WASHINGTON—Startled by the sudden appearance of the shadowy overcoat-clad figure, the U.S. populace was “completely spooked” after running into a creepy old night watchman late Thursday evening. “We thought if we avoided the lighthouse and cut through the woods out back of the old Palmer place we’d be okay, but he snuck up on us,” said 37-year-old Ruthie Marlin of Mobile, AL, echoing the sentiments of the 325 million frightened Americans who scrambled off in every direction after encountering the old man with the flickering flashlight making his nightly patrol. “He yelled at us, asking what we were doing out so late and saying that we had no business being around here. He limped after us on his one bum foot for a while, and I think we lost him, but we should probably stay the night in Canada just to be safe.” At press time, the population of the United States was trying not to panic upon realizing their car would not start and the rain was starting to come down harder.