I’ve always loved the supernatural, have been a fan of both real and fictitious ghost stories for as long as I can remember. My new novel, The Gyre Mission: Journey to the *sshole of the World, is not a supernatural tale per say, although it does contain some elements of the genre. It is my intention to write one in the future, although my next novel isn’t either.
Being of a creative bent, my mind has always been open to things otherworldly, such as ghosts or aliens, different time dimensions and so on. When I was ten years old a cousin of mine and I thought we saw a UFO; it was a large ball of light in the sky that changed colors from red to green to white. We even went so far as to make a bunch of long distance phone calls (my parents were not happy about this when they got the bill), trying to find an expert we could report it to. No one took us seriously, which is good because it made the phone calls shorter. As I got older, I came to realize that what we saw was probably a satellite or a weather balloon; it wasn’t unusual enough to truly make me believe we’d spotted extraterrestrial life.
But although that wound up being more a product of my overactive imagination, I will state here with serious conviction that I have seen a ghost. There is no doubt in my mind that what I witnessed was truly of a genuine supernatural nature, none. Several friends and family members have discounted my tale, owing in large part to the fact that I enjoy the occasional beer now and then, but in this instance I was not under the influence of anything other than a mild hallucinogenic drug…just kidding. Yeah, on mushrooms I once saw the creation of the entire universe, from the Big Bang Theory on up, but I must assure you, this was not the case.
I was in Blackearth, Wisconsin, visiting a friend of a friend. The name of the town alone is enough to confirm suspicions of rampant ghostly activity, perhaps a local serial killer or two, but in fact was irrelevant. I only mentioned it because it seemingly lends credence to eerie happenings.
This person my friend and I were visiting was a stranger to me; I knew absolutely nothing about he or his family, except what my friend had told me regarding his character. Jim was a brash, often outspoken individual who was a bit conceited. Upon arrival to his home the first thing he wanted to do was show it off to us. I admit it was quite large and roomy, although it wasn’t exactly going to be showcased on ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ anytime soon. After the grand tour he took us outside to the backyard, an expansive two acres on which he’d erected an elaborate playground for his children and a great wooden deck for barbequing and entertaining guests. We walked the length of the yard and I noticed that it wasn’t fenced in. When I asked him about it a look of discomfiture came across his face and he told me it was something he intended to do but hadn’t got around to it yet for financial reasons. Owing to the fact there were no neighbors nearby, it currently wasn’t an issue.
I was smoking a cigarette (lousy habit, I know, hate to even admit it) so it was for this reason I stayed outside after my two companions went back in through the sliding glass door on the deck. As I smoked I looked about the yard without really seeing it, thinking my own thoughts. We’d brought along a twelve pack of bottled Miller High Life (also hard to admit because, quite frankly, we’d probably be better off swilling horse piss) and I was drinking my first of the evening, sipping it really, when suddenly I felt a strange sensation pass through me, a curious sort of fear that had no reasoning behind it. At once I wanted to get inside, as I felt there was something out here with me, what, I didn’t know. I hurriedly put out the cigarette and fumbled for the door, stepping inside and quickly shutting it, still facing the backyard.
That was when I saw the dog, a giant German Shepherd, sitting right outside the door, eyeing me with what looked to be a request to be let in. I stared silently, wondering how I didn’t notice this dog before, and as I began to turn my head and ask if the owner of the house had a dog it vanished, simply became my own reflection in the glass. Goosebumps rose all over my body, and I backed up slowly.
“Do you have a dog?” I asked through anesthetized lips, and when I turned to look at him I saw for the first time the tombstone leaning against the far wall. A single name adorned it: ‘Jasper’.
He looked at me strangely and excused himself, told us he had to tuck his kids into bed. My friend waited until he was gone and said: “Why did you ask him that? His dog just died a month ago and he’s still pretty shook up.”
“Was it a German Shepherd?” I said and my friend looked at me with honest surprise.
“How did you know?”
“How did he die?” I asked, ignoring his question.
“Well, Jim still feels bad because he thinks it’s his fault-don’t tell him I told you this-but he let him out to go pee and went to bed and forgot about him. It was still cold outside, almost freezing, and Jasper fell into an open trench in the farmer’s field beyond their property. He probably broke one of his legs and couldn’t get out. Jim told me that throughout the night he thought he heard Jasper barking but he was so drunk he didn’t go out and check. In the morning his kids found him, frozen to death.”
I was so creeped out that I slammed the bottle of beer in my hand and proceeded to polish off another three in rapid succession. To say the least it was a very long evening, and I didn’t go back out on the deck to smoke, instead used the front porch. Even out there I felt uncomfortable, in fact didn’t feel any better until my friend and I were driving away.
My friend believed me when I told him I’d seen Jasper. He told me that a couple weeks previous he’d thought he’d heard the sound of a dog crying when he was in the backyard smoking and it sort of freaked him out.
“It’s because he killed him,” I asserted. “That’s why his spirit is still lingering.”
“Maybe,” my friend allowed.
Believe what you may, dear reader, for you are certainly entitled to your opinion, but I saw that dog plain as anything, and to this day a chill passes through me when I think of the poor soul, trapped and injured, shivering and whimpering, just begging for his master to heed his impassioned cries and come and save him…