“TRUE STORIES OF HARBINGERS OF DOOM” and 3 More Terrifying True Stories! #WeirdDarkness
Find Weird Darkness wherever you listen to podcasts: https://linktr.ee/weirddarkness
Listen to ““TRUE STORIES OF HARBINGERS OF DOOM” and 3 More Terrifying True Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
IN THIS EPISODE: The vast emptiness of Arizona can make the imagination do some crazy things – but then add to that an odd, abandoned set of domelike buildings, graffitied with “666”, where dead animals are found regularly, and the imagination might take you past crazy and into terrifying. (Arizona’s Roadside Horror) *** Mary Harris waited outside the building where Adoniram Burroughs worked, and when he came out she pulled a gun and shot him at close range – killing him instantly. She then walked off, calmly, as if she had only tossed down and stepped on a used cigarette butt. But the public was on her side once her story was told. (The Case of Mary Harris) *** Weirdo family member Danny Ward tells the true story of what happened to him on a camping trip that turned terrifying. (I Just Wanted To Go Fishing) *** Throughout history, we’ve assigned roles for harbingers of doom to various creatures and people. If a black cat crosses your path, it brings bad luck with it. If you see your own doppelganger, you’re dangerously close to an untimely end. If the grim reaper makes an appearance, your time is up. And on and on it goes. In small towns in and around the United States and across the world, creatures lurking in the woods, sounds that can be heard at night, are all signs that something terrible is headed your way. These are what are known as “harbingers of doom” – and there are some horrifying events that have been linked to them over the years. (True Stories of Harbingers of Doom)
SOURCES AND ESSENTIAL WEB LINKS…
“True Stories of Harbingers of Doom” by Jacob Shelton for Ranker’s WTF: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/vntuknsn
“Arizona’s Roadside Horror” by James Watkins for Ozy: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/343ffzt8
“The Case of Mary Harris” by Romeo Vitelli for Providentia: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/39mrkk6a
“I Just Wanted To Go Fishing” by Danny Ward
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Visit the Church of the Undead: http://undead.church/
Find out how to escape eternal darkness at https://weirddarkness.com/eternaldarkness
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music Library. Background music provided by Alibi Music Library, EpidemicSound and/or StoryBlocks with paid license. Music from Shadows Symphony (https://tinyurl.com/yyrv987t), Midnight Syndicate (http://amzn.to/2BYCoXZ), Kevin MacLeod (https://tinyurl.com/y2v7fgbu), Tony Longworth (https://tinyurl.com/y2nhnbt7), and Nicolas Gasparini (https://tinyurl.com/lnqpfs8) is used with permission of the artists.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
(Over time links seen above may become invalid, disappear, or have different content. I always make sure to give authors credit for the material I use whenever possible. If I somehow overlooked doing so for a story, or if a credit is incorrect, please let me know and I will rectify it in these show notes immediately. Some links included above may benefit me financially through qualifying purchases.)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46
Trademark, Weird Darkness®, 2022. Copyright Weird Darkness©, 2022.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
STORY: TRUE STORIES OF HARBINGERS OF DOOM==========
Have you ever been on a late-night walk through the moors (or whatever your local version of the moors happens to be) and heard a mournful cry? Or have you been lying in your bed, restless, and heard three knocks at your door? If so, supernatural beings may be giving you warning signs about some impending doom that’s coming your way. Not every dark prophecy is directed specifically at you, however. Seriously, get over yourself. Sometimes, mysterious beings from beyond our realm of understanding make themselves known in order to warn humankind about a disaster that’s about to occur in our own backyards. There have been multiple sightings of creatures like West Virginia’s Mothman who have predicted catastrophic events throughout the 20th century. To learn about all the ways you can spot danger by using supernatural entities, keep reading and make sure you stay inside. There’s no way around it, harbingers of doom are the worst. First of all, no one likes to be given a creepy warning sign, and secondly, they’re spooky as all get out. None of the ghouls sent to deliver paranormal prophecies are even remotely cuddly – they’re all, like, demon dogs or hags who sleep in a river or giant headless crows that glide through noxious fumes. If you’ve seen any of these creatures, you may want to start putting your last will and testament in order.
The Mothman may be the most well-known paranormal harbinger of doom in the world. This creature was witnessed by multiple West Virginians throughout 1966 and ’67 prior to the collapse of the Silver Bridge on December 15, 1967. There’s no argument that the Mothman is something that you never want to see, but there are disagreements about whether or not the creature is simply a harbinger of doom or if it actually causes the destruction that comes in its wake. The final Mothman sighting occurred prior to the Silver Bridge’s collapse, leading many to believe that all of its appearances were meant to warn people about the incident. Some people have even claimed to have seen the Mothman near the bridge just before it fell into the river.
Related – but not necessarily the same creature… beginning in April 1986, people living near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant began to see a giant winged creature that looked like a headless man with piercing red eyes – or at least, piercing red dots. People who saw the creature claimed to have experienced horrible nightmares after seeing it coasting on the wind, and after the meltdown of the power plant on the morning of April 26, 1986, multiple workers who survived the initial blast described seeing a large black, bird-like creature (with a 20-foot wingspan) flying through the noxious smoke pouring from the reactor. The bird was never seen again. Some theorists believe that the Black Bird of Chernobyl was the Mothman continuing its foul work.
Detroit has it hard enough, do they really need an evil sprite running around town and causing mischief where ever it appears? The Nain Rouge is a red, impish creature who kind of looks like what you would imagine a cartoon devil to look like. The creature has been sighted as early as the Battle of Bloody Run in 1763 and as recently as 1996 when something in a “nasty red coat” was seen fleeing the scene of a cat burglary. When will the little red devil strike again? Only time will tell.
According to legend, in the 17th century, a ship named the Flying Dutchman was sailing around the Cape of Good Hope when it ran into a storm. Rather than batten down the hatches or head in the opposite direction, the captain ordered the ship to continue sailing into the inclement weather. The men were washed overboard and the captain was cursed to sail around the world forever. Now, if a seafaring person sees the Flying Dutchman while they’re out of port, then they know that something terrible is going to happen to them.
When it comes to spooky harbingers of doom, the folks across the pond have creepy figures that act as portends of natural disasters on lock. In Wales, one of the most objectively magic islands of the United Kingdom, the Cyoeraeth – which I’m sure I am butchering the pronunciation for – is said to be a sound heard by someone (or a group of people) who are about to suffer a terrible fate. But that’s not as bad as coming face to face with the Cyoeraeth, a robed and hooded spirit. It was said that anyone who runs into this Welsh wraith will either perish or will have a family member pass.
