This happened decades ago, when I was in middle school, or junior high as they called it back then. I understand if you're skeptical but, respectfully, I'm not really interested in having a logical debate about the merits of my story. At the end of the day, either you're someone who believes this type of thing could happen or you are not.
It was the beginning of October, and my friend Kyle and I had spent several hours going through one of the local haunted corn maze attractions. The first few times, we had the time of our lives, but by the fifth or sixth time through it, it was starting to get old. We thought about switching to another haunted attraction in the area, but Kyle had another idea.
He said we should sneak into the maze at the local botanical garden. We were both latchkey kids, who were into trespassing for fun, so I didn't have any ethical objections, but I didn't see the point in it. That's when he told me about a being called "the Clipper."
"'The Clipper?' Like garden clippers? I gotta say, that's pretty lame. What's next? Are you gonna take me to the cemetery so we can look for the Shovel?" I scoffed.
"You're laughing now, but I heard he stalks the maze at night and kills anyone he catches in his maze after-hours. They say he carries a big pair of clippers to torture his victims," he rebutted.
"Just who are 'they' and how do they know any of this? Wouldn't if have been in the news if that happened even once? Where does he go when it's not nighttime? What about when they let people into the garden at night for Halloween and Christmas, where is he then?"
We did this dance back and forth, but Kyle convinced me to go. I didn't have anything better to do that night and we had all October to go to haunted houses. The botanical garden was close enough for us to walk there.
I never honestly expected to find "the Clipper." Kyle was academically quite smart, but he was kind of stupid in other ways. I suspected some kid at school had decided to prey on his gullibility by telling him this ridiculous story of a slasher who stalks the maze.
As cliche as it may sound, we got over the fence by climbing a tree. We were in luck; the maze was nearby.
It was a fairly warm and still night, we barely even needed our long-sleeved shirts. I was more concerned about being caught trespassing then encountering any sort of supernatural being, although it wouldn't be the first time.
If this Clipper fellow was hiding in the maze, it wouldn't take us long to find him. It was way smaller than the corn maze. Look up pictures of botanical garden hedge mazes; this maze wasn't any bigger than those.
But still, it was honestly kind of nice being there after dark. The maze was very well-kept, with narry a twig or leaf visible on the path. The full or almost-full moon gave it a very tranquil atmosphere. We saw an owl bathing in the fountain that served as the centerpiece of the maze before seeing us and flying off, which was pretty cool. We also found a snake crossing one of the narrow pathways. Even if there was no slasher-monster around, it was interesting to see how the place could come alive at night in its own small ways. I did feel a slight cold shiver a few times, but I didn't pay it any mind.
We walked the maze several times over, keeping our voices hushed just in case there was security around. Maybe an hour in I suggested exploring the rest of the garden, but Kyle said he had to piss.
"Just go in the fountain," I told him, referring to the collection pool at the base of the fountain. He thought that was gross so he opted to go in the hedges instead.
"Well, we've been over this maze a bunch of times, and no sign of the Clipper," I said when he was finished. "I say we go check out the rest of this place."
We were about to do so when we saw him. The Clipper (for who else could it be?) merely took a small step from where he was standing to reveal his presence.
He (it? I'm going with he.) had been standing there the whole time, but we didn't notice him until he moved. He just blended in with the maze I guess. He was tall, taller than the maze itself, and slender and cloaked in green robes that covered his body head-to-toe. I assume he had hands, because he was holding a pair of big, menacing, almost comically over-sized pruning shears.
I'm pretty sure I always got that slight chill feeling whenever we were at that same spot at the fountain. How had we missed him?
The Clipper made no noise as he began walking toward us. He didn't stagger like monsters in the movies, his gait was perfectly even and graceful.
Needless to say, we weren't looking for any reason to stick around. Like I said, the maze was small, so we were out of it in seconds, but we didn't stop running until we were back at the garden fence. I looked back once before we found another tree and climbed back over. The Clipper was standing there at the mouth of the maze, facing our direction, before turning around and walking back into it.
You may have several questions at this point. How could we fail to notice the Clipper in such a small maze when he was taller than the hedges? Where did he go during the day? How had no one else ever discovered him? How could he be real when my friend or someone he knew more or less made up his existence?
Well, as the kids are fond of saying, I got nothing. Like I said in the beginning, it's your choice if you want to believe me or not, but I stand by my story. If you follow a magical thinking philosophy, maybe Kyle's own belief in the Clipper somehow made him real, but he definitely was real in that moment, not just a figment of our imagination.
I actually went back to the maze years later as an adult, during the day. There was of course no sign of the Clipper, but I never once doubted the reality of what Kyle and I had experienced.
One lingering side-effect of our little adventure was that haunted houses and corn mazes lost their appeal to us. They just suddenly failed to deliver the adrenaline rush we were after.