My uncle has a small ranch in the Sonoran desert. Whenever there’s a family member’s birthday, or some other event, we always assume that it will take place there. It’s about a mile from the main dirt road, and has amazing views of natural desert scenery.
This must have happened six or seven years ago, when we were celebrating another event and my uncle was hosting a barbecue with all of the family. I don’t remember exactly what event it was. I forgot many things about that day, but I still vividly recall one event. The most inexplicable, chilling experience of my life.
Before everyone arrived at the ranch and we were getting ready, I offered to go buy ice down the road at the house of some lady who had made a shop out of her property, which was also her home.
I’ve always liked technology stuff, like iPods, games, and things like that. This time around, I was really into two-way radios that let you scan around for others who were also using them.
Every once in a while, we would mess around with other conversations we would catch on our walkie talkies and make them change channels. I don’t know why we thought this was so funny. I had a pair of them with me, so I left one of them with my cousin and left on my own, updating him with my location and other random stuff just to have something to say. He would always respond with 10-4.
I knew where the lady’s shop was and worked my way there, looking straight ahead. Maybe a 5 minute walk away, I assumed.
I walked up to the front window of the house, where apparently you would “order” from, and I asked for two bags of ice. She grabbed them, I gave her my money, and she gave me the change. I started making my way back with one bag in each hand.
“10-4” my cousin said over the radio.
I hadn’t said anything, though. I couldn’t reply since I had no free hands, so I ignored it.
As I saw the ranch coming into view, the wind started blowing. Those desert winds are terrible on the eyes, with dirt and sand blowing everywhere, so I shut my eyes but kept walking straight ahead for a few seconds.
That’s when I felt the push behind me. It was no longer the wind, but some type of bubble of… a strange force. Like the kind you feel when you put two magnets together with the same poles facing each other. I turned around but still couldn’t open my eyes fully, so I kept walking. I remember feeling strange, like nausea, or nervousness.
The wind now completely cleared up and the ranch came into view, through the fence from a distance. The windows to the main house were shut, and the music was off. Up ahead I could see that the four cars that were parked outside, across the field, were missing.
It was very weird, but my mind didn’t really process the event until I walked to the fence and found it with the chain and huge lock attached to it, holding it together. I rattled it, expecting to hear the dogs come barking, but no dogs ever came.
At first I thought that I had walked to back to the wrong place, to a ranch that looked similar to my uncle’s. But I’ve been there many times and I knew what it looked like. This is the same place we would visit in the evenings when I would come with my uncle to feed his dogs; except the dogs would be here every single time.
I began to panic a little, I started feeling very confused and my head was spinning. I walked around the property, with the ice beginning to melt and leaking next to my footsteps. I put the ice down, and grabbed the radio from my pocket.
I pressed the button to talk, but the talkie didn’t make that little hiccup it does when you pressed it. Do you know what I’m talking about? It wasn’t really a beep, it was just like a… faint static sound that let you know to start talking. I noticed it wasn’t on, so I pressed and held the power button until I started hearing loud static.
Like, too loud. I immediately change the channel, but the sound wouldn’t go away. I lost track of what channel my cousin was on, but I knew what to do: normally I’d just scan all the channels asking for him and waited a few seconds for a response.
Ten minutes must have passed before I decided to just head back to the lady’s store and maybe even head straight toward the main dirt road. I knew the way back to the city, so even if I had to walk for three hours, I knew I would eventually make it. But with all the static, I doubt my signal would break through to anyone.
I picked up the bags of ice once more, put the radio in my pocket, and I figured I would walk back to the lady’s shop. I was a little shaken up.
As soon as the shop came into view, I heard the radio buzz. I put the ice down, took the radio out again. I heard a familiar voice: “10-4”
I didn’t even reply. I just started almost running back to the ranch. When it came into view, everything seemed normal and the music was on. I walked back to the front gate, which was wide open and my uncle’s dogs came running up to greet me. I went straight to the freezer, lifted the ice bags to place them inside, and noticed that the ice was still frozen solid. No signs of water dripping out.
I looked at my faint footsteps in the dirt, and checked for signs of drops of water next to them. I could swear I was following the trail of water when I was hurrying back to the ranch.
But this time, there was nothing
It was a desert, after all. Water evaporates fairly quickly. The heat may have played a trick on me.
Here I go again, trying to convince myself that this is normal. That this happens to everybody.