I had month of vacation time coming in August, a perfect time to go sightseeing. I wasn’t your typical tourist though, I was one of those urban explorers, the kind that break into various abandoned locations closed to the public. I had been to tons of places, old cemeteries forgotten by time, abandoned stretches of railroad tracks, and, my favorite in particular, old abandoned amusement parks. Going to old amusement parks and researching them always fascinated me, from researching them to actually sneaking inside to take some pictures, shoeboxes worth of pictures sit at home from my earlier trips. I had been to countless parks, almost every one of them in the United States, I wasn’t willing to go overseas, I’ll take to Google for that, but I had been to very noticeable ones around this time of year. Places like; Joyland, Six Flags New Orleans (Jazzland), Holyland, even that Wizard of Oz place. Each lead me away from one of the most famous, Lake Shawnee Amusement Park, that place gave everyone chills up their spines, I did my research, I fueled up my car and headed to Virginia where it was located. Stopping at motels, I used my laptop to do a tiny bit more research on Shawnee, if you don’t know what the place is, it’s an old amusement park from the 50s, when safety in amusement parks didn’t really matter until the owner gets some blood on his hands. Shawnee was different though, not one, but six, all children, most notably a little girl who was killed on one of the parks only two rides, the swings. She was killed when a pickup truck backed into the path of the swing, the rest is self explanatory. Then a boy drowned in the lake or something, maybe a pool, one source says lake, another says pond, but no mention about the other four. I called it a night, letting my eyelids slide shut until the morning twilight. Morning had come, I paid my fees for the motel room and started toward Shawnee, after a couple days of travel, I arrived, pulling up near a dirt lot, sliding my daypack straps over my shoulders, it was time to crawl through the woods. I poked my way through the brush, I came to a small clearing, enough that I could actually see the sun beam through the trees, it felt wonderful to feel my skin absorbing the rays. I looked down, at my feet lay a strange looking rock, picking it up, I held it close to my eye, appeared so old, I didn’t know what that could be, feeling the polished yet rugged tip and edge, I found an Native American arrowhead. Tucking it away into my pocket, I continued along, dragging myself through onto the lakeside, the ground was slowly pulling me downwards, I was standing in Lake Shawnee. I took a few glances around, trying to find the distinctly rusted ferris wheel and swing superstructure still standing near the lakeside. Finally I saw the brown tower with arms and circle with its support beams uncovered, I started towards the grounds, I heard something whisper in my ear, too faint to make out properly.
“. . . turn back . . . turn back now . . . while you can . . . your life shall be ruined with misfortune if . . . closer.” I stopped almost immediately, shocked and in disbelief, what was that? I couldn’t reach a conclusion, it was just too absurd to think a child’s spirit would’ve said that to me, I looked at my hands, they were trembling, my knuckles white. I brushed my thoughts away, my mind is just doing this because I’m afraid, I couldn’t take this suspense any longer, I stopped thinking altogether, humming a made up tune. The voice returned “. . . turn back . . . turn back now . . . while you can . . . your life shall be ruined with misfortune if . . . closer.” I was beginning to think, perhaps I should turn back, never mention this to anyone, I felt drawn in, I wanted to go, run through the green and drive away. “You will . . . warned one . . . time . . . go, save your . . . misfortune will . . .” I still refused to accept these requests, well, orders, either way.