If you’ve looked at the internet in the last hour, then you know that cats are constantly knocking stuff over and are typically complete jerks. But you know what’s worse than a regular cat? A demon cat. Luckily, most of you will never have to deal with the Demon Cat. Unless you work in Washington, DC, that is; and even if you work there, you probably won’t see the cat unless something terrible is about to happen. The Demon Cat was allegedly sighted the night before the assassination of President Kennedy. Many think this spooky cat is the spirit of a feline who was brought into the basement tunnels of the Capitol buildings to hunt rats and never left.
The myth of the White Deer is a twisty one, layered with conceits on top of conceits. According to the Celtic people, if you see the “white hart,” then something bad is about to go down. Like, not just a toe stubbing, or whatever, they were talking about imminent doom. The reputation of the white stag improved in the Arthurian age when it came to represent the moment that Arthur and his crew needed to leave for a quest. But no matter which legend you believe, it’s best to stay inside and avoid any areas where you could run into an albino deer. If you see it, stuff is going to go down one way or another.
Are you being haunted by members of your family that have long been deceased? If that’s the case, you should probably start looking into your family’s medical history or avoid any form of public transit for the foreseeable future. Many familial ghosts have been known to be a sign post for future calamities. Basically, if you’ve been seeing the ghost of your long deceased grandfather pointing at you and soundlessly screaming, it’s likely that you’re about to suffer some kind of terrible fate. Sorry.
The Black Eyed Ghosts (or black-eyed kids, or black-eyed adults, or anything with jet black eyes) have been reported to be a source of local misery from Texas to England. But rather than just be spooky kids with black eyes that wait around to push your car over sets of train tracks, they may actually be messengers from beyond the grave warning you that something bad is about to happen. The ghosts have been known to try and sneak into people’s houses through general trickery, but they also only show up when a personal setback is about to occur. It’s safe to say that if you see something with solid black eyes approaching, you should turn and walk the other way. Just as a general rule of thumb.
One eerie legend from Ireland states that prior to the demise of the head of the household, a pack of foxes will congregate around the home. According to Lady Gormanston in 1908: “At the time [Jenico William Joseph, the 14th Viscount Gormanston] was dying, foxes were seen about the house and coming towards the house for some days before. His valet who was sleeping in his room heard what he thought was a dog barking, and on going over to the window found that it was a fox sitting under the window and barking… At the death of Edward, 13th Viscount, the foxes were also there. He had been rather better one day, but the foxes appeared, barking under the window, and he [passed] that night contrary to expectation.” Thus, we have the Gormanston Foxes. Try not to be distracted by how adorable they are; if they show up, you’ll have some affairs to get in order.
Banshees might be the most underrated spooky specter in the entire eerie catalog of ghouls and goblins. It’s said in Irish lore that every family from the isle has their own personal Banshee (like a terrible guardian angel) that lets out a gruesome wail prior to one of the descendants passing. Usually, the wailing can be heard from miles away, and as the sound of the ghostly woman’s cries grow louder, the moment of your demise grows closer.
The Hellhound, or as it was known in the folklore of Northern England, the Barghest, is a kind of goblin-dog with giant teeth and claws that only appears in the night to those who are about to shuffle off this mortal coil. The Barghest has many variations across England, but the strangest one is named “Trash.” Trash haunts Lancashire and has backward-facing feet that make a splashing sound when it walks. At least it’ll be hard for Trash to sneak up on you.
Moving on to Burntisland, Scotland, and it is, honestly, stupid haunted. One of the spookiest ghosts is the Green Lady of Stirling Castle, whose look is said to bring death to anyone who catches her eye. Kind of like a less forgiving Gorgon. According to local legend, the Green Lady was one of Queen Mary’s chambermaids who was charged with keeping an eye over Mary as she slept. Unfortunately, she fell asleep while on watch the night that Mary’s chamber went up in flames. The girl managed to save her Queen but perished from injuries in the fire.
The Caoineag is a Scottish spirit that’s similar to a Banshee in that its cries signify that something terrible is about to happen, but different in that the Caoineag tends to stick to waterfalls, rivers, and other small bodies of water. One old tale from Scotland says that the Caoineag would leave its watery home and visit the door of a family with an ailing member. The ghoul’s moans would let them know that it was time to say their final goodbyes. Honestly, that’s just kind of helpful.
What is it with spooky gh-gh-ghosts and their affinity for the number three? One of the most frightening harbingers of doom is the three knocks of death. It doesn’t need a creepy monster to do its dirty work, and it can happen at any time of day or night. Usually, if you hear the three knocks, it means that you or someone you know is in immediate danger. The fear of the number three seems to exist without a specific origin, but it’s likely that the number three is seen as a demonic presence mocking the holy trinity.
Weird Darkness is both a radio show and a podcast. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already done so – I upload episodes seven days a week!
Mary Harris waited outside the building where Adoniram Burroughs worked, and when he came out she pulled a gun and shot him at close range – killing him instantly. She then walked off, calmly, as if she had only tossed down and stepped on a used cigarette butt. However… the public was on her side once her story was told. (The Case of Mary Harris)
The vast emptiness of Arizona can make the imagination do some crazy things – but then add to that an odd, abandoned set of domelike buildings, graffitied with “666”, where dead animals are found regularly, and the imagination might take you past crazy and into terrifying. (Arizona’s Roadside Horror)
That story is up next on Weird Darkness.
STORY: ARIZONA’S ROADSIDE HORROR==========
An exit in the middle of the desert and a turn down an endless road to nowhere. And then it comes into view — a cluster of giant, white-and-yellow semi-hemispheric domes poking up out of the desert like a copse of giant poisonous mushrooms. Pulling to the side of the road, curiosity turns to unease. If Texas Chainsaw Massacre–style villains existed, this is the sort of place they’d lay in wait. The Middle of Nowhere, Arizona. Utterly isolated.
It’s clear that hundreds have climbed over the low barbed-wire fence where a broken plywood sign lies faceup in the dirt. It’s covered in graffitied tags, but just visible beneath them all are the spray-painted words: “Welcome to Hell.”
This is no haunted house or tourist attraction. The abandoned, never-completed domes of Casa Grande, an hour south of Phoenix, were intended to manufacture semiconductors in the ’70s. The domes have become a regular spot for local devil worshippers, as well as curious ghost hunters and daring late-night partygoers. The front dome is shaped like a spaceship; the others are larger, as if a chain of half-domes were joined together into a caterpillar shape. There is a white-and-yellow pattern on the outside where the concrete shell has been destroyed to reveal insulation beneath. Graffiti is everywhere, but in addition to the big block and grotesque cartoon faces are more pentagrams and 666s than you might expect.
