The Voice

Sometimes supernatural forces help us.  In this episode, we learn how.   I’m a U.S. Army Private stationed in South Carolina.  I use to hitchhike between my post and my hometown in Jacksonville Florida.  I always got rides easy because I had a gimmick.  I would stand on the side of the road, holding a gas can, next to a gas station.  Based upon the gas can, people assumed that I had run out of gas, purchased some at the station, and was now in need of a ride back to my car.  My situation rarely failed to elicit sympathy. 
In fact, that gas can was empty.  It contained my shaving kit and some underclothing.  When the people who picked me up discovered the truth of my situation, they often complimented me on being clever.   Very few felt that they had been tricked. 

I got one ride that soon proved to be a mistake.  When the driver discovered that I didn’t need a ride to my car, he reacted like the other drivers.  He complimented me on being clever.  He then asked if I was clever enough to earn fifty dollars.  He placed his hand between my legs to signal how he intended for me to earn the money.  Despite the outrage that I demonstrated, some part of me was flattered and gave consideration to his request.  However, I asked him to let me out.  He immediately pulled over without a protest.  I got out of his car.

I was now stranded on the highway and it was getting dark.  However, I felt that my gas can trick would soon convince another driver to pick me up.   I was wrong.  Two hours later, it was a dark night.  At night all drivers are reluctant to pick up hitchhikers.  It was getting cold and it was going to rain soon.  I was losing hope of getting a ride that night.  I couldn’t stay on the road.  So, unless a ride came along soon I would have to look for shelter.  The entire time I had been walking along the highway.  I was hoping to make it to a roadside rest station and hang out in a warm restroom.  

Hours later, I was wet and cold.  I was moving along the edge of the highway with my head down and my thumb out.  I noticed in the distance a van stopped on the side of the road ahead of me.  It had its four-way flashing lights and the interior lights turned on.  It was a life saver.  I enter the van through the side door and sat down on the bench seat behind the driver and the passenger.  
There was only three of us in the van.  The other two guys were just a little older than me.  I thank them for stopping and told them where I was heading.  

We drove for about forty minutes while making small talk.  They were very curious about who I was and why I was hitchhiking.  Then the conversation dropped off and they started talking to each other.  I must have taken a micro nap; because, when I woke up, I notice that we were no longer on the highway.  They apparently had taken a side road at some point.  They assured me it was a shortcut and that we would soon be back on the highway.  I relaxed a little.

The guy in the passenger seat had earlier identified himself as David.  The driver was called Mike.  David asked me if I knew anything about revolvers.  Since I was in the Army, I was familiar with the old .38 military police revolver.  After I said that I was.  He pulls out a .45 caliber Colt Revolver from the glove box and pointed it at me.  He pulled the trigger and the hammer landed on an empty chamber.  Stunned, I asked was he crazy.  I said you don’t play with people like that.  He and Mike just laughed at me.  I got a knot in my stomach.  I know it was going to get much worst. 

I wanted to get out of the van but I had no idea where I was.  David then loaded the gun, filling each chamber, then held it in his lap.   Mike slowed the van and turned on to a dirt road.  I asked where are we going?  They didn’t answer.  David just turned in his seat and looked at me like I was his prey.  We drove for a while on that dirt road through a swampy nighttime landscape.  As Mike stopped the van, David held the gun on me and announced that we were going to play a game.

Mike got out of the van and came around to the side door.  It was the first time that I noticed that the side door could not be opened from the inside.  I was panicked.  Then I heard a voice next to me say, “Don’t fight now wait.”  I thought it was David.  Then I heard it again.  “If you want to live through this do everything I say.”  That voice was right next to my ear.  I was sure that I heard it because David told me to shut up.  I hadn’t spoken.  

Mike opened the side door.  I was told to get out of the van.  Once I was out, Mike who now also had a gun made me walk away from the van.  I was directed to walk off the dirt road and into the swamp.  The water was cold and it stank.  I could feel odd things floating under the surface.  I waded out until it was up to my waist then I was told to stop.  The light from the vans headlight the illuminated area.  I thought that I would next feel them shooting me in the back and head.  I was thinking that I never thought that my life would end this way.  Then I heard the voice say “start swimming.”  At the same time, the area went dark.  The lights on the van turned off and the van’s horn was sounding loud as though it were stuck.  

