[Cryptozoologist's Note: The following are real-life accounts of a murderous beast which is said to haunt the National Recreation Area of Kentucky known as the Land Between the Lakes (LBL). This creature fits the description of such other "wolf-men" or "dog-men" as The Beast of 7 Chutes, The Michigan Dogman, and the Wisconsin Wolfman. What sets it apart is that it has been associated with the gruesome deaths of at least four members of one family, and has been the subject of well-orchestrated and documented hunts. The first two accounts are by Jan Thompson from the webpage "Guardian Tales", and are reprinted here verbatim. Be forewarned, her accounts are fairly graphic.)
THE BEAST OF LAND BETWEEN THE LAKES - PART 1
There is a national recreation area in Western Kentucky (that also runs down to Tennessee) called 'Land Between the Lakes', or LBL for short. It is situated between the Kentucky and Barklay Lakes, consisting of more then 300 miles of shoreline, 170,000 acres of forest and over 200 miles of walking trails. It is currently a focal point for over $600 million in the tourism industry. Prior to 1959, the area was called 'Between the Rivers'. That was before the Kentucky and Lake Barklay Dams were constructed, and before it was officially called LBL (in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy), and before TVA (the Tennessee Valley Authority, an agency of the federal government), took over the land and used it's powers of eminent domain to buy and tear down all the houses, businesses and community buildings throughout the entire area, forcing over 700 families to give up their homes,
There are over 228 small family cemeteries, many forgotten about and lost, dotted throughout the acres of forests, as it was once used as homesteads by early Kentucky settlers. Some of the earliest graves date back to the early 1700's, which include graves of white settlers, veterans from nearly every war, including the Revolutionary War, and also those of black slaves and Chinese immigrants who worked in the iron furnaces that were in the area. There was also a very high infant mortality rate, and many of these children were buried right outside the cabins in which they were born so that their mothers could peer out the windows and see the graves. There are also numerous Native American graves scattered throughout the acres, much older than even the earliest of settler graves, some discovered, others lie in secret beneath the layers of leaves and forest ferns.
Back before the 1950's, it had always been a very rural area to live in, with farmsteads far and few between, and with no real town to speak of except up at the north end in Grand Rivers. It was in this town, back in the mid 70's that I first heard of 'The Beast Between the Rivers' or known now as 'The Beast of LBL'. Some old timers would sit on this long wooden bench outside the old IGA store that used to be the old 'country store' for decades before the grocery conglomerate came to town. I used to hang around there on the weekends during the day and listen to the stories they would tell. These old men, most of whom used to live in LBL before they were forced to move, had some very interesting stories to tell about that part of the country.
There was talk of hauntings, Indian curses, mysterious lights over gravestones at night, old hag witches that lived deep in the woods, and more importantly, several tales of a wolf like creature that stood on two legs that would come out of the thickets and attack their cattle and live stock. Day or night. A creature that was taller than an average man by well over a foot, nearly 7 feet tall, with thick long hair covering its body, and a stench that matched that of some of the freshly opened graves that were discovered now and then. This 'wolf man' left tracks like a barefoot man but where the toes should have been, instead were paw prints. The head was huge and wolf-like in appearance, with an extra-long snout, and uncannily long, sharp incisors that glistened from the moonlight with saliva, along with eyes that, "Radiated red, like one of the hottest fires in Hell', they'd say. It had long arms that ended with huge hands and long spindly fingers with long, pointed, dirt-caked claws. At night they would hear it howl; unnatural guttural sounds of painful hungry agony, and at that warning, all would go out and tie up their livestock and even bring their most prized selections inside their homes with them.
