The three friends had been awake for maybe 40 hours in early January, Adderall fueling their consciousness. Ellen doesn’t know if the Adderall or sleep deprivation is related to their night of terror, but she is convinced they experienced something.
Ellen, her boyfriend Brad and a friend John, who live on the island of Kauai, had come home from drinking and hanging out by the ocean until dawn when they decided to take the Adderall, a central nervous system stimulant prescribed to people with narcolepsy and ADHD that can cause hallucinations.
“We didn’t lose momentum and somehow we all decided to eschew sleep,” she said. “We remained together for the entirety of the two-day period of sleep-deprivation and Adderall use. The second night is where things get weird.”
At about 9 p.m. on day two, the three drove to an isolated beach under a clear moonlit sky on the south shore of Kauai when they began to notice something wasn’t right.
“I was starting to get minor visual hallucinations,” Ellen said. “At this point they were just minor swirlies and swimming effects.”
When the three neared the ocean, they drove to a cliff dotted with trees and tall grass that gave them a clear view of the beach.
“It is very dark at this place, as there are no major cities around,” Ellen said. “We lit a fire.”
Then the horror began.
“I noticed that the rocks and roots and trees around us looked liked gnarled, grotesque faces,” Ellen said. “I pointed it out to my two companions who agreed. I wasn’t scared because I thought they were merely hallucinations.”
As Brad built a fire, Ellen and John walked down a footpath through the tall grass and started seeing shadows.
“We came to a small clearing in the grass, when I noticed I saw several shadows, like the shadows a person would make,” Ellen said. “There were at least four. Thinking they were perhaps being cast by me and my friend, I raised my arms. Only my shadow moved its arms and I realized that the other things weren’t me or my friend.”
Frightened, Ellen and John hurried back to the fire.
“My boyfriend was skeptical and didn’t seem to think anything of it,” Ellen said. “But he mentioned that we were right next to a heiau – a pre-contact place of worship for Hawaiians, like an alter. I was very miffed that he would bring us to such a creepy and spiritually charged place.”
Growing paranoid they had upset something ancient by their presence, Ellen and John decided to walk to the heiau and offer the only food they brought with them – a pear – as a gift As they approached the heiau, Ellen couldn’t go any closer and stopped.
“The vibe of the place seemed very charged, not like when we had first arrived,” she said. “We said a prayer out loud, stating our respect and that we were giving a food offering. John walked into the grass to deposit the pear and disappeared.”
A few moments later, Ellen heard something running through the grass. It was John.
“He was panting, and seemed very alarmed. He said he’d heard people walking in the grass,” Ellen said. “We listened for awhile, now both getting alarmed. We clearly heard the sound of someone running fast through the grass. It wasn’t wind. Everything else was still.”
The largest animal in the area would be a wild pig, and Ellen was sure it was not a pig.
“It was at this point that faces we were seeing became more pronounced,” she said. “The roots now made full bodies, and the trees started to look like people or spirits.”
The two watched three dead trees near the heiau turn into bluish-gray men in robes, with vertical headdresses made out of sticks.
“They were clearly shamans,” Ellen said. “They didn’t walk, or move their limbs like a human would, but they seemed to know we were looking at them, and their faces seemed alive, like they were making grotesque faces, opening their mouths, looking mournful, or like someone who is making a horrible face.”
As the sounds of movement in the grass became closer and faster, Ellen and John decided they had to leave – now.
“My boyfriend was ignoring us and our fears and wasn’t part of this discussion,” Ellen said. “But John and I decided we had to leave, and we said, ‘Brad, let’s go. Brad, we gotta go.’”
While watching Brad put out the fire, Ellen and John saw faces appear in the night around him, the swollen, pumpkin-like faces of hags.
“I was scared of what I would see at this point, so I stopped watching Brad for fear of what I might see,” Ellen said.
She turned to face the truck and in the reflection in the rear window Ellen saw the fire, herself, John, and two malformed women approaching Brad.
“There were two female figures holding onto his waist as he moved quickly around,” she said. “They were flying, or whipping around, completely horizontal. It was horrible. Never in my imaginings of ghosts would I have thought that they would look that strangely formed or that fantastic.”
Ellen grabbed John and turned him to look at the reflection.
“He’d been relatively calm up to this point, but when he saw the reflection he was as scared as me,” she said.
They dove into the car and Ellen closed her eyes as Brad got behind the wheel and drove down a service road and back toward civilization.
“John calmed down once we began driving out, telling me it was going to be OK,” Ellen said. “I thought, once we get away from this ancient place, back into the populated world, this will stop.”
It didn’t. The trio saw ghost-like figures, menehune (little people of Hawaiian folklore), and nature spirits during their drive home. Although Ellen leans toward a natural explanation for her experiences, the fact that she and John shared experiences makes her wonder.
“Perhaps some of the things we saw were simply drug-induced malfunctions of our brains,” she said. “I just can’t believe, though, that a lot of if wasn’t real. There seems to be a whole ghost world populating ours.”
Copyright 2010 by Jason Offutt
Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt, P.O. Box 501, Maryville, Mo., 64468, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”
Jason’s newest book on the paranormal, “What Lurks Beyond: The Paranormal in Your Backyard,” is available at Jason’s blog, from-the-shadows.blogspot.com.