The Grey Man at Lost Lake

📅 Published on June 22, 2020

“The Grey Man at Lost Lake”

Written by E.K. Kelly
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 9 minutes

Rating: 10.00/10. From 4 votes.
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When I was growing up my family had issues with trespassers. Not something you expect to deal with when your home sits along the shores of a secluded lake hidden deep within the woods. Even more surprising when your neighbors are all members of your own extended family. Yet trespassers were a regular occurrence for my family. Unsettling encounters with strangers in the woods a mere fact-of-life that my cousins and I became familiar with by the time that we were school age.

Most trespassers were easy to explain. Lost hikers were the most common due to our proximity to a national park and its meandering trails. They found their way on our property by accident and were always happy for the assistance and directions on how to get back to the park.

Then there were the people who trespassed intentionally. It was well known in the nearby towns that our family’s rather extensive property held within its borders some interesting bits of history and local lore. Researchers, writers, treasure hunters and similar folk all made appearances, each hoping to find some interesting artifact or inspiration to help them make a name for themselves. While these encounters could be annoying, sometimes even a bit tense when the offenders refused to leave, they too were rarely cause for concern.

That wasn’t the case with the trespasser my cousins and I called the Grey Man. Any meeting with him was always something to be afraid of.

The Grey Man got his name from the fact that while everyone had seen him at least once or twice, the descriptions of him were all vague and muddled. When our parents would question any of us kids after an encounter to figure out what we saw, the explanations always went the same way. The child had seen a man in the woods that made no sound, said no words, and didn’t resemble anything.

What was he wearing? We kids would never remember. What color hair did he have? We kids could never say. All we could ever describe was the dread he made us feel, and that his appearance was some hazy, murky, grey. Our parents began calling these stories encounters with the Grey Man and the title stuck.

I had more than a few run-ins with the Grey Man throughout my childhood, but the one I’m going to share here today was the most unsettling.

* * * * * *

When you live on a lake, swimming is a part of summer life. It’s not just because of the entertainment and the exercise, but because it’s a great way to keep cool during the long runs of humid 97-degree days (36 degrees Celsius for the rest of you). With all the time we spent swimming my cousins and I became as comfortable in the water as we were on land. We grew fearless of the depths below, ignorant of the dangers, always pushing to venture further and further from the shore whenever our parents weren’t looking.

The biggest rite of passage was swimming to the old fishing raft on the opposite side of the lake. One leg of the swim was just under a half-mile if you cut right across the lake at its center (one-mile round trip). By the time I was 14 I had made the swim to the fishing raft a handful of times, always in the company of others (usually my cousins). Unfortunately, that was the year I decided to try it on my own.

Over that summer I had been captivated by the coverage of the Olympics, specifically the Triathlon. I was a lanky kid who had grown tall but forgot to fill out, too easily pushed around to be competitive in sports like football, basketball, or soccer. But I could run for days and swim better than any of the kids in my class. For my adolescent brain, it felt like a calling, a sign that I was meant to train and become Olympic Triathlete.

Armed only with what I had learned from Bob Costas during the TV coverage I built out my plan to begin my training. From the Olympics, I had gathered that the swimming portion they did was about the same distance as going to the Fishing raft and back. So I decided I would start sneaking out of the house before dawn, make the swim when the waters were calm, and be back before anyone noticed I was missing. That first night I even slept in my suit I was so excited to start my journey towards greatness.

That morning I woke up early, 5:30 am just before sunrise, and crept down the stairs and out of the house without being noticed. I made my way down to the water’s edge and gazed out over the lake before me, a pane of mirrored glass smooth and unbroken. A light mist drifted around the shoreline like a halo, where the warm lake water mixed with the cool air from the forest floor. It created a pillow that muffled sound, painting the scene with peace and tranquility.

The world was calm as I broke the surface, slipped into the water, and began my swim.

The first half of my debut practice run across the lake was uneventful. I was familiar with the swim and was confident in my ability to make it. With about ¼ remaining until I reached the raft and my midway turn, the electric jolt of a cramp struck my hamstring. I lurched in the water, floundering briefly, then righted myself and fought through the pain as I did a quick analysis of my situation.

The raft was closer. Making it there would allow me to get out of the water to rest and stretch my hamstring. Heading to the raft, however, would leave me with a farther swim home once I was able to recover. If the cramp came back I could be in real trouble. Though If I turned now and tried to make it back without a break, I’d be putting myself at risk of drowning for sure.

I decided to take the shorter route to safety, shifted my body into a backstroke, and continued my way to the raft.

I reached the raft just barely, gulping water and struggling to stay afloat. I clawed my way up the rusted ladder like a shipwrecked rat, sprawling across the splintered weather-worn dock-top. I lay there like that for at least 10 minutes, eyes to the heavens, gasping for air.

As I breathed in deeply my exhaustion dissipated only to slowly be replaced by a different tingling sense. Despite the sun now shining down and warming me, I could feel goosebumps forming across my arms and legs. Was it my brush with drowning that had me set on edge? No, that wasn’t what was gnawing at me. A feeling that I wasn’t alone anymore filled up my insides until I could hardly stand it. I was suddenly acutely aware that I was being watched. Against my nerves, I forced myself to abruptly sit up and search the shoreline for whom or what had triggered my alarm bells.

