Date: Sat, 07 Mar 1998 20:22:31 +0000
From: stefan grass <email@example.com>
Organization: Terra Incognita
Subject: Re: quiet
I am here, but the rest is most likely fast asleep or just waking up. So to fill in the waiting time, here is my ghost story which, when I was a young kid, frightened me out of my wits
Every year we went on a long vacation in the depth of rural Poland to a small village called Irena. There was an old battlefield from the first world war nearby and the villagers would always cross themselves when passing to ward off the ghosts of the slain. They have been seen emerging from the trenches- shadows with bandaged heads, stumbling and falling and rising again. The village itself was on the edge of vast almost primeval forests and our house where we always stayed was near swamps which stretched for many miles. As kids we used to watch at night balls of green light bobbing up and down in the mists shrouding the swamps. The house belonged to an old potter who had a kiln at the bottom of the garden. W often watched him making beautiful pots, then lighting the fire in the kiln and sealing it with clay. It was all very mysterious and wonderful to small children. When we asked him about the green lights over the swamps he would only mutter: "Oh, aye...it's them..luring people to their death..."
We used to go for walks in the forest along a dirt track which skirted the swamps. One day I was walking there with my two older sisters when we heard in the distance the sound of galloping horses and the rumbling of a heavy cart. The road wasn't used very often, but we moved out of the way to give the approaching vehicle more room. As the noise grew louder we heard the horses neighing as if they were frightened and a man's voice shouting something. We got as far as the sharp curve in the road expecting to see the horse carriage which seemed to be very near. We were frightened and my eldest sister pulled us behind a pine tree to avoid being trampled by what seemed to be a runaway cart...
And then the noise suddenly stopped. We run to the curve of the road to see what happened, but there was nothing: no horses, no cart, silence. This was probably the fastest run I have ever done in my life, holding my sisters' hands and almost flying through the air. We must have looked quite a sight, because even the old potter came out to hear what the noise was about as we were trying to tell our story to our disbelieving parents.
Only the potter knew that we were not making up the whole story. Many years ago, he told us, a woodcutter was coming back at night with a heavily loaded cart. When he came to the sharp curve in the road, the horses bolted probably frightened by an animal and plunged into the swamp. Only the woodcutter's hat stayed on the surface and that's how the villagers have learned about his fate.
Well, that's the story. No ghosts - just a noise of horses, cart and a man's voice, shouting. The incident etched itself so deeply on my memory then even after all those years I can still hear the frantic neighing and shouting of that swamp death.