Here in the Hogan's Gap area is possibly the least known of all ghost towns in the West. Far enough off the beaten track to escape notice from tourists, souvenir hunters and vandals, Ferrisville is protected as a State Historic Park, though you won't find any fancy recreated saloons and hotels, antique shops and general stores nor make-believe attractions worthy of Disneyland there.
There are no basic services, camping, lodging, food vending or water fountains. There is not even a museum open during the summer to offer items available for sale. No team of rangers visit to maintain the site in a state of "arrested decay." It's off limits to the general public.
At the visitors' centers in Hogan's Gap, the pamphlets showing the various walking trails, picnic areas, and scenic camping spots will not present its location. Only on maps prior to 1896, would you find any mention of its existence.
That was how I found out there was such a place as Ferrisville, through a faded old map I discovered in a Prince Albert tobacco can nailed to a fallen tree. A map from perhaps a century ago.
I was eight back then and my brother Thomas was seven. We were following a narrow deer trail above this deep river canyon. We weren't even supposed to be up there; our parents would ground us several times over if they had found out. But they were too busy hosting a barbecue party at the time to notice our sudden departure.
After clambering up a small waterfall, we soon noticed shimmering in the forest gloom, an albino redwood tree growing from the remnants of a lightning-struck tree. As I paused at a dinner-platter-sized hole in the stump, I wondered what animal may have lived there. I noticed the nailed-up tin and pried it loose.
As soon as we got back home, I cleaned it. Opening the lid, I began tapping the tin gently to empty what I thought was some tobacco. To my amazement, I found it wasn't tobacco at all but an old faded piece of paper. I plucked the folded paper from the tin can and carefully unfolded it. It turned out to be a note detailing what appeared to be a mining claim in some place called Ferrisville.
I had never even heard of Ferrisville. When I started asking questions about it, locals once friendly and knowledgeable about Hogan's Gap's colorful past would suddenly turn distant and taciturn, or else they would change the subject altogether. Eventually, my grandparents told me to stop pestering people with "such foolish questions." When I asked why it was foolish exactly, my grandmother would say, "It's not something people like talking about. It's kind of like having a crazy relative you keep in the attic."
Naturally, this explanation made me even more curious, but seeing that I was a pretty obedient kid, I didn't press the matter, even when the tobacco can and its tattered contents mysteriously vanished from my room. I suspected that Thomas could have had something to do with its disappearance, for I told no one else of my find. Of course, he could have just blabbed about it to my ever-disapproving folks. Whenever it came to interesting stuff, Thomas couldn't help himself but blab.
The years passed, and although I grew older, my curiosity about Ferrisville never waned. It was always at the back of my mind whenever I walked the hall of Hogan's Gap High, stood on the Quad, sat in the back rows of classes or talked with my friends. It was through these friends that I found out a few more things about Ferrisville. Unlike me, they were not of the tight-lipped, founding clique of Hogan's Gap's life and traditions.
It was a sunny April afternoon. Lunch time had just started and the Drama Room as well as the hallway and grass just outside were flooded with the constant coming and going of two dozen Drama Geeks. Nine Inch Nails and Lady Gaga issued from the stereo system, card games were in full progress, a small Hackey Sack convention claimed the small stage, and three or four conversations were happening at once near the door.
"I had heard stories from my grandmother," said Laurie, who was always ready to spill the beans on local superstitions and gossip, "who had heard it from her parents about strange happenings and human oddities of old Ferrisville."
"What sort of stories?" I asked curiously. "That they had gills and big bulgy eyes and swam out into the ocean at night?"
I was a total H. P. Lovecraft fan, by the way, and have written many Lovecraft-inspired stories to be published. They never were. I thought about using my rejection notices as wallpaper, but then I realized what a stereotype it would be. So I shredded them all and fed them to my worm farm.
Laurie fingered her curly blonde hair thoughtfully. "No, nothing Lovecraftian weird," she replied. "Just that the Ferrisville folk were strange— like over eight feet tall, and wraith-thin. They looked like those creepy elves from the second Hellboy movie."
