I Faced a Bone Walker and Lived
Originally published at Join me at the Campire on June 4, 2023.
Hey all, it’s me Frank Jones again. I wrote that post a while ago about why you shouldn’t be a paranormal investigator and a lot of you liked it. Since settling into my hideaway in the mountains, life has become quiet and I thought about checking in. The plague hit us like nothing and now that everyone is wanting to travel again, I thought to say hi. I want to say thanks to all of you who commented and gave me those weird pointy thingies this social media does. Some of you even figured out my post office box address and sent me letters. I appreciate it (and don’t do it again).
The common strain among your posts was wanting to know if I had ever encountered other things as an auditor. Of course I have but I have been reluctant to tell you because I don’t want to shine some sort of light on all of it or make it sound like some romantic adventure. It’s “pissing yourself” fear all wrapped up in a waking nightmare with a side of gory terror. I am one of the few who actually made it to retirement…if that’s what you could call this life I’m living now.
But, I have nothing else to do really. Carl only visits once in a while when he’s passing through and I cannot risk any other sort of company knowing I’ve pissed off a lot of people…and things. So, I’m back on this internet board and sharing. So many are curious, I thought maybe another story can scare you all straight. This was the first time complacency almost got me and another killed.
This story takes place somewhere in the 90s in a small New England town. It was one of those places nestled along the banks of a serene river, historic brick buildings line the winding streets, their facades adorned with weathered signs that hint at the town's seafaring heritage. A place where everything smelled like either the ocean or decaying fish. I’m not going to specifically name the town to protect the young lady that may still be living there but in the heart of the town, there’s a renowned drawbridge which stands as a testament to the place’s affinity for water. Its ancient mechanisms creak and groan when allowing vessels to pass through the calm waterway. It also had some of the best outdoor markets I had a chance to stop and check out.
I didn’t pass through this part of the country that often as my boss preferred me to do the long hauls across the country but there was a dead haul nobody wanted.I took it cause I wanted a change of scenery. I was already working as an auditor and part of a loose alliance of others who investigated and dealt with any weird things. I actually had a few monsters under my belt. I honestly had the foolhardy idea that I could handle anything out there. God, I was an idiot.
The supernatural never crossed my mind until that evening, stopping to fuel up my red 1992 Peterbilt 379 and paying for the gas with the attendant and restocking up on those beef jerky sticks and coffee.
That was when I noticed her. She was a young woman about in her mid 30s looking like one of the corporate types with the short hair cut and business suit. I would have not paid her any mind if it wasn’t for the touch of apprehension on her face as she talked on one of those new fangled bright yellow Nokia cellphones. Soft strands of chestnut hair framed her face, their gentle sway moving as she glanced around while talking on the phone. As I observed her, I couldn't help but notice the way her fingers trembled slightly, when trying to get money out of her pocket. I’ve seen that type of fear before. So, like a creep, I eavesdropped on her call.
“Yes, it happened again,” she had said as the nickels finally made it to the counter to pay for her snacks. “I could have sworn there was something outside the window near the edge of the forest….no, of course the security cameras didn’t pick up anything. They’re cheap. Ronald was a skinflint when it came to things like this. Hope he’s rotting in hell wherever he is.”
My mind began to drift away, more annoyed I couldn’t get a move on it. It sounded like a problem for the police and if anything, I was gonna tell her that. It was what she said next that made me stop and brought back the reality of the world.
“Yeah. like nine or ten feet tall. I’m thinking kids are playing around with scarecrows or something. Won’t come from the edge of the forest and when I check, I can see foot impressions and stuff. I already put in a call to the cops. They found nothing.“
“Did it sway a bit and its eyes seem to glint like a cats or owl?” I asked without thinking.
The look I got from both her and the gas attendant made me realize what I had done. Well, too late now.
“I’ll call you back,” she said quickly, eyeing me as she hung up the phone and slipped it back into her purse.
“You need me to walk you to your car, ma’am?” the attendant asked, staring at me.