What looks like a No Trespassing sign (the letters are obscured by black spray paint) warns visitors away, but it’s clear that nobody pays any attention — there’s even an Instragram location filter here. There is trash everywhere, from lumps of concrete to used fireworks, spray paint cans and a near-universal carpet of broken glass. And then, in the middle of a concrete forecourt between the two largest remaining structures, a disturbing sight: a dead pigeon with its chest cavity cut open and a half-burned matchstick poking out. Satantic ritual perhaps?
Dead animals are regularly found here, according to Adam Forner, co-founder of a small group called the Casa Grande Paranormal Investigations. Forner has visited Casa Grande four times, twice on formal paranormal investigations. There have been dead bodies too, he says, though I can’t find any reports to support his claim. On his first visit, in the dead of night, Forner says he saw a spirit that “almost looked like the Grim Reaper … it was like black feathery flames in a cloak.” On another occasion, when asking questions into the dark while listening to a spirit box (a device used by ghost hunters to scan radio frequencies for fragments of semi-intelligible audio — ghosts trying to communicate), Forner describes distinctly hearing the words “get out” before a dust storm blew through the dome.
Whether you’re a believer or not, the site is decidedly creepy. As I walk around — in the daytime, I might add — every footfall pings around the circular structures half a dozen times like a ricocheting bullet. Combined with the wind whistling through odd holes in the structures, the natural sound effects of the place are as disorienting and eerie as any horror movie score. And if the accidental acoustics lesson doesn’t float your boat, then you could spend hours reading through the endless graffiti to delve into the minds of the occult (and of the far-right and the downright freaks — there are swastikas aplenty).
“I had some terrible things happen to me after visiting that place,” says Forner. I’m thankful I spoke with Forner after my visit — I had enough chills down my spine walking around without the need for visions of feathered and flaming visitors from the afterlife. Finding that poor mutilated pigeon was more than enough for me.
STORY: THE CASE OF MARY HARRIS==========
On January 31, 1865, Adoniram Judson Burroughs, a clerk working in the U.S. Treasury building in Washington, D.C., was leaving for home with another co-worker when he was stopped by a woman who had apparently been waiting for him. As witnesses later reported, Burroughs exited his office to where the woman was waiting and they spoke briefly. It was then that the woman, twenty-two year-old Mary Harris, pulled out the gun she was carrying and shot Adoniram Burroughs at close range. Realizing that he was dead, she then walked off in a perfectly business-like manner and made no attempt to resist when a watchman stopped her before she even exited the building. She was arrested and charged with murder that same day.
When police asked Harris about her reason for shooting Burroughs, the story she told would soon propel her into one of the most sensational trials of the decade. In her statement to police, she said that she was born in Burlington, Iowa and had met Burroughs while working in a hat-making shop there. She was only nine years old at the time and he was more than twice her age but they soon fell in love. Not only did he provide her with money to continue her education but he also taught her how to pass in high society as would befit the kind of cultured wife that he wanted.
When Mary turned thirteen, Burroughs asked her to go with him when he started a new job in Chicago but she declined. Instead, they began a seven-year correspondence during which Burroughs made repeated promised of marriage (no word on what Mary’s immigrant parents likely thought of all this).
In 1863, when Mary was twenty years old, she decided that she was ready and moved to Chicago to be with Burroughs though the promised wedding never materialized. Soon afterward, Burroughs announced that he had found a new job as a clerk in the U.S. Treasury Department and he promptly moved to Washington, D.C . Again, Mary was left to wait though she believed Burroughs’ promise that he would send for her.
Not long after the move, Burroughs stopped writing to her. Also, around this time, Mary received two letters from someone who only gave his name as J.P. Greenwood. Though she had no idea who wrote the letters, they apparently asked Harris to meet him at a house of assignation (an old name for brothel). When Mary showed the letters to her then-employer Louisa Devlin, it was Devlin who concluded that they had been written by Burroughs as part of a bizarre scheme to blacken Mary’s reputation and to call off the wedding. Though she didn’t want to believe that Burroughs would do this, she soon learned that he had become engaged to another woman.
According to what Mary would later tell her doctors, the shock of this betrayal led her to develop serious mood swings along with violent episodes of hysteria. She also bought a gun though she was unclear whether she planned to use it on Burroughs or herself. In January of the following year, she went to the railway station and purchased a ticket to Washington, D.C., apparently without even bothering to bring any luggage. Immediately after arriving in D.C.,, she went straight to the Treasury building to confront Burroughs directly. She then shot Burroughs as soon as he confirmed that he was about to be married to another woman.
While waiting for the case to come to trial, prominent lawyers Joseph Haversham, and Bradley Daniel Voorhees offered their services in her defense. While Mary had no money to pay them, they both agreed to work pro bono on her behalf. Though there was no question about her shooting Burroughs, her lawyers had her plead not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. To build their case, the lawyers read many of Burroughs’ letters to Mary in open court so the jury could hear about his declarations of affection and promises to marry her. The letters from J.P. Greenwood were also introduced as evidence, along with Louisa Devlin who testified on Mary’s behalf.
The lawyers also brought in different medical experts who testified on their client’s behalf including Dr. Charles Nichols, Superintendent of Government Hospital and later president of the American Psychiatric Association. It was Dr. Nichols who testified that Mary had been insane at the time of the killing due to be “crossed in love” as well as suffering from “painful dysmenorrhea”(menstrual problems). Another doctor testifying on the role that Mary’s “female troubles” played in her crime was Dr. Calvin Fitch who confirmed the dysmenorrhea diagnosis and added that “uterine irritability is one of the most frequent causes of insanity.”
But the prosecution remained skeptical about Mary’s presumed insanity. Not only did she have a clear motive for the killing but she also demonstrated premeditation by purchasing the gun before meeting Burroughs. The prosecution also brought in their own experts including Frederick May, M.D., Past Chair of Surgery, Columbia College.
It was May who testified that Mary had shot Burroughs while she “laboured under a deranged intellect, paroxysmally deranged, produced by moral causes.” Also appearing for the prosecution was William P. Johnston, M.D., Professor of Obstetrics and Diseases of Woman and Children, Columbia College who stated: “We consider an individual suffering from hysteria as irresponsible for any act which she might commit.” While they questioned the dysmenorrhea diagnosis, the doctors did little to sway the jury and it was hardly a surprise that the jury only needed five minutes to declare Mary not guilty.
Despite her acquittal, Mary Harris still had to deal with the notoriety from the trial. Not only was she forced to travel under an assumed name as she returned to her home town, but she also had to deal with rumours about her relationship with her defense lawyer Joseph Bradley (despite his being twice her age). Not only had she openly kissed Bradley after the verdict but he carried her out of the courtroom since she was too overcome to walk on her own (one wit wrote that Bradley would be in imminent danger of being shot himself if he refused to marry his client).