The legend of the beast went back at least a hundred years, was passed along through time from family to family and updated as new sightings occurred. One old man said that his great great grand pappy told him that the creature used to be a man, a Native American that had the ability to shape shift, a powerful shaman that had been outcast from his tribe because he used his magic for evil. The Shaman had been tracked and killed while in his wolf state by a few warriors and a couple of settlers in the area. In his dying breath he cursed them and vowed to return from the dead to haunt the forests and seek revenge on their families and all who lived there. Another man on the bench with a leathery, weathered face, said he heard from his grandma that the beast was once a settler that came over from Europe back in the early 1800's with a disease that made him turn into a madman at night. The disease was eventually passed along to his children, who never went to school, but stayed hidden away from the population. Many thought the family had died off, because for years they never saw or heard from them, and after investigations by some brave men, they discovered the homestead vacant and abandoned in the early 1900's.
The sightings of the monster were still frequent throughout the beginning of the twentieth century, and the elderly group on the bench told some unsettling encounters they or members of their own families had with it. Each one told stories of finding livestock slaughtered, ripped to pieces and eaten upon. Cows and pigs with their legs dismembered from the sockets. Even a few horses had met their end with savage attacks upon their bodies. A few of them described what they saw at different times when they caught glimpses of the figure by peeking out of the curtains of the windows into the night. One man said it jumped out of one of the horse stalls one evening while he was putting up some animals. It stopped in front of him, arms spread out like it was getting ready to grab him, let out a howl and then sprang past him and into the dusky shadows of the sunset.
This particular man said he 'wet his overalls' during the episode. Another man said he never saw it, but would always hear it's baleful wails frequently at night, not like a regular wolf or a coyote, "No," he said, "It was deeper, longer, stronger-sounding than what would come out of any animal I ever heard." Another old-timer said his wife had seen it trying to get into the chicken coup, but it gave up after getting tangled in the chicken wire. They all had tales of 'someone's hound dog' getting killed, ripped apart limb from limb, 'someone's pig or cow or chicken' getting eaten, the mysterious footprints left in the mud, and the stench it left behind wherever it appeared. And more than one had the same story of listening to it walk across their front porches at night and scratching on the doors and walls, which would leave deep gouges in the wood they would find in the morning. All of them agreed that this was not a Bigfoot or Sasquatch. It would be only another year or two after hearing about this mysterious beast that I myself would encounter it at the home of a family member that lived in the same area.
But this isn't the story I was wanting to tell you. This was just a brief introduction to the unwritten accounts of the darker side of LBL. A prelude actually to the real story I will begin to unfold. I just wanted to lay some groundwork so you could get the big picture and form some of your own opinions and theories. Walk with me now as I take you back about twenty-two years, back to the early 1980's. Then I used to work midnights at a gas station a few miles from the Kentucky Dam, which was a few miles from the beginning of LBL in Grand Rivers. And it was on one of these midnight shifts I had two visitors that would change my outlook on the subject of 'werewolves' (... and make me believe in what I had seen myself a few years back in the same area but had kept between myself and two other family members that were with me at the time, but that's another story to be written.) This story was never in the paper, on the news, or had any media attention at all. It was kept hush hush, and a sacred silence was demanded on all those involved. It couldn't get out, ever. It was a few weeks before the beginning of tourist season, and tourists were what the locals survived on, they were the 'bread and butter'. A story like this would be like screaming 'Sharks!' at Daytona Beach, or 'Child Molester!' at Disneyland. The people would stop coming out of fear.
I wasn't a witness to the fact, just a third person, making observations and having conversations with two individuals who were a part of the incident, who were involved in the whole ordeal. They had just came from the crime scene down in the middle of LBL after being there for over 8 hours. It was around three in the morning and they were taking a much needed reality break.
Two officers of the law. Two grown men who both appeared shaken beyond description. A mixture of fear and confusion, shock and disbelief emanated from them both. One was paler then the other, a deathly pallor over his skin, and it was this one (I'll name him officer Adam, to protect their identities) that had to sit on the curb of the gas pumps, head between his legs and expel the last bit of his stomach contents. The other officer (I'll name him officer Bill) came in for some coffee for himself and a cup of water for his partner, then rejoined Adam outside. There were no other customers so I went outside with them to see if I could offer some assistance with the ill man. He gladly took the few Rolaids I had extended in my hand, with his own shaky fingers he struggled to get them into his mouth.
