by AL GARCIA
Just an Urban legend? Walk with me into the Grassy field and find out for yourself!
|OLD LADY IRVINE
She was young, tall and startlingly beautiful. Her locks of raven black hair framed her slender yet sad, thin face as they peeked out from under her bonnet. On this day, she wore a very well pressed and black pleated wool skirt with crisp white silk lace about the neck and arms. The finest clothes for Lady Ann would be delivered monthly along with some of the best perfumes and powders money could buy from New York City. Nothing made her happier than when the Wells Fargo Wagon arrived. That is, until she met John.
She stared off into the distance as if she were looking at something, or someone that was a thousand miles away.
Her black hair blew across her tear reddened eyes, her bitter tears rolled down her cheeks. Lady Ann knew that what she was doing was against God. A sin without pardon.That much, at least,she had learned in Sunday school. But it didn’t matter. She just couldn’t stand the humiliation any longer. The stares she would catch out of the corner of eye from the ladies in town as they walked past. The very same ones she had once not long ago, had called her friends, the ones she had spent summer evenings with at the ice cream socials. Now they just whispered among themselves. They whispered about her failed wedding to John Goodkind; the local blacksmith, they whispered about how it had been called off. They whispered that her beloved John had run away with that scandalous Lady Beth McIntyre the local school teacher to raise wine grapes in the Cucamonga Valley.
And that’s all the locals had been twittering about for days. Apparently, many of the townsfolk knew of this affair and had never told Ann. Many believed that John was too much of a man for her, that Ann thought herself too-high society. The humiliation had just been too much for her to bear
As she stood upon the seat of her carriage, she looked out into the lonely rolling hills.She wiped away the tears and reached up to the gnarled old oak tree above her and grabbed the rope that slowly swayed in the wind from the branch above. She slipped the noose around her neck not noticing the scratching texture of the rope. She couldn’t, wouldn’t live without John.
The cold and blustery October wind rolled across the grassy hills and up to the carriage ruffling her dress. She let out a long sigh as the dark storm clouds rolled across the gray leaden sky giving it a sad and melancholy presence. The sky was sad.
With a sudden snap of her wrist she whipped the horses and then with a jolt, they lurched forward, pulling the carriage in a sudden forward motion. Her feet suddenly pulled off the seat and then the coarse rope instantly bit into her neck, tightening with a firm ironclad grip. Dangling in the wind and unable to breathe she grasped at the rope around her neck and her feet desperately searched for footing, but it was a hopeless gesture.The noose had tightened and was doing well what it was designed to do. She glanced in the direction of the San Gabriel mountains as life slowly began leaving her body. With her arms beginning to twitch, she let go of the rope and her arms dropped to her sides. She gasped desperately for breath. Her lungs screamed for what they would never have again. Her vision was blurring and all was getting darker.
Off in the distance, thunder rumbled. Storm clouds raced against the sky and rain began to fall. Darkness had arrived. Her last thought was “John…….”
The cold wind blew softly on this chilly October night. The moon, obscured by the storm clouds cast an eerie blue light out on to the lonely Irvine Hills. This was long before large million dollar tract homes with cute little shopping centers and a Starbucks on every corner that tempted caffeine addicts to spend several dollars on a cup of coffee. The only things out here this night was just me and the sound of the soft rustling leaves of the large Eucalyptus trees that lined the front of the apartment complex. As I glanced out to Jeffrey blvd, I could barely make out the red and green sign of a 7-11 a mile and a half out in the distance. Now this was important for me, as that meant coffee. The elixir of the gods. Coffee was what allowed me to make it happen.College student by day, and Worker by night.
I was working as a security guard for Burns Security to pay my way through college and I had just been assigned the graveyard shift at the Sand Canyon Apartment complex.It was a fairly large place and it even had an artificial creek running down the middle of it.
My rounds consisted of walking through the complex and making sure that the main entry gate was closed and no unusual activity ensued.
Once, there had been a party in one of the apartments and though I knew I should have quieted them down (they were starting to get loud) but it was a college party and the girls were scantily clad and getting very drunk. ...Hey, give me a break, I was a single 18 year old guy! What did you expect?. Anyway, I had to eventually shut down the party when one of the neighbors started to complain.
I can remember this clear as day because here was an older Asian man angry as heck and wearing of all things an adult size Big Bird pajamas.
And I can still remember an extremely very good looking (and very drunk) blond girl telling me
“aw c’mon John, can’t you just let it go a little longer, we can go into my bedroom and drink some beer…. or something....”
she slurred as she held out a can of Budweiser to me, gave me a big wink and then giggled seductively.
It was the “or something” that almost made me say-
“aww…to hell with this job I can always get another job, lets go take care of the“ or something” right now!
