My Dad and the Creature in the Woods

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This isn’t my story, but it’s from my father who doesn’t like talking about it, but won’t shut up about it when he’s drunk.

From about 2008 to 2013, my dad worked for the Multnomah County Search and Rescue Department in the Portland metro area. He absolutely loved the work, but the job itself was grueling and often had really terrible payoff whether it be dead bodies or drugged out lost hikers (there were plenty of them). However, my dad always told me that there were things in the woods that not even God himself could have placed upon this Earth.

In November of 2013, my dad was called out to go and hunt down a missing runaway girl in the Mt. Hood Wilderness. Normally, their department didn’t deal with kids up that far east, but they had recalled all of their Northern Oregon teams to help search for this girl. Since my dad had two kids about the same age at home, he quickly packed up his bag and headed out with his team. My dad was one of the best climbers on his team, easily repelling 200′ cliffs without batting an eye and his team was given a very gnarly part of the grid pattern that was customary on all searches. He and his team loaded up and headed down that way.

They worked all the way towards sunset, belaying down the cliffside, screaming this girl’s name. When the sun started to set over the canyon, most of the team were radioed back in and they packed up because they weren’t allowed to climb up and down cliffs in the dark. My dad was the last one that they were going to pull up, but as  he was getting ready to head up the cliff, an eerie shriek like that of a heron, but much louder echoed through the otherwise silent woods. The hair on the back of my dad’s neck stood up and he turned around to see someone…no, something, standing about 100 feet back in the underbrush, its eyes reflecting his headlamp.

Deer are a common sight in the woods, but my father, being the great outdoorsman he was, knew that this was no deer, especially when the thing actually stood up on two legs, like any bipedal would and my dad finally saw the creature wholly.

The thing was tall and skinny with an impossibly large mouth that was split open by glistening, jagged teeth. Its abnormally long, scrawny arms hung limply at its side, the hands of this monstrosity coming to fine talons where fingernails should have been. On its head was a pair of antlers, like a mockery of an elk or deer. My dad couldn’t move. He couldn’t have gone anywhere even if he had wanted to. He and the creature watched one another for a few more seconds until it gave one more agonizingly horrific shriek and turned from my dad, silently creeping back into the woods. When my dad retold the story, he forgot to mention one little detail; in the light of the setting sun, he could see the creature’s fingers were stained with dried blood.

The team began to haul my father up the cliff side just as the sun sunk below the horizon. His team tried to ask my father what was wrong, but he was convinced that he had been hallucinating in the cold mountain air. They walked back to their base camp and my father drove him in silence. I remember seeing my father that night because I have never seen a grown man look so haunted and terrified.

The next day, they went back to the grid and hunted further into the next square. As the morning turned to afternoon, a shrill cry was heard from one of the female volunteers. My dad and his crew practically sprinted to where the screaming was coming from. There, half concealed under a bush, was half of a torso that belonged to a young girl. When I say half, the girl had been violently ripped apart from her belly button up, her entrails spilling out of the vacuum where her lower half once was. The worst thing was that her throat had also been pretty much ripped out, claw marks marring her skin. My dad couldn’t help but think of the stranger creature he had seen the night before and the blood on its fingers. My father quit the Search and Rescue team shortly afterwards.

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