Terrifying, But True, Tales
Just in time for Halloween, we're recalling some of the scariest stories that have appeared in past issues of Downhome. The following four tales are personal accounts of paranormal experiences that are sure to leave your spine tingling.
Ghosts of Pippy Park, submitted by Ronald Francis
Originally appeared in the October 1990 issue of The Downhomer
When I was a young boy I lived with my family in Freshwater Valley (what is now known as Pippy Park). That was at a time when motorcars were very scarce, so most folks owned a horse or pony. My dad had a big white horse and that animal had a mind of its own. When he got tired of our back garden he would stand at the gate, switching his tail to keep the flies airborne, and lift the gate latch with his nose. When the gate opened, hed head for Three Island Pond Barrens on a fast trot. The day Im now thinking of was no exception.
I looked out through the window; the gate was open and there was no horse to be seen. In the evening when Dad came home from work, Mom had a good meal ready. When we were finished eating, Mom gave me a nudge with her foot her way of telling me to break the bad news. When I told him, he gave me a quick look and said, What was my son doing while the horse was opening the gate?
Mom added her two cents worth, saying, If he spent as much time with the horse as he did with that old trouting pole, this wouldnt have happened.
They both sat there trying to make me feel guilty for the horses escape. After his meal, Dad decided to go look for the horse. I watched him go to the barn and, judging by the speed with which he closed the barn door, he still was not pleased.
As he passed by, I said, Would you like for me to come along? He screwed up his face and in a loud voice, said No!
So I sat there looking out through the window, feeling quite low. Then Dad popped in front of me and gave me a start. He said, Get your coat and come along.
While I pulled on my rubbers, Mom passed my coat and said, Theres a cake of hard bread in the pocket for the fairies if they try to take you.
By the time I reached the road, Dad was already crossing OLearys Bridge and heading for the high country. I ran as fast as the heat of day would let me, and when I caught up he was walking at a fast pace and whistling something he only did when he was in a bad mood.
We walked in single file for a mile or so before Dad gave up the whistling. I guess he ran out of steam, or maybe it was the sight of the forest, the smell of newly mown hay, and the sound of water running over the rocks in the little brooks we passed. Either way, it was obvious Dads mood had changed.
He looked back and asked, Are you tired? After that forced march my throat was so dry it took three or four tries to say, Yes. We sat on a big rock for a short rest before Dad got up again and said, Come on, son, lets shake a leg.
By the time we got to Three Pond Barrens it was late in the evening and all that was left of the sun was an orange glow in the west. As we searched the marsh at the head of Third Pond, we noticed the fog creeping across the water. After a short search with no luck, Dad decided to check the other grassland. While looking for the path that would get us there, the fog became quite thick and soon we could only see a few yards in each direction. Dad said wed have to find some shelter until the fog lifted.
We groped our way to an old cart path and followed it for a short time until we came to a big tree. Dad said, Well stay here, and we broke off some branches and laid them under the tree. I spread my coat over them and, after we lay down, Dad covered us with his oil clothes. He was very tired and soon he was snoring.
As I lay there, I began to hear sounds coming towards us. I woke Dad and we both sat up. He could hear it, too, and said, It could be the horse coming for the feed.
As we stared in the direction of the sounds, I expected to see our big white horse coming through the fog. Imagine my surprise when out of the mist came a coal black horse drawing a hearse, upon which was a black coffin. My body went numb as if Id been struck by lightning. But what nearly finished me was the driver his head was missing. And there were mourners walking behind the hearse, all of them headless!
A cold rush went up my back right to the top of my head. I watched the funeral move along the path and vanish through the fog. Id almost forgotten that Dad was with me and I looked over at him. He was sitting with cap in hand, eyes wide and sweat running down his face. My first thought was to get out of there as fast as my feet would let me, but with the fog so thick, Dad said we had to wait. I took the cake of hard bread and threw it towards the path for the fairies, should they come, too. I cuddled close to Dad and eventually fell asleep.
Next thing I knew, Dad was shaking me awake. The fog has lifted; lets get out of here! he ordered. We came to the end of the path and now we could see the open barrens and the heavenly sun peeping over the horizon with the promise of a beautiful day. I took one last look at the lonely path where we spent the night and was glad to be going home. Dad pointed and said, Theres the horse!
Dad held out the feedbag and our white horse came over at a fast trot. Using a piece of rope for reins, Dad climbed up on his back. With all the strength I had left, I climbed up and sat behind him. With the horse at a gallop, and my arms locked around Dads waist, we headed for home.
Out Of This World
From the book Maritime UFO Files by Don Ledger; re-printed in the October 2011 issue of Downhome
It was early on a Sunday morning, around 12:30 a.m., August 23. Forty-one-year-old James Byrne had parked his car in a small field, just off the road, outside St. Johns. He and his fiancée were listening to the car radio. It was a bit cool that evening, so James had started the engine and turned on the heater.
It was a bright, clear, moonlit night. The trees could clearly be seen around the perimeter of the small field. James and his fiancée were talking when suddenly the radio and the engine shut off. Surprised, James tried to restart the car but to no avail.
Preoccupied with the car, James was even more surprised when his fiancée let out a shriek. She was pointing through the windshield at something on the ground.
James saw a circular shadow moving almost imperceptibly on the ground in front of them, surrounding the car. He leaned forward and looked up through the windshield to see a great black circle hovering immediately above. It was about 45 feet (14 metres) in diameter with a rounded bottom, and was surrounded by flames of different colours that were pulsating toward the ground and seemed to vary in size between four and 10 feet in length.