Of course, I forgot that The Truck Stop Killer had only been arrested a few years before.
“I’m fine, thank you,” she said, quickly gathering her stuff and making for the door. I slapped the one hundred and seventy bucks on the counter to pay for my diesel guzzler ignoring the change and followed her out but making sure to not move in a way that caused the teenager in the station to call the cops.
“Ma’am,” I called out to her and she turned to me while hurrying up her pace.
“I’ve got pepper spray. Stay away from me.”
“The thing in the woods. You could have sworn you smelled fresh dirt like mulch and it seemed to sway back and forth like it could not keep its balance.” I threw it out there in desperation.
She froze and turned to look at me. Eying me up and down as I kept my distance and angled to head towards my truck.
“How do you know?”
“I…uh…dealt with something like that before. On a job in Canada.”
“Who are you?” she asked, looking at my faded shirt and company logo. “A trucker?”
“I moonlight as a problem solver. Like an auditor of sorts.”
“Who is it?” she demanded, eyes still affixed to me and hand in her purse.
“Better question is ‘what is it?’,” I answered.
I have learned to pick up on the contempt and disbelief from people who hadn’t seen what I have. I was already being dismissed as a whack job.
“You have tracks on your porch you have written off as animals, especially if you own a dog. If you did own a dog, it’s missing. Cops told you it ran away. You got a garden?”
“Yes,” the certainty had started to leave her voice. “A walled garden.”
“And anytime you’re in there, you feel like you’re being watched.”
At that, her hand came out of her purse empty and she approached me with the fear I had seen in her eyes now on her face.
“How did you know?”
“I’d rather not explain out here,” I said sheepishly running my hand through my sandy brown hair that only started getting flecks of gray. “But you got a…pest problem.”
“And you can do something about it? I’ve had exterminators, cops, nature lovers…even a priest.”
“None of those won’t do you any good and I don’t want to scare ya but it’s more active which is not a good sign.”
For a few moments, I could see the indecision in her eyes. The desperate want to dismiss me as a lunatic but whatever she had heard or seen won over.
“Fine. You can follow me to the house.”
“Mind if I hitch a ride?”
The woman started but then looked at my truck. “Promise. I mean you no harm. I really think you’re in danger.”
That was when I found her name was Isabelle Walker.
We left my truck in long-term parking after she told the attendant that I was a long lost relative and that’s why the change of demeanor. I don’t know if he believed her but at that point, I don’t think he cared. I left my truck with its metallic frame standing tall and proud amidst the rows of other vehicles.
I did not realize how desperate this woman was until we got going on the road. I had loaded myself in the passenger seat after pulling out my military backpack from the war which I also used for my auditing services and tried to look as harmless as a man of my stature could.
For the first fifteen minutes of the drive, her focus was on the lonely road, those beautiful eyes darting to me anytime I shifted my weight. I didn’t want to scare her so it was her that spoke first.
“What is it?”
“I really don’t know but the people in my profession call it a Bone Walker.”
The nose crinkled in disbelief.
“Halloween is not for a few more months, Mister…”
“Jones. Frank Jones.”
The James Bond reference caused her to snort in amusement.
“I don’t know what to tell ya, ma’am, except I’ve dealt with some pretty scary things out there. Normally I’m never this forward as most people try to call the cops on me or dismiss me as a lunatic. I mean, I could be a lunatic but I know what I’ve seen.”
“And that is…?”
“You know. Ghosts, vampires, werewolves. They’re real. They’re not common but real nevertheless.”
There was still the disbelief in Isabelle’s voice but I grew to ignore things like this.
“Sure. I mean, think of all the things you experienced and be open to alternate answers.”
Isabelle was quiet for a few minutes and then sighed. “Either you are telling the truth or you're the biggest liar and I’m a fool that’s not going to live through this night.”
