The story that I’m about to relate covers something that happened about 20 years ago or so, and the events that took place that evening have haunted me ever since. I don’t quite know how to begin my story, except to say that what transpired this night has evidently been occurring long before any of us walked this earth. The “being” that I will refer to in this account, as I have only recently became aware of, has been seen an unknown amount of times by an unknown amount of people all across the world, and is referred to by many different names. The Dark Watcher and the Cowboy are but two titles that describe one of these beings, and I am of the mind that contemporary culture has a marked influence on the different monikers that are used to refer to it, as in the way that the elves and demons of the dark and middle ages “evolved” into the extra-terrestrials of today. Enough of the anthropological views, and on to the events that transpired…
It was a cool autumn night in the year 2002, and myself and a friend of mine took to the Appalachian foothills that surround our town in his Jeep Cherokee SUV. This was a favorite pastime of ours, as the range of available activities in our area was, well, limited. So, off we went from our homes past a local coal mine, and onto a logging road that traversed the mountain from the main road at the bottom up to a set of radio broadcast towers at the top.
As I said, it was a cool night, and as we continued to climb the trail higher and higher, the drop in temperature became more and more significant. As we rode along, we talked about how we needed to try and take one last fishing trip to Norris Lake before it became too cold for the season, and which restaurants we thought might be open by the time we made our way back down from the towers. We had made it about two thirds of the way to the towers when the urge to relieve myself became too strong to ignore. Noting this, and blissfully unaware of what we would eventually lay our eyes on upon making this stop, my friend, who I will refer to as “Jeff”, slowed the vehicle down and turned onto a little wide spot in the logging road so that he and I could both take care of our business.
The expression “ignorance is bliss” has never held as much weight as it did on this night at this location. It is rather sobering as I look back on the events of that night to think about what I didn’t know, and compared to presently owning this knowledge, how safe I felt in that absence of knowledge. I digress, however. Looking out of the front windshield, trying to help my friend park his vehicle in a suitable spot, my eyes scanned across something that only just partly became illuminated by the headlights as he swung the Jeep around on the gravel.
I passed this shape up initially, as you get used to seeing things that you find out later was only a trick of the eyes as that scary old witch turns into a dead maple tree in the light of your lantern. However, as something about the shape didn’t fit into my mental catalogue and, consequently, raised my awareness of it actually being there, I brought my eyes back to rest on the shape. By this time, Jeff had stopped his vehicle perpendicular to the main trail, and his headlights shone in the direction of this shape that had, in effect, leapt from the surrounding darkness and made itself known.
It was when I realized that Jeff had stopped his truck completely that I also realized that he held his head and eyes as still as a statue, and both were aimed precisely where mine was. As a side note, as modern, mostly urban-dwelling humans, we aren’t accustomed to wilderness as we once were. Moonlight and the darkness of a midnight forest have given way to fluorescence and brick and mortar complacency. Any deviation from this new norm usually results in the unnerving sensation that we’re not as high the food chain as we thought we were. That being said, we’ll return to the events of that night…
Looking at the shape in front of us, my mind slowly began to wrap itself around what it was processing. Firstly, it must be said that there are darker shades of darkness than night itself. This being was most definitely a darker shade of dark than the nighttime shadows surrounding it, which is what I noticed right off the bat. The second thing about this entity that was readily apparent was its immense size. The beams of Jeff’s headlights looked to reach a height of around 8-9 feet before they stopped lighting up the night. The shape that now stood before us both cleared that height by 6 to 7 more feet with ease. It was around this time of becoming aware of this thing’s size that I can distinctly remember my body beginning to shake at a steady pace.
The next thing I noticed seemed to make reality bend almost to the point of breaking. The vertical limit of the headlights, as I stated before, were easily being outmatched by this thing, but there was something else about the light, or rather the absence of it, that made my heart feel as if it fell from my chest and anchored my feet to the floorboard of the vehicle. While gazing at this creature with eyes opened so largely that they began to ache against the strain, I noticed that the lights seemed to illuminate everything to the left as well as to the right of this thing, and the tall grasses between us and it were also lit up. The light that should have reflected off of this being and given us some sort of detail of its appearance, all but completely vanished into it.
I was able to see a distinct silhouette against the relief of the lights all around this thing, but nothing was visible inside its form. My mind began to falter and it seemed as if the gears inside my head started to grind as the logic I was desperately attempting to apply to this situation was getting me nowhere. It was at this moment that my friend’s quivering voice broke through my cognitive train wreck and broke the spell I was most definitely under. I don’t have a clue how much time actually passed from the moment we first laid eyes on this thing and the moment when Jeff asked me if I was seeing what he was seeing, but we had undoubtedly been in some form of trance since the moment we had spotted it.
After replying that I was indeed seeing what I knew he was seeing, I began to describe to him verbally what I was looking at. I’m not sure if this was a mechanism designed by my mind to keep itself from breaking by injecting something normal into the situation like dialogue, but it seemed to help initially. “Jesus Jeff, I’m looking at what I can only say to you right now is a 12-foot-tall cowboy! Do you see the sleeves and the material around where his legs should be? Do you see its huge brimmed hat? Christ, what have we run into?”
“I don’t know, but what I do know is that we are getting the hell out of here, NOW!” my friend replied as he hastily threw the Jeep into reverse, and almost pushed the gas pedal through the floorboard in an attempt to remove us from these circumstances as quickly as physics would allow. An immense cloud of dust was kicked up by our vehicle’s movements, and our ‘friend’ was completely obscured from our view in but a few seconds. The truck’s back tires smacked the slightly elevated main trail and became airborne for a time as we barreled out onto it. He then slammed it into drive, and floored the accelerator.
I don’t think we spoke a single word the entire way back down from mountain, and several times Jeff’s haste and terror almost accomplished what we were afraid that creature would have tried to had we stayed any longer. Eventually, we arrived back into the town proper, and I was dropped off at my house. I spent the remainder of that night analyzing and trying to break down what we had witnessed into something resembling logic, but was completely and utterly unsuccessful.
I’m not aware of any moral to my story, nor any lesson to be learned, save for this. Even for the most stubborn man or woman, such as myself, there is a place and time where all manner of forms exist. Their purpose and plans I can’t attest to, but after seeing what my friend and I saw that night, the one thing that is indisputable in my mind at least is the fact that there are things that do not fit anyone’s logical algorithm, but nevertheless, they still inhabit some piece of what we call reality for whatever purpose suits them. Rest easy tonight, and stay out of midnight hollows and moonlit back valley trails for your own good…