A Wisconsin Ghost Story
retold by S.E. Schlosser
As I drove down the seemingly endless dark road, I cursed my friends. “A quaint little bar in the middle of nowhere,” they said. Well they got that right, there was not one blessed sign of civilization anywhere to be seen. Just then, I caught a glimpse of a lighted barn on down the road. Civilization at last!
I slowed down and pulled up to the round barn. My headlights caught a number of wagons, carriages, and buggies parked beside it. They were having an old time barn dance, I thought as I pulled in and made my way to the door.
The party was in full swing as I stepped through the large double doors. The center of the barn was filled with swirling dancers dressed in the costumes of yesteryear. These folks had gone to a great deal of trouble to recreate an authentic barn dance.
A large bearded chap clapped me on the shoulder in greeting and handed me a mug of beer. I took a sip and then gulped it down eagerly. It was the best beer I’d ever tasted. Then a dark-eyed beauty grabbed me by the hand and pulled me out onto the dance floor. I was flying high, dancing and drinking, and singing along.
Around midnight, the band took a break and I stood with my new acquaintances before a table lined with drinks. “Give us a toast to the night,” giggled my inebriated beauty.
“To a delightful night,” I said, loudly. “Good fortune and long life to everyone present.”
The crowd went silent when they heard my words. The stillness grew, flowing outward like a wave, until you could have heard a pin drop. As I glanced uneasily about me, I saw the skin slowly peeling away from the merry faces, until all that remained were bone, rotting skin, and staring eye sockets. The girl in my arms was nothing but a skeleton in a moldy blue dress. With a gasp of horror, I dropped my mug and leapt away from the skeleton. The mug hit the floor with a loud bang. And the lights went out. I screamed in terror and stumbled backward, slamming into a damp, foul-smelling pile of hay. I frantically tried to find my way to the door. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness I spotted the barn doors across the hall. I rushed toward them, withered and bony hands grabbing at me as I ran. Then I was out in the moonlight and racing to my car.
I leapt into the car and backed down the lane as fast as I could go. My headlights caught the dilapidated barn with half of its roof missing and walls sagging inward. I slammed the car into gear and drove as fast as I could.
Somehow, I found the way back to my home and spent the remainder of that restless night sleeping with the light on in my bedroom. To this day, I have no idea where I was. I heard later that folks in Vernon County sometimes hear strange music drifting over the hills at night, though no one can identify its source. In my mind, I can still see the bright happy faces of the ghostly farmers dancing the night away in a rotting old barn.