“I promise,” I tried to reassure her. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
After a few more minutes and off the main highway, we approached her home. The large house stood resolute amidst the dense, ancient forest, its weathered exterior a testament to the passing of time. It was a grand structure, its imposing presence commanding attention. The sprawling estate exuded an air of mystery and faded grandeur, as if it held stories whispered through generations.
As we pulled in, the main house loomed before me, its facade adorned with intricate woodwork and worn stone. Ivy crept along the walls, weaving an emerald tapestry that hinted at the passage of years. The windows, framed by elegant yet slightly cracked panes, stared out into the world with a mixture of curiosity and melancholy.
To the side, a large shed stood detached from the main house, its weathered boards echoing tales of forgotten tools and lost endeavors. The wooden structure sagged under the weight of time, its roof covered in a patchwork quilt of moss. Inside, shadows danced amidst remnants of a bygone era, rusty equipment and dusty shelves attesting to the once-bustling activity that had long since ceased.
Not far from the shed, a family cemetery nestled amongst the ancient trees. Tombstones, adorned with intricate carvings and weathered inscriptions, dotted the landscape. The hallowed ground exuded a solemn tranquility, as if time stood still in reverence for those who rested eternally in its embrace. Wisps of fog clung to the grassy knolls, lending an ethereal quality to the sacred space.
At the far end of the property, an old walled garden stood as a testament to the house's former splendor. Once vibrant and lush, the garden now appeared overgrown and untamed. Stone paths meandered through a sea of tangled foliage, leading to hidden nooks and forgotten corners. Dilapidated stone benches, adorned with intricate carvings, sat scattered throughout the garden, silent witnesses to a time when laughter and conversation filled the air.
As I stood amidst the silence of the forest, the house, shed, cemetery, and walled garden formed a tapestry of history and mystery. They were a testament to the ebb and flow of life, the remnants of a bygone era that clung to the present. Within their weathered walls, secrets whispered and memories danced, waiting to be discovered by those who dared to venture into their enigmatic embrace.
“Great place to be haunted, huh?” she said with sarcasm. “My ex left it to me in the divorce. Was only going to be here long enough to sell it but no one wants it and my job wants me to move to this state anyway.”
“Where are you originally from?”
“So, this is definitely a change of scenery for you,”
Isabelle only hummed back at me as she fumbled for her keys in the dying light of evening. I pulled my backpack closer to me as my eyes scanned the treeline where the shadows had begun to deepen. Nothing stood out against the silhouettes of ancient trees which was a good sign. I wasn’t too late.
Stepping through the weathered front door, I entered the interior of the old house, greeted by a mix of nostalgia and faded elegance. The air carried a hint of mustiness, a reminder of the countless years the house had to have witnessed. As my eyes adjusted to the dim light filtering through the stained-glass windows, I could make out the clash between old decor and the modern furniture Isabelle had bought.
The foyer, adorned with a worn, threadbare rug. The walls, once adorned with portraits and intricate wallpaper, now bore the markings of time's passage. The wooden banister of the grand staircase, polished with use, creaked softly under my touch as we made our way towards the living room.
Moving further into the house, I found myself in a spacious living room. Large, ornate windows which would have allowed slivers of daylight to filter through the heavy velvet curtains. The walls were adorned with faded wallpaper. An aged fireplace, its stone mantle adorned with trinkets and old photographs, served as the heart of the room.
“You want some coffee?” Isabelle asked, throwing her keys on to the coffee table. I sat down on her couch and dropped my backpack on it with a clunk.
The kitchen light clicked on and I heard her moving about setting up the coffee pot. The adrenalin was now pumping through me as my mind raced. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail on what a Bone Walker is but it’s a creature that usually haunts the western coast. It being so far out east was strange. I pulled out my old gun bag and unrolled it. My Stevens Model 520-30 “Trench” shotgun was the first thing I reached for as I popped open the internal pouch holding he high flash shells I was glad I packed. It was the startled sound from Isabelle that made me quickly look up.
She stood there with my coffee, eyes locked on the shotgun in my hand. I slowly held up one of the cartridges I was planning to load.