Anyway, common sense and dignity prevailed (barely) and I managed to keep my job and my dignity. I eventually had to call the police to end this party and the students were not too happy with me. I wanted to tell them,
"Hey! It wasn't me.....Blame Big Bird!" I thought
Now on this other particular night nothing exciting was happening and I was quite bored. I had just filled out my 2 am report which basically said “I patrolled the outer perimeter and saw a black Ford Taurus leave space 55F. All is normal but what I hadn't put into the report that night was that Mr. 55F wasn’t home and that bald headed man with his zipper unbuttoned and shirt partially tucked hurriedly getting into that beat up black Ford Taurus surely wasn’t him. But to each his own.
I continued on my foot patrol and I had just turned the corner into the alley and a good 50 or so yards away I spotted a lady in a billowy white lacy dress who appeared to be drunk. I couldn’t see her face, as she had her back to me and was moving down the the alley away from me. She was staggering from side to side and it appeared as if she was going to fall down.
“Ma’am!” I called out loudly with concern “do you need assistance?”
she didn’t answer but continued her drunken stagger down to the darkest part of the alley, perhaps I hadn’t called out loudly enough. This time I turned on my flashlight and aimed it in her direction. Again I called out even louder
“Ma’am, do you need assistance?”
What happend at this moment chilled my blood. She had abruptly stopped moving forward and then appeared to glide sideways across the alley way, and in the beam of my flashlight I noticed that I couldn’t see her feet and she appeared to be floating about a foot above the ground.
“holy….” I managed to say as I could feel my heart beginning to pound in my chest
. Suddenly, she turned the corner of the building and disappeared out of view. Not believing what I had just seen, and trying to convince myself that indeed this lady was drunk and I had to assist I ran to the corner of the building only a split moment and went around it and…..she was gone! She was completely gone! The only place she could have gone was into the trash dumpsters or over the chain link fence as this was a dead end. There was no other exit! I checked inside and behind the dumpsters, the powerful bright white beam of the Mag Light pierced the darkness, but nothing! I called out to her again
"Ma'am, are you out here? are you ok?"
By this time I was fighting utter confusion and the beginning tendrils of apprehension were beginning to seep into my consciousness.
I then looked at the chain link fence and out into the dark grassy field. It seemed utterly strange that she would be able to climb the fence in a dress and not get snagged, but where else could she have gone? I then grabbed the top of the metal tube and with a sudden heave, I was over the fence and landed hard on to the other side.
“Ma’am!” I called out loudly “are you out here?”
It was difficult to see as the grass was waist high and the moon had just disappeared behind the clouds again plunging everything into near darkness. I walked over the grassy hill and searched the grass with the bright beam of my Mag light.
But that’s when I felt it, a chill creep up the back of my neck. My heart began to thud even louder in my chest. A sudden feeling of dread and doom completely overwhelmed me. "That is very strange" I said to myself as my forehead slowly broke out into a cold sweat.
"I don't get the willies over nothing" and as I turned my flashlight out into the grass with my gaze following it,
that’s when I saw it. Underneath a large and very gnarled oak tree was a dark shape. I aimed my beam in that direction and then I saw the creature, an enormous rat. It's dirty oily pelt reflected the light back at me. It glared at me with red angry eyes. It was as big as a cat, maybe bigger. My heart began pounding harder, about ready to explode from my chest.
"What has it been feeding on to make it grow so big?" I thought to myself as I started slowly backing up.
That’s when it then it hit me like an ice cold shock from my spine down to my toes. I wasn’t staring into the large bulging beady eyes of a rat, but instead they were human eyes! Red beady,angry human eyes! The hatred I saw in them was unmistakable. At that instant it raised itself stood up onto its' hind legs and hissed at me.
The rat ...that.. thing.. it called my name.
“John…., John……..” it said in a low,slow hissing voice that made it sound as if it were out of breath.
“….did you think I would let you leave with.... Her!” it said with a shriek -
“die with me, never leave me….”
“holy mother of god” I screamed as I turned and ran as fast as I could, every fiber of my body screamed at me that my life depended on getting out of there, away from.. it as quickly as possible. Behind me I could hear the hissing of the creature and the quick rustling of the tall grass as the creature quickly gave chase to catch me and end my life. I swear to you, at every long running step I expected sharp cold claws to suddenly bite my neck and hiss in my ear
“John…. die with me, never leave me…..“
I don’t even want to think about it. I must have hurdled that chain link fence at a hundred miles per hour, flew ten feet over it and landed 50 yards up the alley because to tell the truth, I don’t even remember touching the chain link fence. I ran like a bat out of hell down the alley not daring to look back and skidded into the security office, quickly locked the door and grabbed my Mag light as a weapon and turned to defend myself if that "thing" busted the door down behind me.
I didn't leave the office the entire night. I quit the very next day.
It was reported several days later in the Register, that the body of a homeless man was found out near the Irvine hills. Now the police were not calling it a homicide but rather a strange suicide. It appears that he hung himself off an old oak tree but had been chewed beyond recognition by rats. This John Doe apparently had managed to hang himself but no chair or ladder had been found nearby. However, it was reported that thin wheel tracks had been discovered and then the tracks had suddenly stopped and disappeared in the grass. The investigation was still pending........