The Lantern, the Boat Men, and the Laughing Children

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By Joshua La Rue

I’m a 32 year old man, yet it is broad daylight as i write this post because what i am about to share haunts me to this day to the point that merely thinking about or in this case typing this memory is enough to send chills down my body and make me feel like a terrified child. I have only told this story to a handful of people over the past 10 years because of how terrifying an experience it was for me, but i feel like it can be therapeutic to get it off my chest and share with others, maybe others have had a similar experience, if so please let me know.

To tell this story and give it justice I have to tell you of an experience that happened 3 years before the terrifying encounter this post is about, buckle up this will be a long post but definitely not boring. My name is Joshua but I will change the names to protect the privacy of the others involved in this story. I live in Arkansas and In late 2003 near the middle of fall right before it started getting really cold my wife and I were invited to camp with a friend of mine and his gf at Sugar Loaf Lake in Oklahoma.

I say camp but the actual plan was to meet at Sugar Loaf and my friend, we will call him Bob wanted to take me and my wife around to some “paranormal” places in the Sugar Loaf area. So we got there around 7 p.m. I was driving a white ford 1996 f-150, bob was driving a 1980 something white celebrity, was really a piece of crap vehicle, anywho it was late dusk becoming dark and we all climbed into Bob’s car and he took us around the area, first to an old abandoned house but other than some racoons rustling around it was a 2 hour waste of time, then he took us to a grave yard that was supposed to be haunted, again a bust, then an old church that was run down and supposed to be haunted, once again, yawn!.

At this point it was getting close to midnight and my wife and I were getting pretty bored and I spoke up to Bob saying man this really hasn’t been that freaky of a night, that’s when Bob smiled saying he was saving the best for last, he handed me a polaroid picture of a hillside covered in trees in daylight, I asked him what it was and he asked me if i saw a house or any type of light pole or anything in the picture, to which i replied no. He took the picture back and said thats because there isn’t and there are no power lines either, about this time he turned down an old dirt road and past a small house then after that it was 2 miles of dirt road with woods on one side and a barbwire fence on the other with about 2 acres of field connecting to a wooded hillside, nothing to light the night except the full moon above head and the clear starry sky, after what seemed like forever he stopped the car and told us all to get out, we did as he asked, he walked us to the side of the car where the fence, field and wooded hillside was.

He looked at his cell phone, which his phone and mine had no signal, this was 2003 and this area had no cell towers, but he looked at his phone and said it was 11:57 and told us all to watch the middle of the hillside. Even at complete dark i could tell this was the same field and hillside from the picture, 2 minutes go by and nothing has changed then at exactly midnight a small light flickers on in the middle of the hillside, a chill runs down my back as my wife, bob, his gf and myself watch as this small light which to me looked like an old kerosene lantern began to move, swaying back and forth, we set and watched in complete silence for what seemed like several minutes when i finally spoke up and asked what the story was with this.

Bob replied he did not know but locals had told him that at midnight every night this lantern will light up and sway back and forth through the woods until the sun comes up and it disapears, nobody knew what the story was, at the time i was a 19 year old guy who didnt think anything could scare me or hurt me so since there were no houses around i yelled out “WE SEE YOU! WOW YOU ARE SO SCARY WITH YOUR LITTLE LANTERN!!!” Bob shushed me but it was too late, my wife screamed and pointed.

I was laughing but my laughing stopped as i looked to the hillside to see the lantern swaying back and forth but moving down the hillside to the field at an unhuman pace, gliding it began to speed across the field towards our car, we didn’t stick around to see what it was because within seconds we were in the car and flying down the dirt road back to the lake, we looked back to see the lantern moving slowly back up the hillside to where it first appeared. The ride back was silent until Bob spoke up saying crap i forgot to put gas in earlier and the only store around is closed, and if we decided to go back out anywhere it’d be best to take my truck until he could get gas in the morning, as he only had about half a quarter tank.

I said ok and a few minutes later we arrived back at Sugar loaf lake, we had parked by the lake docks and we dropped my tail gate and sat and talked about what had just happened, Bob’s gf was pregnant at the time and told him she was hungry, he told her we had brought some snacks but she said she needed actual food, but since the local store was closed he asked if we could take my truck to the next town over to get some food because his car wouldn’t have enough gas to get us to that town, I obliged, we shut our cooler, put the tailgate up and loaded into my truck, i turned the key and nothing happened, my truck was dead, deader than dead, no ding, no lights no clicking noise nothing! for all intents and purposes you would think the alternator was out.

