When I was young, I devoured every ghost story I could, but I’d never come across any real ones. They were strictly fantasy. After the story I tell here, I’ve had a couple of more experiences, but today, I wanted to share my first!
Have you ever encountered a ghost in your wanderings? I have…but the first one wasn’t the usual human type spirit.
On a frigid night, I was sleeping with my Army ROTC cadets from West Texas A & M on the rocky ground in Palo Duro Canyon. But not really sleeping.
The lumpy, rocky ground, the cold, the sounds in the night, the breeze stirring over the cliffs, the thought that rattlesnakes, or tarantulas, or scorpions seeking heat would find their way into my sleeping bag—all kept me awake. I stared at the sky that stretched forever. The Texas sky does, you know. In other places, mountains and trees and buildings might break up the sky, but not out there. Not in the vast wilderness that was the Panhandle of Texas.
The stars sparkled across the dark sky like jewels twinkling in the night. And I was frustrated with myself for not being able to sleep, knowing we had to run up and down the hills in the morning to search for clues on an orienteering course.
Sometime during that night, I finally drifted off, but then heard the sound of horses running, stampeding in our direction. They snorted and whinnied and the sound was frightening.
I recalled deer running through our friends’ tent when we camped off an island in our boat in a lake in California when I was a kid. They don’t go around, I thought. The horses will run straight through us and trample us to death. I tried to wake my sister who was sleeping in a bag next to me. She grumbled at me to leave her alone, and I watched the others in the dark. No one heard the noise but me.
I lay back down, hoping that the horses would skirt around us. I realized the pounding of hooves didn’t shake the ground like it should have. Maybe they were too far away. And then, they moved off in the distance, fading until they were gone. I lay awake for a long time, unable to get over how close we could have been to being trampled, fearing their return. That they’d switch back and come this way again.
Finally, I was able to sleep and before I knew it, we were sitting at a campfire, cold, achy, eating breakfast. I asked about the wild horses. Our cadre said there could be. Sure. But no one had heard anything last night.
Years later, I wanted to write about the wild horses for a magazine, only when I began to research them, I learned others had heard the ghost ponies in the dead of the night. I sat slack-jawed reading the accounts. Ghost ponies? For years, I had believed they were real. The sound of their running, snorts, whinnies were real. It happened.
But they were whispers of the past–of soldiers running Indian ponies off the cliffs in an attempt to keep the gathered tribes from fighting back. Without their horses, the tribes could no longer be mobile. They could no longer mount any campaigns.
The horses were terrified and were driven to their deaths. And now, they live in the canyon forever, a memory of past deeds, a remembrance of their past life.
About the Author
USA Today bestselling and an award-winning author of urban fantasy and medieval romantic suspense, Terry Spear also writes true stories for adult and young adult audiences. She’s a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and has an MBA from Monmouth University. She also creates award-winning teddy bears, Wilde and Woolly Bears, that are personalized that have found homes all over the world. When she’s not writing or making bears, she’s teaching online writing courses or gardening. Her family has roots in the Highlands of Scotland where her love of all things Scottish came into being. Originally from California, she’s lived in eight states and now resides in the heart of Texas. She is the author of the Heart of the Wolf series and the Heart of the Jaguar series, plus numerous other paranormal romance and historical romance novels.