Hey all! I'm going to post something that happened to me several years ago. I'll have more original content after next week, but I'm hitting the last week of classes, and after that is finals, so I've really, really gotta put my had down if I'm going to pass Logic. I find it insulting that Logic is not in fact, logical.
I've told this story a few times in the past; it's all true, and it remains one of the scariest things that's ever happened to me. I’m going to warn you though, this is a long story. This happened several years ago now, to myself and three other friends. Let me preface this by explaining that this is in Washington state, where I still reside. My friends and I joke that we export apples, timber, and serial killers. We’re only half kidding on the last point; for some reason Washington has churned out some scary, scary people.
It was just before my 18th birthday, and I had just gotten back from a two week mission trip to Honduras. I had also graduated from high school, along with two of the three friends involved in this escapade. To celebrate my return, myself and my friends Kari, Jessika, and Bevin, decided it would be great fun to go to the local watering hole and skinny dip. There was pretty minimal risk, or so we thought, since the gates to the lake are locked at sun down. We were going to park by the river and hike into the lake through the forest.
The lake is several miles out of town, so there were NO lights out there. It was PITCH. Thankfully Kari, who I swear should have been a boy scout (except she doesn't have, you know, a peen), had a couple of flashlights, otherwise I’m sure one of us (probably me) would have broken an ankle. As we’re hiking in we’re having a grand ol’ time, giggling, teasing, trying to scare each other. It was even funnier because Bevin had just finished a Twin Peaks marathon, so I kept telling her Bob was gonna get her. We were teenagers; being dicks to one another is just what you do at that age.
We make it in after who knows how long in the dark, strip down, hit the water, blah blah. I was all ready for a nice gossipfest, but one of our group is very earth mother/ granola, and she kept ruining it for the rest of us. I wanted to talk about the alleged homosexual experimentation that is said to have occurred at a birthday party. It was delicious to think of all of the homophobic, manly men jocks that I graduated with, going in for a long, wet, licky-time make out session! I didn’t care WHY people had done what we were gossiping about; I just wanted to giggle over it!
So far the experience has been pretty lackluster; the water was warm, but that was about it. We kept hurting our feet and falling over because the ground was so rocky where we had waded out. I think we had different reasons for doing what we were doing, as well; my granola-inclined friend I think expected this to be very “womyn bonding, one with nature”, I just wanted to make mischief. One friend was only along for the ride, and the last was following my line of thought.
After only about 20 minutes we decided we’d had enough, and climbed out to dry off and head back into town. This is when it gets weird and scary. The lake is man-made, and cut out of the surrounding forest. There’s only one access road in, which as I mentioned before is locked at night. But the lake its self is sort of like a meadow with a lake on one side. So once you’re in, the area opens up quite a lot. We were at one end of the open area, across the open expanse from the forest where we hiked in. We were about half dressed when we saw it.
A flashlight. Heading our way from the same direction we had come from.
Our first concern is that we are busted so hard. We’re trespassing on county property, there are signs clearly posted all over the place, someone must have called the cops on us, a local farmer or something. I’m certain my older sister, who I lived with as a teen, is going to tear me a new one if the cops drop me off at home. Jessika’s dad is a cop, so she’ll be doubly busted.
We struggle to get into our clothes, which was a chore because we had all worn jeans to protect our legs. I was only half dried; I’m sure you can imagine the thrill of trying to yank dry jeans up wet legs, thinking a cop’s flashlight is shining off your white ass. Probably going to get indecent exposure charges slapped on top of trespassing.
This is what I’m worrying about as Jess slowly says “I.. don’t think that’s a cop..” We all freeze, and suddenly we’re whispering. She explains that had it been a cop, he would have identified himself by now, and there probably would have been two of them. (I’m sure they also had access to the key that locks the gate, so I doubt now, years later, that a solitary cop would have come, all alone, through the forest to get some trouble making teens.) As soon as Jess makes this point, we notice the flashlight is jiggling weirdly. I blurt out “Holy shit! He’s running!” And we did the same thing, still trying to hop into our clothes at the same time.
The problem is in two stages: first, who ever this person is, he’s between us and our car. Second: he clearly is looking for us, because we ran, and he followed us. I don’t know where the hell we thought we were going to run to; the direction we bolted in just led to more lake, and maybe pasture land, provided we got through the river and over who knows how many barbed wire fences. After a split second of whispered panic, we decide to hide, in the hopes that he’ll keep heading further around the lake, past us, and we can run back to the car. By now we’re in the pet are of the lake, and here the trees are back, at the edge of the water. There’s no beach here, and no one wants to swim here because there are a ton of decaying leaves in the water, slimy roots, etc. As a result of the trees, there are these little hollows where the grass drops down to the water’s edge. The four of us hid in one of these hollows, me and Bevin on one side, and Kari and Jess on the other. We ducked under our towels, hoping he would miss us. I was sure that at this point I was screwed, as my beach towel was a faded baby blue that looked white in the dark. But what else could we do? At this point in time, I’d never had a self defense class; none of us had. We were terrified kids, and didn’t know what we would do if whomever this freak was caught up with us.