This was strange and after the night we had it made us all feel uneasy, we got out of the truck and popped the hood, pulled Bob’s car around to the front and attempted to jump my truck with his car, this is where it gets even weirder, as soon as we connect the jumper cables to his battery and mine his gf starts his car and within a second the cables in between the connectors start to smoke and in a flash of fire they burn up within seconds, the cables were nothing more than bits of melted rubber and ash with only the end clamps still on our batteries, bob runs and turns off his car and we take the clamps off our batteries. We look at each other in the eary moon and starlit night, did i mention there were no light poles around, and we both get a bad feeling at the exact same time as we suddenly realize we had been hearing a distant noise in the lake that was getting louder, it was a boat motor.

Now like i said this was the time of the year it was starting to get cold, especially at night, we were bundled up as it was and we were standing still on land at night but somebody was out on a boat? after midnight? when it had to be chilly as all get out with the wind hitting them, and from the sound of this motor it was going pretty fast, but we saw nothing, that is until the boat was about 50 yards away and a very bright spotlight comes on temporarily blinding us all. Bob and I tell the women to get in his car and lock the doors, i reach into the bed of my truck and give Bob a tire tool and i pick up another (i work at a tire shop and had all kinds of tools of the trade in my truck), we are standing in front of the vehicles in the middle, the hoods up on both as the boat pulls up to the dock and 2 heavily bearded men in their 30s to 40s step out of the boat and walk up, Its hard to give an accurate description as their spotlight was still pointed at us and it covered the men in an eary shadow whilst blinding Bob and I, they look at us and at our vehicles and one glances in the direction of the car at the women then back at us and lets out a small chuckle.

“You fellers got some sorta car trouble?” one asks as he lights up a cigarette. “Y-yea but its nothing we can’t handle” i stammer.

The guy with the cigarette sniffs the air and looks down between Bob and I’s feet and sees the still smoking ashes of what wast the jumper cable, “looks like it was more than your pussy jumper cables could handle, You all need some help?, we got some tools on the boat that I think can fix you guys’ problems right up” then the other man who had chuckled in the beginning says “Mmm hmm fix them right up”, I am speechless at this moment probably with my mouth hanging open, i cant remember, as the two men walk back to their boat and we hear what sounds like chains rattling around as we try to make out what they are doing but the spotlight is so blinding we can barely see, but the chain noise was enough, bob looked at me and without saying a word we both jumped in his car and drove the fuck out of there.

For the next few hours we drove to a populated area of houses which wasn’t many in the rural area we were pretty much stuck in since we had very little fuel, but we all sat in the car mostly quiet looking around in all directions in near panic thinking at anytime those men would find us, bob would turn his lights on every now and then thinking he had seen some movement in the dark, after a while the women fell asleep and Bob and I talked about how fucking weird this whole ordeal had been and he laughs saying i told you it would be a scary night, I just didn’t know it would be this sorta scary! At this point the paranormal lantern wasnt even the main thing freaking me out, but the Men never showed and eventually the morning was on its way and it was about 20 minutes until sun rise and Bob asked if I wanted to go see if the Lantern really disapears at sunrise. I asked if he was sure he had enough gas and he said yea, the local store opens up in about an hour so we will be fine, i tell him in that case then yea. We wake the women up and drive back to that hillside, we get there with about 4 minutes left until sunrise, we still see the lantern swaying in the woods.

Bob looks at me and i smile and do the motion for zipping my lips and we all watch in wonder as right at sunrise the lantern slowly fades away to nothing, after this we get back in the car and drive back to the lake, feeling safer now. When we get there, there is no sign of the boat and the hood of my truck is still up and doors are still locked, on a whim I tell Bob i’m going to try to start the truck one more time before he drives us somewhere where i can get a cell signal and call for help, and i’ll be damned! The Truck started right up with no hesitation or problem.

