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Terence A Russell

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Member Since: Aug, 2007

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The Ghost of the Glades
By Terence A Russell
Tuesday, August 07, 2007

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Just a little horror story I wrote about driving the dark lonely road through the Everglades.

I drank too much and stayed too late at the party. I had a long drive back to Tampa Bay from Ruth's house on Key Largo. I thankfully made it onto the mainland and to the cut off without encountering the State Police. I was just off of probation for my last charge of driving under the influence. I'd be all right if I could just make it onto the road through The Everglades. It was rarely used by anyone, especially so, after dark. There were few structures of any sort to be seen along that hundred or so mile stretch of road, and the few that were there were often unlit in the darkness. It was a dark, desolate, and spooky stretch of two-lane road through swamps and bogs filled with ‘gators, pumas, and God only knew what else. I worked hard to convince myself that I would be able to keep the car on the road along the entire stretch of road and was pleased when I finally reached the turn without incident. Home free, for I would have sobered sufficiently by the time I reached the other end of the route. I was sure. This was not my first time to trek home along this route following a late night of drinking and partying at Ruth's house on Key Largo.

The lights of civilization fall away quickly as you enter into The Everglades at night, partly because they end so abruptly, but partially because of the great swarms of insects that fly out of the ‘Glades to endlessly encircle them through the night. These very same insects were beginning to regularly splat onto my windshield. I mused about becoming wealthy by opening a car wash at either end of this long stretch of bug-filled highway, but remembered that it was seldom traveled and such fact alone was likely the reason someone else had not already gotten rich by doing so. I caught sight of something moving to my left in the dark, just a tiny bit of something moving quickly through the blackness lining both sides of the road. It had been just a fleeting glimpse - caught with my peripheral vision. I jerked my head to get a better look, but saw nothing. It was either nothing to worry about or nothing. I quickly dismissed it. I was still a bit drunk.


The headlights cut through the massive swarms of bugs that flew directly into their glow and illuminated the barren road ahead. There was naught to see but the press of roadside vegetation, the pale gray ribbon of asphalt, and the zillions of kamikaze bugs smashing headlong onto the grill of my 1993 Ford Taurus. It had a few miles on it but it ran well and the stereo worked. The soft mellow voice of Nat King Cole was singing to me through the surrounding speakers. I could feel myself nodding off and was coaxing myself to keep my eyes open when, through my bleary vision, I spied something, at the very limits of my headlight beams, move quickly across the road. I jerked my eyes wide open but it was gone. It had been large, like a man, but very pale. I slowed and searched the surrounding area. I craned my neck around to look at both sides of the road and to the rear but could see nothing. I again dismissed this vision as having been a likely figment of my drunken imagination, pressed the gas pedal, and proceeded forward through the sea of bugs.
At least the haunting vision of the pale man running across the roadway awakened me. I was now completely alert. I swerved onto the road edge just a bit to keep from hitting a large turtle crossing the road, but my right front tire kicked something up. It banged and clattered under the car to a moment or two. I looked back but the darkness quickly swallowed the dim red glow from my tail lights. I was unable to see either the turtle or whatever it was that I hit. I turned off the stereo to listen to the sounds the car was making as it sped along its way, but could hear nothing peculiar. I thought I smelled gasoline though and my eyes instantly darted toward the gas gauge. I had filled the tank prior to the party and had left Key Largo with a full tank. The gauge showed it to still be three quarters full. The odor of gasoline had dissipated and I concluded, logically, that I had struck a discarded gas can along the road's side. My head was starting to shake off the effects of the rum-laced punch I had downed at the party. I knew this because the dull pain in my brain was painfully announcing the fact.

I was now fully alert and staring straight out at the road ahead when a pale manlike apparition again darted out of the darkness and into the headlight beams. I stomped on the brakes and jerked the wheel to the right, attempting to keep the Taurus' grill from coming into contact with the gaunt figure framed in my headlight beams. As my auto veered, I tried to watch the movements and location of the pale gaunt creature, but, as the car turned, the headlamps no longer illuminated the pale figure. It again disappeared into the darkness. The car came to a stop with the front right tire having ended up well off of the road. The car, however, was stable and I was sure I had not driven into the swamp.

