I've been invited to the party and so have you!
The theme of the party is "It's Been A Strange Trip". Participants have been instructed to "on October 29, put a photo of a pumpkin at the top of your post and tell us the story of your strangest or scariest trip ever." I've been tatting up some pumpkinny goodness just for this post.
My strangest trip (and no, I'm not referring to my tatting addiction, here) happened the summer of my 15th year. My sister thought it would be a great idea to take me on a car trip with her to Oklahoma. When you're 15 and you've lived all your life in a small town "anywhere but here" sounds totally cool! So I loaded up my suitcase and off we went. Let me point out that my big sis is 17 years older than me, so this wasn't like I was going to "party central" or anything like that. I was a pretty conservative teenager, really, even for the 80's which is when this was (hmmmm...could that be why my last two posts have made reference to 80's music? Go figure).
We were headed out from somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. As we skidded across the plains on our way to Oklahoma we passed by the monotony of little hills and the occasional clump of trees. I had never seen a sunset across a flat horizon before in my life and I was entranced by the beauty of it. One day, somewhere near Kansas, we passed by a dusty ol' sign off the side of the road that said "See 4 States Tower, next right". My sister had said that we would stop anywhere I wanted and so when I pointed out the sign to her I think she thought I wanted to go there. I was actually going to point out that I thought the sign looked kind of creepy. When she said, "Oh, did you want to stop there?" I found myself saying, "Ummm, sure." 'Why not?' I thought to myself. I discounted my creeped out feelings right then and there, something I would regret later.
To paint a better picture of the situation let me tell you that this particular big sister was constantly bragging about her special powers of ESP. Yup, ESP, she was the biggest, baddest "sixth senser" there was for miles around and she would tell anyone and everyone that. Personally, I thought she was a bit whacked, but once in awhile she got stuff right, most of the time I sensed it was a lot of hot air. So, when she seemed unaffected by the creepy sense I got from the sign, I thought, 'Well, she's the one with ESP, so I guess it must not be creepy or she'd have gotten that, right?' WRONG!
The next "sign" that things weren't quite right was that when we pulled up into the parking lot of this "See 4 States Tower" there were about 4 or 5 very dusty, dirty cars in the lot that looked like they hadn't been moved in ages. There were no clean cars there. Nothing indicating that there were other "current" visitors. Again, my sister didn't seem to notice anthing strange, but I did. Again, I shrugged it off because, after all, she's the one with ESP! I looked up at the "tower" which sat on the roof of a long houselike building. I say "houselike" because there really wasn't a sense of home about it. It seemed void of warmth. The tower had "faces" peering out of it. Faces that weren't moving. 'How odd.', I said to myself. I glanced at my sister who seemed undeterred by these strange, unsettling details about the place. A very nervous adolescent greeted us near the door. He was strangely thin and seemed uncomfortable with our presence there. A shy, nervous adolescent girl peeked out from behind a doorway of a dim room. Her flat affect appeared unwelcoming. She smiled, as though prompted. In the back of my mind I began to hear the theme from "Twilight Zone" playing in my head. I had to keep the chuckle to myself, though, for right at that moment a very large, loud, obtrusive middle-aged man appeared from the same doorway that the frightened young girl had been peering out of.
"Can I show you the 4 states tower?", he said, in a very intimidating voice. "Sure, we'd love to!", said my sister in a cheerful voice. I couldn't believe it! What was wrong with her ESP? Wasn't it working today? If we went up there were we going to come down? Would my sister's car end up being there forever collecting dust? She didn't seem disturbed by him in the least, so up we went. I noticed that mannequins were posed in the windows along the way to the top of the tower. That explained the unmoving faces I had seen peering out the tower windows. They were covered with dust and the whole place had a stale, stagnant aire about it. While the dust had no trouble settling, I was finding the place to be more unsettling with every step through the place. The top of the tower had more mannequins posed with arms waving. He pointed out to the distance where each of the 4 states were. I found myself unamused as all I could see was flat land in the distance between the arms of the mannequins. There was no way to tell if that really was this state or that state. I got the feeling he was just making it up.
As we made our way down the narrow, creeky, wooden stairway we were led into a room of "antiques". Now, under normal circumstances I find antiques to be quite charming, to say the least. There was nothing charming about this "antique" shop. It was more like a "curiosity" shop with strange things preserved in big bottles of liquids. Body parts of various creatures labelled on some. Some preserved "animal parts" looked strangely anatomically familiar and I found myself feeling faint. The old pieces of furniture looked burdened uncomfortably by their load of jars. All was covered with a generous coating of dust. I felt queasy. Just when I turned to my sister to tell her I thought it was long past time to be back on the road the large, intimidating man appeared again in the doorway of the room...the only way out. He was flanked by the two, nervously thin adolescents with psychotically large eyes. Didn't my sister think the expressions on their faces were strange? Why wasn't her ESP working? The two adolescents came on either side of us, while the man said in an uncomfortably pleasant voice, "I see you really like our antiques!". I found myself nodding nervously. I was lying, if only to get closer to the doorway!