We all went our separate ways, happy to have seen the sunrise and counting our blessings and swearing to leave the paranormal investigating in this area to others and swearing that we never wanted to come back to this area and run into the boat people again. However, all things fade with time, even fear and common sense, 3 years laterBob, who I havent seen in almost 2 years at that point, calls me up and says he has a proposition for me. He goes on to tell me he has a group of himself and 3 other wiccans who go out and do seance in haunted places and asked me if i would be willing to film their sessions in the haunted places for their records and that they would pay me well for my services, I am no wiccan but i have always loved the paranormal, even after what i went through at sugar loaf i still had an itch to scratch when it came to getting scared and dealing with the paranormal and the unknown and I told him yes I would love to film for them but I had no interest in joining in that i was ok with watching and just getting to be out there looking into the paranormal again.

So of course my next question was when and where are we going to be doing this at first. When he answered me I got a terrible gut feeling and I wish so much that I had trusted my gut and told him i had changed my mind. “Remember that Lantern Light out near Sugar Loaf?” he asked me as if there was anyway I could ever forget. “Y-y-yea” i stammered, “why do you ask”. “I told my group the story and they wanna do the ritual there and see if we can contact the spirit and find out why it is there and what it wants” Bob replied. “I don’t know man” I said. “Oh come on Josh! trust me you will be safe and I am going to pay you $250 just to sit there and film it!” He retorted.

At the time i was about to become a father and money was tight because diapers, formula and the like cost a small fortune! Not to mention it was my first kid and my new wife’s first kid so she had been going crazy spending money on not just the necessities but also buying only top of the line baby products like toys, crib, play pen, baby monitors, stroller, car seat, a combination pack and play\changing table, diaper genie and designer baby clothes.So because my wife was putting us in the poor house I had to weigh out my fear of the area he wanted to go back to with how important it was I make all the extra money I could so against my better judgement I accepted the offer and a week later I was in the same beat down Celebrity Bob was driving 3 years before, this time with Bob and 2 guys and 1 girl that were complete strangers to me, they each were dressed very gothic and had these pentagram necklaces or something of the sort.

It was 11:50 when we got there and the 4 of them sat in a tight circle and i was behind them to the right about 5 feet from the barbed fence that was in front of the field that led to the hillside, and my back was to the hillside and bushes at the fence line and i was filming my friends circle as they all started chanting something…….

(As I have been typing this entire post I have been getting knots in my stomach knowing that i was coming to this part of the story, this part of the story haunts my dreams and even waking hours to this day. I am going to do my best to describe how the following events unfolded though i know mere words cannot do justice to the pure terror that ensued or how horribly horrific the events sounded and were, so when reading or listening to this turn your imagination all the way up, and believe me when i say up to this point in my life i was interested in the paranormal, it was a fun hobby to go out ghost hunting or getting myself spooked or whatever but after this night i never look at the paranormal as fun or interesting anymore, i show it respect and stay as far away as possible, as much as i dread it i will now finish telling this story)

…..As his group is chanting Bob lights up this huge candle in the middle of them and opens up some sort of book, its not like a scary antique spell book or anything it looks like a newer hardcover, anyways he starts reciting words from it and then he looks at his phone and tells his group to be quiet and look at the hill, i turn the camera and at midnight on the dot the lantern appears. One member of Bob’s group blurts out COOL!!, I roll my eyes since the way these people were dressed and the way they carried themselves the word cool didnt seem to fit in their vocabulary. Then bob says to his group to join hands as they attempt to communicate with the spirit, I turn my back to the light and begin to film the group as they began again chanting and bob reads from the book, then they start asking questions in hopes the spirit will respond, about this time a wind picks up and bob’s candle goes out, he tells everyone to hold on and tells me “cut the camera for a minute” and i oblige and stop recording and watch as Bob tries his lighter then 2 lighters from his group but none of the lighters are working, im sitting down watching the group when i start hearing a rustling behind me.

