I don’t know what it was

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To begin, I live in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee and was raised here. My best friend, who I’ll call B, was born and raised here as well, and we’ve been close since we were barely thirteen. We are still like sisters and spent most of our time together until we both got married and had families of our own. Now that you have a little background, I’ll share a short, but creepy two-part story about what we saw one night by the river on highway 129.

B and I were working together at a local grocery store at this point and we had recently lost a co-worker, and good friend, in a tragic hit and run. For the past couple of years, we had been going to a special boat docking ramp where you could walk and out of the river safely. This had been our favorite place to let loose in the summer and go swim. It was close with easy access and it was free. Perfect for a bunch of broke girls. We had decided to honor her memory there instead of trying to remember where her family had scattered her ashes. We figured one special place was as good as any to celebrate our memories so we made a habit of going swimming.

One year, about eight years ago now, B and I had parked on the gravel pull-off, climbed out of the car as the sun was getting low, and walked to the chilly water. This is a welcome feeling in the early June heat even at night. So we plopped down as close as we could on concrete ramp without sitting in the water and just quietly gazed out over the river and thick foliage that lined the banks. A few minutes of soaking our feet had passed when B said out of nowhere in her casual way, “You know, this would be a great place to hide a dead body.” Now, she didn’t mean this in a creepy way. We said off the wall things like this all the time but never meant anything by it. So, knowing her the way I do, I just laughed and agreed but jokingly shared my ideal place to hide one should I ever had to. Once my butt was numb, I rolled up my pants legs and waded in the shallow parts of the water while we began chatting about other things like work and video games. Everything had been pretty calm and quiet except for the occasional passing car just above us.

The sun had finally set and the water was too dark to safely tread, so we sat on the ramp and began to star gaze. With more idol conversation, we were just admiring the brilliant night sky when suddenly as nearby bush started rustling. We looked at each other and I said it was just a critter to ease our minds. Of course it was a critter. We lived in the country where small rodents were always being cleared off the roads. We continued looking at the sky, but it didn’t last long when that same bush and the flimsy surrounding trees started shaking again. As dark as it was, all we could see was the outlines of the leaves and branches bounce as something shook it. Now, we had our eyes fixed on the plants about ten feet away mildly curious as to what might scurry out from the brush. Suddenly, B’s eyes widened with horror as she shouted, “Oh shit! This is a great place to hide a dead body!” and booked it up the ramp. I had second that notion and was sprinting up the hill and across the gravel in my bare feet faster than I had ever ran before.

B had the car in reverse before I could slam my door. As she peeled out and onto the road, I suddenly felt silly and wanted to laugh at myself for getting worked up over nothing. But, before I could, my breath hitched as I looked into the passenger rearview mirror and saw the most terrifying sight. A tall, dark, and slender creature with gangly limbs stepped out into the road from where we had just been only seconds ago. The dull orange street lamp barely illuminated a shadow for me to even see an outline, much less what it actually was. I immediately darted my eyes back to the road ahead thinking it was only my imagination and we had only been spooked by an animal. That’s when B finally spoke,”Did-did you see that?”

I didn’t want to over react so I asked in turn, “Did I see what?”

“Did you see that huge THING cross the road into the woods behind us?” Her voice was calm but I could hear the nervousness in it as she spoke.

Knowing she would know if I was lying even in a simple answer, I said, “Yes. What WAS that?”

“I don’t know,” B answered, “but I do know that was not a person and it sure as hell wasn’t a black bear.” That was the last time we went to that spot together. But, it was not the last time I went.

Fastforward to a year later. I told this story to my new boyfriend, now husband, and it piqued his interest. You see, he’s a skeptic in every sense of the word and was interested in potential proof of something supernatural. So, we went as the sun was going down and sat on that boat ramp once more. I bowed my head in a moment of silence for my lost friend, then started talking quietly with my boyfriend about how much she loved that spot. We hadn’t been there ten minutes when, all of a sudden, that same bush and encompassing trees started shaking. I laughed nervously and told him that’s what happened last time. I shrugged it off as coincidence and we carried on. Again, the foliage began to shake violently yet there was no wind, not even a breeze. Not moving his eyes, my boyfriend said sternly that we should leave just to be safe. I thought he was more worried about it being someone rather than something. But, when he said to back up slowly and walk to the car, it made me nervous.

Once inside locked doors, I asked him why he didn’t want us moving fast and he replied, “I can’t explain it, but I felt like we were prey being stalked. I didn’t want for whatever it may have been to give chase. I don’t even know if I was over reacting, but better safe than sorry.” I wish I could say we saw something this time, but sadly we didn’t. I haven’t been back either because I don’t really want to be caught off guard by whatever lives by that river. If you’re ever driving down 129 on your way to Cherokee, North Carolina, be wary of the dangerous back road curves and the creature that might still live in these woods. I don’t know what it was, but I do know it wasn’t anything natural.

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