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In the Valley of Shadows

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A glimpse into the void

Giving the ghost and haunted house stories a rest this month, there are other tales from the Shadows as we hopefully welcome new and returning readers to the Journal’s new format.

To frame this account, we first go to a small town in Indiana back about ten years ago as a man retires for the evening in his upstairs bedroom one hot summer night.

About to doze off, he was awakened by the sound of something crashing through the branches of a tree just outside his open window. There was a slight breeze and he dismissed it as a dead branch falling to the ground.

The following morning, however, he found a plastic soda bottle at the base of the tree. A familiar green, obviously a citrus flavor, he was totally unfamiliar with the brand: ‘GINGSFRUIT’ and its 3-liter size.

According to the bottle, the location of the bottling plant was a small town in New York. Calling directory information in the town, he found it did not boast a bottling plant nor could he find any reference to the company on the Internet.

This leads us to an occurrence in the upper Priest Lake country back about the same time with an acquaintance of mine who worked for the Dept. of Lands. I’ll call him Ed. Ed decided to stay an extra day after conducting a survey, when he heard on the radio of a man who had been picking huckleberries in the general Priest Lake area and who had been reported missing two days earlier.

The berries had been exceptionally large that year, the size of small cherries. Ed and a coworker had each gotten three gallons after only two hours picking a week earlier.

Now, Ed decided to check an out-of- the-way area a few miles away that had been the site of an old fire.

The open area was relatively flat, about two square miles. Still sparse, the trees ranged from man height to about twelve feet with a lot of huckleberry brush. Most of the fruit, though, had either been picked over or had fallen over-ripe to the ground.

Ed traipsed the area for a good hour but found nothing. Wiping sweat from his face, he gave the area a last look around. It was late afternoon and he could just see his pickup nearly a quarter mile away. Time to bag it.

As he started towards his pickup, he at first thought it was the late afternoon heat shimmering between him and his rig. But this was more solid. It ranged fifty feet into the air and maybe twice that wide. He couldn’t see the young local trees through it, but could see trees of some type. Trees forty or more feet tall and more at home in a Florida mangrove swamp.

Hesitantly moving forward again, Ed’s attention was drawn momentarily by the cry of a bird circling overhead. Looking back, the mirage was gone, his truck plainly visible.

Puzzled, even a little apprehensive now, he slowed, looking around. Having grown up in the timber industry, he’d always felt at home in the woods, but now, something was different, out of place, alien.

Subconsciously quickening his pace, Ed didn’t see an old root sticking out of the ground and fell face first. Cursing as he got up, he glanced to his left and saw a man’s boot partially hidden by scrub brush.

Picking it up, he realized it was too heavy to be empty. The opening was plugged with what he thought at first was dirt and debris. His fingers met solid resistance. It dawned on him that the boot still held a foot. (Brings to mind the five right feet still in athletic shoes recently washed up on a Vancouver shore earlier this year, doesn’t it?)

The stump was dark as if it had been cauterized. Dropping it in disgust, Ed struggled to calm down, then forced himself to pick it back up. He ran all the way to his pick-up with the grisly find.

A few feet from the truck, he noticed something odd about the front right bumper - a small triangular chunk was missing, as if sliced off with a laser.

Jumping into the cab he took off in a cloud of dust, not slowing until he had reached Hanna Flats.

 Ed turned the boot and contents into the Lands office. As weeks went by Ed finally asked about the find. The department denied any knowledge of the boot. The missing man remained officially missing as far as he knew.

Vortexes have been reported all over the world that may lead to other realities, some not much different than our own, where a 3-liter soda bottle might be very common. Others may be much different; some perhaps leading to other times.

 Whatever the explanation, you may not have to sail the Bermuda Triangle to get a glimpse into the void; you may just need to step outside your door, here, in the VALLEY OF SHADOWS.

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Author info

Lawrence Fury Lawrence Fury is an inveterate letter-to-the-editor writer, and a conservative conscience for this area of North Idaho. He's also an expert on local ghost stories, and is compiling a group of them for future book publication. You can read more about him in a Love Notes feature for the River Journal

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