Friday, October 31, 2014

Kushtaka (The Otterman)

Alaska is truly one of the last remaining untamed wilderness areas in the world. It is cold, very remote, and the sun doesn't always shine. It's no wonder that they call it "Land of the Midnight Sun." The Tlingit and the Tsimshian have called this cold, beautiful country their home for hundreds, perhaps even thousands of years. Here, they have lived by hunting, fishing, and foraging for food in the snowy forests and the freezing rivers. However, each time they go out to hunt or to forage for food, they have to be wary, armed, and on their guard, for Alaska is said to be home to a variety of terrifying monsters. Sasquatch, the Adlet, Thunderbirds, the Waheela, and even the notorious Sheepsquatch call this country home. But among the most sinister and the most dangerous of these monsters is a shapeshifting beast that is half man and half otter. The Tlingit know this creature as the Kushtaka, the Otterman.

According to Tlingit legend, the Kushtaka is a mythological shapeshifting beast that is said to be half man, half otter, and wholly monstrous. Loosely translated, the word kushtaka (or Kooshdakhaa) means "land otter man." This creature is believed to inhabit the hundreds of lakes, rivers, and ponds that lie scattered throughout the Alaskan landscape. The Kushtaka is said to be especially prevalent in the temperate forests of Southeastern Alaska. In its native habitat, it can be assumed that this creature feeds on fish and mollusks like its animal kin, although it may be more than willing to devour the flesh of its victims if it feels so inclined.

Because the Kushtaka is a shapeshifter, pinning down exactly what the creature looks like is difficult. Most descriptions say that the Otterman is exactly that: half man and half otter. It is said to be bipedal and stands at around the height of a man (about six to eight feet). The creature is covered in sleek, dark brown or black fur, having the hands of a man with taloned fingers, humanlike feet, a long tail, large glowing eyes, and a mouthful of needlelike teeth. Others say that the Kushtaka looks more or less like a Sasquatch, although there seems to be enough differences between these monsters for them to be two entirely different creatures. Because of this, it is sometimes referred to as "Alaska's Other Bigfoot." When the Kushtaka has assumed another form, however, it becomes much more difficult to identify. It is said that the only thing that can differentiate the Kushtaka in another form (like a person) from the real person is that its teeth never change, remaining long and sharp.

The native peoples of Alaska are wary of the Kushtaka and the waters that it calls home to the point of paranoia, for the monster's cruelty and sinister nature seem to have no bounds. In other words, it is considered to be both malicious and very evil. The beast is said to be as intelligent as any human, perhaps more so. The Kushtaka is known for being able to eerily mimic the crying of a baby and the screams of a woman, and it uses these sounds to entice people to the water's edge. Once the monster's prey is close enough, it proceeds to kill the victim by tearing them into pieces with its claws and teeth. Either that, or it will turn the victim into another Kushtaka. It will also lure sailors further away from the shoreline to their demise (much like the Siren in Greek mythology). The creature preys mostly on small children, as a child's innate curiosity makes it easy to lure them in close enough to where the Kushtaka can reach them. On a more frightening note, the Kushtaka is said to abduct human babies as well (which ties in with European tales of faeries and changelings). If the creature keeps the baby for long enough, the infant will eventually become a Kushtaka itself. Additionally, the Otterman is also known to emit a high-pitched three-part whistle, which consists of a low whistle, a high whistle, and another low whistle. Presumably this also serves to entice potential victims, but it could also serve as a means of communication with others of its kind. And according to some legends, one should never speak the Kushtaka's name, especially three times in a row. This is said to summon forth the monster, and is very likely to make the Otterman very angry.

Paradoxically, there are instances of the Kushtaka behaving kindly or in an otherwise benevolent manner towards people. In some stories, the Otterman is portrayed as saving people from drowning or freezing to death by turning the person into another Kushtaka. It does this by creating illusions of the person's family and friends to distract them while the Kushtaka transforms them into one of its own. Strangely enough, these illusions are somewhat otterlike in appearance (which would alert any human with knowledge of such things). Exactly how the Otterman is able to transform people into more of its kind is unknown, but it may involve magic. This sudden change allows the person to survive the cold, but this is viewed as being a mixed blessing. On one hand, they are gifted with supernatural powers. On the other hand, however, that person (now a shapeshifting beast) will never again be able to resume their lives as humans among their families and friends. Perhaps the Kushtaka, like people, varies in regards to personality from one individual to another (it is said that there is an entire race of these creatures, after all). But it would seem that the stories of the evil Kushtaka far outweigh any others.

The Kushtaka has a variety of supernatural abilities at its disposal. One of them, as already mentioned, is shapeshifting. The creature is said to be able to assume any form or guise that it pleases, and its most common form, of course, is that of an otter. Some say that it may become any species of otter (like a sea otter or a river otter), while others believe that it is limited to only one. The Kushtaka is also said to be able to take on human form and walk amongst humans if it so desires. Although most sources aren't very specific, it can be reasonably assumed that the monster is capable of assuming any form that it desires. Some say that it is even able to take on the appearance of someone who has recently died!

In addition to its shapeshifting powers, the Kushtaka is possessed of supernatural strength, speed and agility in the water, and endurance. The creature is able to create illusions that enable it to deceive its victims and entice them into coming close enough for the Kushtaka to strike. It is able to appear and disappear at will, communicate telepathically, and it can (allegedly) manipulate time and space. The creature is able to survive in freezing conditions that would kill a person outright, and it can hold its breath underwater for long periods (although exactly how long is unknown). And finally, it is able to turn humans into others of its kind, a concept that is absolutely terrifying to the Tlingit. This is because the Tlingit believe that, in order to achieve reincarnation and eternal life after they die, they have to be human. Not only this, but their souls have to be intact as well. Being transformed into a Kushtaka deprives the victim of both of these things, and the transformation would last forever unless a shaman was found who could rescue the victim. And not only that, but the shaman had to be powerful enough in the ways of magic and the spirits to reverse the transformation and change the victim back into a human. It might be reasonable to assume that medicine men with such powers are few and far between in the twenty-first century.

