Mysterious Sound #MysteryMonday

Hey, everyone. It’s been a while since I wrote a Mystery Monday post. A few days ago, I was reminded of a mystery that happened right in my back yard. I wrote the original post several years ago. With it being October and nearing Halloween, I decided to repost. Hope you enjoy it.

Goblins and great pumpkins. Trick-or-treats and haunted houses. Bats flying about. Witches on broomsticks. Halloween is always a good time for an old-fashioned ghost story.

My encounters with the unexplained are due more to an over-active imagination. Such as the time I thought I saw a werewolf. Or when my cousin and I convinced ourselves a ghost was after us. Once I was even on the lookout for a headless horseman in the woods near our home.

However, I had one strange occurrence several years ago that I can’t explain. Nor can anyone who was present that night.

In October 1980, my family hosted an outdoor chili supper. We invited friends and neighbors. The following year, we expanded it to include an art exhibit. It became an annual event where my brother and some of his classmates from The University of Texas would display their latest works.

A highlight of these annual events was a Saturday night bonfire. Starting in late summer, we gathered tree limbs and scrap lumber and piled them in an open field. By October, it was large enough for a nice bonfire.

One year, a few days before Halloween, we gathered in our pasture. About fifteen adults were present. We stood around the fire, enjoying the conversation. Since it was in October, I’m sure a few people had a ghost story to share.

The winds were still. The moonless night sky glistened with stars. Traffic was sparse on our country road in those days. The only sounds came from the crackling of the fire and soft-spoken conversations.

We had been outdoors for an hour or so when it happened.

A noise.

A strange noise.

An inexplicable noise lasting twenty seconds at most.

Conversations ceased. Everyone asked in unison, “WHAT WAS THAT?”

“It sounded like a dragonfly flew next to my ear,” someone said.

Another person joked it may have been a UFO, while another thought it was the trill of a nighthawk.

The closest thing I could think of was the sound of a plane’s landing gear being lowered.

No one could agree on the source A single dragonfly can’t buzz fifteen people’s ears at the same time. At any rate, dragonflies aren’t around in late October. Most discredited the nighthawk theory. We didn’t see any strange objects in the sky. (Nor any aircraft.) As for me, to hear the landing gear sound,  I would have needed to be inside a plane.

After a few minutes of speculation, most of us continued our conversations. One person took the opportunity to go inside the house on the pretense of checking on his son. He didn’t return.

Life gets busy. Years passed without us hosting the annual event until my brother and his friends revised the art show several years ago. In 2013, friends gathered at our place. Several of those attending were present on that night in the early eighties.

Times change. Instead of a cookout, we went out for dinner at a local restaurant. A fire pit replaced the larger bonfire. But in the course of the weekend, we discussed the mysterious sound heard long ago.

People often tend to embellish stories such as these. Not this one. Those of us who were there still stand by our original story. We heard a strange sound. No one could identify it. We can’t pinpoint the origin. Although we can’t agree on an exact description, it’s safe to say it wasn’t our imagination.

Perhaps we’ll never know what was behind the mystery at the bonfire, but one thing is certain. It makes a good story to tell while sitting around a fire at Halloween.

Strange Coincidences #MysteryMonday

Hey everyone. Today’s Mystery Monday post is a bit different. This is the first post regarding strange coincidences. I plan to write a few of them now and then. After all, coincidences are often mysterious.

Robert Todd Lincoln (Public Domain)

A few weeks ago, when I posted about Lincoln’s ghost, I was reminded of a story about his son, Robert Todd Lincoln. I had always wondered if what I’d heard was true, so I decided to check it out. Turns out it was.

Robert Todd Lincoln was the eldest son of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. He was born in 1843 and died in 1926. Robert was the only one of Lincoln’s four sons to live to adulthood. The others, Edward, Willie, and Thomas all died due to illness.

Unlike the others, Robert didn’t have a close relationship with his father. Late in his life, he wrote, “During my childhood and early youth he was almost constantly away from home, attending courts or making political speeches. In 1859, when I was 16 … I went to New Hampshire to school and afterward to Harvard College, and he became president. Henceforth any great intimacy between us became impossible. I scarcely even had 10 minutes quiet talk with him during his presidency, on account of his constant devotion to business.”

