The Swarm

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I wrote this entry on April 28th. At the end of the story I have two interesting side notes about this. I hope you read it with an open mind, and also realize that a lot of what I write is lost because this did happen a long time ago. I will say that everything in this story happened as best as I remember. -Furey

This is my 100th entry. I figure I should make it something special. Maybe a story that you heard before and maybe one you haven't about me - it was my first supernatural experience.

Yep. I had a very strange event happen to me, and I haven't really told the tale to too many people before now. I'll just preface this that what i'm about to tell you is 99% the truth (the 1% missing from the degree of errors I may have made) and you can interpret what happened on your own.

It was another summer in Ocean City, NJ during 1987. I was 15 and about to begin my sophomore year in LaSalle College High School. Every summer my parents made sure that all their kids worked a job, they wanted to install a strong work ethic in us at an early age. There was never a summer since I was 11 that I didn't work a summer job.

This year I was working as an ice cream guy. During those years, the ice cream guys would ride a modified bicycle (one wheel in front and two in back) with a large metal cooler on the front of the bicycle between the front wheel and the handlebars - filled with dry ice and frozen ice cream. There was a seperate, smaller plastic cooler on top of the metal cooler for sodas and iced tea. It was a very large and unwieldly bicycle and very difficult to pedal because of the weight. It was an ok job. I got to meet girls off the beach and got a great tan at the same time.

Each ice cream seller was given a zone of streets they could work. Since I was new, I was given the absolute worst streets in all of Ocean City - 59th street to 56th street. The ice cream shop was located at 34th & West street. I had to pedal that cursed bike 25 blocks during the summer to get to those streets.

The pay sucked for two reasons:

1) We would make a comission on what we sold. I don't remember exactly how much it was - but if you worked the O.C. "good streets" which were 23rd - 40th streets, you could bring down about $150 a day. My average was about $30 a day.

2) I had a low threshold for hunger. My metabolism was running like Freddie Mitchell's mouth after the Super Bowl. I had ICE CREAM and SODA sitting in front of me on a hot summer afternoon when I was a teenager. I ate a lot of my profits.

One day, i'm sitting at 58th street and its a ghost town. It was like the wild west. I was expecting to see a tumbleweed blow across the street. It was hot. I was bored and no one was coming up to me to buy ice cream or a soda. I would listen to the radio and do what I always do - daydream.

I'm getting attacked by the occasional greenhead fly and spraying Avon's magical lotion "Skin So Soft" all over myself to ward them off. It works like magic, but the flies just hover around me waiting for my sweat to dilute the Skin So Soft and they can attack again. So to recap - i'm bored, hot, getting attacked by flies. It was a real treat of a day.

The job of an ice cream seller is to get your cart to the beach. Grab your bell and walk on the beach to the entrance and ring that bell for about a minute. I'm guessing that our bells were laden with a chemical compound that caused children to go into fits and spasms for ice cream cravings within a 100 yard radius. I think my bell needed a recharge of the chemicals, because no one was budging all day.

This sucked. I was making zero money and lugging the damn ice cream cart up to these streets. I knew that i'd have to be working at the shop for 3 more summers until I got to sniff the good streets and I had no interest in putting in my dues like this for 3 years. Plus the owners were assholes and would give the good streets to cute women with no experience or guys like me that put up with their shit long enough that they became good ice cream sellers.

So i'm waiting and humming some songs when around 2pm I heard my inner voice say something to me that I never heard before.

"Call upon The Swarm and it will happen."

Now, for the record, the movie Field of Dreams was made in 1989. So before anyone thinks I was channeling Kevin Costneresque line - I wasn't.

Also, this wasn't like in the movie where I heard a disembodied voice talking to me. It was the LIKE the inner voice, you know, that inner monologue we all have with ourselves while we are thinking about what to make for dinner or about how pissed off you are for buying a freaking authentic $250 Owens Eagle jersey and now he may get his ass traded. But I digress.

It was basically like a thought, but different. I don't know how to explain it. Maybe it was the heat or maybe it was from greenhead flies draining all my blood. Maybe it was the fact that the only thing I had to eat all day were ice cream and soda. Who knows?