As dangerous and powerful as the Kushtaka is, it does have a few weaknesses. The creature both fears and despises dogs, and it is said that the animal's barking can force the Kushtaka to reveal its true form. That being said, it is also possible that dog bones can be used as weapons against the Otterman. A dagger carved from dog bone might be able to kill the creature, although this is purely speculation. But it must be emphasized that the bone should be taken from an animal that has already passed away from natural causes (as anything else is both immoral and unethical). In one way or another, dogs are not only faithful friends, but they also provide excellent protection from the Kushtaka. According to legend, the Kushtaka may be kept at bay with copper, human urine, and in some stories, fire. No reasons are given as to why these things hold sway over the Otterman. Theoretically, a copper blade may be able to wound or even kill the Kushtaka. Shamanic magic could be used defensively against the creature and ward it off, although finding a shaman in this day and age who has the necessary power to do so would be a task in and of itself.

There are a great many stories and folktales that tell of the Kushtaka, and some of these stories may actually be true. One of the better-known of these stories is that of gold prospector Harry Colp and his three companions (their names are not given). In 1900, Colp and his associates set about exploring the Patterson Glacier north of Thomas Bay, in what was called "The Devil's Country" by locals. This place was known locally as "The Bay of Death" to the Tlingit, who recalled a horrible tragedy that took place there over one hundred and fifty years earlier. In 1750, an enormous landslide killed five hundred innocent villagers, and this incident was attributed to the evil of the Kushtaka. It is said that the village shaman broke his covenant with the monster, effectively sealing the fates of his people. Mr. Colp later returned with a disturbing story that he later wrote down. The manuscript itself wasn't discovered until after Colp's death by his daughter. She called it "The Strangest Story Ever Told."

Early in the morning one day, Harry Colp left his home. He brought his rifle along for the adventure. He came to a ridge, where he noticed some grouse frolicking about. Raising his rifle, Colp shot three of the birds. While on his way to pick up the third, he found a large piece of quartz. He hadn't been looking around much at the surrounding terrain, but he knew that it was densely wooded and full of brush. He noted that "the formation didn't show up," but he couldn't uncover the ledge without any tools. Fortunately, a snag had broken off and fallen to the ground, scraping off the moss and loose soil and leaving an area some eight feet wide and eighteen to twenty feet long. The entire ledge was made of quartz!

Colp noted that the ledge had been worked smooth by a passing glacier at some point in the distant past. Knowing that where there was quartz there might be gold, he searched for a rock or something to break a piece off of the ledge with. He couldn't find anything, so he used the stock of his rifle to get a piece of the quartz, and he actually broke the stock in the process. He wasn't too worried at the time, as there weren't any animals that he'd seen in the area larger than the grouse that he'd shot earlier that day. He admired the richness of the quartz, and he immediately thought of heading back to town and gathering up his associates so that they could begin their work. He'd made a rich find, and he concealed the ledge "with moss, limbs, and rotten chunk."

Colp began to think, pondering if he should climb the ridge that was standing directly over the quartz ledge to find some landmarks in order to guide himself back to that particular spot, or at least tell his companions where the ledge was in case something happened to him. He then decided that this was the best course of action, "climbing straight up over the ledge on the ridge" until he reached the top, some six hundred feet above the quartz ledge. Looking down below, he scouted out a tree that was taller than the rest and which had a thick, leafy canopy. It was fifty feet to the right of the ledge, and he gazed over the top of the tree. From where he was standing, Colp "could see out on Frederick Sound, Cape of the Straight Light, the point of Vanderput Spit; and turning to the left a little, I could see Sukhoi Island from the mouth of Wrangell Narrows." Colp turned halfway around to get a view of the mountain peaks, and below him on the other side of the ridge "was the half-moon lake the Indian had told me about." What Mr. Colp didn't know was that he was about to encounter something that would scare the wits out of him...

"Right there, fellows, I got the scare of my life. I hope to God that I never see or go through the likes of it again." Colp found himself confronted by a mob of "the most hideous creatures." Colp described them, saying that "I couldn't call them anything but devils, as they were neither men nor monkeys, yet looked like both." These creatures appeared to be genderless, "their bodies covered with long course hair, except where the scabs and running sores had replaced it." The creatures had their arms extended, trying to get ahold of him. He reported that "the air was full of their cries and the stench from their sores and bodies made me faint."

Forgetting about the broken stock on his rifle, he tried firing on the first creatures that came towards him. When that didn't work, he threw his rifle at them, turned around, and ran for his life! "God, how I did run!" Colp could feel the creatures breathing on the back of his neck, and the creatures slashed at his back with their long, clawlike fingernails. The stench of the creatures made him nauseous, and their yelling and screaming was driving the man out of his mind. According to Colp's account, at this point his powers of reasoning left him. What happened next is unclear, as Colp himself had no recollection.

When Mr. Colp came around, he recorded that "I was lying in the bottom of my canoe, drifting between Thomas Bay and Sukhoi Island, cold, hungry, and crazy for a drink of water." What was even stranger was that he was still holding on to that chunk of quartz! At this point, he made for the town of Wrangell. There, he recounted his terrifying encounter with the horde of hairy, stinking beasts, saying "You no doubt think I am either crazy or lying. All I can say is, there is the quartz. Never let me hear the name of Thomas Bay again, and for God's sake help me get away tomorrow on that boat!"

What did Harry Colp encounter on that fateful day? Was it truly a horde of Kushtaka that had attacked him? It is most certainly possible. One has to remember that the Kushtaka is a shapeshifting trickster, and it may be capable of assuming any form that it desires. Secondly, the Kushtaka isn't just the name of one monster: it's an entire race of creatures. But why would a group of Kushtaka take on the forms of a band of marauding Sasquatches, especially ones with stinking, oozing sores on their bodies? Perhaps it was just a group of Sasquatch with mange or some type of skin disease, but the possibility that these creatures may have been Kushtakas should not be ruled out.

Tlingit folklore and oral traditions do not have much to say when it comes to how to kill this monster. The Kushtaka is said to be impervious to bullets, thus leaving firearms out of the equation. The best way to find out how to dispatch one of these creatures is to speak to the native peoples of Alaska and see what they have to say. As mentioned previously, the Kushtaka fears and hates dogs. A dog, if large enough and having enough strength, might be able to kill the Otterman. It would be a bloody, violent struggle in which the Kushtaka might emerge victorious, due to its superior strength and perhaps its ability to shapeshift. Either that, or both the dog and the monster may sustain mortal wounds in their battle.

There may yet be other ways to kill the Kushtaka. It was mentioned earlier that the monster may be kept at bay with copper, human urine, and fire. Exactly why the Otterman fears human urine is currently unknown at this time (possibly because of the smell), but it might be a good idea (albeit a disgusting one) to bottle some of one's own pee, just in case of an emergency. Why the Kushtaka is afraid of copper is another mystery. Copper was one of the very first metals (after gold and silver) to be utilized by modern humans for tools and weapons. It is soft and easily shaped by hammering, readily taking on useful forms that can be refined by rubbing on an abrasive stone saturated with water. It can be rather easily cast and hammered into cutting tools or weapons. Copper also work-hardens as it is hammered, making it stronger and better able to hold an edge. Perhaps it is this primitive connection with mankind's past that gives the metal power over the Kushtaka. It may be reasonable to suggest that the monster can be severely wounded or even killed by a copper blade, especially if the blade pierces the heart. The only disadvantage of a copper blade is that it isn't very rigid and will bend very easily if used for hard cutting or thrusting strokes. A copper weapon will also not hold a sharp edge for very long, and thus its use is limited by the metal's lack of resilience.

Another thing that may be utilized against the Kushtaka are the bones of a dog. Given the creature's hatred of the canine species, it is hardly surprising that, even in death, the dog may still be able to save those that it loved in life from the evil of the Kushtaka. If carved into a dagger, or mounted onto a wooden pole as a spear, it may prove to be extremely effective. But to kill the Kushtaka, it would have to pierce the heart (or possibly the brain). This is purely theoretical, however, and may not even work. It's the same with a copper blade, and while copper is harder than bone, the metal's softness limits its usefulness to two or three strikes before it bends and deforms to the point of being useless.

There are two other methods that may work against the Kushtaka: decapitation and fire. A steel blade should be used for this (copper makes for poor cutting weapons), and while not everyone can afford or knows how to use a sword, a machete is a great alternative. That is, assuming one is able to get close enough to the Otterman to do the deed without being torn to pieces in the process. After the creature is dead, its bodily remains should be burned to cinders immediately to prevent the creature from possibly regenerating and taking revenge upon its would-be killers. And rest assured that the Kushtaka's revenge will be both bloody and excruciatingly painful.

Despite the fact that the Tlingit and the Tsimshian are now living in the twenty-first century, they cling to the old ways and still very much believe in the existence of the Kushtaka. They are somewhat reluctant to speak of the creature with outsiders, fearful of the monster's wrath and the white man's skepticism. Little is actually known about this creature, and some of the information above is pure speculation from a learned man's point of view. But native Alaskans are slowly beginning to open up to outsiders about their beliefs and traditions, especially the younger generations. Some of the native people claim to have actually encountered a creature that they believe is the Kushtaka, and they want answers.

In the end, the Kushtaka remains one of the most fascinating creatures in Native American folklore. The Kushtaka is an extremely dangerous foe, however, and one can never be entirely sure if the person standing next to him is human, or if it is a shapeshifting otter-monster in disguise. Precautionary measures should always be taken whenever possible in case the worst should happen. When it comes to monsters, one cannot afford to make any mistakes. One moment of bad judgment could cost an innocent bystander his or her life, and protecting others from the things that lurk in the darkness should always be a monster hunter's top priority.

Sources

Kushtaka (Wikipedia)

Kushtaka (Monstropedia)

The Fearsome Alaskan Tlingit Kushtaka: If it's not One Thing, it's an Otter

Beware the Kushtaka!

Have You Ever Heard of the Kushtaka, Alaska's Other Bigfoot?

Seeking Alaska's Bigfoot

Strange Tails: Kushtaka and the Bay of Death

Kushtaka Mystery

Magical Mondays #12: Kushtaka, the Otter Men

Countdown to Hallowe'en 1: Nature's Gods

Cryptozoology Creatures: Animals of Legend

Alaska's Otterman, or Kushtaka

"In Search of the Kushtaka", The New Book by Dennis Waller

Kushtaka - A Creature of Cryptozoology

Many Names: Alaska's Bigfoot

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Beast of the Land Between the Lakes: A Guest Entry by Randy Merrill

(Cryptozoologist's Note: The following are real-life accounts of a murderous beast which is said to haunt the National Recreation Area of Kentucky known as the Land Between the Lakes (LBL). This creature fits the description of such other "wolf-men" or "dog-men" as The Beast of 7 Chutes, The Michigan Dogman, and the Wisconsin Wolfman. What sets it apart is that it has been associated with the gruesome deaths of at least four members of one family, and has been the subject of well-orchestrated and documented hunts. The first two accounts are by Jan Thompson from the webpage "Guardian Tales", and are reprinted here verbatim. Be forewarned, her accounts are fairly graphic.)

JAN'S TALES
 
THE BEAST OF LAND BETWEEN THE LAKES - PART 1

There is a national recreation area in Western Kentucky (that also runs down to Tennessee) called 'Land Between the Lakes', or LBL for short. It is situated between the Kentucky and Barklay Lakes, consisting of more then 300 miles of shoreline, 170,000 acres of forest and over 200 miles of walking trails. It is currently a focal point for over $600 million in the tourism industry. Prior to 1959, the area was called 'Between the Rivers'. That was before the Kentucky and Lake Barklay Dams were constructed, and before it was officially called LBL (in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy), and before TVA (the Tennessee Valley Authority, an agency of the federal government), took over the land and used it's powers of eminent domain to buy and tear down all the houses, businesses and community buildings throughout the entire area, forcing over 700 families to give up their homes.

There are over 228 small family cemeteries, many forgotten about and lost, dotted throughout the acres of forests, as it was once used as homesteads by early Kentucky settlers. Some of the earliest graves date back to the early 1700's, which include graves of white settlers, veterans from nearly every war, including the Revolutionary War, and also those of black slaves and Chinese immigrants who worked in the iron furnaces that were in the area. There was also a very high infant mortality rate, and many of these children were buried right outside the cabins in which they were born so that their mothers could peer out the windows and see the graves. There are also numerous Native American graves scattered throughout the acres, much older than even the earliest of settler graves, some discovered, others lie in secret beneath the layers of leaves and forest ferns.

Back before the 1950's, it had always been a very rural area to live in, with farmsteads far and few between, and with no real town to speak of except up at the north end in Grand Rivers. It was in this town, back in the mid 70's that I first heard of 'The Beast Between the Rivers' or known now as 'The Beast of LBL'. Some old timers would sit on this long wooden bench outside the old IGA store that used to be the old 'country store' for decades before the grocery conglomerate came to town. I used to hang around there on the weekends during the day and listen to the stories they would tell. These old men, most of whom used to live in LBL before they were forced to move, had some very interesting stories to tell about that part of the country.

There was talk of hauntings, Indian curses, mysterious lights over gravestones at night, old hag witches that lived deep in the woods, and more importantly, several tales of a wolf like creature that stood on two legs that would come out of the thickets and attack their cattle and live stock. Day or night. A creature that was taller than an average man by well over a foot, nearly 7 feet tall, with thick long hair covering its body, and a stench that matched that of some of the freshly opened graves that were discovered now and then. This 'wolf man' left tracks like a barefoot man but where the toes should have been, instead were paw prints. The head was huge and wolf-like in appearance, with an extra-long snout, and uncannily long, sharp incisors that glistened from the moonlight with saliva, along with eyes that, "Radiated red, like one of the hottest fires in Hell', they'd say. It had long arms that ended with huge hands and long spindly fingers with long, pointed, dirt-caked claws. At night they would hear it howl; unnatural guttural sounds of painful hungry agony, and at that warning, all would go out and tie up their livestock and even bring their most prized selections inside their homes with them.

The legend of the beast went back at least a hundred years, was passed along through time from family to family and updated as new sightings occurred. One old man said that his great great grand pappy told him that the creature used to be a man, a Native American that had the ability to shape shift, a powerful shaman that had been outcast from his tribe because he used his magic for evil. The Shaman had been tracked and killed while in his wolf state by a few warriors and a couple of settlers in the area. In his dying breath he cursed them and vowed to return from the dead to haunt the forests and seek revenge on their families and all who lived there. Another man on the bench with a leathery, weathered face said he heard from his grandma that the beast was once a settler that came over from Europe back in the early 1800's with a disease that made him turn into a madman at night. The disease was eventually passed along to his children, who never went to school, but stayed hidden away from the population. Many thought the family had died off, because for years they never saw or heard from them, and after investigations by some brave men, they discovered the homestead vacant and abandoned in the early 1900's.

The sightings of the monster were still frequent throughout the beginning of the twentieth century, and the elderly group on the bench told some unsettling encounters they or members of their own families had with it. Each one told stories of finding livestock slaughtered, ripped to pieces and eaten upon. Cows and pigs with their legs dismembered from the sockets. Even a few horses had met their end with savage attacks upon their bodies. A few of them described what they saw at different times when they caught glimpses of the figure by peeking out of the curtains of the windows into the night. One man said it jumped out of one of the horse stalls one evening while he was putting up some animals. It stopped in front of him, arms spread out like it was getting ready to grab him, let out a howl and then sprang past him and into the dusky shadows of the sunset.

This particular man said he 'wet his overalls' during the episode. Another man said he never saw it, but would always hear it's baleful wails frequently at night, not like a regular wolf or a coyote, "No," he said, "It was deeper, longer, stronger-sounding than what would come out of any animal I ever heard." Another old-timer said his wife had seen it trying to get into the chicken coup, but it gave up after getting tangled in the chicken wire. They all had tales of 'someone's hound dog' getting killed, ripped apart limb from limb, 'someone's pig or cow or chicken' getting eaten, the mysterious footprints left in the mud, and the stench it left behind wherever it appeared. And more than one had the same story of listening to it walk across their front porches at night and scratching on the doors and walls, which would leave deep gouges in the wood they would find in the morning. All of them agreed that this was not a Bigfoot or Sasquatch. It would be only another year or two after hearing about this mysterious beast that I myself would encounter it at the home of a family member that lived in the same area.