“Flash powder shotgun shells. No load. Just makes a loud noise and a bright white light. What we’re facing lives in the shadows and hates light…normally,” I had heard stories that they could strike in the day but it was extremely rare. She didn’t need to know that.
“Oh,” was her quiet response. “Do…do I need a gun?”
“You know how to use one?”
“Then it’ll do more harm than good. You got any flashlights?”
Isabelle nodded mutely, the gravity of the situation sinking in at the array of weapons and items in my pack laid out in front of her.
“Go get them.”
While she was gone, I quickly unloaded the silver bullets out of my Makarov pistol (a gift from a Viet Cong officer and a story for another time) and placed normal 9mm rounds in the clip. I had it holstered under my jacket with the two back up clips when she returned with three cheap flashlights.
“One in your hand and one in your pocket.”
“In case you drop the one you are holding.”
The woman obeyed silently.
As night fell quickly around us, I slung my shotgun over my shoulder and with Isabelle close, we made our way upstairs. There were tell tale signs I needed to check as the only advantage I had over this thing was the fact it stuck to a pattern. If it was at the stage I thought it was, there would be signs.
“Which room is yours?” I asked.
Isabelle pointed to a door down the hallway across from a large window. Approaching it, I quickly shined my flashlight at the mahogany door frame. It was the glint that caught my eye. Deep gouges in the wood.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“Claw marks,” I responded. There was no use sugar coating anything now.
“This thing was in my house?” Isabelle said horrified.
“For the last few weeks now,” I said, my nose picking up the faint odor of dirt and mud.
“Why didn’t it attack me then?”
“It wasn’t time.”
Talking was going to be the only thing to keep her focused. I had felt the world shift a bit as night fell and I needed her not to panic.
“Bone Walkers are ritualistic creatures. They are very choosy over their prey. It can take a month or two before they move in. That’s why they are so hard to catch.”
“Criteria? Like what?”
“We don’t know.”
That was the honest truth. The only reason we knew their existence and patterns was thanks to blind luck and people surviving their encounters. I showed my light around looking for other signs. Discolored stains in the corners where shadows would naturally form, healthy moss and mold that shouldn’t be there. I found a patch around her bed. She did not notice and I did not want to tell her that it probably stood over her through the night watching her sleep. The sooner I buried this thing, the better.
There was a trill of terror in Isabelle’s voice and I immediately looked to where she was. The woman was standing by her bedroom window staring out at something. I quickly moved and spotted what she saw. In the forest, at the edge of the shadow cast by the moonlight was an almost, imperceptible form. It stood nine feet, hunched over like a broken scarecrow, its owl like eyes staring back at us.
“Shit,” I muttered. Thank god we had turned on the lights as we went.
It was the flash of light and the crack of thunder that heralded the arrival of the storm. The lights of this old houses flickered which caused my belly to flop a few times. My brain was on fire as I glanced back from the lightbulb to where the creature was and found it had vanished.
“Where did it go?”
I did not have time to explain as another crack of lightning caused the lights to dim. I grabbed Isabelle roughly by the arm and yanked her back down the hallway towards the living room where I had left my stuff. We barely made it to the living room when the lights dimmed low. I grasped the glow sticks out of the bag, cracked a handful and scattered them about, their bright yellow light beginning to glow. The power then went out bathing us only in the eerie glow of the emergency lighting.
As we waited in breathless anticipation, the storm struck, its wrath manifesting in torrential rain. The mansion seemed to respond, succumbing to a power outage that plunged us into an abyss of blackness only moments before.
A trill of terror coursed through me. I knew this Bone Walker thrived in darkness, using it as a cloak to conceal its malevolence. We auditors were not sure if it actually teleported or it preferred to move in pitch darkness. I just knew that the black was our biggest threat.
For a few moments, we could only hear the ragged breathing of the two of us being drowned out by the pounding rain against shingle and glass. Isabelle had wound her hand into my jacket pocket and was gripping it tightly, I could feel her shaking with terror. I kept my shotgun gripped tightly in my hand listening for the tell tale sound of its arrival.