Since James and his fiancée seemed to be in the centre of this ring of strange flames, he was concerned that they might be killed by radioactivity. This thought jarred him into action.
He bent down to feel under the dash to see if the ignition wires were loose, but then he started to feel a prickling sensation throughout his body. It was concentrated in his hands and at the back of his neck, as though warm air was being blown into the car.
Suddenly, the interior of the car lit up as if it were daylight. James looked to see that his fiancée had her head thrown back over the top of the seat. Her eyes were closed and her mouth was wide open, like she was in some kind of trance. He could see that flames were shooting down all around the interior of the car, making it impossible for him to see past them. He figured the object was no more than 8 ft. over the top of his car.
The next thing James remembered was spotting the UFO about 20 ft. away, opposite his side of the car, and at least that high in the air. It was stationary for a moment, then slowly made three or four zigzags in a skimming motion before it vanished, travelling from the south to the north, then northwest. At the same time, James heard a voice say, Do not tell anyone about this as we shall return to visit you again.
The car started up on its own and the radio resumed playing. He looked at his watch. It was 2 a.m.
His fiancée awakened and was thoroughly confused. James drove the short distance to her house and let her out of the car without saying a word. He drove at high speed to his own home in St. Johns. When he entered the house, the first thing he noticed was that the house clock read 4 a.m.
For some time after this event, James claimed that the back of his neck was always itchy. He has seen several UFOs since and also claims to have been contacted again by the voice he heard.
Recollecting the incident, he said, I think that we may have been taken up in the machine, car and all, though I inspected the car and could find no evidence of burnt paint on it. What makes me think that we were aboard the machine is the time lapse and being told not to tell anyone. Yet I must confess, that with the attitude of people at that time, no doubt everyone would have thought that I was lying or nutty or something else.
James did not marry the woman he was engaged to. She moved away and married a man in Toronto. Twenty-four years later, when a UFO investigator from the Mutual UFO Networks Toronto office took down the facts of this strange case, James informed him that he had run into his former fiancée when she was in St. Johns for a visit. He asked her during the course of their conversation if she remembered what had happened to them that night. He was surprised to learn she didnt know what he was talking about.
The Invisible Visitor, submitted by Alexandria Dunne
Originally appeared in the October 2013 issue of Downhome
This was a long time ago, around 1993. I was living in Edmonton at the time, in a house built in early 1900s. It had an old cellar with a small window in the back. The cellar was made of dirt and had an old bar to store all the bottled goods for the winter.
As I was unpacking and cleaning, I felt like someone was watching me but could never figure out what it was. After I settled in, I got a cat from a friend. His name was Spike, an older cat that loved me to the end.
In my bedroom I had a water bed and Spike would sleep on my pillow. One night he was hissing and growling. I told him to be quiet but he kept it up. Then all of a sudden my bedroom door opened! I hid under my blanket, keeping very still. Spike kept growling. Suddenly I felt the end of the waterbed sink in, as if someone were sitting on it, and then something started rubbing my leg. I was frozen still!
This lasted probably five minutes but it seemed like forever. When it stopped and the presence seemed to have left, I jumped out of bed and called a couple of friends to come over.
I stayed in that house for about three months before I moved. It was the scariest moment of my life!
The Ghost of St Pierre, submitted by Calvin Tremblett
Originally appeared in the October 2004 issue of The Downhomer
I first met Mr. Pius Hynes in 1992, during a visit to his hometown of Terranceville. My wife and I spent two weeks with his family and during that time he told me many stories about his life including one adventure he had while fishing on the Labrador.
He and a few members of his crew decided to go ashore one day to pick bakeapples. The berries were plentiful but Pius and the others felt something wasnt right. The hairs on the back of their necks were standing up and it was if someone or something was among them. After a short while, the crew panicked and headed for the beach where they had left their dory. Before they boarded though, Pius noticed that one side of the dory went down in the water as if somebody had stepped into the boat. He didnt give it much thought, however, because they were more intent on getting back to the schooner moored nearby.
They were so relieved to reach the ship, they soon forgot their experience and began preparing to return to Newfoundland with their load of cod fish.
During the next few days at sea they experienced the worst storm they had ever encountered and Mr. Hynes and other crew members had to strap themselves to the wheel so they werent swept overboard. They sustained a lot of damage, and were blown way off course, but thankfully they all survived the ordeal. Once they ascertained their location, they decided to put in to the French island of St. Pierre for repairs. It was during this stopover Pius was again reminded that somebody or something had boarded the dory back in Labrador. After they all got out of the dory in St Pierre, Pius again noticed the dory dip in the water as if somebody else had stepped ashore.
Some years later Pius heard of the story of an English gunboat that had gone ashore in the same area of Labrador where they were picking berries that day. The English captain had wanted to replenish supplies of water and fresh meat. While there though, two members of the crew decided to desert. At the first opportunity they ran into the woods and when they did not return to the ship, the captain guessed what had happened. He sailed out of the cove, deceiving the deserters by pretending to sail away. In the meantime, he had left a few armed men behind.
The deserters; thinking their ship had sailed without them, returned to the beach and were captured. When the captain received a signal from his men on shore he returned to the cove and promptly executed the deserters.
Could Pius and the crew have given passage to the ghosts of those British deserters?