Thursday, October 29, 2015

Creature of the Month: The Darkling: An Unusual Encounter on a Country Road by Micah Hanks

            Many an after-dark fable recounted over the years has begun with a desolate country road, and a lonely traveler who, upon rounding a curve, finds something unspeakable within the beam cast by his car’s headlights. 
            The thrillers of the silver screen, of course, would require more than this in order to satisfy the desires of the filmgoing horror enthusiast; our monsters must eventually have faces too, and cannot remain forever shrouded in the twilight land of shadow and mystery that haunts the mere imagination. 
            However, in the waking world when the occasional strange meeting on a country road occurs, the conventions of horror cinema very seldom carry over into real life in this way.

            One story along these lines—perplexing and, to a degree, frustrating in its curiousness—was related to me by a man named Justin Demeere, who, in 1993, had a summer nighttime encounter that seemingly defies all rationale afforded us by the consensus reality of the everyday. 
            Justin had been driving home from his girlfriend’s home near Loudon, Tennessee. It was a muggy summer evening around midnight; the year was 1993. In his eagerness to get home, with the hope of the few hours of sleep that lay ahead, he had been traveling along a well-worn country road, and one that he travelled often. “I remember it being a dark and cloudy night,” he recounted, “but no rain.”
            “I came up to a curve that had a bank on the left side of the road,” Justin said. To his right he was aware of a field or pasture, exposing around a hundred yards of grass area leading up to a tree line on every side but that which met the road. 
            “I was going about 30 mph when I saw some black figure coming down the bank on the left,” Justin recounted. “Then it started running onto the road.” 
            Startled by the sudden appearance of this figure, Justin hit his breaks quickly, thinking perhaps that a dog had been crossing the road in front of him, and felt his vehicle swerve slightly as it skid to a halt.
            “This thing,” as Justin described it, “had moved slightly past the double yellow line in the road by that time, and suddenly stopped just as I came to a stop.” Justin figured that he probably managed to miss hitting the figure by a mere six feet or so, coming to a stop with his passenger-side headlight pointing directly at the strange—and very small—figure before him. 
            “It suddenly turned as if to look at me, and thats when I thought, this is a little person
            Strange though it was, the smallish entity in Justin’s headlights had made its way onto the road on two legs, and appeared to possess arms as well, like any humanoid figure might be expected to have. 
            “I knew right away this was no person,” Justin said, “because it was only 2 1/2, or maybe 3 feet tall.” The thought crossed his mind, at this point, that perhaps it had been a child, but Justin couldn’t fathom why any child would have been out in the middle of nowhere like this, approaching midnight, and on a school night. 
            “But the biggest reason I knew this was something very out of the ordinary is the fact that my headlights were pointing right at it, only six feet away, yet there was no light reflecting off of this thing.”
            The strange humanoid had been pitch black, and apparently reflecting no light whatsoever. “[It was] like it was a void. But what I could easily see was the outline of this thing from my headlights on the road behind it.” 
            When the being stopped and turned, Justin could see the outline of it turning to look at him, turning its shoulders towards him, with its arms slightly spread, which Justin interpreted as meaning the creature—whatever it was—had been startled. “It was in mid stride,” he said, “and I could see a knee bent and a pointy foot; what looked like its left foot. Its right foot and leg were obscured by what I can only describe as a long coat. The coat collar was flipped up, and the collar was pointy and sticking out from its shoulders.         
            “It looked just like some sort of trench coat,” Justin said.  
            With the strange coat the being had been wearing, its neck was obscured from view. What remained apparent, however, had been what Justin could only describe as “a tall pointy hat” that it wore, with wide brims that Justin said “stood out almost past its shoulders.” The hat and coat that this being wore had an unusual appearance, as if they had been very rigid and unmoving. 
            “The top of its pointy hat probably came up to the hood of my car,” Justin recalled. The car he had been driving that evening was a moderate-sized 1991 Ford Escort, and from his best guess, might have been only three feet tall, including the hat
            “It stood there for several seconds. Enough time for me to say, what in the hell?” I reached for my headlights to click them on brighter. At the time, I wasn’t sure if my high beams were on, because I couldn’t see any light reflecting off of this thing. When I clicked the beams they went back to low, so realizing this, I quickly set them to high again. As soon as I did that it turned and faced the field. For the duration of the time Justin observed the creature, he was unable to see its face, which appeared to be obscured by the tall collar on the jacket it wore. 
            “It then ran across the road into the field, very quickly, and vanished into the trees staying real close to the ground. The light reflecting off of the road and surrounding area was enough for me to see it run through the field and into the tree line. My first reaction was to grab the door and get out to get a better look of it running through the field,” Justin said, but soon found himself wondering whether the entity had been alone… what if there were others?
            “I pushed the gas and got out of there quickly.” 