I spotted the cause in an instant, at the place where the forest met the water a figure stood in the mist. The Grey Man was there watching me. The only thing that separated us was the 30 or so yards of water between the Raft and shore.

The two of us remained like that, me seated on the raft, the Grey Man on the shore, as we studied each other. That was the longest unobstructed look I even got of the Grey Man and I am still at a loss for how to describe him. He was like a shadow with depth and weight. He had hair but I couldn’t tell you the color. He had features on his face. A nose, a mouth. But I couldn’t tell you if they were distinguished or petite. He had eyes, but I couldn’t tell you what color. He wore clothes, but I couldn’t tell you their style. He was just there, the suggestion of a man, lacking the definition to make him complete.

I was locked in an internal struggle, my mind fighting to make sense of what it was seeing, when the Grey Man stepped his foot forward from shore and plunged it into the lake. As it entered the water bubbles churned and droplets splashed down in utter silence. There was no sound. Then he stepped again and in muted motions began to wade toward me and my haven upon the raft.

As the Grey Man approached, inching deeper and deeper with each step, he did not attempt to swim. He continued forward in a march, feet firm upon the lakebed. The deeper he got, the more the water rose. To his waist, then his chest, then his shoulders. Still, the Grey Man pushed forward.

Still 15 yards away from the raft, the Grey Man’s head slipped below the water, a final ripple, and then there was nothing. I waited as the mirror-like tranquility slowly returned to the surface of the lake. Uneasy at the change in atmosphere, I jumped to my feet attempting to center myself on the raft. Feeling in that moment more exposed, vulnerable, and trapped than I had ever felt before.

In anticipation of an attack, I frantically searched around the raft’s edges, looking for fingers and hands reaching up to pull the Grey Man to the surface. All I could picture in my head was the final scene in Friday the 13th (the first one), where Jason burst up from the water and grabs a hold of the lone survivor as she sits in a boat, pulling her down to her death. I knew any minute that the same end would come for me.

Yet time marched on and nothing happened. An impossible amount of time, far to long for a person to remain submerged. They say time ticks by slowly in moments of crisis, but even so, I knew that it had been long enough that any man would have needed to come up for air by now.

Where was the Grey Man? I turned my search back to the shore. Had he retreated there while I was distracted with my search around the raft? If the Grey Man didn’t make a sound when he entered the water, maybe he had left in the same silence. Could he be gone? That was something that I desperately wanted to believe, but just couldn’t convince myself was true. He was still down there in the depths below, waiting for me.

As the sun rose high and reached midday it beat down on me, I began to despair. How long could I remain here before I needed to force an attempt to swim back home? I could feel the sweat being pulled out of my body by humidity that wrapped me and weighed on me like a blanket. I was already starting to get dehydrated, yet I was surrounded by fresh water I didn’t dare attempt to drink. I knew the moment I cupped my hands in the water, the trap would be sprung and I’d be pulled under.

I was stuck there, able to see my house but unable to do anything to save myself. Legs aching, throat bone dry, fear consuming me yet all I could do was wait and hope someone spotted me and came to my rescue.

It was near dinner time, 12 hours after I set out that morning, before my cousin made his way down to the opposite lakeshore. My initial screams for help were dry hoarse pathetic yelps, but eventually, I got out few good yells and caught his attention enough that he looked my way and could see me jumping and waving to him from across the lake.

Minutes later I saw him and my uncle hop in their fishing boat to make their way across to where I stood stranded. That was the longest period for me, when hope crept back inside me but rescue still seemed so far off.

When they reached me I yammered off about how I had cramped up during my swim. My uncle scolded me for being so stupid to swim out this far alone. When I began to mention the Grey Man my uncle flashed me a skeptical accusing look, then motioned around arms held wide as if to say “There’s nothing here, you crazy kid.”

I clammed up quickly at that point. Kids have an odd fear of adults not believing them, it’s as if their own eyes are less reliable than adult logic. Once I was on the boat myself, I even began to feel silly about how I acted. The sheer amount of time had I wasted on that raft, worried about something lurking in the water, the whole time perfectly safe to dive in and swim home whenever I wanted. How much had I suffered because my mind ran wild with horror movie scenarios?

As we pulled away and began the trip home a fit of hysterical laugher began to bubble out of me. I laughed at myself, the stupidity of my irrational actions, and the absurdity of the situation I had put myself in.

That laughter died in my throat the moment I looked back at the raft. Directly beneath it, between the barrel pontoons that kept it afloat, was a head extended above the water. The Grey Man had been there below me, less than a foot away, waiting for me the whole time. If I had done anything other than what I did, made any different choices, he would have had me.

I grabbed at my uncle excitedly, pointing at the raft, begging him to look at what was there. But by the time he turned to follow my direction, there was nothing to be seen. The Grey Man had vanished again.

That night I struggled to sleep, a full day spent unprotected and exposed under the harsh sun had taken its toll. My sunburn had already begun to blister and I knew the next few days would be miserable. That night the pain wouldn’t even allow me to lie down on my bed. Instead, I stood in the darkness of my room, looking out the window. The moon was full, bathing the lake in light nearly as crisp as daytime. Under the moonlight, I could see clear across the lake, and spotted the raft. Upon it, I saw a shadow-like figure standing there, looking back at me.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 4 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by E.K. Kelly
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: E.K. Kelly


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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