For quite a long while the only thing that was heard were the crickets in the nearby fields, the sounds of bugs hitting the fluorescent lights above us, hanging from the gas station canopy, and the distant sound of highway traffic that was far and few between as it was in the wee hours of the morning. My mind was buzzing with various scenarios of the cause of their distress....a tragic car accident....possibly a motorcycle wreck...a boating mishap with drown victims....a murder.....a dead body discovered. ('Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back...that's why the cat has nine lives.')
I don't remember sitting down but after about 15 minutes of this hushed stillness I found myself beside them both on the curb staring out at the darkness of the nearby corn pastures, letting my mind paint pictures of imaginary traumas. Adam spoke first, breaking the silence of obscurity, "I can't believe it...it's not possible...I just can't believe it...". In a hushed agreement, that was almost inaudible, Bill replied, "I know...it was....is....it is so unbelievable...I've never seen anything like this before...", a long pause, a deep breath, and he continued, "... or even heard of anything like this before." I looked at Bill and then at Adam, they were both gazing, open eyed, unblinking, out into the inky color of the night. Adam's bottom lip was trembling slightly, and it wasn't from the slight chill in the late spring air. Something, or some thing had filled them each with a congested fear.
After a few more moments of silent reserve, my patience was rewarded with some slow, fragmented descriptions of their past 8 hours. Bill turned his wide azure blue eyes towards me, they were glazed and blood shot, tired, frightened eyes. With a weary, shaken voice he began to unfold a tale that would forever be embedded within my spirit, like a nasty shadow that lingers around a corner waiting to pounce, to awaken your inner fears once again. Why he decided to tell me of all people was beyond my comprehension, maybe it was an avenue he felt safe to travel upon, to get it off his chest, off his mind. They were both frequent customers, and we knew each other on a first name basis, but to divulge such a torrid account of great magnitude, well, I can only say that the fear inside them both at that moment in time had to be released, eased, and extracted from their souls, or else they may have gone mad with unbalanced thoughts. Without interrupting, I sat entranced, listening to every word, absorbing them like an opiate, a spellbinding narcotic that hypnotized me into forgetting the world even existed for the next half hour or so.
They had gotten a call to help with an investigation at one of the many rural camp grounds down in LBL. The tourist season was about to start in a few weeks, so as usual there were some early arrivals that had come to claim prime camping spots before the areas were overrun with tents, campers and travel trailers The sun was setting low in the sky when they arrived at the scene. Several other official vehicles were already there, and there were many more to come as they would soon find out. Many coming from other counties, and a few coming all the way from another state. Several of these to come were coroners from different counties. One coroner vehicle was already present as well as an ambulance, which would prove useless, as there was no one to save. The victims were all dead. Quite dead. Completely, totally and thoroughly deceased. A young married couple, that had come down to take it easy for a few days, were the first to discover the ghastly scene. Neither one of them wanted to stay behind while the other went for help, so they both nervously traveled to the nearest town, Grand Rivers, and called the authorities. They did not return to LBL, they merely gave the arriving officer directions to the area of discovery and rented a local hotel room.
With the sun going down, it got dark pretty fast, so there was a flurry of flood lights from the cruisers being pointed in all directions, along with the excited movements of fifty dollar flash lights being held by nervous, restless hands, searching the trees, the ground, the leaves, the shadows. There was a parked motor home at the site, it's frame being lit by a campfire close by, a fire that had almost gone out on its own, but had been rekindled by the new crowd of men in uniforms so that they could have more light. The front and back doors to the home were open, one of the doors hanging by one hinge in a crooked slant. Through the windows they could see zigzagged movements of luminosity as the beams from flashlights searched the interior. Bloody hand prints slid down the thin metal walls close to the front door and more bloody hand paintings could be seen along the length towards the back door. Their images dancing eerily in the fire light like some ancient tribal symbols .