Having never seen the second Hellboy movie... or the first, I could only imagine the elves out of J. R. R. Tolkien's stories. Elvish nobles with flowing ash-blonde hair and noses like eagles' beaks, and very extravagant tastes in clothes. Not very creepy at all- unless, of course, you were an orc.
Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" suddenly came on. Someone turned the damn thing way up at full volume. I got up and turned it down at notch, then returned to my seat.
"And they had this insane, ritualistic stuff," Laurie went on, "stuff you wouldn't even believe unless you time traveled back to Ancient Rome or Pagan Europe."
I nodded gravely, wondering if Laurie's grandmother might have been hitting the sauce a little when she was telling her grandchildren these stories. "Did your grandmother ever tell you what exactly happened to Ferrisville?" I asked.
"It was some kind of flu epidemic round about eighteen-ninety-six," Laurie crinkled her nose. "Not the same strain that hit in 1918. This kind moved fast, killed in just a few days."
A stray hackey sack sailed into our midst. I instantly threw it back without looking up.
"So it wiped out the whole town then?" I prompted.
"Yep," Laurie answered with a nod. "Every man, woman and child, all of a sudden— gone. Folks from the surrounding communities didn't even know the town was gone, until several weeks later when someone noticed a lot of vultures hovering over the Mulligan River valley. They didn't even try giving everyone a decent burial, just burned the entire place to the ground."
"You've got to be pulling my leg!" I said incredulously. "It sounded like something that happened out of the Middle Ages, not the late nineteenth century!"
The stereo blared again:
"I'm beautiful in my way
'Cause God makes no mistakes."
Hurriedly, I got up and turned it down again. Who keeps doing that? I wondered. I don't see anybody turning it up at max level!
"I swear I'm not pullin' your leg about this," Laurie insisted as soon as I returned to my seat. "It really did happen."
I carefully searched her face for a hint of a mischievous smile, but she seemed really earnest.
"Well, if this lethal outbreak and town burning really did happen then how come it doesn't show up in the historical records?"
Laurie shrugged. "Well, I guess the people back then were so freaked out about a whole town up and dying like that, that it became a taboo to even talk about it," she mused, frowning. "Nobody likes to talk about it— even today. Many of the families around here are descended from people involved in the town's destruction, and there's a quite of bad feeling over it even now."
"I take it the Ferrisville folk weren't too well liked around here," I remarked.
Laurie nodded. "Yeah, no one seemed to liked them any. Even the Chinese and Indians were scared of them. Maybe because they looked and acted really weird, not like, well, humans."
I raised my eyebrows a notch. "Well, they had to have been human," I muttered. "Maybe really inbred, but still human. They all died of some massive flu bug, and their bodies were all destroyed. If they were not human, they would have all risen from the dead."
Laurie shrugged again. "Well, according to the stories I heard," she said quietly, "they didn't exactly stay dead very long."
"What?" I stared at her in bewilderment. Then a hackey sack sailed in, not sure if it was the same one, and landed on my head. Again I tossed it back.
"They were all up and walking around in only a month," Laurie went on. "The town eventually got rebuilt."
"So there's a town after all?" I said slowly.
"Yeah, there's a town," Laurie murmured, "but nobody knows exactly what shape its in because nobody ever goes there now... Well, a few people did in the past—mostly outsiders, but none of them ever came back."
“That’s not exactly so,” a voice unexpectedly said.
Both me and Laurie looked up and recognized the familiar sophomore Elisha “Patches” Thompson. She was a small, twiggy brunette with a feathered “wings” haircut. She got the nickname “Patches” because she always wore an oversized denim jacket that was covered with a kaleidoscope of colorful patches. "Sorry to interrupt,” said Patches, seating herself at the next empty desk, “but I’m afraid what you just said about people not coming back from that place isn’t exactly true.”
Laurie frowned. “What? You actually know someone who came back.”
“Three people actually,” Patches put down her coffee mug of soup, and draped one slender leg over the other. “You’re looking at one of them.”
Since Elisha wasn’t the kind of person who had a flair of spinning tall tales, we were naturally intrigued.
