The Mysterious Case of Colonial Park
Three years ago one of the biggest fads on television was the ghost hunting show. Simple enough documentary style programs that that showed a team of people going out to some haunted location and trying to 'debunk' the happenings Scooby-Doo style. The always kept to a hand-cam visual style, with some eerie ambient music overlaying the quiet bits or just filling in the background. Well, one thing that I and my friends Eric, Ursula, and Kevin realized was that this style of show was very easy to replicate.
So in the summer of 2011 the four of us decided that it might be fun to try making one, maybe send it of to the Sci-Fi channel or something if we caught anything, but what we lacked was equipment and a location. Eric's family was rather loaded so he promised me (since it had been my idea) that he could get his hands on some voice recorders and video cameras if the rest of us found a place, well it only took one google search to see that through too.
There isn't much in the small town of Carlisle Pennsylvania where we lived at the time, and a quick look for 'haunted locations' kept coming up with one place that would actually be free to use. A small park, tucked away along a short road and nestled in between some dense forest, and a local graveyard. Colonial Park, it was called – and much to my surprise it had an interesting history of disappearances, strange events and sightings, it had even been the progenitor of a creepy pasta or two.
One thing however that came up in all of the stories about the place was about a mysterious bat creature. A 'demon' along the lines of the Jersey devil or Mothman apparently, with a large humanoid body, massive wing span, dark red eyes and sharp claws, it had been connected to several disappearances and is always the case with these monster stories, the page itself was littered with horribly Photoshopped pictures, 3D renderings, and artist depictions of this thing. (I'll try to leave a picture with this from the page)
Regardless, we knew we wanted to hit this place up. We figured, what was the harm? We show up at night, get some video footage of us calling out into the night, maybe find some 'mysterious' animal bones ( that we'd planted ourselves of course) and go home. Well, the following is a copy of the video transcript put together by police several days later. With luck, it will convince people to stay away from that place. I should also note that I've changed our names in this piece simply to protect us and our families.
The video begins with a sudden flash as the device's record button was hit, showing the four teens in a small vehicle, on their way to the park. The time stamp in the corner reads '10:24pm'.
“Hey, that thing running?” a male with glasses, Jack, asked leaning over in the front seat to look back at the camera holder.
The camera shakes in reply as the voice of Ursula is heard. “Yup, ready to find ourselves a monster.”
From the driver's seat, a blonde boy with glasses – Eric – looks back and grins. “Zoinks, gang – we're like, gonna find a g-g-g-ghost!” The group laughs at the reference, and the car pulls into a small lot, the camera looking through the car's window at the 'Colonial park' sign. “Well, we're here.” At this point the four get quiet, looking nervous as they slowly exit the car.
The camera pans around across the three males in the group, starting with Eric who is a lanky and tall person, with shaggy blonde hair and small glasses. He is wearing a green jacket, with a white shirt underneath and blue jeans.
Next it moved to Jack, who is broader across in the shoulders, with thick combed brown hair, and a local school sweater on.
Lastly it moved to Kevin who has a look of distress on his face already as he glances nervously at the nearby treeline. He is a bit taller than the others but built like Eric, thin and narrow. He wears a heavy winter coat, zipped up to the neck. Together the trio's attire marks the weather as cold, which fits with the timeline of events, as the suspect claimed it happened on november 5th.
“What's wrong Kev?” Ursula's voice asks, snapping the tall boy from his distant staring long enough to look at the camera and stammer that nothing's wrong.
At this point Jack leans back into the vehicle and produces four flashlights, laying them on the car, before going back in and pulling out a second video camera and some bright pink duct tape. He gives the camera an incredulous look, holding up the tape with as if to ask if Ursula was serious about the item, her giggle was the only given reply. Jack can be seen taping a flashlight onto the side of the other camera just as the video feed cuts out. The time stamp last reads '10:34pm'.
At 11:01pm the camera resumes, all three males are visible, and lined up with Jack in the center. He explains where they are and what is going to happen in the video. Stating that he, and Ursula will be going in one direction, while Kevin and Eric will be going the other. Eric is holding the second camcorder, lifting it and pressing a button to apparently show himself starting its recording.
As Jack continues speaking, a sudden screech is heard over the camera's audio, with Ursula stepping back from them and the three boys – startled, either duck or look around for the source of the sound. Just as suddenly a lone bat swoops into view before flying off into the trees, eliciting a laugh from the group.
“Looks like the bat creature's already got its sights on us!” Eric joked, a now very nervous Kevin glancing over at him and muttering that he shouldn't joke about that. With explanations over with, the group paired up and headed off in separate directions.
Jack and Ursula make their way onto a small trail leading back into the trees, with the camera every so often shifting around to look back behind them and show the steadily receding parking lot. Though there is no reaction to it, on the pan back to see what was in front of them, the flashlight does appear to pass over something large in the trees. However it was to indistinct to make out.
The recording continues for nearly 30 minutes without incident, the two teens talking and making small jokes, while Jack calls into the woods and asks questions to an audio recorder he produced from his pocket. The only light visible for much of this time is that of the flashlight, however the camera audio has something of note. You can distinctly hear the footsteps of the teens, but there is the occasional crunch of leaves or snapping branch in the distance somewhere off to the right. Since neither of them react however, it's difficult to tell if it's of any importance.
At 11:47pm, Ursula stops walking and pans the camera around either side of her, Jack stopping to regard her. “Hey, what's wrong?” he asked, clearly not bothered by the pitch dark night.