Adam and Bill did not even want to imagine what was inside the motor home, but then again, they would soon find out that it wasn't what was 'inside' but what was 'outside' that would change their lives forever. There was already crime scene tape placed in numerous, scattered parts of the area, and little white flags on metal stakes stuck into the ground marking evidence. Evidence of ripped clothing, bodies and body parts, separated limbs, a pile of bowels, pieces of loose flesh clinging to muscle tissue. What used to be three bodies that just hours before had been a happy family, on a happy vacation, to create happy memories for years to come; a father, a mother and a young son.
The happiness was gone. Destroyed by a psychotic mad man, or was it 'men'? A murderous rage had taken place, one so abhorrently appalling that there were few witnesses to the scene that had kept their composure or held their recently eaten dinners down. At first sight, the victims appeared to be butchered by some unnamable weapon, possibly an ax, or a chainsaw. Upon further inspection, by the first arriving coroner, the wounds on the bodies were determined not to have been caused by a sharp instrument but rather by some piercing, well-defined claws, and other wounds by some keen, mordantly long incisors.
Wildcat, bear, wolves? The coroner shook his head in baffled disagreement with each guess from the officers. The claw marks, for instance, on the back of the fathers corpse were distinctively made by 4 long claws, with a smaller digit, like a thumb, on the side; it's span was wider then a man's print, wider and different than a bears mark, with deep deliberate gouges in the flesh. Rake marks from an angry unknown source trying to grab it's prey that was no doubt trying to escape. The wildcat and wolves theory was dismissed as the open wound marks were apparently made by a more grandiose animal source. The bite marks were much larger than any mountain lion, wolf or coyote. Whatever did it had a longer snout and more sizable teeth. There were also indications, in the larger areas of the cadavers, of bite marks where the flesh, meat and bone had been yanked away from the body. Like a human who bites into an apple and leaves the impressions of his bite and teeth marks, so were the open wounds on these individuals. Bears, well, they aren't native to the area, but who knows. Maybe a grizzly did sneak in some way, but that was far fetched; he would've had to travel several states and cross several rivers to even get close to that part of Kentucky. Everyone present was betting on the 'bear' hypothesis anyway, and no one even thought of anything else to be the cause of such a savage attack. A bear, it had to be a bear.
From the back door of the motor home, an officer stepped down slowly, holding in his hands some type of garment. A dress. A small dress, that would have fit a small girl of around five years old. He informed the on onlookers that there were more 'little girls' clothes packed inside the coach. This meant there was a missing person, or an absent body; a member of the family. They all prayed she was still alive somehow, hiding somewhere. A new search began.
As time went by, additional law enforcement employees arrived, as well as a few volunteer rescue squad members. Groups were spread out and assigned areas to examine and explore. Another coroner arrived to assist in the identification and causes of death, and much later a third one showed up, this one from a nearby state. All types of samples were placed in plastic bags, marked as evidence, and carefully stowed away. As they were packaging up what appeared to be one of the fathers arms, one of the doctors noticed something wrapped between the dead fingers. Some tweezers slowly untangled a clump of long, gray and brown hairs. This too was placed in a bag, marked and put away to be analyzed at a lab later.
From somewhere in the nearby woods, about 50 yards from the campfire, a scream was heard. A man's shriek that turned into a long wail and then to whimpering. As others arrived they could see by the gleam of several flashlights that the cop was holding his hat in one hand and his light in the other. There was blood on his face, the front of his shirt and on the brim of his hat. More blood could be seen dripping on him. It was coming from above. High in the trees the flash lights swung, searching for the source of the mysterious bleeding. A very small hand could be seen dangling down from a tree limb way up high, as well as a slender lifeless leg that still had a white sock on the foot. The missing child had been located. It had been Adam that the blood had trickled upon, hitting his hat first, making him look up, and then feeling the thick cold fluid sprinkling his face then sliding down to his neatly buttoned shirt. It had been Adam that had screamed. The little girl had apparently been carried up the tree and leisurely eaten upon while carefully laid across a large tree branch. More of the same long gray and brown hair was found sticking in the bark of the tree near her body.