It was the movement out of the corner of my eye and the fact her grip got tighter on my jacket. I swiftly turned on my high-powered flashlight as I spun around and the brilliant beam pierced the obscure corner of the room. No matter what I had read or seen before did not prepare me for what I saw.
It stood there in the corner, its eight foot height engulfing that section of the house. My eyes strained as it appeared the thing was struggling to stay in focus. Its arms were too long for its body, spindly and almost to the floor while the legs appeared backwards giving it a strange forward leaning look. It wore a hunter’s long coat and trousers but through the rips and tears I could make out something squirming and moving underneath. The air filled with the stench of decaying plants and diseased vegetation. Its face was covered with what looked like the remnants of a cheap bandanna but its owl-like eyes gleaned back with malevolence.
Isabelle whimpered, her fear palpable in the room and the Bone Walker lunged toward us. Even though my fear was ripping through me like an unstoppable train, I had the sense to pull the trigger of my shotgun aimed in its direction. The flash and resounding roar painted the entire room in a brilliant black and white shadow causing every corner and edge to appear thick and vivid. The creature screamed and fell to the side into the shadow not illuminated by the weapon’s fire.
Isabelle had thrown herself on the couch and was huddled there, trembling with terror, while I moved quickly to crack a few more glow sticks and toss them into the dark corners of the room. In one, I saw its foot recoil back into the kitchen where it was darker than night itself. This was quicker than I had anticipated. The plans I had been formulating on the drive were no longer viable. I wanted to lure it to where I controlled the battlefield but that was not an option anymore. This had become a cat and mouse game and I knew this was with a predator I could not even hope to understand and had years to hone.
Out of the kitchen again this thing charged forward, relentless in its pursuit, it was trying to find a way around my light barrier which only appeared to slow it down. With shaking hands, I fired several more rounds, each blast forcing the creature to retreat and the girl to scream in terror. As soon as it retreated to a dark part of the house, I turned to where the woman of the house had been. To my horror, Isabelle's fear had gotten the best of her. In that moment of panic, she darted from the safety of the light, towards the hallway and the door outside.
“Isabelle! Stop!” I yelled trying to command her back with my voice but I doubted she heard me. Between the abject horror and the relentless rain, she was going to take her chance. A chance I knew she did not have.
I only took a step when I sensed it. The musty smell of an organic landfill overwhelmed me as the form silently darted past me, its long arm clobbering me up the side of the head. The world spun as pain burst through my brain. I felt the world tilt and fall heavily to the ground, flashlight and shotgun falling away.
As I slipped in and out of consciousness, I knew I was a sitting duck for this thing. There was no way for me to stop it from ripping me to shreds like some of the corpses I had seen. As I blinked, I came to my senses and realized I was alone. How long I had actually been on the ground, I did not know.
I sat up, my head pounding and I could see the door hanging open, the wind slamming the door on its hinges and the rain soaking the hallway floor. Struggling, I found my flashlight and gun and pulled myself together.
There was a slim chance that Isabelle was still alive. I had to think. Where would it go? I ran all the stories I could think of and then it hit me. The garden. The walled garden.
I charged into the rain-soaked night. I sprinted toward the enclosed garden at the edge of the property. As I grew closer, I saw that the rusted door was open and hope flickered in my soul. As I came to a stop, I brought my flashlight up again with my shotgun and saw it.
This creature stood there in the middle of the overgrown garden, its massive clawed hand wrapped around Isabelle’s chest and holding her up. Out from under its bandanna mask, putrid vines had appeared and led up to Isabelle’s face where they were forcing their way down her throat and up her nose. I could see the wide terror in her eyes as vines were snaking their way around her waist and I did not want to think about what they were planning to do.
