I had a bit of a troubling night, but I'm dealing with it fine
I had to go around my estate to mend up parts of a fence and clean out my shed. It's a seasonal event for me and usually one not worthy of any note. Well I'm out examining what looks to be a loose piece of fence when I hear the sound of screaming coming from the woods near my house. Now, I know there's a chance it could be all in my head, but I also know I wouldn't be able to handle the guilt if I let somebody get hurt because I ignored their cries for help. It was iffy that I'd actually find anything, but it was something I had to do.
Well, I only regularly go through walks in one part of that area. It's a little path that leads out to a small pond. I used to take the kids fishing and still go out there from time to time myself. I'm still unfamiliar with a lot of the other, more deep paths out there. I wander out trying to find the source of the screaming and (this is sort of embarrassing for me) got lost. It was late night, and I only had a little flashlight with me. I'm still hearing the screaming, but I don't know where I'd go if I actually found somebody hurt out there. The road had to be relatively close by - I just didn't know which direction I should head in to get to it. Not many cars drive by out there this late in the summer, so listening for traffic probably wouldn't help much.
I'm still hearing the screaming, but it's getting fainter, and I'm not entirely sure what direction it's coming from anymore. I decide it's best to try and find my way back to the house and report the strange noises to the police. I'm sort of stumbling through the area looking for familiar landmarks when I spot a small shack-like structure in a clearing some ways away. Moving closer, I remember something my father told me about when I was a kid.
My parents also lived out in the countryside when I was a child - mostly at the insistence of my father who had "spent too many years in cities". I shared similar experiences after college and have partially inherited my love of this style of life from him. However, he spoke to me more than once about things that do not happen in the city - things that you occasionally have to put up with living in this type of area.
It was a makeshift, squatter home.
Squatters are homeless who find abandoned or isolated areas to take shelter. They're more common in urban areas in poor countries, but there are also a larger number than one would expect in forested regions in the U.S. They are much more dangerous than the typical urban squatters. Urban squatters usually stay in large abandoned buildings or warehouses. Chances are you'll only come across their "homes" if you yourself are trespassing. Rural squatters are different. They take scrap metal and other basic materials, build their own little home (usually on a large, private piece of land), and live off the land or whatever else they can get. They probably won't come looking for you, but if you discover their set-up and there's a confrontation, many will put up potentially lethal fights.
A friend of my father's was almost shot by a squatter he found on his land. I knew the risks associated with these types. I moved only close enough to briefly take in some details. I tried to take as many mental notes about the land as possible and glanced around a bit at the shack.
It was built almost like a church - with what looked like a steeple and cross on top. There were no windows, and I couldn't see the door from where I was standing. The walls looked to be made out of particle board, some other kind of wood, and rusty metal material thrown together. It was eerily quiet in the clearing, and the screaming had completely went away by this point. I retreated out of the area, finding the road not long after and walking beside it until I was able to spot my house.
My nearest neighbor and I will be heading out there again tonight (he has a gun and has dealt with similar situations before) to see if it's abandoned and possibly try and scare him off. If we decide that's a bad idea, we'll just call the police.
Spoke with Sam's girlfriend today. She sort of worried me at first - mistook me for someone else, I believe (as if things weren't confusing enough). Turns out that Sam told her he had to leave to tend to his sick mother yesterday. She said she wasn't sure why he had called me and that he hadn't left any message for her to give to any friends. She's going to call me as soon as possible after speaking with him sometime.
Spoke with Greg again, but we basically just confirmed the meeting plans I've already mentioned here.
Just hoping we've got one of those friendly, only mildly crazy bums out there. I won't call up the police so long as he's willing to leave peacefully. Still, best case scenario is the damned thing being abandoned.