After about 7 hours, most of the officers were sent away as a new team of investigators arrived. They were told not to talk to anyone of the incident, especially not the media. I am sure that besides Adam and Bill, there were others who had to confess what they saw that night, if in fact this whole event ever really happened. Witness's that had to divulge the awful secret of that atrocious discovery at one of the campgrounds at LBL. About a month after sitting outside with Adam and Bill that night, they stopped in again during one of my midnight shifts. They were both rather more serious in nature, not like before the incident where they would kid around while drinking their sodas and eating a snack or two. They had both aged in some odd way. Streaks of gray, that had not been there before, highlighted both of their heads of hair. Their faces had lines of worry and showed signs of stress. I would see them again many times afterwards, but on this particular evening, they informed me that they got word about some of the lab tests that were taken that dreadful night. The tests, on the saliva taken from the bite marks and from the hair found on the mans fingers and in the tree bark, came back with an unknown species origin. The closest animal that they could be compared to was that of a Canis Lupis, a wolf.
Whether Adam and Bill had played an elaborate hoax on me I'll never really know for sure, but their sincerity and fear painted a picture of truth in their eyes and actions. There are several more stories that I have heard about this 'Werewolf' over in LBL that have been told to me over the years since this particular incident. There were several groups of boy scouts that had seen it. Several more campers, fishermen and boaters that had seen it from the safety of their boats, floating in some of the many bays that touched upon the shoreline. Hikers and bikers have heard its howling and have seen 'something' stalking them while they were on rural trails, hiding amongst the trees and foliage. Hunters have run across deer carcasses that have been brutally torn apart.
There was even a pair of curious gravestone rubbers (those who go out in search of century-or-more-old tombstones, then make rubbings by placing paper against the coarse stones and using a piece of charcoal to rub across it, capturing the images and dates from the stones onto the paper) who had a fearful encounter with it at one of the old cemeteries. It had actually come up to their car as they were leaving and shook the back end of the vehicle up and down, leaving terrible scratch marks in the trunk lid as it tried to hold on to the little Toyota while the tires were spinning in the wet grass to get away. These two individuals didn't stop driving until they were about 40 miles away; only then did they dare stop to investigate the damage done. I myself have seen those scratches. Much too wide for any man to have made them. They looked like they'd been made by a heavy metal garden rake.
But you will never read about it in the papers, or hear about it on the news, or get a confession from any law enforcement official or man of office. The media will say it's a bunch of 'Whoo Haa', or just pranks, silly stories, urban legends, lies, tall tales and such. This is tourism country, and that means millions of dollars to the area, so you can't scare off business, can you?
But, as San says on her website, 'You can't tell me there's no such thing!', because I have my own tale to tell about this creature. That story will come soon, I promise, but this one had to be told first, for it is far more scary and full of detail than my own. And that bench, the long, sturdy, heavy oak bench, that sat in front of the old country store for decades? It is still in existence. In fact, I had the grand opportunity of acquiring it several years ago when an even newer version of an IGA store was being built upon the same grounds. The previous owners remembered my fondness for sitting with the old timers and having undying patience with their many stories, and they got ahold of one of my family members to ask if we would like to have it to keep in the family. The bench now sits in my front yard, by the driveway, where I sit to wave good-bye to all those who have come to visit for the day. I've learned to always wave good-bye, because you never know if you'll see them again. You never know what lies in store for you or them. What lies in the shadows. Waiting. Watching. With hungry eyes and a drooling snout.
~ Jan Thompson.
FROM THE WOODS
The summer of 1978 will always be a turn about in my beliefs of 'real monsters' versus the demonic or paranormal type. Ghosts and spirits had become a common event during my life growing up, until that particular summer when a new avenue of fear introduced itself and made a permanent pathway inside my mind. A path made of concrete that wanders through the forests of my memories. A trail that will not be covered with weeds, or fade with time. A place that my daily thinking bypasses to avoid the beckoning desire of fear that calls from down that menacing road of remembrance. For this moment though, for the benefit of you, the reader, I will travel down that route once more and try to recapture the scene so that you, too, will lay awake wondering and asking the Universe, "Is there something else out there somewhere that is above us humans on the food chain?"
