• Keri Heath

The Sheets


I see some weird stuff when I run.

I started running when I was in high school, and I'd jog under the light of a still-bright moon through the pre-dawn to a cluster of trails that could have been the home of a fairy tale witch. The scraggly cedars arched overhead, letting only slivers of moonlight through to light the rocks blooming through the soil. Sometimes, I'd hear owls swoop overhead, or the rustle of foxes and boar in the brush beside me. It was the kind of feeling that balanced on the edge of excitement and fear.

That's just a mood, but there have been times I've been legitimately scared while I was running. Like that time in Kentucky when I'd gone home with a friend for fall break. She lived out in the country and I, without a car, had decided to take my morning run by just running down her street and seeing where the country lane took me. Where it took me was past a fenced property shrouded in big thick trees. I heard the pack of dogs before my flashlight fell on their glowing eyes. I flinched at first, but they were behind a fence. Dogs barked at me from behind fences all the time. I kept jogging in confidence.

Until I saw two of them step through a hole in the chain link.

I froze. I was too close to just turn around and run away fast. The mutts were growing at me, their ears down and teeth bared. My heart beat. I still ran with pepper spray pretty regularly, so I raised it ready. I was terrified. I felt like I might cry as the dog crept closer.

"Ahhhh!" I raised my hands high above my head. "Stay away!"

I took a step sideways and the dog snarled.

"Ahhh! Stay back! Stay back!"

It must have only gone on for a couple minutes but it felt like forever. The dog never came too much farther from the gate. I backed away slowly, then faster, faster, then I turned and ran as fast as I could, looking over my shoulder every few steps. I almost cried as I ran away.

That was pretty terrifying, but I still didn't feel as unsettled as I did when I ran past the sheets.

I was visiting an aunt in Ohio and again, took off down the road.

I should learn this doesn't tend to work out for me.

The area was beautiful, tall trees, curling hills, thick grass. Every road I turned on curled and wound. At some point, a dirt path forked of the road into the woods and I, being the trail runner I was, decided to follow it. For maybe half a mile, I followed along the dirt trail, admiring the trees, flush with the excitement of finding a new trail. What a fun adventure, I thought.

But I was starting to realize this wasn't a fun trail - it was somebody's ranch. After passing two pieces of farm equipment, I wondered if I should turn around. Then, I passed the first few sheets.

They were white and relatively clean and were pinned to the tree with a smaller round sphere on top and longer rectangles below. It looked like the perfect thing to contain a person.

Butterflies started flipping in my stomach right away. I'd only run past the first two a few seconds ago when I reached the clearing.

There had to be ten or fifteen of them, pinned to trees. They nodded to the dirt on the ground and the farm equipment, must of it rusted, strewn throughout the clearing. I stood there for a few moments too long, looking around, my neck tingling.

Then, I turned around and sprinted back the way I'd come as fast as I could.

Maybe they were scarecrows or some farm technique, but the hair on the back of my neck was saying otherwise.

I don't know about the crows, but it sure scared me away.

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