By the time you hit the pet area, the pavement from the parking lot is gone, and there’s gravel instead. We all froze; we could hear him panting, and hear his footsteps on the gravel. He had heard our retreat; he knew we were here somewhere. I have never dealt well with suspense. I love scary movies, but I am a squirmer of the highest degree. It’s so, so much worse when you’re the one in the movie instead of the observer. I finally couldn’t stand it, and peeked out from under my towel. I was facing the water, so I wasn’t in the right position to see our pursuer. But I did see his flashlight slide along Kari’s towel. I covered my head up again as fast as I could. Kari’s towel was actually a small blanket that she kept in her car. It was purple, with a plaid pattern worked over it in pinks and greens. I figured that we were busted; the pattern was plainly visible in the flashlight beam. I could still hear his breathing. I held my own breath and listened to my heart gallop, wondering if maybe I was going to have a heart attack before this stranger could find us.
Here’s where it gets even weirder. I didn’t hear his breathing anymore. I didn’t hear his feet on the gravel, and I was listening as hard as I could. I was certain that he was right on top of us, trying to wait us out. I heard Kari say “Okay, let’s go.” I about screamed, I was sure this was what he wanted. I froze, trying to whisper to Kari and Jess both to freeze, that I was sure he was still there. But after a few (endless) seconds, I peeked up over the edge of the ground, and saw Kari and Jess clearly reflected in their flashlights. The chaser was no where that I could see. To this day I have no idea where he went, or why I didn’t hear him leave. One minute he was there, breathing and fidgeting on the gravel, then he was simply gone. There was no way to sneak off; the gravel extended for about a hundred yards in any direction.
We decided we were going to run back out to the car along the road, and skip the forest, where things could hide. Then we'd simply hop the locked gate when we reached it. As quietly as we could, we hoofed it back, down the gravel road, through the paved parking lot, and then on the narrow road that let vehicular traffic into the park when it was open. We all four bolted, afraid our pursuer was going to attack from the forest that the little road ran through. We had to stay on the road; it's on an embankment, and on one side was a stream that fed the lake, and on the other was barbed wire. I’m not sure how long the road is, but it felt like forever.
We all four took off running, but I was soon too winded. I have activity induced asthma, so while I can walk forever, I’m simply cannot run for very long. I was all alone, trying not to cry, I was so scared. Thank God Bevin came back and walked with me, not leaving me all alone.
Finally we make it to the gate. Thank God. The car is just a few hundred yards away, and we can get the hell out of here. Kari and Jess were waiting for us, still on our side of the gate. They look scared again.
There are now two cars parked next to ours. When we had arrived there had been none. And someone was still in one of them. I could feel them looking at us. Abruptly, I was pissed off. I had been terrorized to the point of numbness, and I just wanted to go home That’s all, I just wanted to see my sister, and kiss my nieces and nephew, and pet the new puppy. I wanted to fight with my older brother and kiss my baby nephew the next day. There was no way some dick in a car was going to stop me.
I threw myself over the gate, and stomped towards the car. The other three seemed to feel the same way; maybe we all had the same thought since I think we all moved at the same time. Now that we could see the lights on the highway, we were braver. We carefully kept the wood pylons used to mark off a grassy center in the middle of the parking lot between ourselves and this car, which suddenly and loudly roared to life.
Whomever was in this car started honking. Rhythmically. He sounded like a car alarm as he crept towards the exit to the park. We all ran for Kari’s car, and piled inside. Jess wanted to get this guy’s license plate number, to give it to her dad. Kari floored it after him, and we were almost close enough to read it when he suddenly sped up, and was gone. It looked weird, like a vhs tape in fast forward. We went back to town after that.
Weirdly, none of us could agree on what the car looked like. This is in part because human minds are fallible, I know. But I am still certain now, more than ten years later, that I saw a maroon, four door sedan. Bevin was certain it was a yellow two door, Jessika thought it was a little truck, and Kari though it was a town car of some kind. All of us agreed that we had never seen a car speed up and take off like that before.
It was a terrifying night.
I have no idea what these people wanted with us, but I am still certain to this day that it was nothing good. My personal opinion is that they were working in tandem, and the honking was the guy leaving telling the guy who disappeared in the park that we were out there now. That was the last time I went skinny dipping, and I stay the hell away from the park at night.