Dead Man's Ditch

December 2, 2008
“Come on guys, seriously! Do you really think these woods are haunted? Ya’ll are crazy if you believe it. She just wants to scare us into not wandering off,” said Shelby condescendingly.

“You never know! Why would she make up something like that?” I retorted back nervously as I walked alongside my fellow girl scouts. If ghosts were truly in the woods, we did not want to be there. Unfortunately, we had no choice but to stay. We were stuck. Trapped. Civilization was miles away from our little camp site deep within the woods where it was nothing but nature, we nine girl scouts, and our troop leader. We were completely alone…or so we thought.

I still have vivid memories of that dark night when I was sitting around the campfire.

“So have I ever told ya’ll about the legend of ‘Dead Man’s Ditch?’” asked our leader, Ms. Pam, with the ominous glow of the campfire on her face. “There is a legend here at Camp Whispering Pines, ladies. Many years ago, before this camp site was even here, a highway ran right through this very spot where you are sitting. One stormy night, a group of drunken, wild teens were retuning from a party when the driver lost control of the wheel. The car crashed into the ditch and the car and its passengers were never seen again. Legend has it that that very ditch is near our little campsite. Even scarier, legend has it that their ghosts still haunt that ditch as they search for the highway to continue on their journey.”

“Ah! Stop it!” I screamed. “I don’t want to hear anymore, please!”

“I’m scared now too,” cried another.

“Oh! Ya’ll are a bunch of babies; grow up. It is just a made up ghost story…right?” Shelby looked quizzically at Ms. Pam.

“No, ‘Dead Man’s Ditch’ is actually not that far from here, but don’t worry. You’re perfectly safe outside that ditch. Now off to bed; story time is over,” Ms. Pam said as she stood up to extinguish our fire. We walked back to our tent and discussed the possibilities of the story being true.

“It’s such a lie. Don’t even get me started,” Shelby remarked.
“If you’re so sure, prove it,” responded another with the typical bratty attitude of a young girl of ten years.
“Fine. Let’s try to find that big, scary ditch. We can look all night, but I bet we won’t find a ditch or ghosts because it’s not real.”
We all considered the consequences of leaving the safety of the tent. We could stay in the tent and be in fear of being awaken in the middle of the night by a drunken apparition, or we could go searching for “Dead Man’s Ditch” and prove to ourselves that the story was not true. We chose to find the ditch.

We quietly grabbed our flashlights and snuck into the pitch black sheet that was night. Even with the help of our multiple flashlights, we could barely see our feet in front of us. We even began hearing noises that before had gone unnoticed: a cracking branch, rustling bushes, leaves blowing in the wind. One thing was for sure, the woods definitely looked haunted.

Either completely blinded by the darkness or distracted by the spooky happenings around me, I stumbled and found myself sliding downward through the mud. I landed with a loud thump and screamed out of shock and fear.

“Lindsey! Was that you? Where are you? Are you okay?” screamed my terrified friends.

“Down here!” I said as I grabbed my flashlight and pointed it upward, waving it frantically above my head. “I fell in a hole!”

Out of the darkness, I saw the glimmer of lights moving quickly towards me.

“I see her! Here she is,” screamed my friend as she pointed her flashlight in my face.
The girls all shined their lights in my direction and gasped. I was in no hole at all.

“It’s a …it’s a …ditch,” whispered Shelby.

“Get me out of here!” I cried.

“Calm down! There is nothing down there but you and the mud. But, I mean we’ve come all this way; we might as well have a look around.”

As everyone carefully climbed in, I began to observe my surroundings. Dead leaves, dirt, and broken beer bottles. Shelby and the others realized my observation and gasped yet again. There were multiple broken beer bottles strewn about the ditch. Had the story really been true? Had people really been killed here because they had been drinking? There was concrete evidence right in front of us; still, we continued to walk through the long, winding ditch to find more proof. If possible, it had grown even darker, the woods even spookier, and my heartbeat even faster. Sweat trickled down my forehead.

“Guys, what if the ghosts are here? I wanna leave,” I pleaded.

“Fine! Let’s go,” responded Shelby, “I still don’t believe in this ‘scary’ legend though. I mean come on, what’s next? You gunna tell me old car parts are in here. I seriously doubt that!” She then kicked a metal object and looked puzzlingly at us and the ground. It was a battered car door.

“Okay… maybe I believe now,” she admitted, her eyes filling with fear.

Suddenly, we heard the slow sound of footsteps approaching us. We shined the lights frantically in every direction, but nothing abnormal could be found. Then, we heard glass clink and a faint moaning sound. Someone was undoubtedly there, but we were not waiting to find out. We frantically climbed out of the ditch, under low limbs, through bushes, over large rocks, and around huge trees. Our campsite came into view. We raced into our tent and listened intently- dead silence. Our journey was done.

Early that next morning, we approached our leader’s tent to ask for permission to leave the haunted forest with its ghost inhabited ditch.

“Come on girls! You know I was just making up a good story! None of that was true. There was no highway, no ditch, and definitely no ghosts,” responded Ms. Pam.

We looked at each other in confusion. Did we dare tell her of our ghostly encounter? Dare tell her the ditch and every part of her story was completely true? Or had we dreamt the whole incident? Had “Dead Man’s Ditch” existed? We may never know.

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