“So when did this happen exactly?” Laurie asked, munching a bit of her Lean Cuisine spinach salad.
“Halloween, wasn’t it?” I asked, taking a bite of my hamburger.
The reason I asked about Halloween was that always something weird would happen around that time.
Just last year, on that most celebrated of days, the girl a few houses down from us got a Black Shuck for a pet and then around the same time, my kid brother Thomas Lutz, along with several of his pals, saw the infamous Gray Man, and then in nearly Curtisville, there was the Leaping Sparkle Lice Scare followed shortly by the bizarre accidental death and possible zombification of Lolly Mcclaren, spoiled brat and bully.
Patches shook her head. “Well, not on Halloween, but close to it. This story really begins with me getting my driver’s license...”
Laurie held up her hand. “Wait a minute. Aren’t you a bit young to get a driver’s license?”
“Unless it’s a special hardship license where there’s a family hardship or you need transportation to and from school,” I interjected.
“I got very sick with rheumatic fever when I was fifteen,” Patches explained, “so I lost a school year while recovering. I’m going to be seventeen in two weeks.”
“ Ahhh...okay,” Laurie nodded slowly.
Meanwhile, I ate a French fry and immediately regretted it; it tasted like dry cardboard.
“So anyway, this all started when I got my driver’s license. Naturally, I was pretty nervous, but eventually I got confident enough to drive a stick without killing the engine. Now the main reason I got it was because I didn’t have to take the bus and deal with all the weeb freaks on board. The worst of these being a girl who called herself Kazuki, even though she didn’t look the least bit Japanese. This was one of her anime names she used the longest (about two and a half years) although she was known by many other Mary Sue names throughout our school, such as Fizz-chan, Scarlet Magnolia, Golden Wind Horse, along with a few others she borrowed from various anime and video games.”
“Ugh,” Laurie grimaced. “She went to the same middle school I did. She started showing up at my house, completely unannounced. Usually, I would either hide in my room or behind the couch and pretend no one was home, but sometimes she would catch me outside, and I couldn’t think up a good enough excuse to say no, especially when she was giving me that sad puppy look. Then we would have Yu-Gi-Oh or Pokemon card matches.
“It was the closest thing I ever came to being a weeaboo and I still cringe at the very thought of it, three years later.”
I munched more of my hamburger reflectively. “I don’t remember her.”
“Well, she got expelled from the eighth grade by the time you transferred there. Seems like the 'silly baka’ gave some girl pinkeye by licking her eyeball.”
Patches hissed in disgust while I stared at Laurie. “You’re kidding.”
“I wish I was,” said Laurie sullenly. “That girl had obvious mental issues, and it finally took an attempt at germ warfare to get her finally kicked out.”
“Yeah, too bad she didn’t stay expelled,” Patches muttered, taking a sip of her soup, “cause she was there in the ninth grade when I finally came to school. Worst and even weirder than ever, now specializing in voodoo curses, attack glomps in the hall and nasty practical jokes.”
I put my hamburger down. “Wow, I wish I could have seen it for myself, but unfortunately...I got held back in the eighth grade around that time.”
“You were lucky,” Laurie muttered, solemnly considering her spinach salad as if it was a crystal ball. “That crazie made our freshman years a living hell, and this Kazuki whatever the hell her actual name was...didn’t even look like a weirdie.”
I raised my eyebrows as well as my hamburger. “Oh? What’d she look like?”
“Well, she didn’t look your stereotypical, socially awkward kind of weeaboo who has this trouble with personal hygiene,” Laurie replied. “Even though she was always wearing anime T-shirts or sailor school uniforms, she was this geeky, frizzy-haired ginger kid, kinda scrawny because she was one of those people with those crazy, super-charged metabolisms who could eat a ton of junk food and not gain a pound. If you had seen her, you would have felt sorry for her...like we did way back in the fifth grade and that was one of the biggest mistakes we have ever made.”
I looked at her curiously. “So what finally happened to this Kazuki?”
Laurie shrugged. “Well, I heard she finally got the boot along with several others for pulling a really nasty Halloween prank on this one popular girl...only the prank backfired and they ended up scaring the girl’s kid sister and she went into a shock-induced coma.”
