Thursday, May 3, 2018

If You Go Down to the Woods Today . . .

On my web site (specifically the Missing 411 Annotations page) I promised to display 411-esque items on my blog to forestall crowding.  Sickness, new projects, and other life events slowed that process down criminally.  Now, however, I've stumbled across a pair of complementary reports that definitely dial up the creep factor where it concerns strange events in the woods.

One odd behavior reported in some disappearances is the victim's sudden and inexplicable departure from their course of travel -- a teenage girl turns to look off at something in the trees, then fights her way into the forest at a very difficult and inconvenient spot; a woman pulls over to the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, steps out of the car (leaving the door open), and simply walks off into the wilderness . . .

One wants to ask these people, "What the #@$% was so interesting?"  Alas, there is no one to answer.

Here, however, are two stories from the early 2000s that may give us a clue.  Curiously, the first, from Ontario, has only an auditory component.  The second, from the "Down East" or "Lost" coast of Maine (found mainly in Washington County) was purely visual in appearance.

The Voice in the Woods

A young man named Tim Marczenko of Dorchester, Ontario, Canada, was shooting basketball hoops one summer evening in 2001 when his father emerged from the house walking their golden retriever.  Tim, 14 years old at the time, watched his father walk the dog down the road into the distance and out of sight.

Suddenly “three digital beeping sounds” came from the woods by their house in the opposite direction from where the father went.  The boy shrugged and continued shooting hoops.  The beeps came again.

A voice called from the trees, “Tim! Come here for a second, I've found something.”  Tim assumed it was his father, and that he'd found a beeper or cell phone.  Yet the voice was very evasive when he asked what was going on, just saying things like, “Just come here, hurry up, I found something.  Follow my voice,” and “Tim come into the woods, I've got to show you something.”

The beeping and the voice's demands continued, and Tim wandered over – only to stop at the edge of the trees.  “I realized that the voice was using only using a certain number of words and phrases,” the youth recalled.  “Almost as if it were automated and only knew how to speak those particular words.”

Then the noises stopped and Dad came back up the road with the dog.  And, of course, he hadn't found any beeping thing or in fact gone into the woods.

“What would have happened to me if I had followed the voice into the forest?” Tim ends.  What, indeed?

Marczenko, Tim, “Forest Voice,” in Sieveking, Paul, editor.  It Happened to Me Vol. 2 (London: Dennis Publishing, 2009), pp. 75-76.

The Fake Family

An English professor at the University of Maine at Machias, Marcus LiBrizzi occasionally sent his students out to collect local folklore.  The stories gathered and published in the volume Dark Woods, Chill Waters differ from a lot of folklore, however, in that most of the accounts supposedly happened to the people interviewed, or at least to a family member or close friend.  Unlike the vagaries of a "ghostly hitchhiker" story, for instance, the who, where, and when were known to the interviewers.

Conversely, LiBrizzi has collected ghost stories from all over the world, but "I can honestly say that nowhere have I found accounts as frightening as those uncovered from the lost coastline of Maine." [p.9]  Here's one to stand with the best (or worse, maybe).

Student interviewer Hanna Dean turned in the story on December 11, 2000.  She collected it from a friend of hers who wishes to be known only as "Sam".  One winter's night Sam woke from a deep sleep.  His "intuition" insisted that something was terribly wrong in the house and that he must leave.  "It was similar to that ominous, premonitory feeling that sometimes alerts us to a house fire or an intruder."  Whatever it was, it was an overwhelming sensation.  Sam threw on his clothes and rushed out the front door into the ice-cold moonlit night.

The "intuition" came again, surprisingly specific:  Sam was sure that he had to get into his car.  He obeyed the impulse, but he did not go anywhere.  He simply sat there, puzzled and worried.

The woods ran up to the edge of Sam's family's property.  As the young man hunched in his cold vehicle, something even more perplexing occurred:  someone or something emerged from the forest.  As the dark figures stepped into the bright moonlight, Sam realized it was his family.  His father, his mother, and his younger sister traipsed out of the woods and stopped at the edge of an open field.  Utterly confused, Sam climbed out of his car.

His family members spotted him and started waving for him to come over.  Sam left his vehicle and started across the yard.  As he approached, however, a new feeling came over him that there was something terribly wrong.  This was not so much a hunch as the fact that his parents and sister did not call to him or start toward him.  They did not utter a sound, but they waved at him to come closer almost frantically.

The fact that none of them spoke a word finally broke the young man's nerve.  He turned and ran back to the house.  He slammed and locked the door behind him.  He turned to run up the stairs as well, but to his shock his father stood at the top of the staircase, demanding to know what was going on.  In a few moments his mother and sister appeared as well.  They had been asleep inside all the while.  Whatever had come out of the woods and beckoned to Sam, it was not his family.

Some have suggested that Sam simply went sleepwalking.  The young man could only retort that he had no history of somnambulism before or after that winter's night.

This event disturbed Sam so much, in fact, that he would not speak of it for years, until student/ collector Hanna Dean wormed it out of him in 2000.  Dean adds, "What I'm wondering is, what would have happened to Sam if he had gone with his 'family' into the woods? . . . I think he is probably better off not knowing."

David Paulides and other who have studied (and even experienced) weird events in forested areas tell their readers to listen to their gut instinct, their sense of uneasiness, their intuition.  Your unconscious mind picks up on details your conscious mind does not, they say, and it will make you feel instinctively that something is wrong and that you should leave.  But what if there is something that can usurp your instinct/intuition, as in Sam's case?  Like Sam, we may be better off not knowing.

LiBrizzi, Marcus.  Dark Woods, Chill Waters:  Ghost Tales from Down East Maine (Camden, ME: Down East Books, 2007), pp. 127-130.

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