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It’s Halloween, time for a spooky story.
And do I have one for you.
You may or may not believe in ghosts, that’s fine. Personally, I’m not sure what to believe, but part of me thinks these things happen.
And when they do, it can be a terrifying experience.
This one is from a friend of mine, who is / was a professional photojournalist.
One of the best, in fact. A guy you could count on, when you needed a good art of the Flames game, sportingly on a Saturday night.
He saved me more than once.
But for the purposes of this column, let’s call him Scott. It is best not to reveal any real names here.
That was a few years ago and it was just north of Calgary, even before there was a CrossIron Mills mall. It was still an empty meadow.
Scott and a group of his pals had just picked up a case of beer and were looking for a secluded and out of the way spot to grab a few brewskies on a hot August night.
They circled just west of Balzac, found a gate and an empty field, and walked away, under a beautiful starry night. They didn’t want to cause any trouble – it was just Scott and two buddies.
They got out and sat in the back of the van, taking a good cold, pulling the breeze on a beautiful warm night, the scent of the field permeating the night.
In other words, Alberta at its best.
But what would happen next would last a lifetime.
Scott suddenly noticed something strange – an uninvited guest was sitting next to him in the bed of the pickup!
It was the face – let’s call it that for now – of a sad-looking young girl in a vintage dress from the 1800s.
Instinctively, Scott and his pals jumped out of the truck like scared rabbits, everyone dispersed.
Suddenly that face of a prairie maiden disappeared, only to reappear in the field standing next to Scott.
Damn, he thought, I’ll try to communicate.
Scott, still being the bravest, approached the face.
“Who are you? What do you want?”
The face looked sadly only at her long hair fluttering in the wind, which could be real or imagined.
Scott was reaching out to him when he heard the engine of his pickup cranking loudly.
The friends were terrified, they wanted to leave now!
They shouted at him: “Come in or we’ll leave you!”
Scott had no choice – he jumped into the bed of the pickup, as they walked away, the wheels spitting dirt into the air.
Scott remembers seeing her sad face as they walked away.
As strange as this story may seem, it didn’t end there.
A year later, Scott was on a hiking trail in K-Country.
By chance, he meets another group of hikers, a beautiful young couple. They sat down and chatted about nothing in particular until, for some reason, the topic came to ghosts.
The couple said they had the most incredible ghost story to tell.
They were driving near Balzac, in a thunderstorm, when… to their astonishment, they thought they saw a young girl with long hair and an old-fashioned dress, walking in a field.
Scott froze in fear at those words – it brought it all back.
They looked for her, they said, fearing she might need help, but never found her.
Scott swore it was all true. The beer, the Balzac field, the girl, the hikers. All.
And not for a minute would I doubt him.
I will be honest. I’ve been through some pretty strange things in my life, but I’ve never seen a ghost.
And in some ways, I envy Scott. This stuff fascinates me.
Who was this girl? Was she part of a family of breeders? Why was her mind so unstable, that she must have wandered. And why Balzac?
We will never know.
I actually know the exact spot where it happened and visited it on a hot summer night with my daughter Rica and her friend Stephanie, but all we saw were curious cattle, not of ghosts.
It sounds crazy, but I hope his mind is at rest now. Where is it?
Dave Makichuk is a Western Standard contributor.
He worked in the media for decades, most notably as editor of the Calgary Herald. He is also the military editor of the Asia Times.