Monday, April 6, 2009

Sinking Feeling

Sinking Feeling
Explorers Barely Escape as Church Instantaneously Ages


One spring day during my Junior year some friends and I decided to go driving on the country roads outside of our town. We did this for about an hour until we came upon an old church with a graveyard beside it. Brian, who was driving, decided to stop and investigate.

We all climbed out of the car and started to look around. It was a warm day but for some reason when entering the churchyard it felt as if the temperature had dropped about 10 degrees. Nancy went back to the car and put on her jacket, saying she was cold.

The graveyard seemed to be well kept, though there were no flowers on the gravesites. This seemed strange to me since Memorial Day was that weekend. There were no gravestones dated any later than 1931 even though there was plenty of room, which also seemed a bit unusual.

Brian wanted to go into the church, which was boarded up, and, having nothing better to do, we all agreed. We thought that since the windows were boarded up that the door would be barred or locked. We got ready to have to "break in" when Brian pushed on the door and it swung open. At this point we all became a bit nervous but went inside.

I remember the smell hitting me first: Instead of being old and musty it smelled like flowers -- roses, to be exact. The place was spotless -- not a speck of dust anywhere. We looked around and couldn't figure out why, if this was an abandoned church -- and, believe me, from the outside there was no question about it -- the inside was so nice and clean?

The next thing we noticed was all the bibles sitting in the seats, as if waiting for the congregation to sit down and pick them up. We all looked at each other and I said, "I don't think we should be here." My friends nervously laughed and Nancy said she needed to get home and besides she was getting hot. Brian and Mark, being teenage boys, said we were just being sissies and told Nancy to take off her coat if she was hot because they weren't done exploring.

Nancy and I drew up our courage and I figured it was just nerves. As we stayed longer I noticed that dust started appearing -- not a little bit, but thick coats of it. It was as if the inside of the church was aging rapidly to catch up to its outside appearance. Brian and I watched as a spider web just appeared between one of the pews, and at this point all of us got a very bad feeling. We all ran out of that church as if the Devil were on our tails.

As we drove back, Nancy remembered her jacket. Brian told her not to worry; we would go back tomorrow afternoon, but he was not going there today because it was getting dark. I could tell it was more to do with the feeling we got from the place rather than being late getting home. We wrote down the road numbers at the closest intersection to the church and put down the directions to the nearest highway.

The next day was Saturday and when I got off work we all climbed into Brian's car and followed the directions back to where the church was. What we found was a dead end and a local lake in the vicinity of where the church should have been. Brian said we must have written down the directions wrong, so we drove around for another hour and still no church. I finally said we should go to the nearest town, which was only about five miles away, and get directions; being tired and frustrated, Brian agreed.

We pulled into a convenience store and there was an old man working there. I thought if anyone might know where our mysterious church was, he would. When we described the church and graveyard and asked where it was, he got as white as a ghost. Brian started repeating what we had said and the old man stopped him. He said, "There is no way you kids could have been to that church. It burned down in 1932 when some drifters tried to light a cook fire inside; then the state put in the lake in 1935. That land where the old church and graveyard sat is under 50 feet of water."

We thought maybe he was talking about a different church, but when he said his little sister had been buried there and said her name, I knew it was the same place. Just before we went to go inside the church I remembered looking at her tombstone and thinking how sad that a little girl so young had to die.

I don't know how or why the church appeared to us that day, and I don't know what would have happened to us if we had stayed there much longer. To this day I am grateful that we left when we did, or I might not be here this day to tell the tale of the vanishing church.

--Patricia Tallberg, Kansas

Addendum, submitted by "M":

"You've been given a classic urban legend in the aging church story. This type of story is quite common. Sometimes a church, [sometimes] a school. But the aging effect, left-behind garment and 'proof' -- in this case, the grave marker; often a personalized textbook in the case of a school -- are all classic components of this legend."

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