I jump up leaving camera on the ground and spin around, Bob and his group are preoccupied with their candle and lighter problem and as i spin around i am blinded by the brightest light i have ever seen, what i believe was the lantern up close and personal but as quick as it appears the light is gone, and the lantern is nowhere to be seen, if it had been the lantern that blinded me it had moved from the hillside across the field and right behind me with me not realizing it within the span of maybe 30 seconds! I look around for the lantern on the hillside and nothing, its only 12:15 or so and the light has always stayed until sunrise, at this moment the wind quits blowing and i hear bob’s lighter finaly flick and i see it light up, and i mutter “um guys, did you see that?” they all turn and ask what i am talking about but before I can answer them, we all are stopped dead in our tracks by a distant laughter coming from seemingly nowhere and everywhere around us but distant at the moment like far off, and this is no ordinary laughter, this laughter sounds like the laughter of hundreds maybe even thousands of children that haunts me to this very moment.

As i type this I am looking around the room I am in. Whenever I think or talk about this experience I can vividly remember that terrifying sound and hear it in my head. Also it just occurred to me if you put the letter S at the beginning of laughter it spells “Slaughter”…ugh why did I just think that!

The best way I can describe this Laughter is for you to imagine listening to a large group of kids singing row row row your boat, you know how one kid will start and seconds later another will join in starting at beginning of song and so on and so forth, well this sounded like i said like hundreds or thousands of children laughing, as if one would start laughing and seconds later another would, and that pattern went on in an endless loop! I’m not saying the laughter sounded like the song row row your boat I am saying they laughed in unison just like kids do when singing row row your boat, one would start then seconds later another would then another and another and another, and the laughter was getting louder, closer.

There was sinister laughing, goofy laughing, giggling all around us coming from all directions, I was shaking, I could not move i was spinning around and around looking off in the distance, this couldn’t be real, this sorta thing does not happen, what the fuck was happening!? I scream at Bob and his group That we need to get the fuck out of there, but they are already all running for the car, leaving their wiccan book and candle behind, and without hesitation i run after them and jump in the car just as the laughter is becoming deafening! We haul ass out of there and drive about a mile up the road and pull over as Bob is in no condition to drive as we are all freaking out, we all get out of the car pacing around the car, asking each other if we really just heard what we just heard.

I tell Bob that I am sorry but i left his camera behind, he says he does not care and that he isn’t going back for it, at this point i got my hands on my knees panting trying to catch my breath as i have never in my life been so terrified, that is when all of our chatter stops as we once again hear the laughter off in the distance very quietly at first but slowly getting closer and closer and louder and louder until once again it is becoming deafening. We jump back in the car and speed away.

We drive about 6 miles and for the first 3 miles we can all still hear the laughter in the distance with our windows down a little, we all begin to calm a little by mile 4 when the laughter can no longer be heard but we have no intention of pulling over again and Bobs friend is in the passenger seat with his phone waiting for a signal to pop up, and at about mile 6 Bob’s friend says hey I got full bars! and he hands the phone to Bob and he calls a friend of his who is into the occult and well versed and educated in it and as we are driving he is describing what happened to the lady, Bob later told me his friend told him she believed it was the Children of Hecate or something like that, I have no idea about what Hecate is but it sounded like more of a guess to me, anyways as Bob is on the phone speeding out of the area me and the 2 other people in the back seat all get a chill at the same time and the they told me later that just like me the hair on the back of their neck stood up as a loud snapping noise comes from the front end of the car and Bob’s Celebrity stops dead in its tracks, and will no longer move forward.

He tries everything but the car is not moving, we later discovered that a Tie Rod had snapped, anyways the friend Bob was talking to on the phone only lived about 20 minutes away from where we were and they said they were on their way. As we sat in the car nobody spoke and after about 3 minutes we saw a pair of headlights coming down the road towards us, we knew it was too soon to be Bob’s friend but me and Bob thought maybe we could get a ride from a local and we all unloaded out of the car and stood in front of it waiting on the vehicle to hopefully stop.

Now I cannot be certain but my gut tells me i am correct but the vehicle doesnt stop but as it comes into view it is a beat up old pick up truck and it slows down and in the truck are two men in their 30s-40s with huge beards and they stare at us and speed up after passing by, I look at Bob and before i can speak he says what i was already thinking “The Guys in the Boat!”, before i can say anything back we see headlights coming from the direction the truck that passed by just went and we went still and quiet as the same guys in the same truck passed by slowly again staring at us on the side of the road.Bob called his friend back and told her to drive like hell and get here now! and hung up, 4 or 5 minutes go by and we see headlights coming, relieved we all get our stuff ready thinking it is Bob’s friend, then his phone rings, it was the lady who was coming to get us telling Bob she took a wrong turn and is going to be about 10-15 more minutes before she gets there.

