The creepiest:

My brother and I, him about 17, me 16 decided to spend a late summer Saturday driving around and exploring a Georgia wildlife management area (WMA). The Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area in fact. My brother was a deer hunter and wanted to check it out to see if he’d want to hunt there in the fall.

We got a bit of a late start to the day and didn’t end up leaving home in my dad’s ‘89 Suburban until about 2 or 3 PM. After the hour or so drive up to the WMA we entered from the East side somewhere and proceeded to drive around on the gravel, mud, dirt roads. Every now and then we’d stop and get out to explore a bit. We did this for a few hours. Eventually we found ourselves on a nicer, sandy road lined with pines. We could see a clearing up ahead. As we approached the clearing, we noticed a chain link fence off to the side. The fence surrounded a concrete building, obviously disused. The fence was 8' high with barbed wire on the top, curious. Not wanting to get out of the truck, my brother drove through the shallow ditch and approached the fence. Up ahead we could see a sign was hanging on the fence. As we approached, we realized that the sign had a radiation symbol on it and very strong warning about it being US Government property, no trespassing, etc. We had no idea what it was, but we didn’t want to stick around to find out, especially since we’d jumped the ditch and were driving right against the fence. My brother decided to turn around and get the heck out of there. That’s when he goosed it, the back end slid around and into the fence. Ooops! We got the hell out of there as quick as possible.

Being a bit spooked and as it was getting into evening, we decided it was probably time to head home. Driving back the way we came we must’ve missed a turn. It got dark as we still wandered around. Finally the road turned to asphalt. Brand new, black as night asphalt with brand new lines, center, and shoulder. Interesting. Finally thinking we were getting back to civilization with smooth asphalt, an SBC under the hood, and being a 17 year old my brother floored it. We got up to about 80 mph or so when we rounded a curve and spotted glowing eyeballs up ahead. I exclaimed “deer!” just as he started applying the brakes. It was a long ways off and we had plenty of time to slow. As we approached at a reasonable 20 mph, the deer stood stock still in the middle of the road looking back at us. When we got within 50 yards of it, my brother honked the horn briefly and flashed the lights hoping to get it moving. It did move, but directly at us. As my brother came to a stop, it trotted right up to the front of the Suburban and proceeded to lay its head on the hood, still looking directly at the windshield. My brother tooted the horn, it didn’t move. My brother rev’ed the engine, it didn’t move. WTF, that isn’t normal deer behavior. Finally having enough, he threw it in reverse and started backing up. The deer followed! He laid on the horn hard and finally the deer realized it was a deer and bolted into the woods. My brother put it back in drive and took off, now at a more reasonable pace. Two hundred feet down the road, the asphalt ended and we were back on dirt. We’d just driven about 3 miles, in the middle of nowhere, on brand new, freshly striped asphalt which connected to no other road.

It wasn’t until much later in life when I was to return to the area to visit family that I did some research. It turns out that the Dawson Forest WMA inhabits a parcel of land which was once the Georgia Nuclear Aircraft Laboratory. The area had an open air nuclear reactor which was housed in that building we’d stumbled upon. From the wikipedia link above: “The site was used for irradiating military equipment, as well as the forest to determine the effect of nuclear war, and its effects on wildlife.”

Perhaps the deer was a nuclear mutant, perhaps it was warning us of the end of the asphalt, which would have ended badly at 80 mph. I don’t know, but that trip up to Dawson Forest is the spookiest memory I have in my 40 years.