Have you ever been scared witless, then felt like a fool when you realized that there hadn’t been any reason to be scared at all?
Have you ever tried walking down a lonely country road, all by your lonesome in the dead of night? If you have, you’ll probably understand how the following tale from my misspent youth came about.
This is a story about that one time I thought I was being chased by a creature called a rolling calf.
Please, let me explain.
In Jamaican folklore, a rolling calf is a sort of demonic calf-like beast that roams along roadways, terrorizing hapless travelers at night. In the stories that I heard while growing up, anyone who encountered the rolling calf would hear the shudder-worthy clanking of its chains. During some telling, someone must have also included the cloppity-clopping of its feet among the terrifying sounds you would hear.
One night when I was in my late teens, I had one such encounter.
It was dark and I was walking along a lonely, rural road. I was on my way home from I-forget-where. Out of the blue, I heard this sound behind me.
Cloppity-clop. Cloppity Clop.
Strange. I thought.
Still walking, I glanced behind me to see what was making that sound. In the dark, I could only make out the hazy shape of what really hoped was a person. As this person or thing traipsed behind me, I could still hear the unnatural cloppity-clop of cow-like feet.
Unnerved, I whipped my head back around and started walking faster. My follower stepped up the pace too.
Cue the Twilight Zone music.
I started silently freaking out. Whoever or whatever was following me so doggedly couldn’t possibly be up to any good. Was it even human? Would a human’s feet sound like the cloppity-clop of some demon calf?
Was I being followed by a rolling calf? A freaking rolling calf in disguise?!
I didn’t dare look behind me again. For some reason, it didn’t seem like a good idea. Maybe I was just scared of confirming my fear. I shifted gear into my fastest power-walk, and wouldn’t you know? That damned person or thing started walking even faster too!
The sound was getting closer and closer. I just couldn’t seem to get away from that rapid cloppity-clop sound.
Finally, my house was in sight. I ran into the yard and slammed the gate shut behind me. I ran up the steps onto the verandah and crouched low, peeking over the banister. There was a streetlight in front of the house, so I knew I’d be able to get a good look.
Some woman in a red dress passed under the streetlight. She briefly looked up to where I was in utter confusion and kept walking. As she vanished into the night, I could still hear the cloppity-clop of her weird-sounding shoes.
The door to the house opened and someone inside asked, “what’s going on?”
Feeling like an idiot I stood, smiled and said. “Oh, nothing.”
So, what was really going on?
I have a pretty good guess, in retrospect.
You see, what must have happened was…
An innocent traveler was walking along a dark country road. Unnerved by the creepy atmosphere, she was relieved to see another person walking ahead of her. Figuring that a little company might help ease her fears, she tried catching up to the person in front.
When the person in front started walking faster, she started walking faster too, scared of the dark and still hoping to catch up. When the person ahead practically started running, she desperately chased after that person still.
So, this late-night comedy unfolded with neither party truly understanding why they were chasing or being chased.Image Credits: Tirza van Dijk, mary1826, cdd20