The funniest ghost story I've ever heard is actually a true story. I know, because it happened to me.
First, a little context. Here in Colorado, we have our fair share of spooky history.
First off, there’s the Stanley Hotel, which inspired Stephen King to scare the pants off of generations of readers with The Shining. In real life, the hotel's creaky halls are supposedly haunted by restless spirits. Four of them, in fact--named Lucy, Paul, Elizabeth, and Eddie, if you believe everything you read. Now, I don't know how scared I can personally be of a ghost named after Frasier Crane’s dog, but there you go.
Right in the heart of Denver, there's Cheesman Park, a sunny and popular picnicking spot bordered by pricey real estate, and also built on an abandoned cemetery, where unsuspecting landscapers occasionally dig up Wild West-era skeletons. And you thought your Mondays were rough.
And we’re not even going to talk about the Museum of Colorado Prisons, certainly the creepiest stone-walled structure for five hundred miles. I'm not sure why anyone visits this place. Maybe because one of the colorful inmates was a convicted cannibal? Because there is that.
No, what fascinates me most is Colorado's ghost towns. The windswept Rocky Mountains hide countless long-abandoned ruins from the old frontier days. Remnants of hastily-built towns and homesteads still peek out through the pine trees, ravaged by the elements, leaning dangerously, empty windows and doors gaping open.
Years ago, before smartphones with GPS, my wife and I spent a whole summer searching out and exploring forgotten ghost towns. We tracked them down through library research and old maps, navigating with a topographic map and a pencil.
One late afternoon, as the sun sank down beneath the peaks and sent long shadows clawing across the slopes, we sat on the tailgate of our truck in the middle of the most intact ghost town we’d found.
We were deep in the mountains, miles from the nearest paved road. The roofs of the buildings around us were all caved in. Some of the storefronts were still standing, and I remember seeing the remnants of letters painted onto the glass, too worn away to read.
We had spent the day exploring, being careful every step of the way. You really don't want to set foot in these buildings, because if the floorboards give way under your boots, or a wall topples over onto you, you're all alone up there. It's just you and the rattlesnakes.
But there are plenty of opportunities to take beautiful, if desolate, photos. It's breathtaking.
After a busy day, we sat on the tailgate of our Bronco to enjoy a well-earned sandwich. And that was when we had a visitor.
Bear in mind, we hadn't seen another soul for maybe a hundred miles. But there in the distance, a wispy dust cloud appeared, accompanied by a low growling sound.
I stood up and stared out to where the road stretched away. Well, you could hardly call it a road. It wasn't named. Or paved. It wasn't even really dirt, more of a rocky path through the altitude-stunted pine trees.
Eventually, a fancy black motorcycle approached, bouncing across the rocks, ridden by a guy in leathers. He was covered head to toe in trail dust.
Not a ghost, though. A living, breathing, human being. Red-faced and sweaty when he pulled off his helmet. Without preamble, he launched into a loud series of complaints about the unmarked roads. He topped it all off demanding to know: which way was the highway?
My wife and I traded glances.
“Probably your best bet,” I said slowly, “is to turn around. Just go on back the way you came.”
The irritation was etched plain across his face. He kept pointing around and asking about landmarks and distances.
I just had to shrug. We’d come here in a 4x4 truck, and from the looks of it, no one else had been through here in months, maybe years. To this day, I have no idea how his motorcycle made it that far.
I tried to convince him to retrace his steps, but he wouldn’t hear it. He wanted directions, and there was no one else to ask. Apparently, he was convinced I was holding out on him.
Finally, losing all patience, he demanded, “How can you not know where anything is? Don’t you live here?”
I just had to smile. “Look around, man. This is a ghost town. NOBODY lives here.”
Only then did he finally notice that the town around us was dead empty. The look on his face at that exact moment was priceless.
Without another word, he put his helmet back on, turned his motorcycle around, and rode back the way he came.
We had a good laugh as we finished our sandwich and got back into the Bronco. And, bonus, I was inspired to write a book that was not only supernatural and spooky, but also laugh-out-loud funny.
The latest book in my Dru Jasper urban fantasy series is called Forever and a Doomsday, and it's chock-full of ghostly goodness. Hope you get a chance to check it out!
A Dru Jasper Novel Book 4
When insidious spirits from beyond the grave try to get their clutches on the apocalypse scroll, Dru Jasper and her misfit friends are the only hope for stopping doomsday. Crystal shop owner and up-and-coming sorceress Dru Jasper is the unwilling guardian of the apocalypse scroll, an ancient instrument of destruction held in check by the last of seven wax seals. If the forces of darkness manage to break the final seal, the world will come to a fiery end. It's up to Dru to keep the scroll safe. No pressure or anything. When a chilling cohort of soul-devouring wraiths breaks free of the netherworld to get their ghostly fingers on the scroll, it's up to Dru and her friends to stop them. These freakishly evil spirits can kill with just a touch. To fight them, Dru needs a rare crystal older than the Earth itself. Her only hope of finding it is to race to a meteorite crater deep in the desert, with the wraiths right on her tail. But as her friends lose their magical powers to the life-draining evil of the wraiths, the fate of the world hangs in the balance. The only chance to stop doomsday is for Dru to descend into the depths of the netherworld. There, she must unearth the secrets of a lost city and overcome a long-lost enemy from her past. Can she find a way to save her friends and safeguard the scroll forever--before the wraiths break the seventh seal and bring on doomsday?
Mystery Paranormal [Pyr, On Sale: October 15, 2019, e-Book, ISBN: 9781633885561 / eISBN: 9781633885561]
Laurence MacNaughton is the author of more than a dozen novels, novellas, and short stories. He writes fast-paced books with spooky monsters, sweet romance, wry humor and outrageous car chases. His novels have been praised by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews. Laurence grew up in a 200-year-old haunted farmhouse and sold his first magazine article at age 19. Before he became a full-time writer, he worked as a professional prototype vehicle test driver. He lives in Colorado with his lovely wife and too many classic cars.
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