“Geez, that poor kid,” I said sadly.
“Yeah,” Laurie nodded solemnly. “Poor kid. She’s lucky she’s alive and up and running again after several weeks in intensive care, although she’ll probably have a persistent phobia for slimy green things.”
I gazed at her, incredulous. “What? Someone dressed up as the Gill Man?”
Before Laurie could reply, Patches spoke up. “No, it was something far worse.”
We both looked at her in astonishment.
“You saw what they did?” Laurie finally asked.
Patches shook her head. “No, but I saw what that little girl might have seen.”
Still staring at her, I put my hamburger down a third time. “And does this have anything to do with your trip to Ferrisville?”
“Actually, I didn’t go into Ferrisville,” Patches replied. “I only saw it, and the two people that came back from it.” She took a big sip of her soup before brushing fastidiously at her mouth with a napkin. “Would you like me to tell you the whole thing from the beginning in the time we have left?”
“Sure, okay,” said Laurie agreeably.
I gave Elisha a reassuring nod. “We still have forty-five minutes to go.”
So Elisha A. K. A. Patches or Patchwork Girl told us the story in that crowded corner of the Drama Room as we crowded in closer, straining our ears over the various background noises. I soon resented the person who decided to put on the sound track from The Lion King, the annoying little squeals and tunes of some Angry Birds app game, and I could have cursed the nosy Drama Geeks and random visitors whose inquires briefly interrupted our private gathering. Minutes ticked by and I was glad it was bright out. Though I was a rationalist and skeptic, my scientific zeal for research had vanished amidst deep fear and loathing, and I wondered if such ghastly things were even possible in our modern age.
Elisha was first and foremost a master mechanic. She didn’t get her engineer/designs skills from some autism spectrum disorder; she got it from watching her dad and uncle work in their auto repair shop. Ever since the age of twelve, she had always shown a strong interest in cars, eventually buying and restoring her own classical Mustang. It took her longer than expected on account of her illness, but eventually, with a little help of her dad and uncle, the car was soon restored to a pristine, original state.
Although the response at school and around town to Elisha’s project had been largely positive, it did raise the jealous ire of some shallow and small-minded people, the chief one being Kazuki A. K. A. Traci Algers A. K. A. Weeaboo Stalker and Established Class Oddball and Voodoo Jinx.
So me and Laurie finally learned what her real name was. Elisha found out near the end of the eighth grade when she finally decided to accept a long delayed invitation and hang out with “Kazuki” over at her house. Once there, she noticed the Mother always calling her Traci.
“The whole time,” Patches declared, “I believed her name was Kazuki. She even wrote it on all her school papers. How did she get away with it for so long, I haven’t the slightest idea, but that really peeved me off. Yet I didn’t up and leave. I didn’t want to appear rude to the rest of the family. Unlike Traci/Kazuki, they seemed normal, nice even, not trashy, druggy types at all. I felt really sorry for them. They seemed resigned to the fact that this one member of the family was always going to be a complete rabid nutter as well as an idiot.
“But I should have left without drinking that damn punch she offered me, because I got really sick shortly afterward. She either tainted the punch or I caught the bug from her room. It was horrible, that room--a rat’s paradise, filthy dishes and clothes piled everywhere, not to mention anime merchandise as well as creepy posters of naked anime characters plastered all over the walls and windows.
“The smell of that room alone was enough to make even the most iron-clad gastric of people to suddenly gag. While I tried not to vomit, Traci would be watching some trashy anime, completely oblivious to the horrific, death-like stench and week-old, maggot-ridden food remnants.
“I never went back to that place, although Traci kept trying to get me to hang out with her again, even during my sick days. Eventually, the harassment stopped after she got expelled for the pinkeye incident, and I eventually got some much-needed peace and quiet.”
“Yeah, and that’s when she started harassing me again with her stupid battle/trade card and her yaoi collection...Oh Gawd!” Laurie rolled her eyes ceiling-ward. “She was obsessed with that pervy-fetish stuff, used to show it off to the younger kids on the bus, claimed she even drew them herself. I called her out on this bullcrap, which resulted in a karate head slap, as well as weebish utterance of ‘silly baka!’ and ‘Ooh! You’re just a jealous troll!’”