"Perhaps you'd like to see our room full of torture antiques! We have a whole room full of torture devices collected from all over the world and some are very valuable antiques. You'd find them very interesting!", the older, intimidating man continued.
To my utter horror my sister replied, "Oh, yes, that sounds fascinating.", she said with a smile. As the man started to lead her into the other room I froze as he continued explaining his antique torture device collection..."There's this one box that looks like a coffin." I could see it in the doorway of the other room, the dim room the frightened girl had peered out of before. Now the room was flooded with light as the blinds had been opened slightly. I could see a stretching rack to the left of the doorway along the wall and just to right of the doorway was something that looked like a large metal sarcophagus with metal spikes pointing inward, from the top and bottom of the "box and lid" with a little window right near where the face was...as if the torturer especially wanted to see the pain inflicted upon his intended victim. The young boy stood by the lid of the upright spiky sarcophagus smiling strangely. My sister started to walk in the doorway of the room as the man continued, "this looks like a coffin with nail spikes pointing inward. You could step inside if you wanted and we could show you how it works!" He started laughing strangely as the wide eyed adolescents peered at us. I grabbed my sisters arm and pulled her out of the doorway of the "torture display" room. "No, thanks, I'm feeling sick and we need to be on our way, thank you though!"
My sister said rather tartly, "What are you doing!?!".
"RUN!" I said, "Run for the car, I got a bad bad feeling about those people." It wasn't until then that my sister's "ESP" kicked in and she outran me to the car.
"LOCK THE DOORS!" She yelled as she frantically started the car. She peeled out of there so fast that we left the little house of horrors in a cloud of dust down the dirt lane back to the welcoming sight of the freeway.
It seemed that the more miles we put between the Torture Tower house and us the more settled we both felt. I saw a sign for a petting zoo with a crowd of real, live people and children with smiling happy faces and said, "Let's stop there!" She never hesitated with that and we stopped. As we strolled around the petting zoo we kept noting the comforting presence of the happy animals and children and well kept animal pens right there in daylight. What a stark contrast between this happy place and the dark house of horrors behind us.
"Didn't that place give you the creeps?" I said to my sister.
"No, not until you said something.", she said.
"But YOU'RE the one with ESP! " I blurted out, finally voicing my concerns about the effectiveness of her so-called gift.
"When did you first get the feeling that something was wrong with the place?", she asked me.
"When I saw the sign", I answered.
"Then WHY did you say you wanted to go?", she angrily shot back.
"I thought that if it was REALLY creepy, then your ESP would tell you and we'd be okay. Since you said we'd stop I thought it was okay. I thought I was just imagining that the sign was creepy."
Thus started a long lecture on paying attention to those "little feelings" and being responsible enough to heed them. She said they were gifts from God and important enough to pay attention to.
I'll never know what really would've happened to us in the "torture room" maybe nothing at all, or maybe our faces would've been on milk cartons staring out at millions of people begging them to find our missing selves, who knows! I do know this now; since that moment on I have ALWAYS heeded my gut when I get that eerie little feeling that "something's not quite right" and I have NEVER regretted it. I think it is God's way of warning us of dark things.
Whatever would've happened I know it was the right thing to leave, even if just for the peace of mind. Regardless, it made for a great story as this truly was a strange trip.
Motifs 22 & 23 Pumpkins
Thank you for reading my "Strange Trip" that I took off of the beaten path with my sister. Whew, we made it out alive!
Be sure to stop by Angela's blog at Just Go and sign up for her giveaway...she has goodie bags! Be sure to visit the other Blogapalooza participants and read all about their "strange trips" as well!
Before you run off over there, be sure and leave a comment; I'd love to know what you think! Besides, in celebration of the Big Blogapalooza I thought I'd giveaway these pumpkins as a giveaway prize. My first giveaway and a way to give back for all the giveaways I've won in the past, more importantly, for the friends I've won here in bloggerlandia. If you'd like a chance to win some free hand tatted pumpkins, then all you have to do is post a comment on this very post by the end of October 31, 2008 and I will pick the winner on All Saints Day (November 1st)!!! Make sure you have a blog that I can leave a message on to let you know if you're a winner. I just need some way to contact you if you win. You'll have your punkins (yup, I just said "punkins") just in time for Thanksgiving if you're in the USA and you win, if you're an international friend and you win then enjoy them whatever the season! :)
Happy Trails To You,
Note: The above pictured tatted pumpkins for the 25 Motif Challenge are from Left to right Mary's Pumpkin and a pattern available from CQ Magazine Online called "Needle Tatted Pumpkin" (which was, of course, SHUTTLE tatted, LOL!)
They were tatted with size 10 orange and forest green "Aunt Lydia" brand cotton crochet threads. They were very inexpensive and stiff...like tatting with straw, LOL!
NOTE: Thank you, Kathy, for the working link to Mary's Pumpkin!
You may have better luck just copy and pasting this into your browser window: