DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING you read, the saying goes. That may be especially true for tales of the paranormal -- and certainly for this game. Here for your enjoyment is the lucky 13th installment of our popular game: Which story is false? Presented below and on the following three pages are four stories of the unexplained. Three of the stories have been documented and previously published as being true experiences, as told by the people who experienced them. One of the stories, however, has been completely fabricated by me, your humble paranormal Guide. Your task is to read all four of the stories, then vote for the tale that you think is the one I made up. Do you think you can tell fact from fiction? Give it a try.
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF OLIVER LARCH
On Christmas Eve, 1889, 11-year-old Oliver Larch vanished from the face of the Earth, never to be seen again. This mystery took place in the countryside near South Bend, Indiana. Mr. Larch, a minister, his wife and only son Oliver were enjoying a festive Christmas party with family and friends. After dinner, they all moved to the parlor for the singing of Christmas carols while Oliver popped popcorn on the kitchen range. They were all having a delightful time.
Shortly before 11 p.m., Mr. Larch noticed that the granite bucket for their drinking water was empty, and he asked Oliver to go out to the well to fill it, as he had no doubt done many times before. Oliver pulled on his boots since there had been a recent light snow, which now blanketed their yard a good six inches deep. The snow had stopped, but the sky was still overcast, and in the dark of the country night was nearly black.
Mere seconds after Oliver stepped outside and closed the door behind him, the company inside began to hear him scream for help. The Larches and several of their guests ran to the door and threw it open. It was too dark to see much. Mr. Larch grabbed a kerosene lantern and stepped out, the others following. They could hear Oliver's cries: "Help! Help! They've got me! Help! Help! Help!"
Oliver's cries were not coming from the well, as they had all feared, but from above! As the party looked around in desperation, Oliver's calls for help grew fainter and fainter until they could no longer be heard. Could it be that the boy had fallen into the well and it only sounded like his voice was coming from above? Mr. Larch traced his son's footprints in the snow and saw that they reached only about half way of the 75-foot distance to the well. There was no sign of a struggle; his footprints just ended.
"They've got me," Oliver had screamed. Who, exactly, had got him? Or what? Eagles or some other predatory bird? It would have had to be an enormous creature to carry away the 75-pound 11-year old. That the occupants of a balloon carried him away was yet another theory, but official records show no balloons aloft in the area on that winter night. Even if there were, how and why would they abduct the boy? To this day, Oliver Larch's disappearance has not been solved nor satisfactorily explained.
Next page: Story 2: His Own Ghost