Chilling Tales #7: “Into Thin Air”

The sad reality is that people sometimes vanish without a trace, the family and friends they leave behind hoping and praying that there will be resolution and closure.    But there are cases where men and children have vanished into nothingness right in front of their terrified families and were never seen again.


Selma, Alabama,  1854.

There was a farmer named Williamson who was crossing a field in full view of his wife, children, and neighbors when, without warning, he was simply gone.  Without a trace.   His horrified friends raced to where he had been, expecting to find him lying on the ground or a hole he had falled into, but they found nothing.  The ground was not disturbed.   There was no where he could have hidden.   Williamson was there one second, and was gone the next and no one had the slightest idea how it had happened.   Eventually, the man was declared dead.

James Burne Worson of Warwickshire, England met a similar fate while running a footrace in 1873.   Worson undertook a bet, while under the influence of liquor, that he could run non-stop from Leamington Spa to Coventry, a distance of approximately 11 miles.  According to eye-witnesses who were following him in a wagon, Worson stumbled and fell with a great cry and that was the last they saw of him.

In Quincy Illinois, in 1878, a sixteen-year-old boy named Charles Ashmore walked out of the back door of his family’s farm house to fetch fresh water from a nearby spring.  When he did not return, his family became worried and followed his fresh footprints in the snow, only to discover that they apruptly ended about 75 yards from the house.   The tracks simply stopped as if Charles simply popped out of existence.   Beyond the crisp footprints, only smooth unbroken snow.

Four days after Charles disappearance, his mother – stricken with worry and grief – went to the same spring for water when she heard her son calling to her when she passed the spot where he had vanished.  The woman claimed that she couldn’t determine where the voice was coming from… as if it was moving around her.   When she was questioned about the voice, she said that the words were clear and that the voice was definitely her son’s, but she couldn’t make out what he was saying.

For months after this, the voice could be heard every few days by the family members.  Sometimes, two or even all of them could hear it together, though they couldn’t determine where it was coming from or understand what he was saying.   As the months grew on, the voice could be heard less and less… becoming fainter, the silence between growing longer and longer until, sometime in the Summer of 1879, the voice of Charles Ashmore could be heard no more.

Speculation about these disappearances have run rampant over the years.   Were the victims swallowed by the earth?   Did they accidentally wander into another dimension or a pocket in space-time?   We can never know… These are only a few of the cases of people disappearing into thin air that we know of.   For all we know, it could happen all the time.   Perhaps dozens or hundreds of missing people all over the world have vanished the same way… here one minute, gone the next.

It happened without warning, and it could happen to you, or even to me.

About the author

Jason Donner

Jason Donner devoured the universe and you are all living inside him.