting place for a rendezvous?

Perhaps I am no longer the little girl afraid of my own shadow. I may or may not decide to comply with Kia's request, and conduct a few studies of the school. But Josh -- who was once a skeptic about stories such as this one -- has insisted to me that he will NEVER go back to that place again.

Katharine, CA, USA
00:00 / 01:04
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