rating: +87+x

This story is actually 100% true. I've switched names around for privacy's sake, but I assure you that every bit of this is real. Not the normal sub-reality of most “real world” creepypasta, but actual not-shitting-you real. It's tempting to plump it up a bit for more of a punch, but I don't think that's fair. I may add a bit to the descriptions here and there, but the narrative remains unchanged.

My oldest daughter is actually my wife's, from a previous relationship. I've been in her life since she was less then a year old, however, and if you ask her or me, I'm her daddy. Anyway, she goes to visit her biological dad Eddie every other weekend. We normally go to her grandparent's house (Eddie's parents) to drop her off, and sometimes end up sitting and talking for a bit with them while we wait for my daughter to get ready to go, or if Eddie is running late.

Eddie's dad is Paul, and is an…interesting man. A Viet-Nam vet, he's a big bear of a man, and seems to have a similar personality to a rather large dog. One who looks like he'd rip your face off, but has a heart of pure marshmallow cream. He also, apparently, has a very healthy fascination with the paranormal, as we discovered during one of our little conversations.

It was shortly after “White Noise” had come out on video, which we had recently seen, and we had drifted to the topic of EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) in general. The idea of recording the voices of the departed on tape was both fascinating and rather creepy, and seemed easy enough to try. Paul was silent, but listened intently as we talked, and nodded along as his wife stepped in to tell us about a road past a haunted house. Supposedly, you could hear the sound of a dragging shovel if you parked on the road around dusk, the same shovel that the former farmer had used to decapitate his family before hanging himself. As soon as she finished, Paul spoke up, saying “Let me show you something…”

He went to collect a small cassette tape player, and put it on the coffee table. He smiled, then said that, many years ago, his mom had become very sick. Paul said his brother Bill had been trying to take care of her, but eventually hospice had to be called in as she continued to decline. When she passed, both brothers were devastated, but set about the morbid task of laying her to rest as best they could. The funeral was suitably gloomy, with rain and gathering storm clouds, and the little hillside plot looked obscenely lonely under the dark clouds. The mourners left cold, muddy, and even more depressed.

The storm hit hard that night, pushing trees and knocking out power for a good portion of the area, Paul's house included. They spent a candle lit night listening to the wind howl and the rain claw at the windows. In the morning, Paul woke to his now-restored phone ringing. Bill was on the other end, sounding very worked up, and told him he needed to get over to his house right now. Paul asked what was wrong, but Bill just said it'd be easier if he just came. He dressed quickly and set out, sidling around trees, downed power lines, and work crews.

Bill was waiting on his front porch. He quickly pulled Paul inside, asking if he'd gotten any calls last night. Paul said no, that a tree had taken out all his lines, and they'd just gotten service back that morning. Bill said that, after the funeral, he'd driven around for a while, just clearing his head, or trying too. When the weather turned especially bad, he'd headed for home. As he'd gotten out in the driveway, he'd heard his phone ringing inside. Bill ran in, just in time to hear the beep of the answering machine as it finished taking a message. Before he'd been able to take off his soaking coat and shoes, the power had died, and he'd been unable to check his messages until that morning. As soon as he'd listened, he'd called Paul.

Paul tapped the cassette player on the coffee table. “This is the tape from his machine. He wouldn't tell me what the message was, wanted me to tell him what he heard.” He grinned that one smile that people use around a camp fire in the gloom of night, and pressed play. We leaned in as smooth static started from the tape. After about twenty seconds, a strange gurgling noise started. It's hard to describe…similar to thick, sludgy water moving through a confined space, like a narrow pipe or drain. It was sloshing and bubbling, and very bizarre. This went on for about eight seconds, then there was a sudden gasping noise. A voice came on, and it was chilling. It sounded strained and half-full, like an exhausted runner trying to speak with a mouth full of water. It strained and gurgled a moment, then hissed out with the sound of chattering teeth “It's…cold…”.

The sloshing returned for a few seconds, then the tape ended. I stared at Paul, asking “The hell was that?”. He smiled, saying that he'd asked the same thing. They'd listened to it three more times, just to be sure of what they were hearing. It wasn't the strangeness of the tape that had struck them so much, and had sent Bill and Paul hunting for alcohol at eight in the morning. It was the familiarity. Paul said then, and said now, that he will swear on God, his children and everything he holds dear, that the voice on that tape is his mother.

They had been rather shaken, and Paul had driven home shortly after. After getting home, he'd gotten a phone call, which he'd picked up with no small amount of nervousness. It was from the funeral home. They'd called to inform him of a situation at the grave site. It seemed the rain had caused some flooding. His mother's plot, still soft from the digging, had turned to mud and partially washed away. Her casket, they assured him, was exceptionally waterproof, and that any issues including the replacement of the soil were to be handled by them free of charge.

Paul thanked them, feeling numb, and asked if they were sure about the coffin. They said they were going to check for water damage, but that everything appeared to be unchanged. It was just some of the topsoil, the upper layers, nothing serious. He went through the rest of the conversation on auto pilot, hanging up as the funeral director apologized again for the inconvenience. Paul just sat, wondering how waterproof it really was in a coffin. About how it would feel to be trapped, slowly sinking in a tide of sludgy mud. About how a soul, perhaps not entirely divorced from the body yet, might react to that cold, clinging grime. About how it might even call for help.

My daughter picked this moment to come bounding in, long on sugar and short on sleep. We left, Paul grinning at my obviously chilled expression, and the ride home was a bit quieter then normal. That night, all I could think about was the sound of that gurgling, that drowned voice hissing through clenched, clicking teeth.

I haven't asked about the tape again, and it hasn't come up in conversation since. I love the paranormal, but honestly haven't experienced too much of it in my life. A few odd noises in the night, a UFO in the middle of the day, and one unidentified animal in the woods comprise the sum total of my experience. I can't say what that tape is. I can't even say if it's real or not. All I can say is that my interest in EVP has been drastically reduced.

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