The Canyon

I awoke.

Grogginess slowly cleared from my mind. I looked around. A deep, angular canyon wound jaggedly for as far as I could see in either direction. The walls sloped away at a 45° angle. Every so often, an enormous boulder clung precariously to the wall of the canyon.

I try to determine in what direction the canyon traveled by looking at the angle of the sun. But this proved an impossible task. Bizarrely, the sun spun continuously overhead like a disco light. Worse, the light was a strange color. Not the warm yellow we're accustomed to, but a garish, harsh light.

As my eyes grew accustomed to the light, I saw that my canyon was a uniform black color. None of the strata, the variegated colors you often see in canyons, but a faceless, monotonous, black. Black. No other color. Just black.

So I was faced with a choice. Climb out of the canyon, or walk along it until I found another way out. I thought perhaps it would be quickest to climb out of the canyon.

As I began to climb, I was presented with the strangest sensation of all. The canyon walls felt, for all the world, like plastic. Despite the 45° slope, the canyon walls were slippery. There were no projections, no footholds. This was going to be a tough climb.

So, I stopped and once again stood at the bottom of the canyon.

As I stood pondering what to try next, I began to hear a distant rumbling. Before long, the rambling became distant, muted music. It was music from a classic album that had been popular in my youth. I smiled, because I had enjoyed that album.

That settles it, I would follow the canyon to the source of the music. That would bring me to civilization.

So, I slowly walked off toward the sound of the music. Walking proved to be tedious, as I often had to step over or around boulders at the bottom of the canyon. The slippery floor of the canyon didn't make matters easier either. Worst of all was the constantly undulating path of the canyon. It was as if the creator of this place abhorred the concept of a straight line or a gentle curve.

As I walked, the loudness of the music grew. Perhaps it was my imagination, but it seemed that the music was growing louder too quickly.

The music was loud now, but the source of the music was not in sight. I continued to walk toward the music. But with each step, with each instance, the music grew ever louder. Soon, the music was unbearably loud. Still, the source of the music did not come in the view. And still the music grew louder, becoming literally painful to hear.

I sank to my knees, overwhelmed by the power of the music. My hands over my ears, nothing could withstand the unimaginable loudness of the music.

I felt a breeze, and my body began to vibrate in sympathy with the music. I looked up in time to see it.

Racing down the canyon toward me was an unimaginable sight. A smooth, colorless mountain, upside down, descended from the sky. Its tip rested against the walls of my canyon perfectly, creating the illusion that the upside down mountain was traveling along the canyon walls.

But it wasn't an illusion. The upside-down mountain was indeed riding along the walls of my canyon, rushing headlong toward me.

Nothing could stop it. The upside-down mountain was nearly upon me.

I froze.

I screamed. My scream was inaudible to my ears, consumed by the solidity of the music.

Meanwhile, John was enjoying his favorite music on a vinyl LP. He smiled with satisfaction. It wasn't just the music. And it wasn't just the superlative sound. It was the accomplishment of setting up the delicate turntable and its fiddly adjustments.

John leaned forward. He heard something in the album that he had never heard before.

A scream.

He had never heard a scream in that particular track before.

A Night At The Lake

Those who have known me for many years are familiar with my passions for nighttime activities, fine-quality film cameras, and analog tape recorders. So, an evening that combines spending time on a lake, at night, with an analog recorder to capture the keening of nighttime insects, and a fine film camera to capture the glow of the distant city lights is as close to a perfect day as possible.

And so it was I found myself at a small, secluded lake outside Lee's Summit, Missouri, nearly midnight, July 7th, 1984. The lake belonged to a friend, and was a favorite place of mine to visit. A private getaway, without having to travel to an exotic location.

The still night was made more pleasant by the refreshing 70-ish degree Fahrenheit temperature.

The solitude of the lake was ironic in the presence of the loud chorus of insects and frogs, punctuated by occasional cries of unseen nocturnal fauna. A distant aircraft thrummed, adding an oddly harmonious undertone that gradually faded away.

The moon lent its cool glow to the lake. Gentle waves shimmered in a relaxing motion. The nearby trees were starkly outlined in sharp relief.

A lunchbox-sized Uher 4200 Report Stereo analog tape recorder, fed by a unique JVC binaural microphone, freed of the necessity of AC power by its battery pack, was capturing the acoustic ambience. A small folding table held the recorder, while, several feet away, a mannequin head atop a crudely-made wooden stand held the microphone six feet above the ground, far enough to avoid the noise of the camera.

In no particular hurry, my back to the lake, I prepared to mount a Pentax MX 35mm film camera on a well-worn, but still-rock-solid, Tiltall tripod. My plan was to photograph the patterns of light that gave that particular night's sky a melancholy beauty.

Suddenly, silence erupted. As if an invisible finger had flipped a switch, every insect, every frog, every creature of the night stopped. Startled, I turned toward the lake, with a sense of dread, and froze.

I strained to hear. Anything.

The silence was so complete that I began to question whether I had gone deaf. As I continued to concentrate, I was relieved to hear, to just barely hear, the electric hum of the recorder's motor.

I relaxed.

The moment I began to turn back toward the tripod the night was pierced by two, glowing, red spots above the middle of the lake.

Two glowing red eyes.

Two close, glowing red eyes.

Two close, glowing red eyes that were moving toward me. Rapidly.

Instinct shouted down reason. I threw the camera into the car. My next memory is of the car leaving a trail of dust, the lake far behind.

I stopped. The recorder, the microphone and the tripod were back at the lake. I'd abandoned them all without a second thought. So now the choice. Return for my equipment or continue my flight? Was it worth the risk? By now, they're gone anyway, right? Or smashed and worthless, right? No point in it, right?


Okay, I just can't throw away expensive equipment. And I had to know what really happened.

So, I went to a friend's house nearby and related the events of the lake. He agreed, with some cajoling, to return with me to retrieve my equipment. His face bore eloquent rebukes for my overactive imagination. Glowing red eyes indeed.

The presence of my equipment still intact brought relief and astonishment to me and another of "those looks" from my friend. Three hours had elapsed, yet everything was as I left it. The lake was as noisy as ever. It was the most normal scene you could imagine. Yet, the normality was almost unnerving.

I packed the microphone away, then folded the tripod into its case. Lastly, I picked up the recorder by its handle and switched off its power. The motor sighed and fell quiet. The level meter flicked briefly as the audio amplifier let out a parting thump. Oddly, it didn't feel right. Something was amiss. Setting the recorder down on the back seat of the car, I saw that the tape was missing. That was on its own, because, other than the missing tape, nothing seemed to have been disturbed. Yet the tape recorder was considerably lighter than it should've been.

I turned the recorder over, and remove the bottom to access the battery compartment. There was no battery. There was no battery yet the recorder had been running when I picked it up and switched it off. How? After replacing the bottom cover, I turn the recorder right side up and switched it on. But it didn't turn on. How could it, it didn't have a battery? But it had been working when I first picked it up.

Somehow, I didn't want to know. I just wanted out of there. As quickly as I could leave. I dropped my friend off at his house, and bid him goodbye, profusely thanking him for his assistance.

Over the next several days, I pondered the strange events at that lake. I never again visited the lake. I still have the recorder, and it has never worked without a battery since that strange night on the lake with two glowing red eyes.

And so, dear reader, concludes my tale of high strangeness. Ponder this Halloween those inexplicable occurrences, those things that can't happen yet do. Ponder what lies beyond the unexplained.

But relax. In the end, it's all just a ghost story.

Isn't it?