Wraith of the Creek
A Michigan Ghost Story
Excerpted from Spooky Michigan
When he left his tribe to work with the white lumbermen, he changed his name to William Cloud, and the lumberjacks started calling him “Cloudy.” They liked to hear Cloudy tell the story of the wraith that lived in the creek that powered the local log chute. The wraith was an evil creature that desired nothing more than to wrap its long arms around humans or animals and pull them down into the water to drown.
It rained heavy and long that spring, and the creek was flooded almost to capacity. One stormy night, the order was given to lower the gate of the chute and send the logs downstream to the mill. The thought of going outside in the storm did not appeal to anyone, and so the men drew straws. Cloudy came up with the short one.
He hugged his coat tightly around him as he made his way silently through the pitch-black night toward the log chute. As he released the first pin, he heard a foul hissing sound from beside the floating raft of logs. Cloudy turned his head and saw a grotesque form rising from the swirling stream. Its face was framed by wild, weed-strewn hair, and dark slimy scales covered its lithesome body.
Cloudy tugged frantically at the final pin, eager to finish his task and get away. But the pin got stuck halfway out. Suddenly, the creature lunged out of the water. Cloudy leapt back, fleeing up the path toward the cabin. Behind him, the wraith howled. Cloudy increased his speed, running blindly in the darkness.
Then the wraith dropped down from the branches of a tree right in front of him, blocking his way. Its yellow eyes glowed, and moonlight glinted against its slimy skin. Its long, thin arms stretch out toward him through the raging storm, claws extended. He gave one loud shout of despair, but the lightning-fast movement of a razor-sharp claw cut off his cry, and the woods were suddenly still again.
Back in the cabin, the lumbermen waited for Cloudy to return. Then Ethan, Cloudy’s good friend, volunteered to go down to the log chute and look for him. Several other loggers decided to join the search.
Within ten minutes, the men were standing next to the gate. They lowered a lantern to the level of the rushing water and peered into the depths. Ethan gave a sudden sharp cry when he spotted the mangled face of Cloudy. The loggers lifted the gate and drew Cloudy up with pike poles. His body had been sliced to ribbons, and his head was almost completely severed. News of the murderous wraith in the creek quickly spread through the lumber camp.
A week after Cloudy’s death, Ethan was awakened by a strange blue light above his bed. He opened his eyes and found himself gazing into the face of William Cloud. The spirit warned Ethan that the wraith had marked Ethan for its next victim. At daybreak, Ethan packed his belongings and left the camp. On his way out, he confided his story to a few of the lumbermen, and soon word of Cloudy’s warning spread throughout the camp. By sundown, it was completely deserted.
The log chute fell into disrepair and slowly crumbled away, never to be replaced. The wraith still lurks in the stream, watching for another victim. But it waits in vain, for the ghost of Cloudy appears to anyone foolish enough to wander near the stream, warning them away with terrible groans and piercing screams.
Excerpted from Spooky Michigan by S.E. Schlosser.