Out on the cold, dark prairie a blue light appeared at the top of Sentinel Hill. As it grew in size everything else around us went pitch black until there were no trees, grass, or sky. Just an empty, black world. The light began to take on a human shape, with shadows defining its eyes, nose, and mouth. It was the Blue Light Lady.
The ghost of Elisabeth Polly is well known in Fort Hays. As the wife of Ephriam Polly, the frontier fort’s Hospital Steward during the cholera epidemic of 1867, she nursed the ailing soldiers until she succumbed to the infection and died a painful death . She was buried on Sentinel Hill with many of the outbreak’s other victims and marked with a limestone post that had long ago been stolen. Several sightings have been reported over the years, with one local policeman even fearing he’d accidentally hit a woman when he’d seen Elizabeth’s ghostly form in front of his squad car, only to mysteriously vanish when he stopped to help.
The apparition crested the hill and floated along the prairie like a stray tumbleweed. It paused once to glance up at the full moon, then continued on its descent toward our hiding spot in the bushes. As the blue light drew closer the shadows of her face became distinguishable features and the pattern of her long, prairie dress and bonnet came into view and even though the apparition faded before touching the ground, I heard footsteps shuffling through the dirt.
“She’s so beautiful,” my friend whispered.
Her head whipped around towards our hiding spot and Elizabeth Polly’s cold, dead eyes drilled into ours as her blue light faded. Moonlight suddenly lit up the pasture, revealing hulking shadows moving around us. Ten, twenty, maybe thirty huge black forms circling slowly in all directions.
Frozen in place by fear, we held onto each other as the shadows closed in. I squeezed my eyes shut. My friend’s fingertips dug into my arm, clutching me just as I was clutching her. The footsteps were heavy now, I could feel them stamping the earth nearby. My rapidly beating heart skipped when a whoosh of hot air blew the hair away from my face. I felt a touch on my head, soft and wet. Slowly, slowly, I raised my head and met the large, dark eyes of the beast. It opened its mouth and, from deep within its chest, a “moooo” rumbled to life.
Looking around, I saw that Elizabeth was gone and the pasture had been returned to the cows that lived on it. I patted the cow’s giant head as he sniffed my hair and said to my friend, “Let’s go home.”
The legend of Elizabeth Polly is true, as is Sentinel Hill. This story is a very embellished version of what I experienced when I tried to locate her gravesite. Wikipedia has a bit on Elizabeth’s story: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Polly