This is a short, but terrifyingly true, experience that occurred when I was about eleven twelve years old.
I grew up on a Navajo reservation in Utah. Often, the older guys would go out to a nearby bluff to camp out. I was never allowed to go with them – They were grown ups, my mother would tell me. I was just too young.
But the older I grew, the more I wanted to go with them. So, one night, I snuck out and followed them out there. It was maybe a thirty minute walk out, and it took everything I had to be quiet enough to not get caught.
After an excruciating walk, we made it to the bluff. It was beautiful at night. I had never been there after dark. There had to have been thousands of stars in the sky. It’s crazy how different and beautiful everything seemed to be merely a half hour away from my home.
Well, now that I was there, and the guys were setting up tent, I honestly had no idea what to do. I never thought about it – Did I really expect to just wait out here all night and sleep in the nearby woods? So, I decided, once they had settled in, I’d make myself known and face the repercussions in the morning.
I heard a twig snap behind me. My heart pounded and I turned to face whatever was there.
It was my older brother.
“I was just – I wanted to – ” I stammered for an excuse.
“Sssshhhh.” He shushed me with a weird smile on his face.
I turned back toward the group in front of me. My brothers friends were putting together a campfire, and my brother was pitching the tent.
My older brother was setting up the tent, but he was also behind me? I immediately turned around. My brother – no, this impersonator – was now beside me, standing over the bushes as if he didn’t care if the others saw him. He stared at the campsite.
I was too afraid to move or scream. I sat there, waiting and hoping this thing would go away. He was so close – Who knows what might have happened if I would have yelled for my real brother.
I don’t know why I glanced at his feet, but that’s when I couldn’t help but jump backward, away from the demon before me.
He didn’t have feet. He had hooves like a goat. I had heard stories of skinwalkers, even stories of the goatman. I thought they were just that – Stories. But that night on my back on the ground, tears welling up in my eyes, I stared at a being that wasn’t my brother, nor was it human.
I got up and ran harder than I could, not caring whether that thing chased me or not.
I ran until I gripped my older brother’s waist in a tight hug. I could feel the guys’ eyes on me, but at least I was away from that thing. They knew I was scared. I could hear them asking me why I was crying instead of wondering why I wasn’t at home.
They drove me home that night and never ratted me out. I never spoke of the night, not even with my brother. No one would believe me anyway.
But, even so, after all these years, I still can’t help but wince whenever my brother smiles at me.