“So what happened to her finally?” I abruptly asked, “and what does this all have to do with Ferrisville?”
“I was just getting to that,” said Patches impatiently. “While Traci was the stereotypically weeaboo nuisance in the seventh and eighth, she became the worst type of cringey, mental moron in the ninth. I have no idea what it was exactly that made her snap, though there were plenty of rumors--her mom finding her yaoi binder and making her burn it, her room getting a full ‘intervention’ makeover, she having to go to a summer boot camp after scaring her two visiting cousins with curses and voodoo dolls. However, I believed there was a much more sinister explanation to her increasingly outrageous behavior...”
“Crack?” a new voice blurted out, causing me to yelp.
We all turned, gazing uncomprehendingly at the shaggy, disheveled Hackey Sacker who was helping himself to my burger and fries (which was fine by me because I pretty much lost my appetite at the description of Traci’s room).
Patches shook her head dazedly. “Uhh...no. I was referring to cursed costumes.”
“Oh, bad mojo,” the new guy sagely intoned, nodding. “Lots of that around, especially in Curtisville. That’s ground zero for fire witch covens and other weird hoodoo shit.”
“Yeah, well...as I was saying,” continued Patches with a slight blush. “Cursed costumes. Fast forward to three weeks after the disaster October slumber party, and two weeks before Halloween and I’m in the lavatory near the end of biology class, feeling rather sick to my stomach and hoping this wasn’t a return of the rheumatic fever.
“Eventually, the queasy feeling passed and I stepped out of the stall and started washing my hands. As I was reaching for a paper towel, I caught a glimpse of the lavatory entrance. The door was wedged opened as always like all the school lavatory doors, I guess so they could easily catch the kids doing something illicit in there.
“Well, from where I was standing, I could easily see the doorway, and what lie beyond it, only I didn’t see the familiar tiled hallway. I saw a completely different scene entirely--a nighttime scene over what looked like a cul-de-sac. The street was well paved and gas-lit, and lined with these old, half-timbered mansions and thatched cottages, like what you would see in Europe. At the end of the cul-de-sac was the biggest building of all--an enormous manor house with what looked like stables or a garage off to the side. Near the flagstone walk leading to the front stood a stone statue of a tall figure in a hooded monk’s robe. It held aloft in one hand a candelabra of lanterns, all of which were lit with this flickering greenish-yellow light. It reminded me of the glow of a firefly and it was the only house that had that colored light.”
“Wooooaahh, massive acid trip!” grinned the new guy I dubbed ‘Surfer Dude.’
“Absolutely not!” Patches snorted. “I never once tried drugs nor did I have a history of mental problems. While this reality-warping experience was going on, I thought someone was playing a joke on me. Naturally, I suspected Traci, of course. I had suffered pranks from her before, possibly in revenge for me actively avoiding and blatantly ignoring her, but then I realized she didn’t have the technical know-how to pull this stunt off so I assumed it was some maverick film-maker with a knack for practical jokes.
“But then I felt an icy current of air that sent chill after chill down my arms and saw the trees and bushes moving like in a steady breeze. I even smelt an odor of wet earth and leaves and of various flowering shrubs. So this couldn’t have been a big special effect that happening on some massive movie screen outside. This had to be freaking real and I was probably trapped in the freaking lavatory with no freaking way out other than that eerie cul-de-sac, which was probably crawling with zombies and other annoying monsters.
“Just as I was about to pull out my phone and text a message of help to one of my friends, I heard it--loud braying. Now when I say braying, I mean BRAYING. That was the best description I could come up with. It sounded like a cross between a donkey, a hyena and a squealing pig. Quite possibly the most frightening sound I’ve ever heard in my life and hoped to never to hear again.
“I stared down the cul-de-sac, trying to search out the source of that horrible voice. And then the front door of the manor house burst open and a large, vaguely female-looking form tromped out followed shortly by a shorter, slightly more hairy individual who was carrying several grocery bags.
