Saturday, March 3, 2018

Story time: The Bizarre Mysteries of Deep Creek Lake

Fresh off our recent success with "A Second Chance at Love," a historical fairy tale featuring Napoleon, Sarah and I turned to a different genre — the ghost story — for our latest story based on a vintage postcard. The postcard we used is a Curt Teich & Co. linen card, one of their series of 10 moonlight scenes, featuring Deep Creek Lake, near Oakland, Maryland. Fair warning: You might not want to read this before bedtime, or on a dark and stormy night.

The Bizarre Mysteries of Deep Creek Lake
Cody Grayson and Zachariah Phoenix, both college students, arrived at Deep Creek Lake just as it was getting dark. It was autumn, so it was chilly but not too cold. They had come to the lake to find out if all the stories people were saying about the place were true.

They were best friends, and they planned to camp overnight near the lake, so that they could explore and investigate. When they put down their backpack, Cody heard a howl -- maybe it was a wolf? -- in the woods.

“Zac, how many people did you say have gone missing here?” Cody asked, his voice a bit unsteady.

“About four,” Zac replied. “Why?”

“Well, I just wonder if the stories are true. And it does seem a little spooky out here,” Cody said.

Zac didn’t want to scare his friend any more than he was already scared, so he didn’t answer. He believed that people had gone missing. And he was curious to find answers. Zac was just as nervous as Cody, but he was doing a good job of hiding it.

They put down their tent and backpacks. Zac opened his backpack and took out a flashlight.

“So what was the first weird story that came out of this place?” Cody asked.

“A few years ago, there was a girl who went by Jess, that was just like you and me, and she loved the outdoors. She had a boat her father made for her by hand. So one day, in late October, she came to the lake to get away from her family, because they had a fight and the outdoors were her escape. So she came to Deep Creek Lake with her boat on her trailer on the back of her truck. It was a colder and windier night, and she got to the lake, got her boat off the trailer, drug it from land to the water, got in it, and sailed off into the lake. And she was never heard from after that.”

Cody gulped.

“She just disappeared?” Cody asked. “How does a person just disappear? Maybe her boat just sank. Did they look for the boat?”

“The police tried to get local residents to help with the search, but they refused, because they were terrified of the legends,” Zac said.

“What legends?” Cody asked.

“The locals say this lake is haunted by a spirit called Tizheruk, who was originally an Indian maiden who died horribly. She got decapitated while she was alive and her body parts, some burned, were scattered all around the lake. Now her ghost haunts the area.”

Zac paused. He looked at Cody.

“And maybe it does more than haunt,” Zac added.

At that moment, Zac turned on the flashlight, which startled Cody.

Even more startling was that fact that the light of the flashlight was shining upon a third person. Or, perhaps, a thing.

Zac and Cody froze. Cody tried to get a good look at what was standing a few yards in front of them.

It was a young woman, a few years older than them. She was wearing a blue long-sleeve shirt, a black T-shirt over it and white jeans. Her hair was a little longer than shoulder length, and dark brown. There seemed to be a weird glow around her.

She stepped forward.

“I’ve been very lonely,” she said. “I was hoping someone would come and visit.”

Zac’s hand was shaking, causing the flashlight to bob slightly up and down.

The woman took a step toward Zac. She reached out for his hand, but before she could touch it, Cody jumped between them, pushing Zac to the ground. Zac dropped the flashlight, which rolled away from them. Now the full moon provided the only light.

“What did you do that for?” Zac yelled from the ground.

“Maybe it’s the evil spirit! Maybe it’s trying to get you and then it’ll come after me!”

Cody whirled around to face the woman.

“Who are you? Explain yourself,” he said, trying not to show his fear.

“My name is Jess,” she said. “I went boating after I left my house, because I was mad at my parents. I don’t remember what happened after that. What happened to me?”

“That’s impossible,” Zac said, standing up and brushing the dirt off his black jeans. “Jess disappeared three years ago. She’s gone. How are you possibly Jess?”

“Do you have any ID?” Cody asked, picking up the flashlight.

The woman reached into her back pocket and pulled out a beat-up wallet. She opened it, showing a driver’s license. It had her picture, and the name Jessica Gold.

Zac and Cody both gasped.

“It’s not possible,” Cody said.

Zac looked closely at the woman. She certainly looked like she could be Jess. And there was that driver’s license as proof. But what about the weird glow they had seen around her body? It made Zac suspicious. Then he came up with a plan. He pulled Cody close and whispered in his ear.

“We should be careful and, just in case, be ready to run,” Zac said to his friend.

Zac turned back toward the woman.

“We have all been very worried about you, Jess,” he said. “Just tell me one more thing, though. How did you get your boat? The one you brought out to the lake.”

The woman stared at them for a moment. Then she spoke.

“My head is a little foggy,” she said. “I can’t remember what store I got it from right now.”

“A-ha! It wasn’t from a store!” Cody yelled, pointing a finger. “Your own father built it. Surely the real Jess would remember that!”

The woman hissed. Her face -- its face -- flickered for a moment, as if that wasn’t its real face at all. It took a step toward Cody.

“RUN!” yelled Zac, and the two of them dashed for their car.

As they ran, they couldn’t hear anyone -- or anything -- behind them. But they definitely sensed that something was behind them, and they kept running to the car.

Zac and Cody, both absolutely terrified at this point, quickly got into their car. Zac pulled out the keys and tried to start the car with a shaky hand. It finally, after the third try, started. As he slammed his foot on the gas, they both heard a high-pitched, angry scream. It was very close.

Off they drove. Cody had to keep reminding Zac not to speed on the dirt road leading away from the lake. Finally, they got back to the highway. After a few miles, they came upon a well-lit gas station. Zac pulled over and actually exhaled for what seemed like the first time in a long time.

The gas-station attendant, an old man, walked slowly over to their car. He was Native American and was wearing an old-stained jumpsuit. He chin was covered with a little bit of gray stubble. He looked like he had seen a lot of things during his long lifetime.

“What’s wrong, fellas,” he asked.

They told him what they had just been through, what they had just narrowly escaped.

He nodded wisely, and looked up at the sky.

“You’re the lucky ones,” he said. “She always comes out on a full moon.”

“She?” Zac said, nervously.



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Addendum: Here's the book cover that we designed for this tale...

1 comment:

  1. This is a wonderful story and that cover is great - just like a pulp novel!