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The Haunting of the Christmas Swamp

By , Arden Hills, MN
December always seemed like a special time of year. It was the bridge to begin the holiday season. Snow started to fall, carols start to be sung, delicious aromas wafted from the kitchen, and the whole family seemed to be pulled closer together. For my family we always began the start of the season with the telling of The Legend of The Swamp. The story was an urban legend that had been told for centuries, and spoke of a farmer, old Mr. Farley, who had walked across the icey swamp down the road, and had fallen in and drowned. Ever since then, it was said, he would haunt The Swamp, and curse anyone who happened to see him. It was not the usual Christmas story you heard, like The Night Before Christmas, but that was how holiday season always started, until that fateful night back in 1993.

Snow was just starting to fall outside our small, cozy Minnesota home. My brother, Shaun, had gone outside to have a snowball fight, and my mother was scrambling to get the holiday ham ready before Dad came home. I sat in my chair with a book in my lap, the warm glow of the fireplace illuminating my reading. Suddenly, I was jerked out of my reverie by a slight tapping on the window. I blinked, and looked; then looked again, not sure whether to believe my eyes.

Outside a giant of a man was tapping rapidly on the window. His eyes were bloodshot, and his great grizzly red beard hung limply over his ragged brown overcoat. I let out a yelp of astonishement and jumped away from the window- my mother was too busy humming Bing Crosby to notice. The man seemed to be trying to say something urgent, he beckoned at me to come out, but I shook my head and scampered out of the living room.

My brother was taking off his boots, having had his share of snow, and was scrambling over to my spot by the fireplace to warm up. It was only then I noticed something odd... the man... whoever he had been, had been wearing my father's overcoat!

I ran back to the window where the man had been, but he was no longer there. A tremble went through my spine, as I stared at the window where he had stood and read a message, scratched into the frost: I am Farley.

That Christmas changed my life. My father never did return that night, nor the night after that. My mother couldn't speak his name for weeks, and although the police searched for months, they never did find him, or his body. To this day, I have never before spoken of the man, who I sometimes fear I only imagined, who had been tapping on the window. Rumor has it my father had last been seen pulling over to the side of the road next to the frozen, marshy swamp. I never did know whether to believe this, or whether or not to connect this to The Legend of The Swamp, but let this story be a reminder to you, next time you're driving past The Swamp in December, whatever you do.... don't stop.





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