Night Stalker in Carthage Falls, by Kevin Lazarus

(From: The Dark Side of Carthage Falls, the Anthology – Kevin Lazarus – by Kevin Lazarus)

What I am about to tell you is the beginning of a series of truly mysterious events that happened to me when I was very young. I have told these stories to very few during my lifetime and refrain from using the name of the town out of consideration for friends who might still live there; who also experienced similar events. What I am about to reveal to you is the truth.

Autumn Shadows

The onset of fall came early that year, ushered in by windy nights and chilled breezes. Even at the age of eight I knew it meant that the snow would fly early and that it was going to be a long winter. As with most autumns, the sun would set earlier with each day. We had just moved to this town because it was close to my step-father’s work. I will call the town Carthage Falls for the sake of a name. We moved into a new house that had just been built in a new development on the side of a mountain in Carthage Falls. As I would learn later in life, this little town was old and had a dark legacy well known among the locals.

That summer had been full of new friends and new adventures—and I didn’t want it to end. I didn’t want to go to a new school or have a new teacher. Things at home weren’t all that great, so I didn’t want to be there either. I would stay as long as I could at my friend’s, even into the fall, well after school had begun—when night would come early. That’s when it started, on one of those long walks home—in the dark—when I first realized that strange sensation, that I wasn’t alone.

In the middle of a stretched, lonely sidewalk, I stopped and surveyed my surroundings. I was keenly aware of every sound, every movement and every shadow. Though I couldn’t see anything, I could feel it. I had never had that kind of experience in my life. It was like an alarm going off in my soul; a warning bell ringing in my head. Something was following me. I could feel it.

For a moment, I deluded myself with the hope that it was one of my friend’s parents watching over me, making sure that I arrived home safe. With my growing awareness of every shadow, heightened by nearby street lamps; every leaf tumbling in the autumn breeze, I began to wish it was one of my friend’s parents—but it wasn’t—and there was no one there!

In my child like way of viewing the world, I brushed it off believing my imagination was getting the best of me; thinking, of course, that it was the effect of those scary movies I had become so fond of every Friday night. At that moment I took off running all the way home. I blew through the front door where I hugged my mother, ate my dinner and huddled under the covers of my bed; where the events of a strange experience finally faded somewhere between the twilight of my sleep and the advent of my dreams.

My mysterious night follower suddenly stopped. With each walk home after sunset it didn’t happen again for some time. In fact, weeks passed, and being no different than most kids my age, I forgot about the strange occurrences. Then—one quiet evening, just after sunset—it happened again. Like before, I heard the inexplicable footsteps. And as I did before, I stopped and looked around. The feeling of something following me was thick in the air. I could nearly taste it in my mouth. Someone was there, watching me—stalking me. This time I was bolder, thinking that it was my friend (hoping that it was my friend). I yelled for him to stop scaring me and go home. I waited for the sound of my voice to clear and then I listened, watching for him to suddenly reveal himself. I could picture him in my mind’s eye laughing at me as he stepped out from behind some shadow. It was a humiliation that I would have easily welcomed. Nevertheless, in the heavy air of that still autumn night, there was only silence. No friend revealed himself. Invigorated by my fear, I once again sprinted the full distance to my home, never daring once to look back.

Now I was torn between staying late with my friends and that long walk home after dark. It became an emotional struggle of enormous proportions; go home where I knew there was always a storm brewing; always a fight hanging in the air, or stay a little longer with friends who wanted me there and hope nothing would follow me home in the dark.

One evening I forgot. I had been so involved with my friends, that when I realized it—it was too late—the sun had set. And, it was time for me to leave.

As I walked home, I tried to think of anything else but that awful sensation which I had felt on so many occasions. I even tried whistling to distract myself. It was then, while I was walking along, that I heard my worst nightmare. The footsteps! I could hear them again—right behind me! Yet, I had been so noisy that it was difficult to tell. So I quit whistling, took a few more steps, and then stopped abruptly. I felt my heart sink and a cold chill flow through me like a wave, as I listened to hear at least three more footsteps.

An explosion went off in my head and I had an adrenalin rush that threw my heart into panic. Thoughts were flashing through my mind quicker than lightning bolts. Now not only could I feel it, I could hear it!

Praying this time that it was one of my friends, I decided to fight back. I figured they weren’t that far behind me. They had to be standing there on that sidewalk, or so I thought, believing that I wouldn’t turn around; wanting to continue scaring me. I spun around on my heels and started to scream, “I caught you!” and found myself staring at an empty sidewalk. But, the feeling wasn’t gone. I still wasn’t alone! I wanted to run, but for some horrifying reason, I couldn’t move my legs any faster than a slow gate. I turned back towards home and started walking. Once more, I heard the sound of footsteps. And again, I turned around. As before there was nothing there. It was then that my fear jolted me into action and the adrenaline finally kicked in, and I ran! Like the wind! As if long bony fingers from some wicked hand were tickling at my back; this time, running so hard that I could feel the pounding of my heart beating up through my chest; throbbing up into my ears.

On the stoop of our home, I had the insane temerity to stop and turn around; my back hugging the front door with my hand tight on the doorknob. I quietly surveyed our little neighborhood, dark and silent; the empty street in front of our home, and our sidewalk was vacant too. Out of the corner of my eye I was somewhat aware as a breeze blew autumn leaves across our lawn, as well as stirring the hedgerows. The street light shinning off in the distance was too dim to be of any serious use. I stood there drained of my strength, searching the shadows, keenly aware—that there was something seriously wrong with Carthage Falls!

TO BE CONTINUED…

New installment: THE DARK SIDE OF CARTHAGE FALLS, January 04, 2012

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Copyright 2011 Kevin Lazarus/DreamStream Productions Inc.

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