It was on one of those hot July summer evenings in Grand Rivers, Kentucky, back in 1978, when this took place. (Grand Rivers is at the beginning of Land Between the Lakes entrance.) The sun was not completely down and the skies were streaked with violet-pinkish Posy colored clouds that outlined the curtain of darkness that was pushing the turquoise blue away. I was staying at my Aunts house with my cousins for a few weeks during summer vacation, a very welcome home at the end of a dead end road. Hundreds of acres of woods surrounded the home that that had been built down a hill and into the side of a large hill of dirt. There were several homemade trails through out the woods that led to several places; an old abandoned rail road track that went on for miles, another abandoned place- the old sawmill, and other paths led to parts of the shore line of the Kentucky lake. They all started out as walking trails, but with the new addition of a dirt bike that my cousin Joe had the trails became well outlined and defined. As with almost every day that I was visiting, Joe was out riding his bike through the woods, exploring, and just being with his own thoughts of a 13 year old. His younger sister, Ronda, was with me outside on the porch swing. She was 10, and I was 17 at the time. My uncle was working and my aunt was at the local IGA store down in town. Beside the driveway was a huge dog pen where their pet basset hounds lodged and was at the moment quite relaxed in the shade. The woods had been filled with only the sounds of birds and the chatter of squirrels for a few hours. Joe must have been way far off on a trail somewhere to not have heard that distinct sound of the dirt bike screaming through it's gears echoing around the trees. I knew he must be on his way home, because his dad forbid him to be out in the woods at dark, so Ronda and I were waiting to hear that familiar putt-putting of the bike slowly coming down the drive as he reluctantly came home to park it for another night.
As we swung back and forth, singing silly songs, we heard something a bit strange in the distance, it was Joe's dirt bike screaming at almost a soprano type of gear, long, steady, and fast, with no shifting sounds, just a straight stream of one gear in motion with a full throttle, going at top speed. The sound accelerated as he drew closer at such a fast pace, and we watched from the swing up to the top of the driveway where he would appear from the other side out of the woods. I couldn't help but think that he had better slow down or he would come flying up over the top of the hill and downwards missing a wide stretch of pavement by being airborne. The noise didn't softened or slow. Steady and fixed was his speed. And just as I had thought, he emerged from the woods in such a tenacious movement, that he did indeed go airborne a few feet before pounding down the front tire on the driveway, continuing his descent now with a struggle of keeping the bike upright and straight. Ronda and I jumped from the porch swing and got out of the way as we didn't know where he was going to stop or in what position. The brakes hit hard and the bike slid sideways and as it came down to the edge and end of the drive, Joe tilted his body and let the bike slide out from under him before he went down the rest of the hill with it. Instead of the bike continuing to slide to the edge it was caught in a spin that variably died down as the engine sputtered, and then quit altogether. Everyone was wide eyed and full of adrenaline, all our mouths open in shock. But Joe's mouth was open in a strange fearful grimace, he was sweating profusely and his breaths were coming and going in great heaves. Tears were coming down his cheeks, mixing with the dusty dirt that the trail had left him powdered with. His eyes were at the top of the hill, at the top of the drive, unblinking, searching, waiting. We followed his gaze not understanding what this escapade was all about. In silence we watched with him for a about 30 seconds and then the dogs started barking. Growling. And then whining, trying to get out of the pen in a frantic panic of digging and gnawing at the fencing.
"IT GRABBED ME!! LOOK AT MY LEG!!", Joe screamed, making us jump with alarm at the sound of his voice. We looked down at his Levi's and saw scratch marks going across his right thigh, scratches that tore through the tough denim and left small bloody marks on his skin. The marks were like a bears-claw-rake, not those caused by branches or sticky bushes, but a definite wide pattern of a paw print.