“It's nothing...I guess,” she replies. Her light then falls on a small burnt out concrete structure, an old well house as investigators have since reported. “Look there,” she says, her hand coming into frame long enough to point at the building and draw Jack's eyes. “Some kind of old building...should we check it out?”
Jack nods and begins to move off of the path towards the old structure remarking. “Hey, why not – places like that work for those hornet guys, right?” It is unclear what he meant by this statement. Ursula does not show a reaction either, simply following in silence with her camera fanning out on both sides. According to reports after the fact, Ursula claimed that by this point she had a feeling that they weren't alone out in the forest, and that she had hoped to catch Kevin or Eric following them as a prank.
As the pair reach the old worn out building, Jack indicates that he is going to circle it, and for Ursula to stay put. She objects but with a word of assurance he disappears into the shadows along side of the well house. The camera continues its nervous panning passing over another nondescript form in the trees, at this point the camera seems to malfunction as the screen became flooded with a red static, and the audio a loud garbled mess. The last visible time stamp was 12:03 am.
The time stamp upon the camera's return is 12:10am. When the video returns to normal, the camera is laying in the leaves with the voices of Jack and Ursula sounding behind it. “Ursula, hey – it's okay what happened?” Jack spoke, Ursula's voice coming across as a mixture of whimpering and audible sobbing.
The reasoning for this is yet unknown, however she is heard saying “It came right at me. Jack it ran right for me.” Footsteps are heard approaching the camera as she begs to leave the forest and to give up the whole endeavor. The camera rises, undoubtedly having been picked up by Jack as Ursula's voice sounds far off still. As the camera turns, it settles on Ursula, sitting on the forest floor with her back to a tall tree, her face panicked and blue eyes wide.
Jack turns from her for a moment to look over the building once more before he speaks. “Alright Urs. I don't know what happened...but we'll go. I'm sure between what we have and what Kev got we will -” His voice is cut off by a distant scream, it sounds decidedly male but it's impossible to tell with any certainty. As silence falls over the pair, it's important to note that any crickets, insects, animals or other sounds one would typically hear in the woods have gone quiet as well. Jack's hand comes into frame to offer his hand to Ursula who takes it gladly. “Shit, Urs you hands like ice..” Jack mumbled.
The pair began to head back towards the path but found themselves unable to locate it in the dark. The two's conversation quickly begins to devolve into a series of harsh whispers as they argue over which direction they had come from to start with. A rustling can be heard off to their right, which sounds like a series of deliberate footsteps. Ursula yelps at the sudden sound and Jack turns the camera to face it, catching only what appears to be a shadow moving with his light. Jack gives a gasp as the camera moves to something he appeared to have noticed for the first time, the light from the camera falling on a torn green jacket hanging on a bush.
While it is unclear if this was Eric's jacket, the sight is enough for Ursula to begin sobbing. Jack, still skeptical of what seems to be occurring around them, approaching the jacket and calling out to the other two. At this point he doesn't seem to be paying attention to the camera as it swung around with his arm movements. “Come on guys! This isn't funny anymore, you've got Ursula crying so just come out and let's get going.” No answer is heard however as the camera swoops around with his arm it passes again over a pair of red light sources In the trees, the source seeming to be the same black mass as caught before. The camera promptly cut to the red static but only until for a moment as the time stamp does not change in the sweep. (This tells me the static seems to be occurring in real time. Meaning there is no glitch with the device's clock. However, the presence of the shadow at each static burst is interesting.) Spitting a curse, the pair finally managed to pick a direction and begin picking their way through the dense forest.
For the entire rest of the video from 12:33am to 1:52am, the pair is largely silent, The sounds of their footsteps and the trailing sounds from earlier filling most of the void. Jack uses the camera light as a guide to watch the ground, wary of roots or other hazards. The few times he does move the camera around, the red dots and shadow form are again visible. Though they are farther into the trees than before. (It's worth noting that whatever these lights are seem to always be facing the pair. Like eyes in the dark. Possibly an animal?)
At 1:53am, the pair spot the 'eyes' once more, at the edge of the forest where the fluorescent lights of the city can now be seen. This affords us one clear look at the thing before the red static erupts over the camera for the last time. The creature stood roughly seven feet, according to analysis of the frame in which it was visible. With deep blood red eyes, indicating that this is what had been seen in the dark of the forest. Large bat wings coiled around it, making its body impossible to see. Its head was also unusual as it seemed, large, almost round like that of an owl, with a flat face whose only features were indeed those eyes.
The static consumed the footage for all but the last minute or so of the recording. Where we see Jack's face near the camera, laying passed out in the parking lot of the park. This is where police found him the next morning after being reported missing by his parents. The final time stamp was 2:58am.
The police, after hearing my story did a sweep of the woods at Colonial park. They were able to locate the torn jacket from the night before, but nothing else. Kevin, Ursula, and Eric weren't found, and neither was the camera or voice recorder Eric had taken with him. The police held me for several days, trying to figure out if I was lying, or if I had somehow hurt my friends but of course, they found nothing.
As for me, all I remember from that last hour or so, was seeing that thing standing there. Seeing it run towards Ursula and I, and me pushing Ursula back behind me as it did. Everything else was just a blur, and I'm still not sure how I got from there to the parking lot in under an hour. None of it makes sense, but I know I have to go back. That red eyed creature is there..and somewhere in those woods is the footage of what happened to Eric and Kevin.
One day, I'll figure out the truth of it, but until then – stay far, far away from Carlisle's Colonial Park.