Hi, SE Readers, Joan here today and I’m not going to write about writing.
Happy Halloween! It’s time for goblins and great pumpkins. Trick-or-treating and haunted houses. Black cats and bats. Witches and broomsticks.
And of course, it’s the time for a good old-fashioned ghost story. Not that I have seen a ghost. Well, maybe once, but that’s a story for another time. Most of my ghostly encounters are due to an over-active imagination.
Such as the time I thought I saw a werewolf. Or when my cousin and I convinced ourselves a ghost was hiding in the furnace. Once I was even on the lookout for a headless horseman in the woods near our home.
But there is one time when I had an encounter with the unexplained. Years later, I still don’t know what I heard, nor can anyone who was present that October night.
In the early 1980s, my brother hosted an art exhibit each October where he and some of his friends who attended The University of Texas together would display their latest works. It was more of a reunion time for these college classmates, and many would come from out of town.
One of the highlights of these weekend gatherings was a Saturday night cookout and bonfire. In late summer, we began to gather tree limbs and scrap lumber. By October, the pile was the right size for a nice fire.
One year, a few days before Halloween, we gathered in our pasture for the bonfire. About fifteen adults were present. We stood around the fire in groups of two or three, talking, enjoying the evening, some drinking beer.
The winds were still and the moonless night sky glistened with stars. Traffic was sparse on our country road in those days. The only sounds came from the crackling of the fire and soft-spoken conversations.
Then it happened.
A strange and inexplicable noise. It lasted twenty seconds at most.
Individual conversations ceased. In unison, everyone asked, “WHAT WAS THAT?”
“It sounded like a dragonfly next to my ear,” someone said.
“Maybe it was a UFO,” another person joked.
Someone else thought it was the trill of a nighthawk.
The best description I could come up with was the sound an airplane makes when the pilot lowers the landing gear, and it locks into place.
No one could agree on the source of the sound. A single dragonfly can’t buzz fifteen people’s ears at the same time. We didn’t see anything in the sky—planes or UFOs. Most discredited the nighthawk theory. And for me to hear the landing gear sound, I would have been inside an airplane.
After a few minutes of speculation, everyone continued their conversations. One person took the opportunity to go inside on the pretense of checking on his son. He didn’t return.
Times change. Life gets busy. Years passed without the annual gathering until a few years ago when my brother and his friends revised the art show.
Once again, friends traveled to our home in East Texas. Nowadays we eat dinner in a restaurant rather than having a cookout. Fire pits have replaced the large bonfires. But during that weekend, we discussed the mysterious sound heard long ago.
As years pass, people often tend to embellish stories such as these. Not so with this one. Those of us who were there still stand by our story. We heard a strange sound. No one could identify it. We can’t pinpoint the origin. Although we can’t agree on an exact description, it’s safe to say it wasn’t our imagination.
Perhaps we’ll never know what was behind the mystery at the bonfire, but one thing is sure – it makes for a good Halloween tale.
Have you had any encounters with the unexplained? I’d love to hear them. Please share in the comments.