“Shock soon turned to panic when I observed this thing and its companion/servant/whatever heading straight toward me so I quickly ducked into the nearest stall.
“Shuffling footsteps soon sounded on the linoleum as the creatures entered the lavatory. Quickly I jumped up onto the toilet as my feet wouldn’t be spotted and then I bolted the stall door. As I peered through the crack, the larger of the two beasts lumbered past. A rancid stench wafted past, singeing my nostrils and back of my throat. Its stringy and greasy hair hung from its enormous head and about its flabby, sore-speckled, puss-besmirched arms. Its face was barely human, more like a combination of a baboon and a goat. At the same time, it was corpse-like, the skin was like moldy parchment and eaten away in places.”
“Woah, that’s one gnarly monster dude!” the Surfer Dude exclaimed.
“No shit!” agreed another Hackey Sacker.
“Yeah, it was totally boss!” exclaimed a third young savage. “Hey, can I have some of that green stuff?” He pointed to Laurie’s half-finished spinach.
“Yeah, go ahead,” Laurie sighed, sliding her paper over. “I just lost my appetite.”
Patches downed a big gulp of her soup and refolded her legs. “The only things that looked remotely human on it were the ugly purple muu-muu that highlighted every spare tire and revolting sagging boobs and huge white tube socks and Crocs that encased the fleshy elephantine ‘tugboats’ that were its feet.
“The thing was pacing back and forth, braying each time it passed my hiding place, its numerous fat rolls rippling and swaying as it shook its meaty fists in the air. Though its braying outbursts were largely incomprehensible, I was able to discern that the mostly one-sided conversation revolved around some town called Ferrisville. I assumed that was the name of the place these two freaks just exited. The troll/leper/hambeast/whatever it was was raving about the elfin mages and wizards that lived in this town and how it was really unfair about them hoarding all this powerful ‘mana’ and only doling out really small amounts of ‘piss ant magic’ that doesn’t seem to do much of anything other then wart curses and lice infections. Then the thing became as loud as ever, smashing its fists against the stalls and walls as it ranted and raved about this ‘Poshy Faire Haven Bitch’ for kicking her out of the sleepover and not having any ‘real understanding’ about her ‘vampire phase.’
“When I heard those last few sentences, I nearly lost my footing on the toilet.
“There were rumors flying all around the school that day of the sickening horrors wrought by Traci Algers on Mirya Orioles’s party. I wouldn’t go into details of what she did exactly, except to say it was probably one of the grossest things I’ve ever heard in my life and no one ever trusted her again after that.
“Traci still came to school although she kept a low profile, hiding in corners and never talking to anyone except to her few equally-delusional, special snowflaky friends.
“So I’m wondering to myself, how could this hideous waddling abomination be Traci? She was a short, scrawny thing--4'11, a foot shorter than me. This zombie hellbeast was around 6'12 and was a hefty 350-400 pounds and could easily do me serious damage.
“Meanwhile the monster was yelling at the top of its lungs as it detailed its plot of revenge against Mirya Orioles and the rest of her gang, and I quote, 'There’s a high price to pay for kicking my ass...I’m gonna make you pay, you rotten town elf. You’re gonna pay! I’ll put the costume curse on all of you!'
“At this point, the beast’s companion, whom I only caught glimpses of, walked into view. It looked like a rabid, realistic version of the Tails Fox in the Sonic games. Although frightening, it didn’t even come close to the hideousness of the hellbeast. The Fox said something quietly to it, something like ‘You’re wearing it,’ and the beast immediately ceased its tirade and lavatory assault and the two left my sight. I simply assumed they passed through the door back into the Ferrisville dimension, but I was wrong.
“I heard the familiar bell ring for lunch break and everyone rushing out of the classes. I rushed out of the stall and saw that the hallway was back where it should be, and as I stepped out of the lavatory, I saw Traci Algers (now back to her usual weebish self) walking away with the blonde, bespectacled Ellie Vernes wearing her usual set of fox ears with the bedraggled piece of tail fur looped around her cubby waist. Although Ellie held the same grocery bags as that Fox, there were no monstrous creatures to be seen anywhere.
