Gullibility. Some argue that it’s a bad thing. Some make fun of you for being gullible. I argue that gullibility is not a bad thing. Gullibility means imagination. Imagination means creativity. Creativity means that life isn’t that boring, and when life isn’t boring it’s awesome. I am a man of much gullibility, and I’m not ashamed of that.
When I was a lad, I was told the legend of Bloody Mary…
You go into a room with a mirror and turn out the lights. Any room is fine, but it must be total darkness, so bathrooms work best. Repeat the phrase “Bloody Mary” over and over. If you do this, even casually, the mirror will transform into the very gates of hell, and Bloody Mary, the wife of Satan, will appear in the mirror, reach out, grab you, and attempt to pull you into hell itself.
That’s how the legend of Bloody Mary was described to me. When I first heard it, I was a little doubtful. Mary was the mother of Jesus not the wife of Satan. As far as I knew Satan didn’t even have a wife. There was one thing that got me to believe, though. My friend, Clint, told me that any pastor or priest would explain how it is a sin to participate in the ritual of Bloody Mary. I was convinced. If a priest believed in Bloody Mary, then I had to too. Ironically Clint wasn’t even religious, and I didn’t know anything about ethos, so I took him at his word. Needless to say it, I never tried it.
Another friend of mine, Robert, tried the Bloody Mary ritual. He explained how he did it in his bathroom, and sure enough the mirror opened up a portal to hell, and as he looked in, he saw other portals where other kids were performing the ritual, some of them being dragged into hell. Then he said blood poured out of the sink’s spout. He immediately turned on the lights and the portal closed, but the blood was still in the sink. So he cleaned it up and never told his parents what happened. This was the same kid that told me he had a hover-board, like the one in ”Back to the Future”. I had my doubts about that. I mean, Robert was the only person to ever tell me about hover-boards, but Bloody Mary was a known fact.
Basically I was so disturbed by the legend of Bloody Mary I joined a squad of Templar and we went on a witch-hunt. My friend Jimmy was the leader, he found out that some of the girls in our class were going into the bathroom at recess to summon Bloody Mary. It became requisite to stop the heretics. So we burst into the bathroom as they were performing the ritual and gave them a real scare. They screamed. Looking back on this, those girls got the scare they were looking for, and it was hilarious. I, on the other hand, felt bad for going into the girl’s bathroom.
The craze of Bloody Mary sort of died down at school, but for years whenever I’d walk by the big mirrors in my living room at night. I’d feel kind of nervous, cause I knew that if the words “Bloody Mary” were to slip out of my tongue I would forever be a heretic.
Legends such as this were good fun when I was a child, but it wasn’t until I was 12, the age a boy becomes a man, that I heard the most fantastic and amazing story of my life.
I joined Boy Scouts at 12. My scoutmaster was an admirable man by the name of Ron. All the scouts loved him. He was knowledgeable about all things fun that Boy Scouts like to do, like camping, and video games. I went on my first Boy Scout week camp when I was 12. Ron would tell us many stories around the campfire. Some serious. But on that I would dwell on for the next year…
“You know how sometimes you hear wind rushing over the mountains?” Ron began.
”No”, I thought. ”I’ve never heard that.” I nodded as if I knew what he was talking about. Our troop sat around the campfire.
“You hear it sometimes,” he continued. “It happens when air moves in from the Pacific Ocean and condenses. It rushes over the mountains and down the slopes eventually turning into 40 to 60 miles per hour winds. Indians called the winds Snow Eaters.”
“I went camping with some guys I work with, Gary and Mark, a couple of years ago. Over in the Rockies,” he pointed to the west. “We heard the wind rushing over the mountain, and hunkered up in our tents to wait them out. I’m not going to lie and say that we thought our tents were going to be pulled from the ground. It really wasn’t that strong of a wind, but the tent was good protection from having dirt and twigs blown in our faces. It was a warm wind that lasted a couple hours. When it finally died down we were ready to do some fishing.”
“So we got out of our tents, and started putting our gear together. Then we heard the winds again. Dang! We were going to have to wait a little longer. The winds were different though. We could only hear them. We didn’t feel anything. The air was cool. Not only that, but it wasn’t just a constant wind over the mountain. It seemed to come in short bursts. And it didn’t sound quite the same. It was like a big, “Whoosh,” then a few seconds later another, “Whoosh”… “Whoosh”.”
“Mark thought it might be a wounded animal that got caught in the winds, so he went out to investigate. After a minute the whooshing sound stopped, so we figured he put the animal out of it’s misery. When he didn’t come back a few minutes later we thought maybe he decided to bury the animal. I would have just left it there, but Mark, that wasn’t his way. So me and Gary decided to go help him.”
