An old-fashioned spook tale for you, ATS.
It was the week of the big Homecoming football game/high school dance and my neighbor Jim, coach of the cheerleading squad, was chaperoning during an
old high school tradition. The evening of the dance all the girls who didn't have a date, weren't attending the dance, and had no other obligations,
were meeting to go explore a haunted house/cornfield maze as a way of enjoying their weekend after the big game.
Packed into Jim's wife's minivan, a handful of the girls had decided to call it a night. It was a Saturday evening just after 9 PM, about the middle
of October, and the group was making their way home east along Cuba Rd. Passing the infamous White Cemetery, Jim happened to glance out his window,
just to see if he could catch a glimpse of the purported shadow-figures that are said to loom at the wrought-iron gate. Instead of laying eyes upon a
spectral phantom, Jim saw a young girl in a long white dress, with a gray hooded sweater pulled around her, walking her old bike along the
Thinking that it may have been one of the dance attendees making her way home, and acknowledging that, as a teacher, it was his duty to make sure the
young girl was OK, Jim decided to pull over and ask the girl if she needed any help getting home. Turning the van around, much to the surprise of his
other passengers who had not seen the young girl on the roadside, Jim pulled to a stop just in front of the biker. Reaching across the front seats,
Jim opened the passenger door as the girl ambled along. She stopped, her head down, the hood obscuring her face, and Jim asked her if she was hurt.
Messy black hair protruded from beneath the hood, but the girl didn't say anything, instead she stood silent and still, her head turned down.
Seeing for the first time that she was, in fact, wearing a long white dress beneath her dark-gray hooded sweater, Jim concluded that she must have
been riding home from the Homecoming dance. He asked if she had had a problem at the dance, and if she needed to get in contact with anyone. Again,
there was silence as the girl begin to fidget back and forth on her feet, leaning noncommittally against her bike. Starting to worry now, Jim told the
girl that he could fit her bike in the back of his van, and drive her to wherever she needed to go if that would make her feel any better. He
explained that he was the cheerleading squad's coach, that several members of the squad were in the back, and then he asked her if she knew any of
At this point the young girl finally looked up to acknowledge Jim. In Jim's own words:
What I was looking at wasn't human. At least, not completely human. It looked like a young woman, maybe 17 or 18, about the same age as the girls
that I had in the back of the van. It was wearing clothing that would have seemed appropriate for the night: a white dress and gray hoodie to keep
warm. But the face. The face was not human. Her skin was a pale white, almost luminescent, and looked to be hugging her skull a little too tightly.
There were no features to her complexion—no lips or nose or ears—just the eyes. Or, what might have been eyes. I don't know, maybe it was because
it was late and dark, but when she looked at me, I swear that I was looking into two harshly dug-out holes. I'm not talking about some kind of
botched surgery either [my name removed], it looked like her skin had just cracked and peeled away, and there was an empty nothing beneath. Holes
where her eyes should have been.
Confronted with a fight-or-flight response the likes of which he'd never encountered before, Jim pulled the passenger-side door closed, ran the pedal
to the floor, and flew away from White Cemetery and the eyeless girl-thing as quickly as his minivan would allow. He didn't stop, and never looked
back, terrified that he might see the girl-thing in his mirror.
After settling down some, and taking the other girls home (who hadn't seen what Jim had, but acknowledged that he was visibly shaken), Jim returned
to the road and took a slow drive down it, hoping to put his fears to rest and prove to himself that there had been nothing there. Stopping near where
he believed the encounter to have happened, Jim got out of his car (he'd exchanged his wife's minivan for his own car after dropping the
cheerleaders off), and cast his flashlight's beam at the ground. He saw nothing. No bike tracks, no shoe prints, nothing to suggest that the
girl-thing had ever been there. Despite the lack-of-evidence, Jim didn't feel the kind of emotional-comfort he expected to at this revelation.
The "lore" of Cuba Rd. is pretty extensive, everything from ghostly hitchhikers and phantom animals, to disappearing houses, and White Cemetery is
considered by many to be the "heart" of the activity. Amorphous vapors, acrobatic orbs, disembodied whispers, and spectral shades at the gates,
White Cemetery has long been a staple of Illinois' ghostly lore. I thought that I had heard all the tales there were, until my neighbor confided the
one I just recounted for you above.
Well, ATS, what do you think; what did my neighbor Jim encounter?
~ Wandering Scribe
* A special acknowledgement and apology to Diyanahnadzree
, whose lovely
sketch, "Hoodie Girl", I took and destroyed in an attempt to recreate what Jim saw that night.