“I often wondered what was in those sacks--black magic stuffs they got from that Ferrisville place or more cursed costumes...like the ones Traci and Ellie were wearing back in the lavatory.”
Laurie narrowed her eyes sharply. “Did you tell anyone else about this?”
Patches shrugged. “Well, I certainly didn’t tell my friends about what I saw. I didn’t want them to think I was nuts or on something. I did tell the science teacher--Mr. Barry, omitting the magic and monster part. Just told him that I overheard Traci and Ellie making threats against Mirya Orioles, one of them involving strangulation. And since Mr. Barry happened to be a very reasonable person, he took my story very seriously and passed it on to the principal. So not long after that I didn’t see any one of those weebs again...until about a month later... shortly after those storms that hit during the start of Thanksgiving Break...”
Unfortunately at this point, the bell rang, signaling the end of recess. As everyone started to get up and gather their things together, I asked Alisha when would be a good time to meet again so she could finish her story.
Patches frowned and rubbed her chin. “Well, since I have Sustained Silent Reading next,” she said finally, “how about I text you?”
“Okay,” I agreed. I slid my hand into the pocket of my jeans and turned my phone on.
“Mind if I join in too?” Laurie added. “I want to hear the whole thing on what exactly happened to these weeb freaks.”
“Sure,” Patches nodded.
After we exchanged numbers, we went our separate ways.
Ten minutes later. I was in Mr. Roff’s art class, sketching out boring glass bottles full of water and horse harnesses. Eventually, I felt my phone vibrate and glanced down at my lap. The test read: (CTC (Care to chat?)
I rapidly typed out: (K. Laurie there to?)
New text appeared : (Present.)
Elisha: (K. Good. Now that everyone’s here...)
And so begins the second half of Patches’s story. She must be a speed typist because the text came flying out onto the screen like greased lightning.
Elisha: (I’ve heard a lot of haunted town legends, but never one about a place called Ferrisville. So the moment I got home, I googled the name and the first thing that came up was this horror web site dealing with this ghost town. Most the stuff are stories of people who claimed to have stumbled across this town or about town artifacts that supposedly spread the Ferrisville Curse; however, there’s also this indie game that’s really frighteningly realistic that I swear that someone must have used actual video footage and photographs for the scenery.
(The plot’s pretty decent too--a kind of cross between The Goonies, Super 8 and The Haunting. Well, I had to quit playing after about forty minutes, it was so totally scary, especially this one totally gross out scene.
Elisha: (I was trying to find a way into this big manor house similar to the one I saw in that school lavatory. From what I could see through the lower windows, it seemed to a combination costume and puppet shop. There were even some fancy costumes, and one of them looked a whole like that rabid Tails ‘costume’ Ellie Vernes was wearing.
(The other odd thing was the lantern-bearing statue that was in the front yard. When I first saw it in the dark, I thought it was just a monk, but now looking at it in the game’s broad daylight, it looked really like the Grim Reaper.)
Patches went on to describe the stone figure swathed in a thin tattered veiling. The only parts that weren’t covered up by the shroud were its face and the hand grasping the lantern stand, and these had a thin, cankered skin drawn tightly over bone.
Her vivid description reminded me greatly of what I saw during a family vacation to Dublin. Taking a peek at the famous vaults of St. Michan’s Church, it was like my worst nightmare come true--thin leathery corpses with nails still on their bony fingers and some with even internal organs visible through rips in the skin.
Elisha: (Even though this was supposed to be a statue in a game, it still managed to scare the beejeebers out of me.
Laurie: ( So that was the thing that caused you to quit playing? A Grim Reaper statue?)
Elisha: (No, the thing that scared me soooooooooooo much happened shortly afterwards. Since I couldn’t get into the house through the front, I decided to try to find a way through the back. Going around the house, I soon found myself on this croquet lawn with massive shrubbery all about it and a winding path leading through the shrubbery to an arched doorway set in this stone wall.
(Opening this door, I found a path that led me through even more shrubbery to a river. I assumed this was the same Mulligan River that supposedly ran through the real life town.