When I reached the rides, the structures seemed normal, rusted out, paint chipping away from the seats of the ferris wheel. I glanced over to the swings, one was swinging strangely, none of the others were swinging though. Putting my index finger in my mouth and holding it up to the air, there was no wind, it seemed like time had stopped, like this place was unaffected, protected almost. The only noticeable thing being the rust and wear on the rides, other than that, this place looked like it did in it’s heyday. I looked closer at the swaying swing, different than the others, it looked perfect, compared to the other wooden seats that were rotting away, probably filled with termites. An image flashed in my head for split-second, everything looked normal, except there was a girl, probably around six, sitting in that perfect chair, wearing a blood-spattered white ruffle dress. The girl’s apparition faded out as soon as it appeared, I felt weak, a headache growing, I dropped to my knees in exhaustion. That was her, the girl who died on the swings when the truck backed into it, I felt sick, I am never coming here again. Finding my strength, I got back up, leaving my backpack near the ferris wheel’s base, I decided to look around a bit more, now I feel like I . . . belong here, despite my earlier thoughts. I saw a ticket booth near the entrance of the park, the one that people would normally go through, it was boarded up, the blue paint faded and chipping off with every tick of time, nothing remained inside. Nearby was a picnic table, looking just as rotted at the swing seats, nearby was a 1960s pickup truck nestled in the woods. Going over to it, it only had the hood and front cab, pieces of rusted metal surrounded the base of the truck, looking over the cab, part of the frame was still intact of the back. Nothing was inside, touching the side, rusted out metal fell to the forest floor. I lost interest in the truck quickly, I snapped a picture and looked over to the ferris wheel. Something caught my eye there, a figure, a man was sitting in one of the seats, he glanced over to me, appearing to almost smile, he disappeared. I backed away, in shock at what I just saw, my back was all goosebumps, I felt a cold wind behind me.
“Boo! Ha ha ha ha. . . You’re such a Scaredy Cat! ” I looked back, stumbling and falling to the ground, the ghost laughing at me as I did so. They were toying around at this point, they know I’m terrified and they are just taking advantage of me now, I’m no longer afraid and startled, now I’m getting ticked off. “Oh come on! That was hilarious! I’m just playin . . .” The girl appeared in front of me as she spoke, her ‘s’ were off, like she was missing her front teeth. I finally snapped.
“Knock it off!” I yelled, the girl disappeared, looking hurt. I felt her spirit on my back, almost crawling up it, shivers went down my spine, I was becoming weaker and weaker the more I interacted with the ghosts.
“Gee, Didn’t know you were that scared, sorry, I just get really bored sometimes . . . None of these rides work anymore and they closed off the swimming pool, I can’t even leave anymore . . . hey I’m getting a bit tired, could I use your energy, I promise, I’ll be careful . . .”
“W-w-what do you mean by, ‘use my energy’” I asked, dumbfounded.
“All ghosts can do it, see look, watch this . . .” I felt a bit weaker, but not as much as before, it still felt like I was losing my life though. “There, much better, so . . . do you know what this place is?” The ghost is asking me questions, we’re having a full on conversation, I was talking to the dead.
“Uh . . . Lake Shawnee Amusement Park, it’s abandoned nowadays and supposedly haunted, but I think that’s it’s obvious that the park is haunted.”
“Yeah, I want to show you something . . .” She put her hand on my forehead, a cold mist, she closed her eyes. “Close your eyes and you’ll see . . .” I did as she said, in my mind, I saw park as it was about 60 years ago, the guest were happily strolling along, kids were enjoying themselves on the swing and ferris wheel, at the top of the ferris wheel, a young couple were together. “Look at the swings for a minute,” looking near the swing, I saw her, the ghost I’ve talking with, fully human, alive, having the time of her life as she was swung around, I looked to the right of the swing, a delivery truck was backing out. The concession stand began stocking the sodas, I heard screams from the swings, I looked over in time to see a swing ram into the side of the truck, the little girl going with it. I opened my eyes, breathing heavily, the little girl’s hand still resting on my forehead, through her closed eyes, tears trailed down. She disappeared, keeping her hand on my forehead for as long as possible, “you have to go before nightfall, run if you have to, just run!”
I got up, and ran towards my backpack, in the distance, I saw a bonfire, Indian chants echoing across the land, then a battle cry as I saw them rushing towards me, I pulled out my flashlight and ran for the woods. I dove through the brush, I didn’t know where I was going, just not here, hopping over fallen trees and debris, I just kept going. I looked back, the Indians were cursing at me, as they turned back, some of them were disappearing, they were all apparitions.
After an hour of hunting backroads for my car, I finally found it, driving back to my hotel, I fell to my bed, my dirty clothes staining the white bedsheets. I fell asleep in an instant, a dream appeared, the ghost from earlier was talking to me, some words I couldn’t make out, but there were a few; “I will always be with you . . . Scaredy Cat . . .”
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