I brought up the shotgun again and fired. Knowing that I had distance, the flash of light caught the creature by surprise. It shrieked as it fell back. Trying desperately not to release its prey. I did not hesitate to grab the machete at my side and hack at its arm until Isabelle fell down free of it.
It’s claw swiped at me striking me on the leg and easily tearing through my pants leaving bloody lacerations but I put the weapon point blank and fired another round. I do not know if it was the flash, the combination of the creature, or that the almighty above was looking out for me, but the creature caught ablaze from the spark.
It fell back swinging wildly as the fire spread unnaturally fast catching the plants around it on fire. Within a matter of seconds, the walled garden had become ablaze with the bone walker in the center. As I ripped the vines out of Isabelle’s mouth and dragged her towards the door, I looked up to see those owl-like eyes looking at me with such abject hatred that the look stick with me today.
I honestly don’t know how we survived. I had helped Isabelle to her porch and we both passed out against our will from the sheer terror and exhaustion. We were awoken by the sound of a siren. The lights had come back on sometime in our sleep and the rain had drifted off to a comforting drizzle. The fire was still raging in the garden but contained by the ancient walls. At least two fire trucks, an ambulance and cops were flying up the private road towards us.
This entire hunt had been ill-planned and stupid. I knew it. As the cops approached with their hand on their pistols, I knew that I had allowed my own ego to get in the way. I should have taken Isabelle somewhere else until I had done a proper reconnaissance. I shouldn’t have taken her home where it was waiting. And now, the cops were looking at two thoroughly soaked humans, one a trucker with a wound and a gun and a young lady in distress. I was pretty sure I was going to go to jail.
“Isabelle?” One of the cops and his voice caused her to sit up, relief washing over her.
“Derek!” she wailed. “We were attacked! In the garden!”
Another two cops that had arrived had taken off in that direction while Derek helped the girl up and took her towards the ambulance. The other cop with a comically large mustache looked at me with keen eyes, his hand still on his pistol, sergeant stripes glowing in the light.
“Yeah,” I said, sitting up slowly and keeping my hand away from the shotgun and trying not to show the one under my jacket. “Someone came after Mrs. Walker. They were in the garden.”
The cop watched me closely but there seemed to be a recognition in his eyes.
“You by any chance Frank Jones?”
My heart jumped and I must have looked startled as the cop’s face broke into a smile. To my relief, his hand fell away from his holstered sidearm.
“I’ll take that for a yes. My guess is you don’t remember me. Clay Wilson. Santa Fe PD, about six years ago. You helped my partner with a...problem. Nellie Nelson?”
I knew the name but the face escaped me.
“She told me you helped her audit a police union building.”
“Ah, yes,” I said, remembering dealing with the wraith and the twinge in my right arm from it’s bite.
The cop looked towards the fire that was slowly being put out by the fire fighters.
“Any chance this will be one of your audits?”
He seemed to think for a few minutes and then nodded.
“Then I think you need to grab that shotgun of yours and hitch a ride with me before too many people ask questions. Whatcha think?”
I nodded. I was not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. I collected my stuff quickly from the living room and made my way back out where he was waiting. As I limped with the cop to his car, I looked towards Isabelle who was being held by the other. She gave me a look of thankfulness as the cop looked at his partner with confusion.
“Her brother’s got her,” Clay said, opening the back door for me. I was not gonna argue or fight. If he took me to jail or not.
And that was it. My leg was not as bad off as I thought and wrapped it in the back of the police car. Clay only asked where I wanted to go and he took me back to my truck. With that time, I was back on the road with that small town in the rear view mirror.
I never did find out what happened to Isabelle after that, if another creature came looking for her or if she had a chance to live in peace. I just knew that we both barely made it out alive and that was due to my own stupidity. I was furious with myself for weeks after that and told myself I wouldn’t put another person in jeopardy like that again. At least, despite my idiocy, another life was saved and another monster was put in the ground...I hoped. I never did find out if they found a body.
— © Jonathan J. Snyder, All rights Reserved Like what you read and want to buy me a cup of coffee?