Saturday, June 26, 2010
When I was about eight, we went to visit my cousins in Maryland. They took us into the woods behind their house to this ramshackle old building that had once been a crude cabin, but was now falling apart. We stepped inside, but couldn't go far because the splintered, rotting boards of the floor gave way to a huge hole. The jagged edges of the floorboards exposed a dank cellar far below constructed of irregular stones.
Across the room in the dim light, we could see a staircase to the second floor with most of the treads gone. As we stared at the creepy railing, with gaps like missing teeth, festooned with cobwebs, we heard footsteps overhead. Not the scritchy-scratching of squirrels or rodents, but the heavy tread of a man's boots. It sounded as if it was coming toward us. We screamed and ran, tripping over each other in our haste to get away.
When we were some distance from the house and convinced that no one was chasing us, we looked back. In a first floor window, we could see the shadowy face of a man peering out at us. We hightailed it out of the woods and never went back.
Was the man a figment of our overactive imaginations? I don't think so. A tramp? But if he was, why was he standing in the exact spot where the floor had caved in? A ghost?
Photograph Courtesy of Nick Coombs