            Following his encounter, Justin recounted what he had seen to his brother, as well as his mom, who were still awake when he arrived home. Neither had been very interested in hearing more details at this late hour, and so the family went on to bed. However, Justin didn’t sleep well, and the following morning, he decided to drive back to the location where the observation had occurred. 
            “The next morning I went back down that road and noticed something I had not see the night before. “Justin found what he believed had been the very location where he had stopped the night before, even noticing the skid marks on the pavement where he had forcibly applied his breaks. On the right side of the road, he could see a barbed wire fence. 
            “It was a fence [that was still] in use, because the field was a cow pasture that I could now see. There was hardly any room for a creature that size to get through without a struggle. However, when this thing ran, it did not jump or struggle at all. It stayed close to the ground, and moved faster than I could even run. 
            To his amazement, Justin said it seemed as though the small entity had somehow gone through the fence, rather than under or over it. “I would have noticed it jumping over the fence, or even slowing down… but it never slowed down when it ran.” 
            In our correspondence, Justin admitted that the events which transpired that evening had troubled him over the years. Justin had long maintained a passion for science, and by no means considered himself to be a credulous sort, preferring to spend his nights studying physics and astronomy, and working as a filmmaker by day. 
            “To this day, it has baffled me, and creeped me out at times. I have searched for a long time to see if there is anything reported like this, and I haven’t found anything quite like it. The closest I have come is finding the ‘Hat Man’ reports, but all of those speak of a tall shadow figure wearing a hat. This ‘thing’, however, was not tall. 
            “I had never really thought to question reality as we know it from what the “‘experts’ say,” Justin told me, until certain things I have seen [like this] have forever altered my way of thinking on how the universe actually works. 
            “This is one of the couple of things I’ve seen that assures me we know far less than a lot within the scientific community might think.” 
            From time to time, perhaps these sorts of encounters—however incredible they seem—really can happen, whatever their ultimate source may be. Though to seek answers is to be human, perhaps we need not have solutions to every oddity in the human collective, just to observe the effect they can have on the waking mind from time to time. 

Micah Hanks is a writer, researcher, lecturer, and radio personality whose work addresses a variety of scientific concepts and unexplained phenomena. Over the last decade, his research has examined a variety of approaches to studying the unexplained, cultural phenomena, human history, and the prospects of our technological future as a species as influenced by science.

He is author of several books, including his 2012 New Page Books release, The UFO Singularity, The Ghost RocketsMagic, Mysticism and the Molecule, and Reynolds Mansion. Hanks produces a weekly podcast, The GralienReport, which follows his research.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Weird News of the Week

Angry Elephants

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Cricket Bitter

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Return of the Squid

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Positive News of the Week

Obama Wedding-Crasher Moment

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3-Year-Old Homecoming Queen

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D.C. Now Powered by Sewage Megawatts

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Weird News of the Week

Moth Cannon

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Miss Sneezes

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Farmer Shows Woolly Bones

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Positive News of the Week

Teeny Tiny Pigs!

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Shelter Pets Class of 2015

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Spider Girl

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Creature of the Month: A Monster in the City by Nick Redfern

Of all the many and varied unknown creatures that are said to inhabit our planet – such as Bigfoot, the Abominable Snowman, and the Chupacabra – perhaps the most chilling ones are not those that lurk in dense, faraway forests, in remote and expansive jungles, and on distant icy mountains. The ones that we should really be wary of are those that live practically under our very noses. It’s one thing to read accounts of extraordinary animals and rampaging monsters in faraway, exotic environments. It’s quite another thing, however, to have such monstrosities almost lurking on our doorsteps. But, incredibly, there are far more than a few reports on record of terrifying beasts seen deep in the hearts of our towns and cities. To be sure, it’s a chilling thought that, as we sleep, menacing beasts may be roaming around our very own neighborhoods.    All of this brings me to a certain, memorable affair that absolutely defines the “monsters are among us” scenario. 

I grew up only about seven or eight miles from the English city of Birmingham. It’s a large city with a population of slightly more than one million. It’s also a city that, in recent years, has been significantly transformed, in terms of new buildings, modernization, and expansion. But, much of the old, historic Birmingham still remains. In Medieval times Birmingham was a market-town, but came to prominence in the 18th century, with the so-called Industrial Revolution. All of which brings us to the matter of Birmingham’s extensive network of centuries-old canals.