(The atmosphere suddenly changed when I got close to the river. Everything seemed to grow a shade darker, yet the sun was still out. Then I noticed something floating around a far bed in the distance. At first, I thought it was a lichen-covered log, but when it bobbed in closer to the middle of the river, I saw it was a dead body, and a very decomposed one--like it been in the water for several weeks.)
Laurie: (:-() OMG)
Me: (:-(O) Holy Crap!)
Elisha: (Yeah, and the most terrifying thing of all happened. The moment it came opposite to where I was standing, it suddenly changed its course and came floating toward me and bumped against the bank. Then it began climbing rapidly up toward me, and then, I stopped playing that damn game right then and there. But I had these really bad nightmares shortly afterwards where that same horrible thing was leaning over my bed in the dark, and dripping slime on my face. And after about a week of this crap, I finally had enough and slept on the living room couch and that seemed to have helped my problem.
(I would have chalked up the whole Ferrisville event to purely hysteria and an overactive imagination, if I hadn’t heard the local news shortly thereafter--about several teens wanted for questioning in the near drowning of eight-year-old Angie Orioles. According to eyewitnesses, she was seen to race across the road to the river and leap in. She was eventually pulled out, but had fallen into a coma. Much earlier, a contractor working next door to the Orioles told the police he saw the girl tearing round the back garden with several people in grotesque costumes following closely behind. One of them looked a lot like that undead hambeast I saw back in the lavatory.)
Me: (So how did they know it really was Traci who planned all this?)
Elisha: (Well, her older sister came across Traci’s diary, and read a couple of entries--almost all of which detailed in her obsession with Mirya and her desire for revenge via Ferrisville Voodoo. It also listed her fellow conspirators. Well, by the time the family turned it over to the police, the worst had already happened.)
Neither Laurie or me said anything for a long while.
Elisha: (You were all wondering what finally happened to Traci and her cohorts. Well, I’ll tell you and this is what I know from what other people have told me.
(Not all the people listed in the diary participated in Traci’s prank. Some even warned her that she was going too far with her mean-spirited practical jokes and to call it quits before it was too late. A couple of them even backed out the plan at the last minute; not only was it a bloody stupid, they later told the authorities, but the costumes Traci gave them totally grossed them out--reeking of sour sweat, stale vomit, and dead rats. In fact, it smelled so bad that their parents as well as some of their neighbors had even complained, leading to the costumes to be confiscated and unceremoniously deposed of via dumpster.
(The few that did participate wound up in juvy hall and were eventually transferred to other schools. Out of all these exiles, Ellie Vernes fared the worst, her parents fearing further corrupting American influences, along with her older sister. This came like a big shock to Ellie who was investing in her dream of becoming a famous graphic novelist. Now she could no longer do any artwork at all. It was just round-the-clock studying and still more studying, and being constantly harped on by both her parents and teachers for being ‘trop anglais.’ And not surprisingly, she finally tried suicide after about a year of being on her native soil.)
Laurie: (:-( Wow, that’s really sad, and she seemed to be most nicest of all of Traci’s friends. Probably the most brainiest of the bunch.)
Me: (:-[ Well, if she was so brainy, how come she was hanging out with that deranged dumbass?)
Laurie: (Well, there’s book smarts and then there’s street smarts. Apparently, Ellie was sorely lacking in the later. Say, Patches...you still haven’t told us what happened to Traci.)
Elisha: (That’s the most weirdest part--and why, in my humblest opinion, the whole thing about her death was hushed up--at least officially.)
Laurie: (WTH What the hell!)
Me: (Yeah, WTH indeed!)
Elisha: (It all happened during Christmas Break, and those who saw Traci right before her demise said that she seemed fine, although a little more humbled and more conservatively dressed. Her family found her the next morning in her closet--suicide by self-strangulation was the official cause of death. But according to rumors, forensics had problems with identifying the body, and had to rely on fingerprints as well as dental and DNA analysis. The corpse in question was three times as old as Traci Algers, people said--and so hideously ugly to the point of vile and disgusting.
Written by Mmpratt99 deviantart