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Friday, October 14, 2011

Guest Kate Danley: The Ghost of Antietam

It was my junior year in college.  A bunch of kids were heading down to the harbor to tie one on, but I was too young and I was staring down the barrel of a mind-numbingly dull Halloween.  I was that kid that never did anything wrong, because I got caught.  Nothing kills thrill of rebellion quite like NEVER getting away with ANYTHING. 
Enter my buddy, we’ll call him Sam.  He was a total kissass, just like me, and we got along better than… well… two things that get along really well for years and are all unicorns and Twizzlers and then one thing turns into an asshole and then both things end up hating each other but eventually find each other again on Facebook and after “Liking” each other’s posts enough, the two things call a truce and now they tag each other’s pictures and its fine.  
Like that.
          But flashback to Unicorn/Twizzler Land and that fateful Halloween, Sam and I hatch a plan to be badasses.  To be so hardcore, all those loser drunk people are going to be SO JEALOUS  of our AWESOMENESS.
          We were going ghost hunting. 
On Halloween night. 
Full moon and all.
Our college was in Civil War battlefield territory.  Antietam, host of the bloodiest battle of all the battles, was a short 45 minute drive away.
We piled into my Nissan station wagon.  Sam had painted his face to look like a member of KISS or something (what had you painted your face to look like, Sam?). 
We were going to find some ghosts! 
We were going to find them! 
And… look at them…? 
I’m still not quite sure what we were thinking we were going to do.
But we were going!
We arrived at the battlefield and I drove out to this flag pole in the middle of this cornfield.  The field had been recently harvested and there was nothing there but the knee high, dried up stalks.
I pulled over my car.  We hopped out.  The moon was so bright, we could read the plaque, which informed us that this was where the first bullet was shot.
And then we just sort of stood there for a minute, trying to figure out what ghost hunters are supposed to do next.
Evidently, ghost hunters don’t really have to do that much, because suddenly there was a pocket of air that whooshed by us. 
You could hear it blowing the low cornstalks, but nothing was moving. 
And then, as real as your boss yelling at you for screwing up the Outlook calendar, there was the sound of footsteps. 
The walked from the left of us to the right of us. 
They sounded like someone with boots was tromping through a field. 
Sam looked at me and I looked at him and he said to me, “Did you hear that?” and I said, “Yah.”
And then another pocket of wind swept by the front of my car.  And then, there was the sound of something being dragged.
There is a moment of truth in everyone’s life – when all artifice is stripped away and you know the truth.  You see people for who they are and know that you are nothing.  You get a glimpse of infinity. 
That moment with our ghost, standing out there in the cornfield, just two dumb kids (one in greasepaint)… I understood.
And then Sam said, “Maybe we should leave.”
I have never run so fast for a door in my entire life.
As we drove away, we passed by a cemetery.  I turned to Sam and asked, “Want to see if there is anyone hanging out there?”
Without even looking at me, he replied, “No.” 

Kate Danley is twenty year veteran of stage and screen with a B.S. in theatre from Towson University. She was one of four students to be named a Maryland Distinguished Scholar in the Arts in the annual competition.

Her debut novel, The Woodcutter, was honored with the Garcia Award for the Best Fiction Book of the Year, the 1st Place Fantasy Book in the Reader Views Literary Awards, and the winner of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy category in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

Her plays have been produced in New York, Los Angeles, and the Washington, DC/Baltimore area. Her screenplay Fairy Blood won 1st Place in the Breckenridge Festival of Film Screenwriting Competition in the Action/Adventure Category and her screenplay American Privateer was a 2nd Round Choice in the Carl Sautter Memorial Screenwriting Competition.

Her short films Dog Days, Sock Zombie, SuperPout, and Sports Scents can be seen in festivals and on the internet. She trained in on-camera puppetry with Mr. Snuffleupagus and recently played the head of a 20-foot dinosaur on an NBC pilot.

She lost on Hollywood Squares.


  1. Trick or Treat! Thanks for playing Red’s Trick or Treat Bash! I’m looking forward to reading your book on my new Kindle!, Red sent me (

  2. Boo! Good luck, you two... thanks for dropping by.

  3. Trick or Treat! Thanks for playing Red’s Trick or Treat Bash! I’m looking forward to reading your book on my new Kindle!, Red sent me!

    P.S.-Thanks for putting up with us!

  4. That's fine with me-- hope you've enjoyed the ghost stories!