Whether due to the adverse publicity or the guilt of killing Burroughs, Mary soon returned to Washington and became an inmate at Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital where she would remain for over twelve years. Though there are no records remaining concerning her time in the hospital, the few newspaper stories covering her post-acquittal life suggest that she wasn’t under any real constraint and was considered a low-risk inmate. She was even allowed to leave the hospital for months at a time, often visiting family or staying at nearby resorts. It likely helped that both of her lawyers were politically prominent and continued to have an active interest in her welfare.
Finally, Joseph Bradey, who had become a judge by that time, managed to secure Mary’s release from the hospital. To the surprise of all his friends and colleagues (not to mention the children from his first marriage), Bradley married his former client not long after her release. Despite his literally being twice her age (he was eighty and she was forty) and being in poor health, the marriage was apparently a successful one and they remained together until his death in 1887. As to what became of Mary Harris Bradley after that, I haven’t been able to determine.
So why was Mary Harris able to escape being convicted for Adoniram Judson Burrough’s murder? For that matter, why was the plea of temporary insanity accepted by a jury who might have otherwise been justifiably suspicious of medical experts invoking terminology such as “painful dysmenorrhea”?
Though the insanity defense continues to be controversial even today, it was especially controversial during the late nineteenth century as courts tried to grapple with the M’Naghten decision in the U.K. and how it might apply in the American justice system. Though there were numerous cases in which the insanity defense was used, almost all of them involved male defendants who were more easily dealt with by the courts.
Given that Mary faced the death penalty for her crime, being a woman may have well worked in her favour, especially considering no woman had been hanged by the U.S. federal government up to that time (and the crime being committed in Washington, D.C. gave it federal jurisdiction).
Considering the reluctance of the court to hang Mary Harris, there is a certain irony that the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln took place while her case was still coming to trial and another woman, Mary Suratt, went on trial for her role in the assassination conspiracy. But there was no acquittal for her and she was hanged just days before Mary Harris’ acquittal.
Perhaps Mary Suratt’s lawyers should have gone with the dysmenorrhea defense…
Subscribe to the Weird Darkness newsletter and you could be my next winner in my monthly random drawing. Each month one person wins a Weird Darkness prize-pack including an extra large Weird Darkness poster, a coffee mug, two magnets, and two stickers. Sign up for the newsletter for free at WeirdDarkness.com.
When Weird Darkness returns, Weirdo family member Danny Ward tells the story of what happened to him on a camping trip – a trip that turned terrifying. It’s a story called “I Just Wanted To Go Fishing” – up next.
STORY: I JUST WANTED TO GO FISHING==========
Id like you all to know, before we go any further, that this is 100 percent, a true story. And to the best of my ability I will share what happened that day, without embellishment and without bullshit. Besides…truth is stranger than fiction sometimes.
My names Danny. Im 46 years old now, but at the time of the “incident” I was only 18. It had been a beautiful summer. Hot and hazey, with afternoons spent in my little 1985 Honda CRX travelling round in a big triangle from my town, north 40 minutes to my buddy Rick’s place then west to the beach and girl watching.
But only watching… we…unfortunatly for us, grew up in a rather stuffy congregation whose elders were converted Menonite and one Amish gentleman. Needless to say, if time was spent with them, there was little, to no fun to be had if you didnt like baseball or working…for fun…
Rick and I made ourselves incredibly scarce. I had a small 2 door, 2 seater car that was absolutely useless for going..umm..door to door.. I would have denied it to my dying breath, but I bought that car just for that reason. I didnt have to worry about elders hounding me for my car. It didnt seat enough people.
July 23rd, 1993… it was a Friday, Hot, humid, stick-to-your-back kind of weather. I was stuck under an old Ford pick-up. 64 I think? It was 2wd, had a 351 Windsor, was flat black, and went like stink! It was my girlfriends Father’s truck and we were just finishing up with the linkage on the new-to-him transmission he had installed earlier that week.
Rick and my girlfriend Shelly came out to the open shop to see us. Smiling faces and cold beers in hand. They of course sat down on old wooden chairs in the shop around the old Ford and “supervised”. Cracking wise and generally not helping in the least to button up this job any sooner.
“We …ergh..going to the beach Rick?”, I asked. Back then I was a big guy. About 6’4 and 270lbs give or take. so this question came out as a bit of a strained grunt as I pulled myself out from under the Ford. I was dirty, sweaty and over hot. Im a ginger, so I do about as well in the heat as a klondike bar does in the sun.
‘Naw man, I dont have the cash for the beach. I got 20 bucks till I get paid on Monday. How about your place? Go hang out with your Mom?”, Rick asked sincerly.
Ya. Sincerly. My Moms the shit. And all my friends knew it too. But it was a really hard time for us as a family. My father had just died. It had been a few months at this point, but a few months v.s. the 21 years of happy marriage did nothing to assuage her grief of course.
“No I dont think so…Moms neighbour Maria is having her over for dinner tonight and a movie and wine tommorow. Theyre going to watch chick flicks and get drunk I imagine.” i stated lightly. Smiling at the thought. Very glad my Mom had another female friend around to talk with.
Myself, I was a selfish little bastard as 18 year olds tend to be. My Father and I did NOT get along. He may have treated my mom like gold, but when Mom left the room, or she went to work… well. Ya.
I was enjoying my freedom. No more anger, no more violence… I spent that summer almost entirely with my friend Rick and his family. I avoided home at that point. There wasnt a thing I could do for her. Well there were hugs. Im the best hugger ever apparently. But they only salve the wound for so long. Hers was a deep hurt. A deep sadness. A sadness that, back then, I didnt understand at all. It scared me a little. And so my time was spent with the wrong fam for a while.
” I wouldnt mind doing some fishing Rick. You know any decent places around here?”, I asked, wiping my hands on a rag that rivaled my hands in grime. I realized this halfway through and tossed it aside. The rag being the very deffinition of futility.
“Well I know a place…. not sure if the fishings any good, but its a great spot to camp im told.” Rick shifted his lean to the other leg. Shelly said nothing. I already knew that if we were going away camping then she wouldnt be able to go with us. She already had plans with her Mom for the weekend, and boys werent invited. And well…no chaparone. So no Shelly.
Myself, I was happy it was just the two of us. You see, Rick and I were the “baddies” of our congregations. So when we got together we had fun. We played rock music! Rick would buy us a single mickey to split between us for the weekend! (yes just one! Dont judge. we were kinda lame but we still felt like little badasses) We had a band… it was a 50s, 60s band.. but it was a band. Yes…that…was the extent of our rebellion. We were like fricken angels compared to the “wordly” kids we knew from school, but well, the elders didnt know the guys from school, so that logic did nothing to strenthen to our case.