My second thought was to locate any sign of the gaunt pale man and I peered around in an attempt to do so. I pondered exiting my vehicle to make a very thorough search of the surrounding area, but my fear of encountering a ‘gator in the dark, combined with the lack of any sign of a collision with anything, swayed my resolve to remain safely within my car. I shifted into reverse and pressed slowly down upon the gas pedal to back gingerly onto the roadway. I had turned my head to look back over my shoulder when I heard something scratch along the top of the car. I immediately stomped the brake causing the car to immediately stop and something tumbled from the roof of the car, off the hood, onto the pavement and off into the darkness before I could turn back to the front to see what it was. I could see was that I was now fully back onto the roadway and I shifted into overdrive and punched down hard onto the gas pedal. I left whatever it was way behind me as I gunned the Taurus up over 100 mph. I was now scared, fully alert, and wanting, right now, to be at the other end of this road.

I watched out each side as I sped onward through the stark darkness, seeing nothing in that darkness except the rare set of shining eyes. I recalled the eyes of the pale creature being dark and lifeless, even as the headlights of my Taurus had shone directly onto them. My brain assumed that the shining eyes were the expected ‘gators, pumas and God knows what else, except, of course, the what else could not contain one pale manlike apparition with the dull black lifeless eyes. I was mindful, however, that maybe God did only know what it had been that I had seen.

I sniffed gasoline again and my eyes darted toward my gas gauge. I only had a third of a tank left and according to my odometer, I was only about half the way to the only station for 50 miles in any direction. I was sure now that I was leaking gas, and making it to that next station would be a close call. Now six or seven miles beyond the point of my last encounter with the pale apparitions, I slowed down, to hopefully assist in gasoline conservation.

I had now sighted a pale creature on three different occasions. I wondered if there had been three such creatures along my route, or whether there was only one that was somehow keeping pace with my speeding Ford. A chill ran the length of my spine when I reached the conclusion that the latter was the only possible choice and I heartily longed for any signs of civilization. I hunched low over the wheel -- staring blindly ahead through the continual sea of insects that filled the forward thrusting beams, as a myriad of swirling visages of unknown denizens of the darkness filled my mind. I turned off the stereo. I wanted to add my ears to the search of signs of my impending doom. A distant fierce scream cut through the night, its source unknown. My mind raced, searching for any natural cause of such a shrill, piercing scream.

I began to think back on my several previous trips along this same path. I had never taken the time to stop and explore the surroundings on either side of the road and had not a single idea what existed out there in the ‘Glades. On occasion, I had thought of taking one of the air boat rides offered at the now unseen roadside stands. There was never an appropriate opportunity to do so. I now regretted that lack of knowledge as I eyed the gas gauge crawling closer to the "E." I would very soon possibly be afoot or stranded, sitting alone in the darkness inside a powerless automobile. The apparition stepped onto the oncoming lane just as I passed and I assumed it wanted to make me aware that it was still there. I chose to ignore it and sped onward with all due haste toward civilization. Although still a few miles ahead, I was now able to make out the glow of the mercury vapor lamps that surrounded the crossroads gas station.

The Taurus began to show the first signs of running out of fuel as it coughed and hiccuped, then caught again. I hoped it would hold out until I reached the station, and tightly crossed my fingers in an effort in ensure its occurrence. It was not long, however, before the Ford began to violently chug, shake, shimmy, and then died. Quickly, I shifted it into neutral so the car could coast. It coasted forward one hundred feet further before coming to a rest in the middle of the road. The lights from the gas station were still a distant glow on the horizon.

Silently, I sat in the car for an immeasurable amount of time, peering about me through the windows and in the mirrors seeking any sign of movement in the darkness. I turned off the headlamps, but left the park lights on surrounding the car with the soft amber glow to the fore and the soft red glow to the aft. I did not want leave the Taurus, but, sitting idly in its midst, I could determine that nothing would be accomplished by my remaining stolid. I opened the driver's door only a crack and heard the chirps, whirs and buzzing of the surrounding insects, but little else. I gingerly placed one foot upon the ground, observed no movements, before I opened the door completely and swung my other leg around.