But this isn't the story I was wanting to tell you. This was just a brief introduction to the unwritten accounts of the darker side of LBL. A prelude actually to the real story I will begin to unfold. I just wanted to lay some groundwork so you could get the big picture and form some of your own opinions and theories. Walk with me now as I take you back about twenty-two years, back to the early 1980's. Then I used to work midnights at a gas station a few miles from the Kentucky Dam, which was a few miles from the beginning of LBL in Grand Rivers. And it was on one of these midnight shifts I had two visitors that would change my outlook on the subject of 'werewolves' (... and make me believe in what I had seen myself a few years back in the same area but had kept between myself and two other family members that were with me at the time, but that's another story to be written.) This story was never in the paper, on the news, or had any media attention at all. It was kept hush hush, and a sacred silence was demanded on all those involved. It couldn't get out, ever. It was a few weeks before the beginning of tourist season, and tourists were what the locals survived on, they were the 'bread and butter'. A story like this would be like screaming 'Sharks!' at Daytona Beach, or 'Child Molester!' at Disneyland. The people would stop coming out of fear.

I wasn't a witness to the fact, just a third person, making observations and having conversations with two individuals who were a part of the incident, who were involved in the whole ordeal. They had just came from the crime scene down in the middle of LBL after being there for over 8 hours. It was around three in the morning and they were taking a much needed reality break.

Two officers of the law. Two grown men who both appeared shaken beyond description. A mixture of fear and confusion, shock and disbelief emanated from them both. One was paler then the other, a deathly pallor over his skin, and it was this one (I'll name him officer Adam, to protect their identities) that had to sit on the curb of the gas pumps, head between his legs and expel the last bit of his stomach contents. The other officer (I'll name him officer Bill) came in for some coffee for himself and a cup of water for his partner, then rejoined Adam outside. There were no other customers so I went outside with them to see if I could offer some assistance with the ill man. He gladly took the few Rolaids I had extended in my hand, with his own shaky fingers he struggled to get them into his mouth.

For quite a long while the only thing that was heard were the crickets in the nearby fields, the sounds of bugs hitting the fluorescent lights above us, hanging from the gas station canopy, and the distant sound of highway traffic that was far and few between as it was in the wee hours of the morning. My mind was buzzing with various scenarios of the cause of their distress....a tragic car accident....possibly a motorcycle wreck...a boating mishap with drown victims....a murder.....a dead body discovered. ('Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back...that's why the cat has nine lives.')

I don't remember sitting down but after about 15 minutes of this hushed stillness I found myself beside them both on the curb staring out at the darkness of the nearby corn pastures, letting my mind paint pictures of imaginary traumas. Adam spoke first, breaking the silence of obscurity, "I can't believe it...it's not possible...I just can't believe it...". In a hushed agreement, that was almost inaudible, Bill replied, "I know...it was....is....it is so unbelievable...I've never seen anything like this before...", a long pause, a deep breath, and he continued, "... or even heard of anything like this before." I looked at Bill and then at Adam, they were both gazing, open eyed, unblinking, out into the inky color of the night. Adam's bottom lip was trembling slightly, and it wasn't from the slight chill in the late spring air. Something, or some thing had filled them each with a congested fear.

After a few more moments of silent reserve, my patience was rewarded with some slow, fragmented descriptions of their past 8 hours. Bill turned his wide azure blue eyes towards me, they were glazed and blood shot, tired, frightened eyes. With a weary, shaken voice he began to unfold a tale that would forever be embedded within my spirit, like a nasty shadow that lingers around a corner waiting to pounce, to awaken your inner fears once again. Why he decided to tell me of all people was beyond my comprehension, maybe it was an avenue he felt safe to travel upon, to get it off his chest, off his mind. They were both frequent customers, and we knew each other on a first name basis, but to divulge such a torrid account of great magnitude, well, I can only say that the fear inside them both at that moment in time had to be released, eased, and extracted from their souls, or else they may have gone mad with unbalanced thoughts. Without interrupting, I sat entranced, listening to every word, absorbing them like an opiate, a spellbinding narcotic that hypnotized me into forgetting the world even existed for the next half hour or so.

They had gotten a call to help with an investigation at one of the many rural camp grounds down in LBL. The tourist season was about to start in a few weeks, so as usual there were some early arrivals that had come to claim prime camping spots before the areas were overrun with tents, campers and travel trailers The sun was setting low in the sky when they arrived at the scene. Several other official vehicles were already there, and there were many more to come as they would soon find out. Many coming from other counties, and a few coming all the way from another state. Several of these to come were coroners from different counties. One coroner vehicle was already present as well as an ambulance, which would prove useless, as there was no one to save. The victims were all dead. Quite dead. Completely, totally and thoroughly deceased. A young married couple, that had come down to take it easy for a few days, were the first to discover the ghastly scene. Neither one of them wanted to stay behind while the other went for help, so they both nervously traveled to the nearest town, Grand Rivers, and called the authorities. They did not return to LBL, they merely gave the arriving officer directions to the area of discovery and rented a local hotel room.

With the sun going down, it got dark pretty fast, so there was a flurry of flood lights from the cruisers being pointed in all directions, along with the excited movements of fifty dollar flash lights being held by nervous, restless hands, searching the trees, the ground, the leaves, the shadows. There was a parked motor home at the site, it's frame being lit by a campfire close by, a fire that had almost gone out on its own, but had been rekindled by the new crowd of men in uniforms so that they could have more light. The front and back doors to the home were open, one of the doors hanging by one hinge in a crooked slant. Through the windows they could see zigzagged movements of luminosity as the beams from flashlights searched the interior. Bloody hand prints slid down the thin metal walls close to the front door and more bloody hand paintings could be seen along the length towards the back door. Their images dancing eerily in the fire light like some ancient tribal symbols .

Adam and Bill did not even want to imagine what was inside the motor home, but then again, they would soon find out that it wasn't what was 'inside' but what was 'outside' that would change their lives forever. There was already crime scene tape placed in numerous, scattered parts of the area, and little white flags on metal stakes stuck into the ground marking evidence. Evidence of ripped clothing, bodies and body parts, separated limbs, a pile of bowels, pieces of loose flesh clinging to muscle tissue. What used to be three bodies that just hours before had been a happy family, on a happy vacation, to create happy memories for years to come; a father, a mother and a young son.