“Sounds good to me. Where is it?”, I asked, scaping oil from under a nail. the blade appearing to paint the inside of the nail white as the grime scraped away.
“Over in Walkerton. Down this old road that turns into a single track lane. We can get the car back there no problem. We can pack everything into the Honda and drive right into the site! Easy-peasy. Theres a big ring of sand there where people park to fish or roll a dube. Lots of dirtbike trails to explore too. Lots of pan sized cats to catch…” He smiled, trailing off. A bit of a wolfs grin briefly played across his face. He was trying to sell this idea to me. I understood. Id been there. He was broke, and this was his best, cheapest alternative to the beach. And, more importantly, to our much sought after freedom.
“Catfish? Im in!”, I pumped a fist and winked at Shelly as I passed. Brushing her finger tips with mine as I passed her. “Have fun with your Mom Shell”. She smiled at me, blue eyes sparkling in the sun and turned to walk to the house.
“Im going to head in and wash up. I have to head home to pick up the tent and my stuff.”, I looked down at my watch. I could get home, pick up all my stuff, stop at the grocery store and be back in an hour or so. That puts me back here at noon….halfhour drive there…(oh ya! Im Canadian where we always seem to use time as a measurement of distance rather than miles…or kilometers in our case… anyway back to our regularly scheduled internal monologue)….half hour to set up camp…walk the river a bit…Nice! All said and done, by the time were set to enjoy our day it will only be midafternoon.
The drive back to my mothers house was uneventful. I remember the heat that day. I knew that unless we found a deep hole in the river that afternoon, we were going to be eating the hotdogs Ricks mom packed instead of the catfish I wanted.
On a side note, I love to fish. I love being out there in the sun, baisted in sunscreen, bobbing on the water with a rod and reel in hand, cold bee…ottle of water in a cooler with you…. Heaven. Unfortunatly, what I just described is fishing as an adult. This was fishing as an 18 year old kid whose entire paycheck went to fuel, insurance and music. In that order. The gear was old, the tackle older than I was, and I was worried that anything over a 3 lbs might destroy my rod for good.
In my tackle box I had a small assortment of hand-me-down lures from my Grandpa that would be useless for catfish, but I realized I only had a few hooks and sinkers, no bobbers for my prefered relaxed fishing style, no river style weights…
I sighed, “Well that isnt going to last me long.” I grumbled outloud, finally sitting down since arriving and unpacking the car. In truth, I had forgotten a few things. for this kind of thing I just liked worms. But I had gone a different way to get cheaper fuel along the way and had forgotten to stop and get the prefered nightcrawlers. Well…I did have my little latrine shovel. looks like Ive got some digging for bait to do. We had the tent up, fire pit set up, gathered a bit of wood from around the site to tidy it up a bit and parked the car on the far side of the clearing already. I grabbed my shovel and a margarine container I had my matches in and went out in search of bait. While I was gone, Rick dragged in armload after arm load of drift wood that had been left high and reasonably dry by this time in the spring flood area, a low, wide section of dog wood and river grass, cat-tails and pussy-willow that was long since dried up this time of year. Dry tinder and old dry, bark stripped limbs lay everywhere off the many trails.
So, because this was a large, roughly round area that we were in, and this will become very confusing both to read and write down, Im going to go ahead and describe things like a clock. 6 olclock is where the river is and the trail to it. 9 o clock is the narrow access lane we came in on in my Honda. There are single track trails at 11, 2, 3 and 4 oclock. All the trails were sand and created by dirt bikes, evident by the deep grooves cut into soft spots and the inside of corners. Trail 4 angled back to what was the “high” side of the old damn. It was little used. The trees partialy covered the trail and in spots hawthorn reached accross the path to snag you as you walked. Enough said. Just google “hawthorn thorn”. Youll understand why i or anyone else sane, wouldnt ride a dirt bike in sand next to those.
I want to say for the sake of dramatic story telling, that the place was creepy, but in fact it was really pretty. Follow 6 oclock down to the water and you came to what used to be the bottom of the dam. It was a wide flat area, choked with Manitoba maple, and Willows. it was mostly dead fall though. Few adult trees left standing really, just the odd one. broken trees everywhere, your regular old shoulder height wild grass and cat tails, and a lot of phragmites, an invasive species in Ontario that grows just huuuuge! Where we were they were hitting about the 7 foot mark this time of year. They grow thick and dense and have a rather pretty feathery top that is filled with seeds..thus the problem with them. Once they take a foot hold, watch out native flora!
On the other side of the river it was all conservation land that bordered farmland so it was all natural. Because of the conservation allowance on either side of the waterways here in Ontario, it creates natural pathways that species use to navigate around the large open swaths of farmland. Around this old power damn where were were fishing and camping, was a large reserve that covered all the area the dam had needed to function in the past. People had been using it for hiking, biking, dog walking and dirt biking for years.
Down by the water, it was very peaceful. there was the sound of water gliding over the ever open, old spillway. Liquid sheets of flowing water cascading down an old pitted concrete slope, briliiantly green with moss on the edges and algae coating the whole of the spillway, all the way across. It was very striking with the old stone, the brilliant blue sky and the shimmering layers and textures of greens. But it was hot, and it was going to get sticky. The wind seemed to be picking up a bit, but I suspected hot and muggy with a side of mosquitos.
Yes, I thought, swinging randomly and wildly around me, chasing away deer flies as I walked back to camp to get my things to fish, it would be an excercise in relaxation today, not catching dinner.
“Its too hot.. ” I muttered outloud and trailed off as a cicada started it tell tale, “Its too hot for gingers out here” drone, screaming its heart out to attract a mate. And, “Smack!” ah yes, deer flies. Deer flies during the day and Mosquitos at night. Welcome to anywhere in Ontario. Yours To Discover…..the quickest way to a Home Hardware (Home Depot), and hit up the sporting aisle for some Muskol. I rethought my previous assesment…today would be a good day to sit and sweat and smack bugs. And it was….
Bout an hour in I gave up. I didnt get a bite, I didnt even get a nudge. Rick was nowhere to be seen and this Klondike bar was done! I got up, threw decency to the wind, and pulled off my damp shirt. I waded out into the shallow river, loving the cold water. It was about midcalf out in the section I walked up river to. I sat down and cracked a can of soda. the water was belly high and perfectly cool on such a hot day. I could feel my tempeture start to lower already. Nice…
I sat there and enjoyed my Coke. Loving the sounds around me as I literally sat there a part of it. Eventually I got up and made my way back to the camp site. I must have been out there a lot longer than I had thought. The sun sat about a hand span distance over the tree line, I had ditched my watch in the car hours ago. I hated watches. By the time I made it back to the site, with fishing gear in one arm and dry wood under my other. Rick was already there. He too, had added more wood to the pile and we both had a laugh at the pile we ended up with. It was enough for a roaring bon-fire, not the small camp fire we had planned. In the years that followed I would often think of this. How much wood we had and how we were so very glad we had every stick of it later.