Bob hangs up the phone and watches in terror as do I as the same truck slowly passes by again, this time with only one of the (boat)men in the truck, this time though the driver slows to a crawl and says “looks like you fellers could use some help” and then speeds up and drives off, this cemented the fact to Bob and I that we were definitely dealing with the Boat Guys but where the hell did the other guy go, why wasn’t he in the passenger seat, and to make matters worse at this point something we had almost completely forgot about due to the boat men was immediately reminded to us as we begin to hear the laughter again off in the distance but all around us like before and over the next few minutes it started getting closer and closer.

I am almost pissing my pants as the sound is getting deafening and we have no where to run this time, and then from behind our car off in the distance we see two sets of headlights come on and two vehicles coming towards us slowly side by side taking up the entire width of the back country dirt road both coming our way. The laughter now seems to be coming from the woods on both sides of the road we are stuck on, and the Laughing see!s to be zeroing in on us as if hundreds or thousands of children are within reaching distance of us, there is no wind, no sound other than the crunch of the tires on the rocky dirt road of the two vehicles slowly driving towards us.

Wih our last shred of hope fading away into the laughter of the children and the headlights of the two vehicles surely being driven by the boat men, we are given a reprieve as at this time coming from the other direction we see another set of headlights coming fast, we hold our breath, the laughter, the boat men, what could be next, how will we get out of this, and that is when the vehicle that was coming fast pulls up and it is Bob’s friend, she unlocks the doors on her car and rolls her windows down and begins to tell us to get in, when this happens the two sets of headlights coming from other direction turn off and bob’s friend says “OH MY GOD” you weren’t kidding about the laughing kids she screams at us to get in and we do, we begin to tell her about the boat guys and she turns the car around and no sooner than she starts to drive away the two sets of headlights come on again this time with their brights on and they are about a car lenghth behind the car we are all crammed in. I yell to the driver “GO GO GO!!!!” Channeling my inner Jeff goldbum telling her faster must go faster she floors it and for about a mile the two vehicles stay on our ass then they turn off onto a side road. For about the next 2 miles after that we can all hear the laughter still way off in the distance with our windows down, then after 3 miles the laughter was gone.

To this day I have no explanation to what happened, what the laughing children were, why the laughing followed us, if the boat men were connected to all this somehow or if they were merely a coincidence that happened to terrify us at the same time as the paranormal stuff was happening, and if that is the case why did they not react to the laughing children sound?, Is the lantern connected to the laughing children or did Bob and his group mistakingly call forth the laughing children through their ritual.

Like I said this happened years ago but i still feel just as terrified now when i tell people about it or think about it, I have had constant chills and goosebumps as i have written this, I am sorry for typos or grammar issues but I am a bit shaky as well, I am going to post this story as is, I hope it is readable and I hope somebody who reads this and has had a similar experience can share their story with me, in a weird way i believe that would help me deal with the trauma this experience still causes me to this day. To all of you who think the paranormal is just a fun hobby to get your thrills with, i beg of you and i warn you that we are not prepared for what is really out there, you can think nothing will scare you or harm you but you are dealing with unknown things, you have no idea how powerful or mundane the paranormal could be.

If you use the paranormal as a thrill seeking hobby, just use caution and always have your vehicle checked out before hand. Oh and watch out for seemingly sociapathic hillbillies! and Laughing Children……Hope everyone who reads this sleeps well but i know that after telling my story like this that for at least the next few nights I will be getting no sleep at all.

(I’m editing my post at the moment and I just remembered kind of an important coincidence, when we had driven fast away from the Lantern in 2003 after it came swooping across the field towards us the song unforgiven by Metallica had been playing on the radio, and then in 2006 when we had first heard the laughter when we were by the hillside and jumped in the car, the same song was on again, this time on a mix tape that one of Bob’s fellow wiccans had made and brought, there is no way he could’ve known that song played last time we were there because he wasn’t there in 2003 and Bob didn’t remember the same song playing in 2003 until I brought it up to him as a weird coincidence that gave Bob goose flesh when he remembered)

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What ever happened with the cars and truck?


Hey I wanted to ask you some questions..