The happiness was gone. Destroyed by a psychotic mad man, or was it 'men'? A murderous rage had taken place, one so abhorrently appalling that there were few witnesses to the scene that had kept their composure or held their recently eaten dinners down. At first sight, the victims appeared to be butchered by some unnamable weapon, possibly an ax, or a chainsaw. Upon further inspection, by the first arriving coroner, the wounds on the bodies were determined not to have been caused by a sharp instrument but rather by some piercing, well-defined claws, and other wounds by some keen, mordantly long incisors.

Wildcat, bear, wolves? The coroner shook his head in baffled disagreement with each guess from the officers. The claw marks, for instance, on the back of the fathers corpse were distinctively made by 4 long claws, with a smaller digit, like a thumb, on the side; it's span was wider then a man's print, wider and different than a bears mark, with deep deliberate gouges in the flesh. Rake marks from an angry unknown source trying to grab it's prey that was no doubt trying to escape. The wildcat and wolves theory was dismissed as the open wound marks were apparently made by a more grandiose animal source. The bite marks were much larger than any mountain lion, wolf or coyote. Whatever did it had a longer snout and more sizable teeth. There were also indications, in the larger areas of the cadavers, of bite marks where the flesh, meat and bone had been yanked away from the body. Like a human who bites into an apple and leaves the impressions of his bite and teeth marks, so were the open wounds on these individuals. Bears, well, they aren't native to the area, but who knows. Maybe a grizzly did sneak in some way, but that was far fetched; he would've had to travel several states and cross several rivers to even get close to that part of Kentucky. Everyone present was betting on the 'bear' hypothesis anyway, and no one even thought of anything else to be the cause of such a savage attack. A bear, it had to be a bear.

From the back door of the motor home, an officer stepped down slowly, holding in his hands some type of garment. A dress. A small dress, that would have fit a small girl of around five years old. He informed the on onlookers that there were more 'little girls' clothes packed inside the coach. This meant there was a missing person, or an absent body; a member of the family. They all prayed she was still alive somehow, hiding somewhere. A new search began.

As time went by, additional law enforcement employees arrived, as well as a few volunteer rescue squad members. Groups were spread out and assigned areas to examine and explore. Another coroner arrived to assist in the identification and causes of death, and much later a third one showed up, this one from a nearby state. All types of samples were placed in plastic bags, marked as evidence, and carefully stowed away. As they were packaging up what appeared to be one of the fathers arms, one of the doctors noticed something wrapped between the dead fingers. Some tweezers slowly untangled a clump of long, gray and brown hairs. This too was placed in a bag, marked and put away to be analyzed at a lab later.

From somewhere in the nearby woods, about 50 yards from the campfire, a scream was heard. A man's shriek that turned into a long wail and then to whimpering. As others arrived they could see by the gleam of several flashlights that the cop was holding his hat in one hand and his light in the other. There was blood on his face, the front of his shirt and on the brim of his hat. More blood could be seen dripping on him. It was coming from above. High in the trees the flash lights swung, searching for the source of the mysterious bleeding. A very small hand could be seen dangling down from a tree limb way up high, as well as a slender lifeless leg that still had a white sock on the foot. The missing child had been located. It had been Adam that the blood had trickled upon, hitting his hat first, making him look up, and then feeling the thick cold fluid sprinkling his face then sliding down to his neatly buttoned shirt. It had been Adam that had screamed. The little girl had apparently been carried up the tree and leisurely eaten upon while carefully laid across a large tree branch. More of the same long gray and brown hair was found sticking in the bark of the tree near her body.

After about 7 hours, most of the officers were sent away as a new team of investigators arrived. They were told not to talk to anyone of the incident, especially not the media. I am sure that besides Adam and Bill, there were others who had to confess what they saw that night, if in fact this whole event ever really happened. Witness's that had to divulge the awful secret of that atrocious discovery at one of the campgrounds at LBL. About a month after sitting outside with Adam and Bill that night, they stopped in again during one of my midnight shifts. They were both rather more serious in nature, not like before the incident where they would kid around while drinking their sodas and eating a snack or two. They had both aged in some odd way. Streaks of gray, that had not been there before, highlighted both of their heads of hair. Their faces had lines of worry and showed signs of stress. I would see them again many times afterwards, but on this particular evening, they informed me that they got word about some of the lab tests that were taken that dreadful night. The tests, on the saliva taken from the bite marks and from the hair found on the mans fingers and in the tree bark, came back with an unknown species origin. The closest animal that they could be compared to was that of a Canis Lupis, a wolf.

Whether Adam and Bill had played an elaborate hoax on me I'll never really know for sure, but their sincerity and fear painted a picture of truth in their eyes and actions. There are several more stories that I have heard about this 'Werewolf' over in LBL that have been told to me over the years since this particular incident. There were several groups of boy scouts that had seen it. Several more campers, fishermen and boaters that had seen it from the safety of their boats, floating in some of the many bays that touched upon the shoreline. Hikers and bikers have heard its howling and have seen 'something' stalking them while they were on rural trails, hiding amongst the trees and foliage. Hunters have run across deer carcasses that have been brutally torn apart.

There was even a pair of curious gravestone rubbers (those who go out in search of century-or-more-old tombstones, then make rubbings by placing paper against the coarse stones and using a piece of charcoal to rub across it, capturing the images and dates from the stones onto the paper) who had a fearful encounter with it at one of the old cemeteries. It had actually come up to their car as they were leaving and shook the back end of the vehicle up and down, leaving terrible scratch marks in the trunk lid as it tried to hold on to the little Toyota while the tires were spinning in the wet grass to get away. These two individuals didn't stop driving until they were about 40 miles away; only then did they dare stop to investigate the damage done. I myself have seen those scratches. Much too wide for any man to have made them. They looked like they'd been made by a heavy metal garden rake.