Collectively known as the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) the canals of Birmingham and its immediate surroundings run for approximately 160 miles. At the heart of the canals of Birmingham – both geographically and historically – is what is called the Gas Street Basin. It’s a famous landmark where the Worcester and Birmingham Canal crosses paths with the BCN Main Line. But, for our purposes, it’s not so much the canal itself that’s important. Rather, it’s what is said to lurk within the Gas Street waters and its surroundings that counts.

 Photo of a portion of the Birmingham canal network: Nick Redfern, 2010

In his new book, A Manifestation of Monsters, Dr. Karl Shuker states of the Gas Street Basin: “In 1997, these waterways were said to be home to a gargantuan eel, variously dubbed the Gas Street Monster…It was described by one angler eyewitness as being black in color, ‘with little beady eyes,’ and up to 20 feet long…”

The reason I mention this is because I grew up quite close to Karl, and, as Karl knows, I too was the recipient of a number of reports of huge – and potentially dangerous - eels in the canals of Birmingham, some of which dated back to the 1980s. Of course, the average eel is nothing to be concerned about. When you’re on the receiving end of reports of violent eels fifteen feet long and more, however – as I was – then that changes things a bit. To say the very least!

Eel drawing: David Starr Jordan, Wikimedia Commons, public domain, 1888/1889

Collectively, over the years, I have secured nine separate and distinct reports of giant eels deep in the heart of the canals of the city of Birmingham, only one of which was from the Gas Street Basin. The others were from different parts of “Brum” (which is the city’s famous nickname), some even up to three miles from Gas Street. This, of course, suggests the creatures had – and maybe continue to have – significantly sized territories in which to roam.

One particularly memorable report came to me from the employees of a plumbing company that backed onto a stretch of the Birmingham canal network. It was the late 1980s when, while on their lunch-hour and as they threw pieces of bread to the local, resident, ducks, they were shocked to see a large creature swimming along in the water. It was obviously an eel, but one of massive proportions. And it was clearly keeping those aforementioned beady eyes on the ducks. Fortunately for the ducks, none of them were dragged beneath the waters in Jaws-style: the eel, after a few minutes, vanished to the deeper levels of the canal and was lost from sight. It was a story that became part and parcel of the “Gas Street Monster” lore.

Another report, a far more sinister one, was given to me approximately half a decade ago. However, it involved events reputed to have occurred around the end of the 1970s or during the very earliest weeks or months of the 1980s. The location was the canal near Birmingham’s Rotten Park Road. It’s a place where, oddly, in 2003, the corpse of a fifteen-foot-long python was found, and then dragged out of the water by the Police and the RSPCA, the UK’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. So the story went, on several occasions large eels were seen around Rotten Park Road - always very late at night, and by horrified witnesses, who saw the creatures stealthily and quietly exiting the water and briefly roaming around the local neighborhood. And, for those who may not know, eels are quite adept at leaving their watery environments behind them and moving on land. So the story went, the sightings of the giant eels coincided – time-wise – with the mysterious disappearances of a number of animals, including pet cats and rabbits.

As for the weird saga of the Rotten Park Road python, my best “guesstimate” is that this was someone’s pet which grew to a size where it became unmanageable and was then callously dumped to fend for itself in the canal. Unfortunately, and unlike an eel, a python would stand no chance of surviving the cold water of an English canal. So, I suggest that the lengthy presence of the eels and the very brief presence of the python - in the same stretch of water - was due to nothing more than a coincidence. Albeit, admittedly, a very strange one!

I guess, from my perspective, the most disturbing (and, I have to admit, exciting) aspect of all this is not just the fact that giant, monstrous eels of unprecedented sizes might exist, but that they may be doing so right in the heart of civilization. In locations – such as the huge, sprawling, city of Birmingham, England – where hundreds of thousands of people go about their daily routines, blissfully unaware of the monsters that lurk among them…

Nick Redfern is the author of many books, including his most recent Bloodline of the Gods . He has appeared on more than 70 TV shows, including: Fox News; the BBC’s Out of This World; the SyFy Channel’s Proof Positive; the History Channel’s Monster QuestAmerica’s Book of SecretsAncient Aliens, and UFO Hunters; the National Geographic Channel’s Paranatural; and MSNBC’s CountdownNick writes regularly for UFO MagazineMysterious Universe, and Fate.
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