Robert attended Harvard Law but joined the Union Army late in the war, commissioned in the rank of captain. After his father’s death, he moved to Chicago, where he opened a law firm. He became quite successful by the 1870s.

Although he remained close to politics, he didn’t have the same aspirations as his father. He turned down President Rutherford B. Hayes’s offer to serve as Secretary of State but later accepted President James Garfield’s appointment as Secretary of War. Lincoln served in this capacity from 1881 – 1885. He also served as minister to Great Britain under President Benjamin Harrison.

On the night of April 14, 1865, Robert turned down an offer to accompany his parents to Ford’s Theater. After learning about his father’s assassination, he rushed to Peterson House and was present at his father’s deathbed.

On July 2, 1881, Lincoln was at the Sixth Street Train Station in Washington, D.C., when Charles G. Guiteau shot President James Garfield. Robert was an eyewitness to the event.

On September 6, 1901, Lincoln was at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, when President William McKinley was assassinated. Although he was not an eyewitness, he was outside the building where the shooting occurred.

In our nation’s history, only four presidents have been assassinated. Was it coincidence Robert Lincoln was present at three of them? He later refused to attend presidential functions, believing he brought bad luck.

In another strange coincidence, before his father’s murder, Lincoln was saved from possible death or serious injury on a train platform in Jersey City, New Jersey. The person who saved him? Edwin Booth, brother of John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln’s assassin.

My Own Back Yard #MysteryMonday

Hey, everyone. There are countless mysteries around the world, most of which will never be solved. I had a few topics in mind for today, but nothing resonated enough for me to finish the post.

But thanks to friend and fellow author, Mae Clair, who wrote about a personal event in a Weirdness Wednesday post, I felt inspired to write about a couple of things that happened in my own back yard.

Those of you who read the Story Empire blog may recall I wrote an abbreviated version of this first story last year. It happened when I was seventeen years old but I remember it like yesterday.

One night my mother awakened me around three in the morning. “Get up,” she said. “Something is in Sam’s yard.” Sam (not his real name) was our closest neighbor.

Sam’s house was near this old building.

Grudgingly, I got out of bed. From my window, I could see what appeared to be an ambulance backed up to Sam’s front porch. I followed Mom into the kitchen, still half asleep, and ran straight into the dining room table. I hit it hard. Needless to say, I was wide awake after that.

We both knelt by our kitchen window, where we could get a better view. Although we couldn’t see everything, it was apparent the paramedics were putting someone into the ambulance. We both knew Sam had a heart condition and naturally assumed it was him. A few minutes later, the ambulance drove away.

Mom and I were about to go back to bed when we saw a man walk out of the shadows and onto the porch. Sam’s dog, Cisco, was sitting near the door. The man bent down to pet the dog before walking into the house. Cisco recognized his owner because we could tell he wagged his tail.

“Mom, that was Sam.”

“Yes, it was. It must have been Maggie who was in the ambulance.”

Imagine our surprise when we saw Maggie walk outside, get into her car, and drive away. We were perplexed. If it wasn’t Sam or Maggie in the ambulance, who was it?

The next morning, Sam’s brother-in-law knocked on our door to tell us Sam had passed away—pronounced DOA at the hospital.

Who did we see? Was it Sam’s ghost going back into his house to say a final goodbye? It was years before we told that story to anyone.

The creek near my brother’s cabin.

A second strange event also happened close to home. In the late seventies, my brother built a small cabin near a creek on our property. One day, Mom decided to visit, so she walked the short distance through the woods.

When she neared the cabin, she saw a woman walk inside. She thought it was my brother’s girlfriend. But when she got to the door, the only person inside was my brother. No one would have wanted to visit that day as he was sweeping out sawdust and particles left by sheetrock.

Several years later, my brother said he was sitting outside the cabin when he heard someone say, “How are you doing?”

There was no one around. I’ve been there at night and heard sounds near the creek that could best be described as footsteps. I can easily attribute the noise to animals. Coyotes, foxes, and even bobcats roam these woods. But none of us can explain the sight of the mysterious woman or the voice.

Sometimes we don’t have to look farther than our own back yard for a mystery. What about you? Ever experienced something you can’t explain? Share in the comments.