2020/05/27

High Strangeness Hits Home

Night Woods

An unexpected but welcome development arising from my high strangeness posts has been the occasional reader who writes me to share his own tale of the unexplained. Audience participation is a major benefit of blogging, and it's fun to hear from my readers.

Recently though, these posts took an unsettling turn as the high strangeness hit close to home. The following comes from someone with whom I'm quite close. Shared with permission.
As you know, I've followed your blog since the beginning. Your high strangeness posts have been some of my all time favorites, which is ironic in hindsight, since I only just realized I've been living in one for a couple of years now.
That's why I'm writing this now. I didn't notice everything that was snowballing this whole time until something I couldn't ignore happened the other night and put it all in perspective.
Anyway, enough beating around the bush. I'll just get right into it. You know I moved into my current place back in November. I'm still a night owl, and I've kept up my habit of taking walks at night. So your readers know, this neighborhood is pretty densely wooded, but it's near the edge of a decent-sized city. My street is pretty secluded even though it's right off a major thoroughfare. In short, it's great for long private walks without fear of getting lost away from civilization or falling victim to street crime. Perfect, right?
Except I soon found out it's not so perfect. Not two weeks after I moved in, I was strolling down the shady residential street that leads off the main road to my neighborhood. I saw a stocky guy with a buzz cut standing in the open gate to his backyard fence. He watched me approach, and, when I got closer, marched up to me and shined a high-power flashlight right in my face. Then, like the bad cop in some cheesy crime movie, he demanded to know if I was the one who kicked his dog's head in.
A little background. This guy's dog is a German Shepherd--a big one! It's mean and territorial, barking loudly at anyone who gets too close to the owner's yard--which, by the way, is fortified like something out of I Am Legend. The guy's got a high wooden fence with a big chainlink kennel for the dog near the house, and he leaves a high-powered floodlight on all night every night.
Anyway, I truthfully told him that not only did I not cave his dog's head in, I would never even think of doing something so despicable, since I'm a lifelong dog-lover. He told me I'd better not have and stormed off back to his yard.
I remember feeling mostly annoyed and indignant at the time, but a part of me briefly wondered who could have seriously injured such a big, vicious guard dog--and to hear the owner tell it, unarmed at that. But I put the thought aside and went on my way, making sure to change my walking route to avoid that house for a while. I felt a bit uneasy for a time, but I didn't see anything out of the ordinary.
The incident was soon forgotten as relations with my next door neighbors demanded more of my attention. The lady of the house seemed generally uneasy about something. One time her boyfriend came over to borrow some tools because they were sure someone had bugged their house. The girlfriend must think I'm patrolling the block at night instead of taking leisure walks, because one night she called me over for a chat as I was passing in front of her place. One thing she said that stuck out to me then and sends chills down my spine now was that I "must be tired of the weirdness going on around here."
It might be nothing, but my neighbors have a bright white porch light that they turn on every night at sunset and leave on until after dawn. There's also a motion-activated floodlight in their front yard.They also have a dog that they let roam around the neighborhood. One night a couple years ago, he got spooked and ran off into the woods (Our neighborhood is right on the edge of a heavily wooded city park). They searched all night but couldn't find him. He finally came back on his own hours later, panting heavily and soaked in his own pee.
Like I said, I didn't really connect any of this - until a couple of nights ago when I was returning from a walk. It was after midnight, and I was walking down the same side street the German Shepherd owner's fortified compound is on. The last street light is at a fork in the road, and it has an annoying habit of winking out just as I get to it. The other night, it did it again, right after I became aware of an unusual smell. I'd never smelled anything quite like it. Think of burning hair with an undercurrent of sulfur, and you've got a rough idea. Only there was no texture of smoke on the air. It was an earthy, somehow warm odor.
When I set foot in the fork in the road, I felt suddenly scared for no visible reason. I slowed down and tried to creep along as if I was a kid trying to sneak a midnight snack without waking my parents. My footsteps seemed ridiculously loud. It had rained recently, and despite myself, I kept stepping in puddles in the dark. The splash of my feet in the puddles may as well have been boulders dropping into them.
Then another noise made me forget all about my loud feet. I was on the left fork. The right fork continued onto a more secluded, upscale street that ran alongside a steep ravine. The noise I heard was something taking off through the woods probably thirty yards to my right and crashing through that ravine. I heard dry leaves and underbrush thrashing and branches--if not whole saplings--snapping. Whatever was booking it out of there, it was big--at least the size of a large dog.
Yes, we have deer in the area. I've seen--and disturbed--herds of them lots of times. Once or twice, I've seen and heard them flee into that same ravine. They're nowhere near as loud as whatever made that racket the other night. And you don't hear them as long. This thing's exit remained audible for several seconds as opposed to a moment or two for the deer.
I scoped out the ravine on Google maps. It cuts through the park all the way to the river at the base of the hills. It would be mighty convenient for something traveling the river to move inland through those ravines without being seen.
That's it so far. Sorry if it was anticlimactic.
Oh, I leave my front and back outdoor lights on from dusk 'til dawn, now, too.