“We didn’t find Mark, or any dead animal. Nothing. We searched around a bit. In a clearing we found a little blood on some rocks. That was it. No trail, nothing. Mark was just gone. We shouted his name a bit, and got no response, then figured he might be in trouble, so we packed up and headed for the Ranger Station. We never saw Mark again.”
Ron had probably told us a dozen [[link:http://www.boyscouttrail.com/boy-scouts/boy-scout-stories.asp campfire stories]] before that. All of them obviously farce. This story was different though. Most of his stories ended with some climactic punchline that gave us all a good laugh. Not this one. This one wasn’t funny, it wasn’t about some random troop of boys or campers, it was a story that he himself had witnessed. That pretty much confirmed to me that it must be a true story. If Ron said some guy disappeared in the woods, I had every reason to believe him. Lots of people disappeared in the woods, so why not some guy that Ron knew?
My imagination went wild with the story. I mean it was the “Whoosh” sound that caught my attention. Though not being too descriptive, Ron made it pretty clear that it was some kind of flapping. Some kind of winged creature that had abducted Mark. It also happens that I had been playing ”Heroes of Might and Magic II” where one of the fantasy creatures in the game was a Griffin. A bird strong enough to lift a man off he ground. I was so moved by the story that I told all my friends about how I knew a guy that knew a guy that disappeared in the forest. They said I was being silly. I tried to convince them it was true.
Then tragedy struck. One year later we had another week camp. As we gathered around the campfire Ron began to tell a story…
“You know how some times you hear wind rushing over the mountains?”
No, I thought, but I remember this story! I was glad to hear the story again, there were some details I’d forgotten.
“Many years ago,” Ron continued, “before Columbus discovered America, three Indians were out fishing by the Rocky Mountains.”
What?! Back up for a second, I thought. Three Indians? I thought it was you and two of your coworkers. This wouldn’t stand, “What do you mean three Indians?” I said aloud.
“Let me tell the story,” Ron replied.
I proceeded to listen to this alternate version of the story. All my friends that had told me the story was made up were right. It was just a silly story, and I had believed it. I liked believing it, and now my belief of it was shattered. There were no fantastic creatures in the woods. Nothing frightening at all. No risk of disappearing. The fun of the story was over.
A couple of years ago. In 2007, I set out on a four day backpacking trip in the Uinta Mountains. I was doing a basic trip down Henry’s Fork Trail up to King’s Peak, and then back out the same way. The first day went smoothly and I set up a nice campsite near a lake. On the second day things got a little rough. It rained and I admit, despite knowing that it would rain, I was unprepared. I ended up getting soaked and set up camp early to dry off. I had a cold lunch and later I briefly left my tent to make dinner. By that time, though, the rain had brought out the mosquitoes so I pretty much spent the rest of the evening in my tent doing some reading. Eventually nightfall came so I put away my book and went to bed.
I heard something that night. I was awakened at 1 or 2AM to a whooshing sound. You can probably guess where my thoughts went after that. It was a whooshing sound followed by pounding on the ground, then a few seconds later another whooshing sound, and more pounding on the ground. Whoosh, whoosh, pound, pound. It sounded no further than a dozen yards to the east of my tent. Part of me wanted to peek out my tent, and shine my flashlight in that direction to see what it was, but I was afraid to startle this animal into attacking me. I mean seriously, this wasn’t some campfire story, I was actually listening to some sound I didn’t recognize. What’s worse is I had to go the bathroom, but there was no way, absolutely no way I was going out there with that creature. I mean for all I knew it was a bear. I didn’t know what a bear sounded like, but I knew there were bears in the region, so my best bet was to stay in my tent, and hope that I had cleaned up dinner well enough that it didn’t smell attractive to local wildlife.
The sound went on for about half an hour then stopped. I thought it may have been a dying animal that finally passed on. Or maybe it was some kind of bird that had gone out hunting and was beating it’s prey against the rocks. Whatever it was, it eventually stopped, and I felt okay to take a quick bathroom trip. So I did. As a matter of fact I shined my flashlight in the direction the sound had come from, but didn’t see anything but dirt. While I can’t say I slept well for the rest of the night, I did sleep, and woke up to sunlight in the morning. I looked about to investigate the source of the sound. Nothing.
I’ve heard weird sounds in the forest since then. I’m not really an expert on wildlife, so I’m pretty sure that all the sounds I’ve heard could be explained by someone more knowledgeable. I will say this, though, just wondering if it could be some fantastic thing is a real thrill. Knowing there could be some unknown danger is part of the fun of imagination. I suppose in some regards, telling fantastic stories is a reminder that there are real dangers. I did ask someone with more wildlife experience what the sound could have been. He had no idea. In fact, I think he suspected that I made it up.