But you will never read about it in the papers, or hear about it on the news, or get a confession from any law enforcement official or man of office. The media will say it's a bunch of 'Whoo Haa', or just pranks, silly stories, urban legends, lies, tall tales and such. This is tourism country, and that means millions of dollars to the area, so you can't scare off business, can you?

But, as San says on her website, 'You can't tell me there's no such thing!', because I have my own tale to tell about this creature. That story will come soon, I promise, but this one had to be told first, for it is far more scary and full of detail than my own. And that bench, the long, sturdy, heavy oak bench, that sat in front of the old country store for decades? It is still in existence. In fact, I had the grand opportunity of acquiring it several years ago when an even newer version of an IGA store was being built upon the same grounds. The previous owners remembered my fondness for sitting with the old timers and having undying patience with their many stories, and they got ahold of one of my family members to ask if we would like to have it to keep in the family. The bench now sits in my front yard, by the driveway, where I sit to wave good-bye to all those who have come to visit for the day. I've learned to always wave good-bye, because you never know if you'll see them again. You never know what lies in store for you or them. What lies in the shadows. Waiting. Watching. With hungry eyes and a drooling snout.

~ Jan Thompson.

JAN'S TALES

FROM THE WOODS

The summer of 1978 will always be a turn about in my beliefs of 'real monsters' versus the demonic or paranormal type. Ghosts and spirits had become a common event during my life growing up, until that particular summer when a new avenue of fear introduced itself and made a permanent pathway inside my mind. A path made of concrete that wanders through the forests of my memories. A trail that will not be covered with weeds, or fade with time. A place that my daily thinking bypasses to avoid the beckoning desire of fear that calls from down that menacing road of remembrance. For this moment though, for the benefit of you, the reader, I will travel down that route once more and try to recapture the scene so that you, too, will lay awake wondering and asking the Universe, "Is there something else out there somewhere that is above us humans on the food chain?"

It was on one of those hot July summer evenings in Grand Rivers, Kentucky, back in 1978, when this took place. (Grand Rivers is at the beginning of Land Between the Lakes entrance.) The sun was not completely down and the skies were streaked with violet-pinkish Posy colored clouds that outlined the curtain of darkness that was pushing the turquoise blue away. I was staying at my Aunts house with my cousins for a few weeks during summer vacation, a very welcome home at the end of a dead end road. Hundreds of acres of woods surrounded the home that that had been built down a hill and into the side of a large hill of dirt. There were several homemade trails throughout the woods that led to several places; an old abandoned rail road track that went on for miles, another abandoned place- the old sawmill, and other paths led to parts of the shore line of the Kentucky lake. They all started out as walking trails, but with the new addition of a dirt bike that my cousin Joe had the trails became well outlined and defined. As with almost every day that I was visiting, Joe was out riding his bike through the woods, exploring, and just being with his own thoughts of a 13 year old. His younger sister, Ronda, was with me outside on the porch swing. She was 10, and I was 17 at the time. My uncle was working and my aunt was at the local IGA store down in town. Beside the driveway was a huge dog pen where their pet basset hounds lodged and was at the moment quite relaxed in the shade. The woods had been filled with only the sounds of birds and the chatter of squirrels for a few hours. Joe must have been way far off on a trail somewhere to not have heard that distinct sound of the dirt bike screaming through it's gears echoing around the trees. I knew he must be on his way home, because his dad forbid him to be out in the woods at dark, so Ronda and I were waiting to hear that familiar putt-putting of the bike slowly coming down the drive as he reluctantly came home to park it for another night.

As we swung back and forth, singing silly songs, we heard something a bit strange in the distance, it was Joe's dirt bike screaming at almost a soprano type of gear, long, steady, and fast, with no shifting sounds, just a straight stream of one gear in motion with a full throttle, going at top speed. The sound accelerated as he drew closer at such a fast pace, and we watched from the swing up to the top of the driveway where he would appear from the other side out of the woods. I couldn't help but think that he had better slow down or he would come flying up over the top of the hill and downwards missing a wide stretch of pavement by being airborne. The noise didn't softened or slow. Steady and fixed was his speed. And just as I had thought, he emerged from the woods in such a tenacious movement, that he did indeed go airborne a few feet before pounding down the front tire on the driveway, continuing his descent now with a struggle of keeping the bike upright and straight. Ronda and I jumped from the porch swing and got out of the way as we didn't know where he was going to stop or in what position. The brakes hit hard and the bike slid sideways and as it came down to the edge and end of the drive, Joe tilted his body and let the bike slide out from under him before he went down the rest of the hill with it. Instead of the bike continuing to slide to the edge it was caught in a spin that variably died down as the engine sputtered, and then quit altogether. Everyone was wide eyed and full of adrenaline, all our mouths open in shock. But Joe's mouth was open in a strange fearful grimace, he was sweating profusely and his breaths were coming and going in great heaves. Tears were coming down his cheeks, mixing with the dusty dirt that the trail had left him powdered with. His eyes were at the top of the hill, at the top of the drive, unblinking, searching, waiting. We followed his gaze not understanding what this escapade was all about. In silence we watched with him for a about 30 seconds and then the dogs started barking. Growling. And then whining, trying to get out of the pen in a frantic panic of digging and gnawing at the fencing.

"IT GRABBED ME!! LOOK AT MY LEG!!", Joe screamed, making us jump with alarm at the sound of his voice. We looked down at his Levi's and saw scratch marks going across his right thigh, scratches that tore through the tough denim and left small bloody marks on his skin. The marks were like a bears-claw-rake, not those caused by branches or sticky bushes, but a definite wide pattern of a paw print.