I'm not selling anything and my thought process was like, "Whatever. What can it hurt?"

I go up to the beach entrance and I strike the bell. While i'm doing that I say "I call upon 'The Swarm' to sell a lot of ice cream."

I'm not lying - it was like Ivan Petrovich Pavlov appeared next to me with his own bell. I was bull rushed by kids, moms and pimply faced teenagers. I swear to Christ that I was selling ice cream like I never sold before that day - it was fucking amazing. I SOLD OUT of ice cream and had to head back to 34th street earlier than I ever did before. I never did that before, especially at those crappy streets. I'd usually come home with my cart half-full of ice cream at the end of each day (around 4pm).

"What tha fuck yew doin' here, boy?", said Mark, one of two 40-something brothers that owned the ice cream shop. Fucking guy was grease bag.

"I ran out of ice cream.", I replied.

"Well, god damn.", he chortled and spit his tobacco on the ground, "Well let's filler up and get you back out again!". We counted out the ice cream I sold, the ice cream I ate, and the tidy profit I made.

We filled up my cart, I took a quick break and he sent me to work the alleys for the 5pm afternoon shift. We would lose the soda cooler, and put on a set of bells on the handle bars that we would jungle. The alley runs could be lucrative, we would ride our carts slowly through the alleys. I'd wait at each corner for a minute or two and throw pieces of dry ice into puddles to watch them bubble and smoke.

During that day's ride I was still thinking about the whole "Swarm" event in the back of my mind. I was riding my bike when my brother drove up next to me in his white Volkswagen Cabirolet with the top down. He had his sunglasses on and as soon as I looked at him - I knew something was drastically wrong.

You ever see a family member or someone you have known them all your life and you know how they look happy or sad or angry or silly? You know all their faces. I never saw this face on my brother before - he was very pale and drawn. Also very serious with his simple statement:

"Get home right now, Pop-Pop died."

And he drove off.

I swing my ice cream bike around and pedal like a maniac back to the ice cream shop, thinking a million thoughts. It was a hell of a bombshell to drop on me at 15, the fact that my father's father, who we called "Pop-Pop", had died.

Pop-Pop was a retired Philadelphia Police officer, and lived a very active retired lifestyle. He would go to the golf course each week, golfing at Walnut Lane, and go to the YMCA to swim. I was too young to really appreciate him, it was only in the last few years of his life that I started to do things with him - like golfing at Walnut Lane and getting Dalessandro's cheesesteaks afterwards.

I hurried back to the shore house and re-confirmed the bad news with my mother. My father wasn't there at the time. He was arriving from a business trip and driving on the Atlantic City Expressway to our house from Philadelphia.

Pop-Pop died. He just finished swimming at the YMCA, and walked out to his car in the parking lot. He had a heart attack and fell in between two parked cars - no one saw him. He died, alone, on the warm asphalt of a Philadelphia YMCA around 2pm.

At first the gravity of the moment I didn't make any connections to the events of that day and my grandfather's passing. It wasn't until an Aunt of mine said something to a group of us a few days later at the wake.

"I knew something was wrong that day he died. I had a very bad feeling all day - and once I heard the news, I realized why I felt that way."

After I heard her say that my head cleared and I was very scared.

The Swarm? Strange, and very coincidential that the same day and time my grandfather dies I get this odd-ball thought - along with a very unusual event.

The days pass after the funeral and i'm still thinking about The Swarm. Every once in a while, I think it again - "Call Upon The Swarm..."

I did it again. I called upon The Swarm to meet a girl.

The next day i'm minding my own business at the arcade/pool hall on 34th when I see a stunning girl with brown teased hair and dark tanned skin. She walked up to me and simply says "Hi!".

I'm taken a bit a back. Cute girls don't walk up to me. That just didn't happen. I was 15 and had the physique of a above-average Ethopian or a very scrawny, but well tanned, scarecrow. I had braces and pimples. I dressed like a skate-rat, and wore high tops while everyone else wore sandals.

"Do you work at the ice cream place?", she said.

"Yea?", I replied.