"IT WALKED ON TWO LEGS!", his voice startled us again, as he was trying to tell his story in between huge gulps of air. He was frightened beyond belief, and the bits and pieces of what he was striving with extreme effort to tell us was coming out in loud syllables that filled us both with the same dread. "It was following me through the woods....along the path....from the old sawmill....hairy...it was so hairy...and it's snout was so long...and it walked on two legs....it ran on two legs...", his voice was sputtering, slowing, his eyes were still wide, and I could see the pulse of his heartbeat throbbing under the skin of his temples.
A howling began. From the woods, not from the dog pen where now the dogs suddenly stopped their own complaining, standing deathly still, staring up at the top of the hill, the nape of the hair on their back standing up, ruffled, their noses up in the air breathing in a strange scent. A wolfs howl. It was close. It seemed it was just a few yards from the road up above. Just as the idiot in a horror movie stands and stares at something to appear, that was what I was doing then, with a mixture of anticipation and confusion. What the hell was he talking about? I thought to myself, mulling over the brief descriptions; torn blue jeans, walks and runs on two legs, stalking him, hairy with a long nose and calling the mysterious hunter an "IT".
Joe's tears came quicker and he started to push us towards the front door of the house demanding that we go inside and lock the doors. He had a hand on each of our backs and was urging us onward when IT came out of the woods above. At first it appeared to be a very large wolf emerging from the dark outline of the trees, but as it approached the one lane road that connected to the driveway, it's height grew to a towering shadow that stood on two legs. Much taller then a man's height, maybe by a foot, and with the sun gone down behind the clouds, it only cast a silhouette of blackness, hairy blackness. My mouth dropped wide as well as my eyes. This was not happening, this was not what I was seeing. My mind was going back and forth from rationality to reality. 'I was from St. Louis, the most frightening thing back home in Missouri was MO MO the Monster, the Show Me States version of Bigfoot. This was no Bigfoot!'
It raised it's long snout up in the air and let out a gurgling, slow, deliberate howl, while stretching it's long arms to it's sides and upwards, like it was praising the coming of the night, praying to the unseen moon and stars. At that moment the security light that was at the top of the hill at the beginning of their driveway popped on. Slowly at first it began to glow and gathered it's energy to shine more brightly over the next few seconds. One of the creatures arms bent and shaded its eyes from the glare. It wasn't an 'It' any longer, nor was it a Bigfoot, this was a wolf-like creature that, like Joe said, stood on two legs, was taller then a man, and was staring at the three of us down the hill. Those huge, black eyes; I will never get out of my mind. They were like two sockets of ebony oil shining under magnifying glass lenses.
We ran into the house, tearing the screen door in the process, slamming the main door, locking it, pushing things, anything we could reach against the inside of the door. The kitchen was right behind us and so was the knife drawer, which we raided and took several with us as we tried to decide where to hide. There was a house dog inside, another basset hound, Stubby, and he met us in the kitchen wondering what the racket was. Another howl from outside, came from the driveway. Stubby's hair raised and he started backing up at first, then he went to the front door and was smelling around the edges. The three of us ran to my aunt's room and were about to slam the door and lock it when the dog tucked tail and ran after us, beating us under the bed. All of us squeezed under the four poster, knives clutched in our hands, scared half to death. We could hear the dogs in the pen outside going absolutely crazy with barking, and we could also hear other things being knocked around on the porch, then on the side of the house, then at the side door. We heard glass break. We could tell it was from one of the bedrooms, the windows were up high and they were very narrow so we knew that it would take some effort for anything to get thru them, but still we shivered from fright.