Rick had been skunked as well, but really what did we expect? Mid day, hot, sunny…might as well have packed a full cooler and hung out in the river all day. Innertubes and maybe a 6 pack for a change… that would be nice.
I made sure everything in the tent was ready to go. Nothing worse than trying to get into a sleeping bag in the dark in a small tent. I liked to give myself a turn down service and make sure everything is set out and ready for bed.
Rick had a nice sized fire going. Bare, silver driftwood burning merrilly in the ring of large, smooth, river stones that surrounded the fire-pit. I walked down the 6 o’clock trail a ways and cut two long willow branches to cook our hot dogs and later some mashmellows I had brought. It was a gorgeous evening. The sky at this time, was the colour of a deep saphire gradually lightning down to where the last of the sunset turned peach and dipped below the horizon. The frogs sang and crickets creaked. Bats flew low overhead, a dozen of them maybe, swooping and twisting over the river chasing and devouring the insects swarming there. And I hope more than a few of the mozzies buzzing around me!
I remember at the time, being young, I had an apprehension to walking alone in the dark in wild spaces. I wasnt too far from the river and I wasnt too far from the camp, yet my pace quickened when I realized it was getting hard to see either place. There was a creepy vibe out here at night. It was the long grass that sighed in the wind. The dead branches that reared up out of that grass like the gray ribs of some long dead twisted beast. I half trotted back to camp, glancing over my shoulder as I went. Yup…Damned creepy when the sun went down.
The fire burned bright and hot for about an hour. We added some good dry hard wood, maple it looked, to the fire and waited for it to burn low. While we waited we snacked on jerky and drank cold pop we had chilled in onion bags in the river. I popped the hatch on my Civic and turned up my car stereo. We probably had some rock on. We were both fans of bands like AC/DC, Led Zepplin, Eric Clapton and Steve Ray Vaugh. I was a guitarist and Rick played drums, and that night as we waited for the wood to turn to a cooking fire, we played air guitar and hand tapped knees along with the loud music. And I have to admit to a couple of porposfully loud and off key sung cresendos in the mix as well.
The fire dropped a little lower still as we finally broke out our little bottle of rebellion. A mickey of Johnny Walker red label. Rick cracked the sealed ring on the bottle and we each had a sip. Its funny looking back…. I grew up to like a good scotch…despite that first, blended bottle of shyte. Always go with a single malt.
Rick put the bottle away as we got things ready to cook. Rick had ended up bringing homemade burgers that his mom also sent along. She could cook too! There were two home made patties and buns to go with them as well as a pack of 8 huge hotdogs with buns and condiments. I had brought us some salads. The orange maccaroni stuff that…well im not a fan but Rick liked it. And I had also brought a nice potato egg salad that I did really enjoy. Honestly I had a good system worked out with Rick that his mom agreed with; I paid for the gas and did the driving and rick provided food and beverage. I just wanted some potato salad too! The burger patties were almost 2 inches thick and 5 around. I think the deal was still padded in my favour.
We placed the cooking grate over the fire and let it heat up before threw on the burgers and a couple of hot dogs each. I got the buns ready to toast and set to the side. The burgers. Smelled. Amazing. It wasnt 5 minutes till the smells of beef and pork with garlic and onion sizzling over a bed of maple coals could be smelled and my stomach did a big ol’ flip and growled. My mouth watered as those patties hit the bun and then my plate.
Dinner was mostly silent. We hadnt eaten much since lunch so it didnt take us long to destroy the food. Soon there was nothing left but mangled napkins and crumpled, soggy paper plates. I got up to get the garbage bag we had brought. I tidied up and threw the bag in the hatchback.
I tossed another couple of small sticks onto the low fire. It was proper dark now. The moon that night was a waxing cresent. Bright in the night sky, but giving little light this night. I cant say how long we sat, staring into the fire, music still playing but quieter now, almost like we were still inclined to obey some noise law. We had another sip of whiskey then packed up the rest of the food into the back of the car for the night.
It was when I was walking back to the fire, back to the ring of light, that we heard the first, out of place sound. Rick and I had just walked up to each other. Rick had inhaled, filling his lungs to speak and was interupted by what sounded like the crack of rather thick branch, some distance off.
Rick quit what he was about to say and stood quietly, listening. As I was doing myself. The sound was crisp and clear. About a hundred feet off to my right in the dark, angling out towards the river.
We both stood, still as statues listening in the night, just outside of the ring of firelight. Nothing. We walked back to the fire and sat down. I got back up and turned the stereo up a bit, popping the hatch again. Maybe the music would scare off any racoons there were out there. Or maybe a porcupine I thought. I hadnt seen one of those yet.
Honestly, those were the animals I was most afraid of coming into camp. Coyotes were few and far between. Wolves and bears were non existant. This was SOUTHERN Ontario. I had only ever seen a handfull of foxes in my lifetime even!
We sat talking, back and forth, About music mostly. We both wanted to branch out from the 50’s and 60’s music and start playing some of this Grunge stuff we were just getting into here in the country. We knew we could get the gigs if we changed up what we were playing. Seriously, we were only getting congregation gigs and Anniversary dances. Not very exciting.
There was a crash in the brush. The sound came back from where the original snap came from and brought my mind back to the present as well. It was the sound of something pushing through brush and grass, in what sounded like three big bounds. Deer. Almost deffinatly a deer. It sounded a good size, moved fast in three big jumps. It scared the HELL out of us!
“You think its deer come down to drink?”,I asked. Side by side with Rick, looking off into the dark. Rick didnt say anything. That was really loud! We could hear that easily over the music. I walked back to the car and leaned in the open window. I turned off the radio. I left the keys in the ignition and rolled up both windows before dropping the hatch and returning to the fire.
By the time i got back from the car, Rick had stolked up the fire. He threw on more dry drift wood and more tinder, getting the flames high and hot. The bright fire made me feel better. It took away some of the shadows that pop up so willingly in the minds of 18 year old boys alone in the woods. A few minutes went by. Enough time that I had relaxed. I was just about to sit down when the sound ripped through our little camp. It was like the bottom limb of a large tree had been cracked right off! Pulled down and broken! The volume of the sound made both of us start and half duck down, but it was followed by the sound of something bounding again away from the sound but at the same time… towards us!