I swam as fast as I could.  I was expecting to feel the bullets strike me any second.   The voice said to keep swimming.   Then, I heard the men firing their weapons in my direction.  I heard the rounds strike the water but miss me.  In the darkness, they couldn’t see me.   Also, because the van’s horn was sounding, they could not clearly hear my movements.  After a few minutes of swimming, I could feel land under my body.  The voice said, “get out of the water and run.”  I did.  Then I heard the voice say “stop here and lay down.”  It ordered me to be as still as possible.  I could hear David and Mike moving through the woods now.  They were using a very bright flashlight to search for me.

I was breathing hard.  I was sure that they could hear me breathing.  I also had wounds from thorn bushes that were acquired when I was running through the brush.  My exposed skin itched and felt on fire.  My breathing calmed.  I lay still for what seem to be hours but was more likely just under an hour.   I could hear the two men calling for me.  They were saying it was all a prank.  They wanted me to come to them.  They promised that when got out of there and they would take me to Jacksonville.  I heard the voice right against my ear say get up.  It instructed me to move forward with stealth as quietly as possible.  

As I moved, the sounds of the two men became more distant.  The voice guided me through that swamp that night and the early morning.  I walked for a distance in one direction.  Then it instructed me to turn left or right(when necessary) and continue on a different route.  As the sun came up, I found myself at the back of a highway rest station.   The voice said to wait here in the woods.  So, I hid in the woods until I observed a state patrol vehicle stop there, then I was able to get help.  

Over the months since this has happened, I have thought about this situation constantly.  Before that night, I never heard that voice.  It was unfamiliar to me.  I haven’t heard it since that night.  I don’t pretend to know who or what that voice was.  I don’t know why it saved me and I can’t say why I am worth saving.  I am just so grateful that it help me when I needed it most.  Somehow, it turned off those lights on the van and sounded the horn to help me escape those crazy men.  Then it guided me to safety.  Sometimes, I think it was an angel.  Other times, I think it was the ghost of one of their victims because there has to be more than me.  I'm sure that it was more than something inside of me.  David told me to shut up when the voice first whispered in my ear.  He heard it too.   

Of course, I don’t hitchhike anymore.  However, I still believed in the goodness of people.  I just don’t believe that I’m invincible.   I was not able to give the police enough information to capture David and Mike.  They are still out there somewhere on the highway looking for more victims.  I expect to see them everywhere.     

Hi, Hi, Hi

This is a community member story that is in the back catalog called Hi, Hi, Hi.  In the early 1980s, Sam Bowie was a Staff Sargent in the United States Army assigned to a long-range reconnaissance company.  During a field exercise deep inside a Florida Swamp, he had a paranormal encounter that changed his life.

Sam’s Army Ranger Company was conducting a three-day land navigation exercise in the swampy terrain on Eglin Airforce base (in the state of Florida). The countryside that they navigated through was very difficult terrain in which to keep one’s correct location (during daylight hours).  Therefore, it was more difficult, for his small team of five men (called a patrol) to navigate the swampy terrain at night. 

On the second night of the exercise, the men were two hours into the third leg of their movement and they were lost. They located a small island just big enough to hold the team above the water level of the swamp.  Climbing on their hands and knees, out of the water, onto the darkness of the island, they checked the muddy ground for snakes and alligators using the night vision scopes mounted on their assault rifles.  Then they removed their heavy rucksacks and lay down to recover their strength.  Sam pulled out the map and attempted to locate the island on it.  The entire team noticed that a strong smell of urine, feces and decaying flesh inhabited the island. 

Seconds after turning on a flashlight to check out the ground, team members made a gruesome discovery. Discarded partially consumed animal body parts were spread around the small island in various stages of decay.  Some of the parts were fresh and others had long ago been consumed.  There were also numerous piles of fresh feces.  It appeared that the island was the nest of some very large predatory animals.  The team had arrived while the predators were away.

Sam was still attempting to locate their position on the map when they all heard something very large splashing through the water towards the island.  All the red lens flashlights were turned off upon hearing the sounds of movement.  The men used their night vision scopes to scan the swamp in the direction of the sound.  In the green vision of the scope, they could see what appeared to be two enormous “King Kong like” gorillas or bears approaching the island. 

When the patrol had approached the island, the water level had been up to their chest.  Some of the men were six feet in height.  Looking through the night vision scopes, at the two gorillas or bears, the water level was between their waist and knees.  They were very tall for gorillas or bears (about ten to twelve feet in height).

The soldiers believed that they were observing two escaped zoo animals or pets that had been released into the wild.  People did that all the time in Florida. A few Ranger teams had encountered large anaconda snakes on past exercises.  At that point in time, the only place the men had ever seen gorillas was on TV.  They had no realistic idea of correct gorilla proportions.  However, the closer the pair got to the island the less gorilla or bear-like they appeared to be.  A powerful stench assaulted the men’s nostrils.  It was much stronger than the stench of the island.  While still looking through the night vision scope, someone on the team exclaimed in a whisper, “Fuck, those are Big Foots.”