My aunts horn on her Cadillac sounded several times as she drove down the road and approached the house. That meant for us to meet her outside and help with the groceries. We didn't budge. We couldn't move. We didn't answer her yells from outside for us to come unload the bags, we didn't crawl out and unlock the door for her, nor answer her knocking. She finally had to use her keys and then give some hefty push's against the pile of items we had up against the door; the trash can, 25 pound bags of dog food, water jugs, and a variety of other stuff. We stayed put. She discovered us only after all the groceries had been brought in and she noticed that her bedroom door was closed and locked.
It was amazing that we hadn't cut each other in some way or another with the immature use of the knives in our haste to hide, and we were chastised in more ways than one when it came down to my aunt observing us slowly emerging from her bedroom with the kitchen weapons in hand. We all started talking at once in a fervor, then we finally let Joe tell his story first, and we finished with "it" breaking a window just before we heard her car horn. She must have startled it. She didn't laugh; she didn't respond at all at first; in fact she never said a word until she came back from inspecting the windows in the bedrooms. My aunt said, indeed, there was a broken window, broken from the outside in. She made us clean up our barricade and put up all the groceries. Later that night, after we were all in bed, and my uncle came home, she related that evening's events to him.
The next morning, their dad warned us, "Stay out of the woods."
He went on to say that he himself had gone down into the woods earlier that morning and found several pits dug and filled with animal bones and parts of carcasses along the path that led to the old sawmill that couldn't be explained. There were also holes dug in the sides of the bluff along the hills that overlooked the old mill that looked like deep caves, big enough for a man to hide in. Then he told us that years before, when the old boy scout camp used to be on the other side of Grand Rivers, an unexplained creature with wolf features was seen along the waters edge close to the camp sites. He and his older son had witnessed it themselves one evening.
I went back home a few weeks after this happened. And since then it has never ceased to be a moment of complete terror lodged inside my mind, along with the horror experienced at the Oakwood Home. It would only be a couple of years later, after moving from the city down to Kentucky, that once more I would come into the legend of the wolf creature by means of some old timers that use to live in Land Between the Lakes (LBL for short). Their tales, told to me while sitting on an old bench in front of the IGA down in Grand Rivers, would help me draw a bigger picture of what this thing actually was. Then, a few more years in passing, in the early '80's, two police officers would tell me their own tale of the events of a tragic scenario discovered in one of the campgrounds down in LBL. Events that were never published in the media.
Just about ten years ago, in the early '90's, Joe and my dad, who had come down from St. Louis to visit, decided to venture into those same woods in front of my aunts house. They took a couple of pistols and two rifles and were gone for several hours. These were two brave men, the bravest I know of, both of whom served in the military and fought in two separate wars, wars of their own time. These two men came back ashen faced and bewildered. They had walked all the way back to the old saw mill. The pits, fresh ones, were still around, filled with the bones of forest animals. The holes in the bluff still there also. They both experienced the feeling of being watched and felt an uneasiness that 'something' just wasn't right. The area where the sawmill was had no life stirring around it. No birds, no squirrels, no crickets, no bugs, even the small pond was still and lifeless. The birds that did fly made their way around the area and refused to fly overhead. The men couldn't shake the feeling of being observed by a secret watcher, and both swore they saw a large black shadow lurking in the shade of one of the mysteriously dug caves. That had been the first time Joe had been down that far on that side of the woods since he was thirteen, and both of them agreed that it was to be the last. My dad said there are some things you just can't explain, that science doesn't know about it, and these things should be left alone; they are not a part of our modern world. He felt that whatever it was that had scared the crap out of us so many years ago still existed in the same area. His intuition has never been wrong so far.
Urban legend? Maybe some of the stories passed along over the years have been added to or stretched a bit, like all local folklore and firsthand stories are over time. My story wasn't an urban tale though. It was a firsthand account of something I really and truly do not want to believe in, and wish I could forget or erase from my memory, because the nightmares remain real, while the events are still inexplicable by the laws of science as we know it.
~ Jan Thompson.
(NOTE: Jan stated in an email that Joe saw the sketch below, and they both "agree on the animal's features, except for the ears.") Joe remembers the creature with a bit shorter ears than are depicted in the sketch.)