When I was a kid, there was a really special woman who helped out at my school. Her name was Uhta Simmons. 75 years old, frail and wheelchair bound, but you never met a more alive and active person in your life. She helped out at our school every day, was a mother to us all and helped with all the social events.
Late one summer night after a meeting at the school, Miss Simmons was stabbed to death by a junky for her wheelchair and the two dollars she had in her purse. We didn’t hear those details when we were informed of her passing during the moring announcement the next day, I foud those out watching the news that night.
Right after class I had to use bathroom. The ones in my school were located in the basement. The school was built in 1878 and all the rooms where huge, but the basement was a different world. I’ve seen things down there, but that’s for another story. Small halls, carmped narrow passages that lead to hidden places and two bathrooms. Large dark caverns were these bathrooms, urianls lining the walls, stalls hidden around a corner and a lager round water fountain in the middle for washing your hands. I made for the stalls as that was where I needed to do my business and pushed open a door expecting to see the toilet waiting for me…but there stood Uhta Simmons.
Her white hair hung limp around her small head, her face a writhing mask of anger and sadness. And large gaping black sockets where her eyes should have been. I realized the man who killed her had not intended to, as he had cut out her eyes so she could not identify him. She was very real and solid and not like other spirits I had seen. I was about to call her name when she screamed. It was like no sound I had heard in my life. Filling the room with a deafening wail and my blood with ice. She started to advance on me and I ran back to class faster than I ever thought I could run.
I never saw her specter again…and never went to the bathroom alone.
The Pine Barrens in the state of New Jersey have a story to tell, its a story many have heard and maybe even some are scared to speak of, it’s the story of the Jersey Devil.
Legend has it that this creature has been haunting the Jersey Pine Barrens for close to 300 years and striking fear into those who encounter it.
The lore of the Jersey Devil is well loved enough to have the state’s hockey team named after it and many famous people have encountered the strange beast, like Joseph Bonaparte, oldest brother of Napoleon, who was said to have witnessed the Jersey Devil while on a hunting trip and Commodore Stephen Decatur, who fired a cannon at it with no effect at all.
It’s said that one violent stormy night, a poor woman with 12 children was about to give birth to her 13th. She cursed the child in her belly while in labor, “I can bare no more children, let this one be the devil!” And she gave birth to a strange misshapen creature, that transformed before them spread its wings and flew up the chimney and into the darkness.
The is but one of the legends about the origins of the Jersey Devil, believed or not, the events that followed have been witnessed by thousands of people in the last 300 years…and the legend continues.
The most interesting events concerning the Jersey Devil took place in mid winter of 1909. Said to be the Devil’s most infamous spree, with thousands of sightings and newspaper headlines, causing schools to close and people to hide in their homes.
The events started with a man named Zack Cozzens, who heard a loud hissing sound and then saw a large winged animal with red eyes, fly across the street he was standing on. And the flood of sightings continued from there.
Reports started turning up all over and stirred people into a frenzy of fear that lasted a week. Hissing noises in the night, violent screams in the woods, police shooting at the creature and inflicting no wounds, hunting parties gathered to track it only to flee in fear. An attack on a cable car and patrons of a bar spending the night trapped inside terrorized by the demon. A rash of animal mutilations, missing children and cloven hoof prints in the snow.
These are but a few of the things that happened in the week that people say the Devil had his day.
The Jersey Devil was not heard from again until another flurry of sightings in 1951, that stared when a boy claimed to have seen a demonic face dripping with blood at his second floor bedroom window.
For years after that day there have been random reports of animal killings and bone chilling screams in the woods. The last well known account was from an ambulance driver in 1974. He was driving the lonely back roads of the Pine Barrens, when he heard an evil laughing shriek from the dark woods that almost made him drive off the road.
Many have gone off in search of the Jersey Devil over the years after learning of this interesting legend. Should you feel the urge to take up the hunt also searching for the truth, or just hoping to catch sight of the beast, a word of caution…don’t do it alone.
