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The Creature (?)

My Royal Consort and I enjoy tent camping at least a couple of times each fall/winter, and I’m particularly fond of the various districts that comprise the thousands of acres of impenetrable woodlands known as Kisatche National Forest, in central Louisiana.

During one of these trips, a year-and-a-half ago, we camped at Fullerton Lake campground, the site of the ruins of the old mill town of Fullerton, Louisiana. We were there for two nights in late December.

Entrance to Fullerton Lake campground in Kisatchie National Forest
Entrance to Fullerton Lake campground in Kisatchie National Forest

The first night we had arrived as night fell, after a four-hour drive and some sightseeing. We quickly set up camp in one of the crescent shaped campsites that are spaced about twenty yards apart.

That first night, temperatures were in the 30s, so we built a nice fire, and after some supper followed by a bit of spiked hot chocolate, we were quite snuggly in our tent.

The peculiar thing about that first night being so very cold was the dead silence that seemed to emanate from the low temperature: there was no wind, no animals stirring whatsoever …as if we were surrounded by snowfall (I’m very much from Louisiana but I went to grad school in Vermont; I know the silence caused by snow quite well). I could only hear the occasional crackle from the fire. The thick forest almost made it sound like the atmosphere was insulated.

This was in stark opposition to the second night, in which the temperature shot up about fifteen degrees. The second night, there were winds high above, and they shifted the giant canopy of branches and leaves back and forth, lulling us to sleep in epic fashion. There were also woodpeckers hard at work in the earliest hours, followed by a drizzling rain that we awoke to: our cue to pack our camp and head home.

Google maps view of Fullerton Lake site in Kisatchie National Forest
Google maps view of Fullerton Lake site in Kisatchie National Forest

So on the first night, with the forest so oddly quiet, my Royal Consort slept soundly while I slept fitfully, waking up every so often to observe the silence. There were only two other occupied campsites, both of which were RVs parked down the road by the lake. We were some distance from those, closer to the entrance to the campground.

On one of the awakenings I had during the first night, well after midnight, I listened carefully: the silence was almost as if several quilts had been thrown over our tent.

But then, in the distance … I could hear footsteps.

The steps sounded like a large animal walking toward the backside of our tent, from a south westerly direction. I lay there in my sleeping bag, still as a mouse.

After a brief moment, I began to realize this animal honestly sounded as if it were walking on two legs. Steady, long, confident strides. Not stopping. Not slowing. I strained my eyes in the blackness expecting to see a flashlight. I saw no light at all.

Now mind you, we had done at least an hour of foraging by flashlight in that very area, looking for fallen wood and tinder with which to build our fire. And it was not smooth terrain. It was uneven, with many, many roots, fallen tree trunks, holes in the ground, and built up mounds of earth. There was thick undergrowth, tangling vines, and even thorns and stickers. We had struggled in boots and pants, with gloved hands, bearing flashlights. The backside of those campsites was definitely not a cleared area.

In my opinion, there is no way a person could have steadily walked through that area, even with a flashlight.

And these were not light footsteps. They were heavy and confident. Steady and large; but without panic, without aggression.

As I heard its steps curve around the back of the campsite, I expected to hear this “animal” pause near our tent and fire. Most creatures would, to perhaps freeze in a brief moment of instinctive fear, or to at least sniff the air in curiosity.

But this creature did not. The steps continued, as steady as before, in a long confident curve as it traveled northeasterly, deep into the thick forest. It paid us no heed at all.

I am a lover of spooky tales, ghosts, and paranormal stories. But I’m also a dyed-in-the-wool skeptic. I’ve waited seriously and open-mindedly throughout my 46 trips around the sun, in hopes of experiencing something. This, however, I cannot explain.

After a bit of hesitation, I told my Royal Consort about it the next day. Of course he laughed and insisted it must’ve been natural and explainable (he also pointed out his desire to bring our handy shotguns next time; haha). My only guess is that the aural environment created by the temperatures and climate that night took something normal, and made it sound bizarre.

Meanwhile, I do know that even a nocturnal animal with good night vision would have strode in a less steady and even manner, on that overgrown and uneven terrain.

I don’t know what was in those woods. And I cannot explain how it was able to move like that.

A Halloween Treat: My Only Ghost (?) Experience

The Copper family "ghost" photo.
The web-famous Copper family “ghost” photo.