"I thought I recognized you, you work with Mike. I saw you there before one day when I visited him.", she said.

One thing led to another and we chatted the night away. I got up the nerve and asked her out on a date. She accepted. I was thrilled.

In the back of my mind I was wondering what else I could do with The Swarm. What else could I wish for?

Then I started to become worried.

What if the Swarm were some evil spirits? I read a tremendous amount of parapsychology as a kid, I was fascinated by the occult, the spirit world and ghosts. I know a lot about what people have written on spirits and wondered what was at work here.

I tried about 2 more "wishes" over the next few days. I tried to call The Swarm to do things that I couldn't control. They all happened. Sadly, I don't recall the exact events today. I just remember asking for other things to happen and they did happen. This went on for about 2 weeks.

I was sitting on my deck late at night with my best friend Brad telling him my stories. I really can't tell my family members this - and part of me was getting more and more worried. As a kid I was very much into the supernatural. I have read story after story about evil spirits that posess people - and the different methods that spirits use to trick the living.

He was skeptical - and understandably so. I'm sure everyone reading this story is thinking "bullshit". Heck, i'd really think it was bullshit too if it didn't happen to me.

I'm telling Brad all the events that happened and he says "Ok, lets see you do something with The Swarm - with me as a witness."

Ok. Fair enough.

I start with "I call upon The Swarm..."

Thunder and lightning rings out in the distance and illuminates the cloudy night sky and I turn to him and as we hurry inside i'm saying, "SEE! SEE!".

"Dude, that's fucked up.", Brad said.

Now i'm bugging out and not sure what can of worms I may have opened up here. I don't need this. You know, watching horror movies are fun when they are movies. Living one really isn't fun.

Finally I use one last calling on them later that night.

"I call upon The Swarm to banish themselves, never to return."

I never heard from The Swarm again. I had tried to call upon the swarm two times later in my life, out of curiousity if it still worked. Nothing happened.

When my father died I never heard The Swarm. I did think of them after his funeral, but never got any late night ghostly visits.

My feelings were that The Swarm weren't good or evil. I felt like they could have been the spiritual ancestors of my family (a swarm of spirits?). Maybe the passing of my grandfather triggered the event. I just got the impression that they were neutral and that somehow I had stumbled upon some kind of communication with them. I also knew that I couldn't wish for things that were like "I Call Upon The Swarm For A MILLION DOLLARS!" - but I could say "I wish to sell more ice cream". I got the feeling that they could influence events, they could put things into motion not directly cause something to happen - and most were minor.

I watch people like John Edward now, who claims to be able to hear voices and listen to the dead talk. In 1987 you had Poltergeist running on cable TV and anyone able to talk to the dead weren't NORMAL.

Next thing you know i'm working with little people shouting, "Run to the light Carol-Ann!"

I didn't really tell anyone this story because, well - you must admit it's pretty fucked up.

Or you could just say this was all just a chain of coincidences. Maybe it was all in my head. You got me. But for one summer in 1987 I certainly had a strange mix of coincidences that coincided with my reality which freaked me out. I wrote this for two reasons - one, i'd like someone to know this story maybe they can relate to it. Two, it makes for a good 10 minutes of fun reading for the readers.

Edited - Like I said. I wrote this on April 28th. It was a Thursday and I was proof-reading it on Friday April 29th.

Two days later, on May 1, I broke my leg.

Two weeks after I broke my leg - Lisa and I split up.

Did I open a Pandora's box by writing this - maybe breaking my leg & writing the story was an odd coincidence? Breaking up with Lisa was due to many factors, but I think the leg breaking accelerated the process - plus its hard to work things out while you are bed-ridden.

I didn't post this for a while and let a few friends read it before now. Everyone had the same reaction - you should post it.

Stay tuned for any future updates.

1 Comment

Well, I'm not going to say I believe that there were supernatural forces looking after you, I certainly wouldn't say it's fucked up though.

But it did make for a great story to read, so thanks for sharing!

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This page contains a single entry by Furey published on June 14, 2005 10:58 AM.

Writer's Block was the previous entry in this blog.

The Fellowship of the Bling is the next entry in this blog.

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