Weird Darkness is both a radio show and a podcast. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already done so – and find out where and when you can listen to the radio show by visiting the CALENDAR at WeirdDarkness.com.
We’ll continue with the second half of the story, “I Just Wanted to Go Fishing” when Weird Darkness returns!
STORY: I JUST WANTED TO GO FISHING, CONTINUES==========
I was just about to sit down when the sound ripped through our little camp. It was like the bottom limb of a large tree had been cracked right off! Pulled down and broken! The volume of the sound made both of us start and half duck down, but it was followed by the sound of something bounding again away from the sound but at the same time… towards us!
It stopped, whatever it was, about 40 feet out and well out of the circle of light from our fire. Without saying a word to one another Rick ran back and threw more wood on the fire, while I ran back to my car and grabbed two things out of my camping pack. My machete. And, my shingling hatchet. A tool with a knurled hammer face on one side and a toughly tempered hatchet blade on the other,used for splitting cedar shakes or splitting cedar shingles. Mine was a Stanley i believe.
I tossed the hatchet lightly to Rick. He fumbled with the leather wrist strap a bit before it settled comfortably into his hand. I held the machete easily by my side having owned the thing since I was 10 or so. That familiarity was not making me comfortable however.
I could hear it in the dark, breathing. Not out of breath, but long Great, deep breaths coming from the shadows somewhere just behind the curtain that was the phragmites. The phragmites formed the south wall of this circle we were camped in, with the south trail coming off the “7” area, directly south. The phragmites nearest the edge were the shortest. Ranging up in size to 7 feet tall in this area.
It felt like ages. Waiting for something other than that breathing… I swear its getting quieter..stopped?
Then. We heard foot steps, heavy steps, getting louder. Maybe four steps in total! Four Steps! 40 feet! I turned and gave myself some ground at the first hint of sound, Rick did the same, both of us standing side by side at the back corner of my Civic, we looked up just in time to see shoulders disappearing into the shadows, through the 7 foot phragmites. ….It went in just far enough that we almost missed it crouching down and disappearing in the grass. Almost.
Insert Shaggys big, swallow sound, and a,”Zoiks Scoob!”, here please.
This thing was big. It just kept running through my mind. I saw shoulders and…neck! It looked like a hairy stump! I had missed its face. I had still been in the middle of turning around. Im glad I missed it. It was so tall….and wide, oh my god…head and shoulders over that grass…
I realized Rick was talking to me from somewhere outside of my nighmare musings, and I tuned back…
…”In the grass.. there!… you hear it? I think I can see the grass still moving…”, Rick whispered loudly, the hatchet out in front of him, pointing.
I shook off my thoughts and concentrated towards where he said the grass was moving…ya…maybe?…….Yes! There was deffinate movement that shouldnt have been there. It was still sitting there! Why? What WAS that?
We just stood there. Not daring to make a noise or move at all. I felt paralized. It was unlike any feeling Ive ever had in my life. All the experiences, the footsteps…I cant even describe the way those footsteps sent the hair up my spine bristling and tingling with terror. That breathing…I grew up with live-stock. This was the same sound as listening to a bull breathing. Deep and rumbling. And those frightening realizations,only preceded the absolutley confusing and mind reeling sense of terror watching….something that night, with those big shoulders and head disappear into the grass and shadows only FEET away from us!
You always hear people talk about the feeling they get in these circumstances. The fight or Flight reflex? Well, I can tell you I havent read a single author who described it right yet! As I heard those big heavy steps coming close. BIPEDAL steps! I flushed. My temperture went through the roof, my heart was thudding hard and fast. The worst part? There was this feeling that came over me when I saw that shoulder and neck. When I saw the bulk of it! The 7 foot reeds ended mid shoulder blade…. Ive heard most describe the feeling as dread. But it isnt. I didnt feel dread. I felt certainty. Certain that I was lower on the food chain. Certain that, should it decide to stand back up and walk slowly out to meet us, we would die there that night. It knew it too.
I have no idea how long we stood there, watching and listening, straining to hear anything at all that might tell us what that thing was up to. We could hear it doing something finally. The weapons in our hands came up fast towards the sound. Seconds later, there was another sound of movement behind us! Rick turned to face that direction, leaning over and throwing more wood on. Somehow, naturally I imagine, we had slowly moved away from the car and closer to the fire.
Another deep thump and crash could be heard again behind me and in front of Rick somewhere off in the shadows. My god….are there two more?
I could hear the first… thing, moving, deep in the grass, the tops of the phragmites moving slowly at times but jigging at others. Their movement exagerated by the weighty feathers on top.
It was moving. I was zoned in on that swaying, grass watching for any hint of movement. How was it so quiet? Anyone that has been in the woods and tried to move quietly through brush or grass knows that to be silent AND not show your quarry, whether that be a deer, an enemy soldier or a dude at the paintball range, where you are, in your enivironment is damnably hard to do. It takes experience and practice and a bit of luck.
There was a crash off to my left that made both Rick and myself turn panicking towards it. My machete cut left at the sound, striking out blindly as we both fell over ourselves to both turn and meet whatever was coming in from our left, while also moving back around the fire for its added defence.
I could see the tip of my blade jittering along with my heartbeat. Its dance almost distracting me from looking past it to the dark and now quiet scrub land in front of me. I could see nothing, I could hear nothing but my pulse in my ears and…god damn it…even now…the steady damn hum of mosquitos. I was so hot, Adrenaline pumping in me, I felt like I had just run the 200 meters while sporting a good ginger sunburn.
There wasnt a sound to be heard. Just our panting in anxiety and fear as we stood there, back to back next to a roaring big bon-fire now. All the wood Rick had added in panic was now lit and being gently fanned by a moderate breeze that had popped up.
“Do you see anything Rick?”, I asked shakily. My voice strained with fear.
“Theres nothin! I dont see a thing! They are crashing around and something that bi…..something…you should SEE something!”, Rick almost poured out the words. They came out of him in a rush tinged with anger and sincere confusion.
I didnt say a thing. Not only did I understand how he felt, but something else had stolen my attention. And as I had listened to Ricks panicked musings, I had glimpsed something outside the ring of firelight. Behind the hawthorn, in front of which, our tent now sat bobbing in the breeze.
The wind had been slowly increasing during the evening. It was now enough to bend the grass and move the limbs of the small trees around our chosen campsite. The tree tops swayed in the winds above the canopy while sounds of heavy sighs reached down from the branches far above and away from us. The fire whipped up, and it lit the whole of the clearing, the tent, my car and us next to the fire in the middle of the clearing.