Because you all know I adore the creepy stuff …

Lake Charles, Louisiana, 1992

I was in college, and one of my very best friends (and occasional boyfriend) was rather superstitious. His latest deathly fear was that the house where he lived with his parents was currently occupied by some type of malevolent entity, such as a spirit, demon, or space alien. The house was the innocent kind of 1960s-era brick structure that was least likely to inspire tales of horror. All the same, his parents were going on a cruise for several days, and he was convinced he could not stay in the house alone, lest he meet his demise. Being the invincible skeptic that I tend to be, I offered to stay the weekend with him to assuage his fears. I also kind of thought it would be funny to watch him be scared out of his wits by his own overactive imagination.

Rather banal
Rather banal

I arrived in the early evening and we watched some VHS movies in the living room, snacking in front of the television. As the night progressed, we turned off the TV and begin to chat, lounging comfortably on the carpet of the living room floor. We were never the most affectionate couple, but we were very compatible when it came to animated conversation. The room was at the back of the house: it had a sliding glass door that opened onto a small back patio, and a large window opposite that overlooked a large courtyard at the front of the house that was enclosed completely on three sides. At each side of the window, hallways led to the left and right into the other two wings of the house, which together with the living room/kitchen wing, made a square-ish ‘C’ shape that hugged the courtyard.

We were still there in the living room when, perhaps around midnight, our conversation was abruptly cut short. For some inexplicable reason, I quickly looked at the window that overlooked the courtyard, expecting to see something looking in at us, but there was nothing visible. My friend turned a shade of ashen gray; I thought the poor boy was going to faint. Regardless, his fear no longer seemed an entertaining non-issue to me — whereas previously I had just about ignored his claims with a completely blasé attitude, I could tune him out no longer. An intense feeling of oppressive dread had overtaken me, sharply interrupting a completely innocuous conversation that would not have provoked such sensations.
“You saw something?” he asked timidly.
“No,” I told him, not wanting to scare him unnecessarily. However, I couldn’t just lie to him. “I … ‘felt’ something.”

“Felt something?!” he inquired. He was on the verge of panic.
“Well … yeah,” I said, choosing my words as carefully as I could.
“Who was it?” he asked.
“Who?… well, I don’t know about who…” I began, and then, without thinking, blurted out “But I know that it was standing on its hind legs.”
“WHAT?!” he cried. “Oh, Jesus Christ… standing on its hind legs?!”
I cringed. This was obviously not the most tactful way to deliver such a disturbing instinctive impression to a friend with a fearful nature. Not to mention the fact that I realize the mightiness of the power of suggestion, and I was nowhere near convinced of my own deductions. “Hey, look, it was probably nothing,” I insisted. “I just got the heebie-jeebies, that’s all. We didn’t ‘see’ anything.”

He looked at me blankly. He obviously wanted to trust my confidence, as shaky as it had become. However, he was already convinced, thanks to his own previous ‘sensations’ of a presence, and of being watched. Honestly, though, I still wasn’t convinced. In fact, I was quite ready to write this entire moment off as a robust case of The Creeps. We went on to bed.

We went to his room: there was no way he was sleeping in there alone, he assured me. His bedroom was at the end of the hall that came off the living room to the left, so it was the anchor to the left side of the courtyard (the right side of the house if you were facing it from the street). This hallway also included two other bedrooms and a bathroom, and the hall was lined with cabinets and a counter-like shelf on which decorative trinkets were displayed. In his room we talked a few moments longer, and then settled down to sleep, the door locked and the lights off. We were both a little rattled, but I’m a pretty decent sleeper so it didn’t take long for me to slip into a peaceful doze… Until the smash.

My friend and I both shook awake, the sound of a crash down the hallway jolting us from our quiet. We lay there for a few seconds, both frozen in fear, at which point my friend very quietly whispered, “Did… you… hear… that?”

“Yes,” I quietly said in return, the sense of dread incredibly powerful this time. It was undeniable; my skepticism had vanished like so much smoke. Mere seconds after our furtive verbal exchange, a riotous cacophony exploded from the hallway: a sound resembling stomping feet, slamming cabinet doors, walls being pummeled by a body and/or heavy objects that might have been flying off shelves. We lay there, stiff as boards, listening to the fury in the hall that seemed to be getting closer and closer to the bedroom door.

And then, probably three seconds after it began, it ended in a heartbeat, with the violent slamming of the heavy wooden exterior gate-door that separated the courtyard from the front lawn of the house.

We knew at that moment that whatever had unleashed its fury on the hall had left the premises for the night. We were too terrified to leave the room, however, and stayed the night there in a fitful slumber without further incident.

The following morning, we investigated the hallway. No objects were disturbed, and there was no physical evidence of the previous night’s rampage whatsoever. Within a year, he and his family moved out of the house and purchased a more desirable property.

[Originally published at on May 16, 2008.]