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A Strange Night on the Estuary Marshes

A while back now, when I
was in my teens, I had a strange incident down on the nearby
estuary marshes. I used to go there quite a lot, as they were nearby,
completely deserted at night - and if the tide
was out, there was good mud to be had further out. I was living at home
at the time, so I would try to wash most of the mud off in one of the
drainage dykes and then get home to shower, without my parents hopefully
noticing what I had been up to. Anyway, back
to the marshes. As I said, there was really nothing out there, no boats
moored, or any farm houses nearby - only during the day, would you get
the occasional hardcore walker out on the sea wall path. As it was so
out of the way, I never worried about being
quiet while slopping through the mud pools, creeks, or keeping a
particularly low profile.
This visit was like many others, an overcast
night with a bit of moonlight and just a slight breeze - nothing
particularly different, or odd about it. I was down there quite late,
around midnight and was making my way through
the marsh grass/small mud creeks out to where the creeks got bigger and
the mud deeper. As I was picking my way through the small creeks,
I suddenly thought I saw something move in the distance ahead of me. It
was only a barely visible dark outline of something
tall, moving against the slightly lighter seaward sky. I stopped in my
tracks, rather shocked by this movement, desperately straining my eyes
in the darkness and also trying to hear anything above the blood pumping
in my ears. I thought "Fuck - was that someone
out there?" I didn't really know what to do, I had never thought there
would ever be anyone else out here at night. What now, do I quit and
head home, or stay still and see if they go away (if it really was
someone I saw out there)? As I stood there frozen,
trying to see, or hear any further movement, my mind raced with
thoughts and possibilities. "If that is someone out there, what are they
doing out on the marshes at midnight - mudding like me, or what??"

I
tried to keep a grip on my emotions. I don't believe
in ghosts, but in times past, the marshes had been used for smuggling
and there was a lot of folklore about ghostly sightings out on the
marshes. I always considered them to be scary stories to keep people
away. Also there was still the odd local rumour of small boats
being seen going in to the inland creeks at night and people
possibly up to no good. I stood there for a what seemed like an age, but
it was probably just a few minutes - but I saw, or heard nothing more.
I could not risk bumping in to someone who is possibly
up to no good - or even someone who is looking for them (both could be
bad news). This had rather shaken me up, so after some more thought on
it, I decided to head back. I turned and as quietly as I could, made my
way back towards the seawall and path from
where I had come. As I made my way back, I thought I could occasionally
hear mud being slopped through in the distance behind me. I stopped
still, turned round and strained my eyes in to the darkness - and again
thought I could just make out something moving
against the slightly lighter sky, then it stopped and I lost it again.
"Shit" I thought, "I'm sure that is someone out there - have they seen
me and are now following, or are they just going the sameway as me!?". If this was someone
who had good reason to
be there, I would really expect them to have some form of torch or
lantern, but I had not seen any light? I could not risk getting caught
out here, so I carried on and got back to the sea wall where I had some
cover - and climbed over the top and down to the
track next to the drainage dyke. I stopped to catch my breath and
strained my eyes at the top of the seawall, looking along it, as it
faded away in to the black of the distance. I tried to hear any
movement, but all I could hear was the pumping of blood in
my head - "pshuu-pshuu-pshuu".
 
While I was a bit shook up, I was also
pissed-off, as I had made the effort to come down to the marshes and now
was potentially heading home without doing anything. Had I just spooked
myself with shadows and needed to get a
grip - and really see if there was someone out there following me? I
climbed slowly back up to the top of the sea wall and had a look over
the top back on to the marshes - nothing. I waited a little while - and
still nothing.  "I must have just spooked myself",
I thought, so I stood up on the footpath that runs along the top of the
wall and started to walk back to where I had been. Suddenly, there was a
rush of movement right ahead of me, from the complete darkness of
the marshes below, a figure lunged up the seawall
and over the top. Again, I was briefly frozen in my tracks - "Fuck Shit
Fuck! - there is someone here!". I turned and ran back along the
seawall path towards where I had stashed my bicycle. As I ran, stumbling
in the long grass of the path, I looked behind
me and could make out the figure crashing through the long grass and
undergrowth of the track that ran next to the dyke. From then onwards, I
just ran and ran, got to my bike and cycled back up the farm track like
a madman. I got up to the small road that
overlooks the marshes and stopped, as I was completely exhausted
- hardly being able to breath, yet cycle any further. I sat there a few
moments getting my breath back and trying to see if I could spot anything coming up the track, but I saw nothing. After
I had caught my breath, I quickly cycled home, not wanting to hang around and still a bit shaken up from the night's events.
 
I went down there a number of times
after that experience and as all the times before, never saw a sign of
anyone out on the marshes. In the end, I just put it down to someone
else being out there, perhaps up to no good  - or
perhaps doing what I had been intending to do? As I said before, I
don't really believe in ghosts...