I sat up awake, the roaring thunder leaving me restless. I just watched the flashes of light dancing on the wall just above my brother’s sleeping head. What I saw in one of the flashes did give me quiet a start. I remember him so vividly, a tall man, dressed in a white T shirt that was torn to ribbons soaked in blood, blue jeans that seemed to be frosted with various contractor items, such as paint and sheet rock dust, black work boots, his hair was dark, a total mess and his stare was piercing. His eyes burned a hole directly into my soul, he terrified me and his gaze looked down at the sleeping toddler with such malice that I quickly ripped the boy from his bed and pulled him into mine. I stared back at the apparition my own gaze holding just as much malice, I threatened it, verbally yelling at him, that dare he harm a hair on his head, I would kill myself and give him an afterlife he would forever regret. The apparition smiled before fading into the wall, little did I know my threat was what would do me in.
I became the center of his attacks, invisible hands trying to push me down the steps, doors slamming closed in my face, noises following me throughout the apartment. He was calling me on my bluff. I began to practice Wicca, finding restitution in the protection spells and the newly found knowledge of the paranormal. My circle of friends began to differ from the ghetto thugs that I once admired to psychics and other magical beings. Two of my friends, Jan and Dave (yes the names are changed) were of the psychic persona. Jan was a medium, she took spirits into her body enabling them to speak. She reminded me of Sybil, with her multiple personalities, I never knew who or what I was speaking to. All and all she was my best friend, crazy or not. She entered my house once and only once, the spirit that plagued me quickly tried to take over. She told me he was pure evil, he was not the man that he posed as but something much more sinister. David, never entered the house, he merely stood out front realizing that the entity was a demon, or so he told me.
As time went on more and more strange happenings became more daily routine. I held onto the banister tightly any time I neared stairs, my little brother slept in bed with me out of fear of something happening to him and I pretty much became used to his antics by now.
It was a summer day about ninety degrees out and I decided to take a dip in the pool. As I swam around alone I began to see things. I would dive down and see a dark figure floating above me, when I brought my head back above water the figure was gone. I tested this theory a few times, forcing my eyes to remain open as I brought them both above and below the water, the figure continued to vanish each time I was above the water line. I decided I didn’t want to be swimming with a vanishing dead body and got out of the pool. I laid in the sun for some time drying off before going up stairs to change. A few of my friends came over later that day and we proceeded into the basement of the house. I had gotten permission to use the basement from the owners son because there was a pool table down there. He had left the door unlocked for me. After a few rounds we all decided to head back upstairs. We stood in the garage smoking and just talking about teenage garbage, you know, this one’s a slut and that one got the snot kicked out of her and the other one has it coming, teenage garble, when we began to hear foot steps coming from the basement. We looked at each other in awe, all were accounted for and there was no other way into the basement, not even through the house. I decided to be the tough one.
“Hey knock it off would ya, your scaring the babies around here.” I said laughing.
His reply, a low growl, GET OUT! Before slamming the door so hard the frame nearly came off. Well even though the garage door was open, we still needed to pass by the basement door to get out, we decided that was a bad idea. The lot of us tore through the back yard as if someone had set us on fire, as they tried to jump over the fence as I proceeded straight through it. It was agreed from then on that we would never visit the basement again.
A few weeks later I was in the owners portion of the home playing Nintendo. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end as I listened to his foot steps walk up behind me, I heard them stop directly at my back, I gave him a warning shout, telling him I wasn’t in the mood. I was answered with a piercing shriek and a smack to the back of my head. I saw stars as I regained my balance, I stood still a little wobbly and cursed at the nothingness that stood before me. I again was answered with more violence, a sharp pain to my gut left me gasping for air. I staggered out of the house and went straight to Jan’s house. I called my father begging him to pick me up. I had had enough.
My father moved me out of the house, I fought desperately to have him take my brother as well but my mother would not give up custody, they moved out shortly after but no one said a word about the thing that lived with in…