I tuned out Rick entirely. There was a dark mass….a big dark mass slowly moving out from behind that hawthorn…. It had come out of the grass. It was so dark back there though! The only way I could see it, was to look past it, and watch it move so very slowly out from the concealing grass and into the cover of darkness from my periphery. It moved, barely peceptable onto the path behind that swaying hawthorn tree.
Rick had fallen silent by this time.
“Whats wrong Danny?”, I heard the sound come out of him. A voice like that of a small boy, wanting to know whats wrong but desperatly wanting to be told everything is ok.
I remained very silent.
The lower limbs of the hawthorn moved up and down in the wind, bobbing lightly. My eyes had never left the shadowy mound I knew to be that hulking thing we saw step into the grass. I kept my machete blade up and in a garde position. I had no idea how to use a blade for combat but figured it was best to have it between me and him with the pointy bit facing his way.
Those limbs moved slowly up and down. It was almost hypnotizing …right up till the light reflected off its big eyes. Its big. Red. Eyes.
Once. Twice… By the third flash of eyeshine my heart had cranked right back up again, my forehead was streaming, and very shakingly, I told Rick to go open the hatchback while I covered him.
My eyes never left that mass as I heard Rick make it to the car and pop the hatch. While he was still at the car I called out, “Watch my back!”, and walked towards the tent. It was only 10 or 12 feet away, but damn it felt so far, but more terrifying, is it felt too close. Too close to the grass, but I was protected from that thing by the hawthorn. There might have been something big and nasty on the other side of that tree, but I knew it would think twice befrore trying to get me through the inch long barbed branches of that tree.
I grabbed the tent in one hand and pulled. I wrenched it clean out of the ground from its pegs and back pedaled fast to the car! There wasnt much in the tent, but it was all we had brought,so I figured it was a smart move. Pack it all at once in seconds and get the hell outta there!
I did just that! I backpedaled to the car so I didnt trip on the trailing tent, then I turned and just started stuffing as much down behind the two front seats as I could, Rick standing behind me, staring off under the hawthorn watching my back.
“Theres a shadow back th…”, is all Rick got out before I yelled, “Get in!!”, and ran for the drivers door like it was a LeMans style start.
Slam door. Punch lock. Clutch and turn the key. 1.5 liters of public menace, zinged into burbling life, I threw it into reverse, dumped the clutch and damn near backed into the hawthorn. I slammed it into first, kicked the go button to the carpet and peeled out of that clearing!
I had that car going as fast as I could, safety be damned! I remember hitting 4th gear on a road that was no better than a once, well graded logging road. There was a section to this track that narrowed to almost a width even my little Honda couldnt make it through. I had to stop and pull in my mirrors on both sides to even come close! I had finally spared a glance to the side mirror and saw that I had moved it in. I then remembered the narrow spot to the trail ahead we had crossed the day before. Just in time I was able to slow down for those two trees ahead hogging the edges of the already narror trail. I concentrated on getting my car lined up just right and I waaaaasss…through!
Rick and I screamed at the same time. Rick looked out the back window as I glanced in the rearview. It was the kind of scream that makes your voice crack and slip into another octave, or disappear altogether…
In the red, hellish glow of my cars brake lights jogged up….legs…just huge legs. Its all we could see from the vantage of the low slung hatchback. Objects in mirror did not need to be any. Fucking. Closer!
Id like to thank the egineers at Honda at this time. I beat the shit outta that thing the last half mile through the bush to the road, slamming through gears, hitting holes and branches and something else that tore my air dam off.
I didnt stop when we hit pavement. I worked it through all five gears till I ran out of road, just outside of Walkerton. I pulled off to the side just short of the stop sign to the highway going into town and parked the car.
“what the hell was that Rick?” I asked, genuinly wondering…
We didnt say another word. We sat a couple more minutes, doors and windows still closed and locked.
I drove Rick back home that night, deciding I would stay there and see if I could salvage sleep from this messed up night. His mom came into the living room when she heard us come in the door. Although I loved his mom, I sensed that she just wouldnt understand this experience we had gone through.
Rick and I stopped hanging out together shortly after that. Would have been about 6 months or so. I think we had just spent too much time together. Got to arguing a bit, a lot of the time, and it wore us down.
For years I didnt know what to make of the encounter. It rankled my mind and haunted me. I can still see those shouders and that neck in my minds eye, clear as day! And I can still feel that animalistic fear it gave me in the pit of my stomach and loins. The literal shrinking of your manhood in the face of something …primal. And waaaay bigger than you.
I got to have a flashback of that fear years later at the Toronto Metro Zoo, when a large silver-back gorrilla decided he didnt like the look of me and charged the fence, pounding on the chainlink and tearing me back to that night in the bush in an instant of paralyzing fear. My wife at the time wasnt sure why I had been so shaken. As the gorilla walked slowly away, almost with a strut of machismo, I saw those big shoulders of his flexing and pictured his larger cousin stepping into that long grass in the light of the fire.
That face…those eyes..if they were red….
They have fueled nightmares since. I havent camped in a tent anywhere but a campsite, in a populated area since. For years my machete hung next to the door of my camper trailer cause…what if? …It didnt seem to like blades. The fear was ridiculous.
Knowing now that there was most likely only one creature that employed the use of thrown stones around us to scare and distract, fits with the behavior that is described in many Bigfoot encounters. To us in our terrified state it just sounded like more things, more creatures coming in!
Not once was there any sort of vocalization. Not a grunt. And we were upwind of the thing to get a noseful of its characteristic offensive odor. But ya, I think it was a sasquatch.
We actually did go back the next day. I was way too curious. I Had to go. I had to see! We arrived there sometime around 2 p.m. or so. It was bright and sunny and warm, but I was cold inside. My head was on a swivel the entire time, from when I stepped out of my car till I left again.
We didnt find a thing. We found the path through the grass it took to get to our site. We found the limb, a good 4 inches thick of green wood snapped off about 18 inches from the trunk. We found the path into the grass behind our tent and through to the area behind the hawthorn. There were no tracks to be seen or hairs clinging to anything, not that we would have known to look anyway.
It would be a few years before I admitted to myself what I had seen. Honestly, because of my upbringing I had thought demon at first. But it always bugged me. It didnt feel right. It was somehow the wrong explanation but I had no other theory at the time. Fast forward twenty years and well…thats my Sasquatch story it seems.
Since that night, I have devoured all I can find to read on Sasquatch. Reports from all over the world, from peoples of all walks of life, from all cultures. Books, movies, documentaries, fact or fiction. It was the experience that cemented my love of the weird and paranormal and also reafirmed my fear of the dark. That gripping fear of what goes bump in the night.