The Vortex Copse

Posted by Allison Norman on

The Vortex Copse


When I was 12 or 13, my parents bid on, and won a trip at a silent auction at my school.  The trip was to a ranch in Utah.  We were frequent visitors of Aspen and Santa Fe and I had visions of trail rides along creeks and delicious meals at the Lodge.  The first sign that the trip wasn’t going to go as we had hoped was the rental car.  For some reason, I’ll never forget  that it was a brown Crown Victoria that made me nauseas to ride in.  We drove what seemed through hours of desolation to the " Ranch" and soon,  our hearts dropped as we learned we were far, far away from even a grocery store.   There was no “Lodge”, or “Stables”, or anything.  The weird owner guy told my little brother and I we couldn’t use stirrups when we rode the horses, but we could ride his sheep.  Side note we did end up riding the sheep and let me say although we thought “no big deal” as we were both blue ribbon barrel racers, Well, let me tell you, sheep are impossible to ride and it made for a scary, and bruising afternoon. *  This “Ranch” was a bit like Tales from the Crypt. The Weird owner guy also warned us of the vast numbers of rattlesnakes lying in wait to strike. He was not exaggerating one bit. On a hike my brother sat down on a boulder to rest and was going to lean back and goddamn it we heard the loudest rattle I have ever heard in my life, and, I have never seen two humans run so fast.  We looked like cartoon characters zipping down that mountain.   This was nothing like Aspen.   At night, it got bitingly cold and I was afraid snakes would come into my bed to get warmed up.  It doesn’t have to be rational to be scary. I literally could not sleep at all envisioning 15 rattlesnakes nestled inches away from my feet, sleeping soundly, if I didn’t move my feet one centimeter…. Speaking of native animals, I found a litter of wild kittens lived under the cabin we were staying in and I tried and failed daily to catch one to cuddle, and ended up scratched to all hell.  This was my first experience with feral cats and I was determined to make one cuddly. I made my dad drive me like 40 minutes to the tiny weird grocery store for 50 cans of cat food.

We went fishing one day in this pond on the Ranch.  It looked millions of years old, thick murky…. It was FILLED with rainbow trout.  I caught one, my dad caught one, my brother caught one, even my little sister caught one.  My dad also caught two huge water moccasins.  Then… oh how I wish we had iPhone back then!!!  My pole is in the water and something starts yanking on it on it and I almost get pulled into the water. Keep in mind this pond was not big- like-  I have no concept of your

‘usual pond’ measurements but I would say it was smallish - medium. I yelled for my dad to help and started fighting it, whatever it is... I’m scared because whatever is on the other end is almost as strong as I am. Then… it comes out of the water…. And, I SWEAR to God.  –I saw this clear as day.  A fish with a face the size of.   This fish had a face that was maybe 3 feet wide.  So clearly I saw dozens, and dozens of hooks through its mouth- just as he snapped my line and sank under deep down into the murk of the ancient pond.  What are the chances my brother and Dad thought I was crazy when I told them this story as I’m freaking out?  100%.  Totally… UNTIL, that it is, it happened to my brother!!  Fifteen minutes later!!  We agreed that the fish was probably prehistoric and way too much like that movie Grumpy Old Men, but we both saw it so we both couldn’t be crazy.  The fish we did catch and cook was too bone filled to enjoy so the under the floor kittens got like 5 whole rainbow trout that night. But this is what I often think of late at night… what happened next.

     Have you ever had something happen, that part of you thinks must have been a dream?  It’s pretty much my entire narrative so when someone is with me during these occurrences it makes me happy and relieved to be able to share and verify these experiences.  When you have someone with you, you can ask, “Did that really happen?”


Next to our Cabin was a circle of trees.  I do mean a complete circle of trees, about 1-3 feet circumference, each, planted so close together, so perfectly in a tight circle that was probably 30 feet circumference, only about 6`7 inches of room in between each tree.  It was weird. It seemed impossible.  It made no sense. When you got close to it, suddenly the world got very quiet, very still... It was more than just a little creepy. Well, my brother and I got curious enough and bored enough to decide to squeeze in the circle. It took quite some contortion, patience, and pain but finally we were in!

 EARS and HEART immediately pounding…


It was pitch black.  It was FREEZING, I heard people yelling I heard horses galloping towards us, I felt discombobulated and frightened and off kilter, and in a shot of adrenaline, I hurriedly squeezed back out through the trees back to earth, having a full-on panic attack.  My brother too.  Both of us almost in tears.  So very, very frightening. So indescribable, so impossible to process.  We never even looked at it again, we didn’t even talk about it. Several years ago, I recounted the story and asked him if my recollection was right and it was. This happened.


I have hundreds of stories where, looking back, I see that I am straddling dimensions.  I’ve never figured out what that was, what that whole place was, it was so powerful and felt so ominous.  Soon,  I’ll start writing stories about my haunted boarding school in Durango Colorado that was an old silver mine in the 1800’s.  That place was so haunted that on my first day there the principal shakes my hand and says, “You got the haunted room… sorry.”


  • So funny! I live in IT. Where was this place?

    Lacey on

  • I love reading your stories. I’m always able to picture what’s going on like I’m a fly on the wall.

    Hendrix Thomas on

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