Instinctively, as quietly as possible and while still laying on the ground, the team formed a skirmish line facing the perceived threat.  As they had practiced many times, they moved their backpacks between them and the oncoming creatures to create cover and support for their weapons.  The Big Foots were close enough now to be seen without electronic aids.  The team only had blank ammunition for their M-16 assault rifles.  The weapons were worthless if the Big Foots attacked. 

Sam took the pin-flare gun out of his breast pocket and fired off a round to illuminate the area.  When the Big Foots heard the pop of the pen flare they froze half squatting in the murky water.  The flair illuminated the area like daylight for about forty seconds.  The Big Foots watched the flare arc and then descend to the surface of the water.  The sudden illumination had temporally halted their progress toward the island.  It had also temporally destroyed the team’s night vision.  It must have also destroyed the night vision of the creatures because they didn’t move long after the flair had landed.

Not knowing what to expect from the Big Foots and fearing the worst. Sam chose to retreat.  He shouted “Westport” the code word for the team to move to the last designated rally point.  In this case, the team would move due west until they encountered the first dirt road.  Sargent Morales, the assistant team leader, pulled out his compass and took up a heading of 270 degrees magnetic.  He plunged into the swamp water on the other side of the small island.  The team followed him one by one into the water.  Sam, as team leader, brought up the rear.  He needed to ensure that no men or equipment was left behind.

The men moved through cool chest-high water for hours toward the dirt road.  On the movement to the road, several times they halted and just listen.  They could hear the creatures moving behind them and talking to each other.  When the creatures realized that the patrol had stopped moving, they would also stop.  However, then they made sounds like they were calling out to the patrol.  It sounded like one of them was saying Hi! Hi! Hi!  

Sam thought that they would attack at any moment.  The creatures could have easily caught the team if they wanted.  After a while, he was sure that they were just curious.  Upon reaching the dirt road the team set up a defensive perimeter and took out their field knives for protection. They used the radio to call for an extraction.  While they waited the team could still hear the sounds of one of the creature’s shouting to them Hi! Hi! Hi!

Hours later, a helicopter landed on the road to extract them.  As the helicopter circled around in the air to take up its course.  The men could see the two Big Foot creatures through the trees below.  They were looking skyward at the helicopter and using their hands to shield their vision from the sun.  For a few minutes, the helicopter crew and the team circled the area looking at the creatures in disbelief.  Then the big foots moved into a denser part of the swamp and disappeared.

In the operations debrief, the men were separated.  However, each man still managed to relate with accuracy the story of their encounter with the Big Foot creatures.  The report was stamped confidential by the commander.  For weeks after the incident, each time someone on the other Ranger Teams made a mistake, they would claim to have been chased by Big Foot.  They turned the whole story into a joke.  No one on the team wanted to talk about it after that.

Three months later, on another field exercise to Eglin, a different team of Rangers encountered the island that Sam’s team had discovered that night.  This time it was during daylight hours.  The team discovered classic Bigfoot footprints all over the muddy island.  They took photographs of the prints.  The photos hung in the company’s offices for years.  The area was closed off from access by the military police and the federal game wardens.  There are rumors that some large bears were captured by the wardens and released elsewhere.  After a few days, the area was open again.

Two years later, Sam wrote a fictionalized article for “Boy’s Life Magazine” about his team’s encounter with the Bigfoot creatures.  After much reflection, he had become obsessed with the idea that the Bigfoots were attempting to communicate with the team that night.  He thought that the (Hi! Hi! Hi!) sounds the team heard the Big Foots make was actually English.  Could it be possible they were saying Hi?  Watching the TV show Star Trek had convinced Sam that he had blown a first contact opportunity.  The theme of his article was how fear had destroyed an opportunity to explore and learn.  If given a second chance, he promised himself he would use it to expand his knowledge.

After Sam retired from the Army, he searched for Bigfoot creatures around North America.  He disappeared one weekend in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State.  The Park Rangers located his campsite.  There were Big Foot feet prints all over the ground.  There was also a tripod with a camera mounted on top.  Most of the people who have seen the images developed from that camera believe it’s all staged.  They think that Sam is somewhere having a joke on everyone.  However, the men who were on his old Ranger Team looked at the photos and said, “That son of a bitch made contact!” They suspect Sam will turn up one day to tell us what his life was like living with Big Foot.