For early access to fictional thrills and chills, back Combat Frame XSeed: S now!

Combat Frame XSeed: S - Brian Niemeier

14 comments:

  1. The part that strikes me as concerning is his neighbor’s words about getting tired of the weirdness. The dog and skull is bad enough but to have other neighbors aware and noticing things closer to home? Boy.

    An aside, the night owl/walks at night part put my in mind of a horror novel by Richard Laymon called Night in the Lonesome October. I read it back before I came back to religion and I enjoyed it at the time. Laymon does horror well but unfortunately he can’t help mix very prurient details and subject matter.

    But in the story, all manner of odd things happened to a guy who started taking long walks at night, like playing Ride or Hide: When walking, if you see headlights approaching, you decide to Ride (keep walking and hope the car isn’t a member of the night owl subculture [they have rules]who will harass the walker) or Hide (dart to the nearest house, whether you know the people or not, and hope it’s unlocked; then explore with getting caught).

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    1. That's fascinating. Is the night owl subculture with its own code a conceit of the book, or is there really such a thing?

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    2. I would like to know as well actually

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    3. As far as I know, it’s a conceit of the book. Back after I read the book the first time, I would go out and take long walks around midnight or so, in the hopes that there was something like it going on in the real world. But sadly no! For the best really, given what happened in the book but I was younger and dumber.

      There were some genuinely unsettling and creepy moments in that book. And in all of his books.

      It’s a shame about Laymon’s books: they’re probably the best horror out there. But unfortunately I can’t recommend them anymore, especially to Christians, because nearly every character has a lascivious streak running through them, even the protagonists. The stories end up being very salacious in addition to creepy.

      His stories are loaded with interesting conceits and story “what-ifs” that you just don’t see in a lot of fiction, horror especially. The book that’s probably the most clean of them all is probably The Traveling Vampire Show. Has a definite Ray Bradbury vibe to it.

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  2. Sounds like a typical Cryptid encounter.
    I'm not saying it's a Sasquatch...but it's a Sasquatch. ;-)

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  3. Yesterday I found a stone axe in the middle of maybe a hundred empty acres, and then a couple of hours later found a piece of worked stone that someone had knapped flint off. It's not weird per se, but an absurdly unlikely find, particularly as the latter is a stone a couple of inches across and was found in a paddock full of small stones...

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    1. Hmm...you've been infested by Neanderthal flint knappers! Better put out some bait for that.

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  4. If available, consider a Google Street View drive through, like Anonymous Conservative.

    https://www.anonymousconservative.com/blog/surveillance-detection-the-professional-course-the-alaskan-improvised-elevated-observation-post/

    If something fishy is going on, there's a good chance any surveillance presence will be painfully obvious.

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    1. We considered that, but it's a private drive that Google didn't photograph.

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    2. Not the private drive itself. If the unusual activity is accompanied by surveillance, it will be self-evident in the area surrounding the inaccessible private driveway. Look for weird activity around the Google Street View car as it drives through the surrounding area. It's a remote area. Are there cars or people out and about when it goes by? Where are they? Are they unique or identifiable in some way?

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    3. I just tried it. Everything looked normal until the Google car arrived at a point directly perpendicular to the private drive. The frame that should have shown the area right across the street to the car's left is blurred out like the frame is missing. Nothing like that appears anywhere else along the route nearby.

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    4. Brian, if the frame is a home or other privately owned property, the owner can petition Google to blur the frame for privacy concerns.

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    5. That's probably what happened. Thank you!

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