I sat sideways in the door opening and peered into the darkness while my ears sought to detect any unusual sounds. Sensing no immediate danger, I pulled myself to my feet, stepped from behind the door and slammed it shut. As it closed, I heard the doors automatically lock and patted my pockets. I had just locked my keys inside the car. All of my identification, credit cards, and money were also locked inside as I had removed my wallet, and locked it in the glove box, before heading into the party. I had gotten my pocket picked when I was 12 and that episode had forever changed me. The result of that change had just caused me to be locked out of my car without the necessities of life.

I slapped myself on the head in disgust at my oversight and began to trek toward the dim light on the horizon. Still afraid of the unknown that existed on either side of the narrow roadway, I walked briskly along the striped center of the dimly lit roadway. A cloud of biting insects engulfed me, and I continually waved of my arms as I continued on my quest to reach civilization safely.
That piercing scream once again cut through the blackness of the night and I felt my bladder loosen in an attempt to involuntarily empty. I suppressed that urge, however and when the screaming soon subsided I was able to relieve my bladder pressure voluntarily. Intermixed with the sound of water splattering onto solid asphalt, sounds of movement were heard within the vegetation along the left side of the roadway. Not quite completely zipped up, my feet began to move more quickly and propelled me briskly onward.

The sounds increased and came now from both sides of the road. I could see nothing, but that fact did not make me feel any more secure. I sprinted forward, breathlessly, racing toward the station. Light from its mercury vapor lamps illuminated portions of the roadway a mere quarter mile ahead and I darted for the safety of those bright lights. I could sense someone or something was close on my heels, but I refused to turn back to see who or what it was. I urged my legs to move faster and faster, longing for the security of the light.

As I moved ever closer to the area bathed by those mercury vapor lights, I again heard that blood curdling scream tear again through the air. It did not come, as expected, from the ‘Glades, but from the area around the store. I quickly closed the distance and had the front door when I saw what looked to be three people, dressed all in black, attempting to drag a young lady in a blue smock out of the door of the convenience store. The young lady, with both hands, gripped the long metal handle of the glass entry door and was refusing to loosen her grasp, despite being stretched as two of the black clad persons pulled hard upon her legs. The third, likely a female, was banging on the other young woman's hands in an attempt to break her grip.

"Stop that!" I yelled, forgetting all about the thing that was pursuing me. I instantly recognized black clad persons as likely members of a Satanic cult reported to be terrorizing the Orlando area. I assumed they had changed locations and I had been lucky enough to walk in on them as they were trying to abduct the store clerk to be the guest of honor at their next ritualistic sacrifice.

My appearance and shout alarmed the group and they ceased their efforts toward the young lady. They turned their attentions to myself and I watched the blue smocked store clerk retreat back into the store and twisted the door lock. The Satanists now appeared intent to make me their next intended sacrifice.

I was at a loss for a plan. I was unarmed, was without shelter, and my only means of escape was to run back the way I had come. The young clerk inside the store was on the telephone and I assumed she was calling for the police. Hopefully, I could hold off the Satanic trio until the police arrived. I stopped, effected a defensive position and awaited the arrival of the charging group.

When the group reached a point about twenty feet from where I stood, they stopped before quickly spinning on their heels and darting toward the safety of their black van. They never made it. The white apparition that had stalked me throughout this night darted past and fell upon each of the trio, in turn, in quick succession. It sucked all life from their bodies and they limply, as rag dolls, fell onto the tarmac. When the third had been dropped, the pale manlike apparition disappeared again into the blackness.

My uneasiness dissipated and a sense of sereneness encircled me as I began to walk toward the store. The clerk watched my approach and moved to unlock the door. As I neared, she opened the door and asked, "What was that?"

I shrugged and said, "Strangely enough, I suspect that it could only have been my guardian angel."


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