Grafton PondJune 6, 2011
This happened when I was sixteen. No one ever brings it up, and I needed somewhere to tell this story. I figured nosleep would appreciate it.
Years ago, my friends and I wanted to go fishing in the small town of Grafton, NH, since my family owns a place near there. We wanted someplace where we could really just shoot the shit in peace, regardless of how many fish we could or couldn’t catch. The place was Grafton Pond. The red dot is where we were on shore, the green dot is where my friends took a canoe out.
There were four of us and one canoe. The plan was to have two stay on the shore while two take the canoe out to fish in the middle. By the time we arrived it was six p.m. and Carl and I had decided to stay on the shore. This left Ben and Chris to take the canoe.
Ben and Chris were a good distance out by the time seven thirty came around. A little too far, maybe, but I didn’t want to say anything to Carl about it, since Carl really wouldn’t have cared. When it was eight, Carl and I set up a little campfire about thirty feet up on shore so that when the others came back, we could make some s’mores and enjoy the peaceful place around us. I carried up buckets of water to extinguish the fire when it got time to leave.
Fog had started to roll in on the water, however. One of my biggest fears has always been being stranded on the water, so when I could barely see the canoe through the fog, I felt a sense of panic.
I wasn’t alone—Carl’s face was knotted with fear, too. It wasn’t that the others were terribly far away, we just didn’t want them paddling around with no sense of direction. I called out to them, and heard them call back.
I told them to head back over here, but only if they could see us, and if the fog got too thick, just wait out there until it lifted. I really did think it was going to lift—it had come out of nowhere and so I thought it was some sort of freak weather thing. After about fifteen more minutes, though, the fog was thicker than ever. It was literally like staring at a giant, undulating white wall. There was no way they could see us through all that fog. I called out to them, but got no response.
No big deal, they just didn’t hear me. I called out again. No response. The third time I tried, I heard a small sound, as if they were yelling from much, much farther away. This worried me so I yelled for them to stay put.
The fire was raging now; we wanted to have it as bright as possible in the fashion of a makeshift lighthouse. I had seen no movement yet, and the fog showed no signs of letting up. In fact, it was growing thicker even though that seemed impossible. It was creeping around the shore, too. It was surrounding us—the fog wrapped around the area in a giant circle, leaving us in a hollow. Feeling a sort of terror make its way through me, I threw whatever branches I could onto the fire. But the taller the flames got, the thicker and closer the fog was around us.
This is when I started hearing things. They weren’t definite sounds, but small noises that I couldn’t really put my finger on. It was as if something was going on all around us, just out of sight in that fog. It sounded like footsteps, sometimes running, but it disappeared quickly and seemed to be coming from all directions at once. I suddenly felt woozy, as if I were losing my sense of balance in all of this nothingness. I tried to stand up, but fell back down again. So I shouted for Ben and Chris, pausing between cries to wait for a response.
I never got any. At this point, I was frantic. I wanted to run to the shore, maybe my voice would carry more if I were closer to the water. Feeling more like I was under the control of someone else, I ran into the fog.
Everything disappeared as I got into the fog. I couldn’t hear Carl, and I couldn’t hear the fire. Realizing what I had done, I turned around to go back, only to find that I no longer knew which way was back. I called for Carl, and at first there was nothing. Then, he reached out and grabbed me, pulling me back into the clearing.
Around 8:30 we heard the sounds again, this time louder. It sounded like a stampede, and it was coming directly toward us. Before I could even register what was going on, Ben and Chris fell into the hollow, breaking down into tears as they did.
It was ten minutes later when they had finally stopped crying and could find words again. This is what they told us:
At first when the fog started to come in around us, I shouted over to you and asked if we should come back to shore.You just stood there and shook your head. (Right away I interrupted him, saying that I don’t recall that at all, but he ignored my comment.) Chris and I shrugged and tried to continue fishing. It must have taken only thirty seconds for more fog to surround us, making us blind in all directions. I felt uneasy, like all of my senses were being cut off.
There were sounds, like things moving all around us. Splashes, frantic thrashing in the water, gargling noises, God knows what else. We pulled our lines out of the water and just sat there, unable to do a thing as we both shivered violently with terror. I have no idea how much time passed—sometimes it only felt like a few minutes, sometimes it felt like a whole day had gone by.
When something rocked the boat roughly, Chris and I practically threw our oars in the water as we paddled as fast as we could. I guess we got lucky and found the right shore, though. I was worried we’d end up on one of those islands.
We all agreed that, yes, they had been very lucky. I then began to tell them about the sounds we’d been hearing on shore, when the sounds actually started up again. They were running, jumping, cracking, desperate sounds. I pictured hundreds of people all running around blindly, searchingfor some way out of the fog. I looked at the fire.
The fire’s height was at the point where it was dangerously close to the tree branches above, so I grabbed for the buckets of water sitting next to the fire. I told the others I didn’t want the whole damn forest to catch, and so I put it out. That wasn’t the reason I did it though, was it? No I don’t think it was. It was the image in my mind of all of those people, stumbling around frantically before seeing the light from the fire and running toward us. I was afraid they’d get us. I know, it’s childish, but I’ve always been afraid of the unseen, afraid of things beyond our perception.
After the fire was out, we all sat in the darkness, huddled close together. Eventually the fog lifted a little, and as soon as we could, we bolted for the car. We didn’t really sleep that night, and we didn’t really talk either. Like I said, none of us has brought it up with one another since.