Ending up at the closed Excitement Park carnival complex in Pennsylvania was honestly a bit of a twisting road. One of my new habits in the morning is to check out the urban legends and hauntings site I’ve bookmarked and look for updates in the areas I’m visiting. Usually they’re pretty mundane and the same story over and over and over again. I swear if I ever hear one of those stories about the bus load of dead kids who will push your car over a railroad tracks I’ll have a mental breakdown. Every once in a while I’ll actually find something that feels right. In this case, it was reports of a wild man that stalked the ruins of a carnival somewhere in the forests of Pennsylvania. It seemed to be a relatively recent legend too, popping up within the last 10 years or so, pretty much springing to life in the digital age.
I don’t feel alone in my home anymore and that scares me. Since visiting the prison and getting the cryptic message, I have noticed things going on here that before I would have brushed off as non-threatening. Lights flickering when I enter a room, footsteps on the stairs when I’m lying in bed, and even now I can hear the sound of something being dragged in the attic. It’s the sound of wood scraping against wood.
I was just shy of 17 years old when I received my first passport. It was the summer of 2004, the gap between my junior and senior years of high school. Packing for Germany, my biggest concern was how cool I’d look. I was and still am a humongous nerd. I was rocking only the best in khaki cargo pants, white gym shoes, a windbreaker more suitable for camping than wandering around beautiful historic cities, and a stable of ‘fun’ baseball caps that would put a real baseball player to shame. I was one fanny pack short of screaming ‘I’M A TOURIST AND MY PARENTS LET ME GO SOMEWHERE BY MYSELF, P.S. I’M AMERICAN!’ Instead, I only screamed ‘MUG ME! P.S. I’M AMERICAN!’
Thursday, August 15th
My doctor thinks keeping some kind of log will help with my insomnia, so what the hell. Last night I didn’t fall asleep until 4am. I had to wake up at 6am. Just like every other day. You can see the problem here. This is my life.
I tried to keep the details of my recent research secret from my friends. I didn’t want to be the weird guy in the group, and I also didn’t want my friends to bring up that I was the one who liked to look for ghosts anytime they introduced me at a party. So, I’ve kept my research relatively quiet. One night though, I did end up slipping.
I had a buddy from college over to my house one night. He had stopped back in town to visit family, and since he can’t stand to be around them for more than a few hours at a time, I let him crash on my couch for the night. Ted works for the Illinois Department of Corrections, and we compared the usual job stories, both funny and frustrating. After a few beers the conversation turned to spooky things he’s heard about on the job. He told me some stories he heard about Joliet Prison, and rumors of the ghosts of murdered inmates that stalk the halls.
“Don’t tread where the deer dance as men, for they are neither.”
That was the last thing my grandfather said to me before he passed away. He was feverish and suffering from pneumonia stemming from lung cancer, and I was lucky enough to be in Harlan County, Kentucky on a project with the DNR when I got the call that he was in the hospital.
Sanford, IL Police Archives
Search Results: “Schaeffer Road” OR “Schaeffer Rd”
5 Entries Found List: Most Recent First
11/26/2012 22:38 hrs – Incident Report
OFC J. Dawson responded to disturbance call near corner of Schaeffer Rd and County Line Rd. Caller XXXXX XXXXXXXXX called regarding traffic collision. Caller was frantic and said she had struck a pedestrian who had been standing in middle of eastbound lane. OFC Dawson arrived at incident site and found motorist and vehicle in undamaged condition. Tire marks lead to car indicating the motorist attempted to brake suddenly. No indication of any pedestrian or victim present. XXXXX XXXXXXXXX taken to hospital for treatment re: severe anxiety attack. No charges filed. (Edit: Names removed per current policy. Please see case file 11838 for full report.)
My brain just woke me up 10 minutes ago because of a revelation. Now, normally this is great because it can be inspiration for a story or remembering something I forgot that had been bothering me for the last few days.
This morning my brain goes “Dude, wake up.”
“Ugh, what? Its 5:45 am. We don’t even have plans until noon.”
“This is super important. Earth shattering even.”
“I’m listening…” I say, maybe it IS a new story thread or something to help with writer’s block on one of my long form projects. Shit, I probably had a Good Will Hunting moment and broken the code of the Voynich Manuscript or something.
“Peanuts,” my mind whispers. I imagine my brain as an 80’s businessman, coked out eyes wide open as he comes up with a last-ditch effort to save his crumbling business. He’s standing in front of a white board yelling at me.
“You know why they’re called that? It’s because when you crack them open… they have the nuts inside, like a pea pod has pea’s in it. It’s a Pea-Nut man.”
This realization hits me harder than if I had found conclusive evidence for life after death. Peanut butter is one of my very favorite things. I’ve been saying the word for years, and never thought about why they were called that. It’s like hearing a new-born baby laugh for the first time. My life has been changed forever.
“Wait, aren’t they legumes or whatever?” I still cannot tell you what the hell a legume is.
“Yeah, language is dumb,” replies my brain.
The human brain is an amazing thing, faster than the world’s most powerful supercomputer by about 100 times over. It has given us art,the ability to fly, and cured diseases. And mine chose that gift to wake me up at 5:45 in the fucking morning for a (still mind-blowing) thought that could have waited until like, 9am at the earliest.
My brain is an asshole.