"IT WALKED ON TWO LEGS!", his voice startled us again, as he was trying to tell his story in between huge gulps of air. He was frightened beyond belief, and the bits and pieces of what he was striving with extreme effort to tell us was coming out in loud syllables that filled us both with the same dread. "It was following me through the woods....along the path....from the old sawmill....hairy...it was so hairy...and it's snout was so long...and it walked on two legs....it ran on two legs...", his voice was sputtering, slowing, his eyes were still wide, and I could see the pulse of his heartbeat throbbing under the skin of his temples.

A howling began. From the woods, not from the dog pen where now the dogs suddenly stopped their own complaining, standing deathly still, staring up at the top of the hill, the nape of the hair on their back standing up, ruffled, their noses up in the air breathing in a strange scent. A wolfs howl. It was close. It seemed it was just a few yards from the road up above. Just as the idiot in a horror movie stands and stares at something to appear, that was what I was doing then, with a mixture of anticipation and confusion. What the hell was he talking about? I thought to myself, mulling over the brief descriptions; torn blue jeans, walks and runs on two legs, stalking him, hairy with a long nose and calling the mysterious hunter an "IT".

Joe's tears came quicker and he started to push us towards the front door of the house demanding that we go inside and lock the doors. He had a hand on each of our backs and was urging us onward when IT came out of the woods above. At first it appeared to be a very large wolf emerging from the dark outline of the trees, but as it approached the one lane road that connected to the driveway, it's height grew to a towering shadow that stood on two legs. Much taller then a man's height, maybe by a foot, and with the sun gone down behind the clouds, it only cast a silhouette of blackness, hairy blackness. My mouth dropped wide as well as my eyes. This was not happening, this was not what I was seeing. My mind was going back and forth from rationality to reality. 'I was from St. Louis, the most frightening thing back home in Missouri was MO MO the Monster, the Show Me States version of Bigfoot. This was no Bigfoot!'

It raised it's long snout up in the air and let out a gurgling, slow, deliberate howl, while stretching it's long arms to it's sides and upwards, like it was praising the coming of the night, praying to the unseen moon and stars. At that moment the security light that was at the top of the hill at the beginning of their driveway popped on. Slowly at first it began to glow and gathered it's energy to shine more brightly over the next few seconds. One of the creatures arms bent and shaded its eyes from the glare. It wasn't an 'It' any longer, nor was it a Bigfoot, this was a wolf-like creature that, like Joe said, stood on two legs, was taller then a man, and was staring at the three of us down the hill. Those huge, black eyes; I will never get out of my mind. They were like two sockets of ebony oil shining under magnifying glass lenses.

We ran into the house, tearing the screen door in the process, slamming the main door, locking it, pushing things, anything we could reach against the inside of the door. The kitchen was right behind us and so was the knife drawer, which we raided and took several with us as we tried to decide where to hide. There was a house dog inside, another basset hound, Stubby, and he met us in the kitchen wondering what the racket was. Another howl from outside, came from the driveway. Stubby's hair raised and he started backing up at first, then he went to the front door and was smelling around the edges. The three of us ran to my aunt's room and were about to slam the door and lock it when the dog tucked tail and ran after us, beating us under the bed. All of us squeezed under the four poster, knives clutched in our hands, scared half to death. We could hear the dogs in the pen outside going absolutely crazy with barking, and we could also hear other things being knocked around on the porch, then on the side of the house, then at the side door. We heard glass break. We could tell it was from one of the bedrooms, the windows were up high and they were very narrow so we knew that it would take some effort for anything to get thru them, but still we shivered from fright.

My aunts horn on her Cadillac sounded several times as she drove down the road and approached the house. That meant for us to meet her outside and help with the groceries. We didn't budge. We couldn't move. We didn't answer her yells from outside for us to come unload the bags, we didn't crawl out and unlock the door for her, nor answer her knocking. She finally had to use her keys and then give some hefty push's against the pile of items we had up against the door; the trash can, 25 pound bags of dog food, water jugs, and a variety of other stuff. We stayed put. She discovered us only after all the groceries had been brought in and she noticed that her bedroom door was closed and locked.

It was amazing that we hadn't cut each other in some way or another with the immature use of the knives in our haste to hide, and we were chastised in more ways than one when it came down to my aunt observing us slowly emerging from her bedroom with the kitchen weapons in hand. We all started talking at once in a fervor, then we finally let Joe tell his story first, and we finished with "it" breaking a window just before we heard her car horn. She must have startled it. She didn't laugh; she didn't respond at all at first; in fact she never said a word until she came back from inspecting the windows in the bedrooms. My aunt said, indeed, there was a broken window, broken from the outside in. She made us clean up our barricade and put up all the groceries. Later that night, after we were all in bed, and my uncle came home, she related that evening's events to him.

The next morning, their dad warned us, "Stay out of the woods."

No problem.

He went on to say that he himself had gone down into the woods earlier that morning and found several pits dug and filled with animal bones and parts of carcasses along the path that led to the old sawmill that couldn't be explained. There were also holes dug in the sides of the bluff along the hills that overlooked the old mill that looked like deep caves, big enough for a man to hide in. Then he told us that years before, when the old boy scout camp used to be on the other side of Grand Rivers, an unexplained creature with wolf features was seen along the waters edge close to the camp sites. He and his older son had witnessed it themselves one evening.

I went back home a few weeks after this happened. And since then it has never ceased to be a moment of complete terror lodged inside my mind, along with the horror experienced at the Oakwood Home. It would only be a couple of years later, after moving from the city down to Kentucky, that once more I would come into the legend of the wolf creature by means of some old timers that use to live in Land Between the Lakes (LBL for short). Their tales, told to me while sitting on an old bench in front of the IGA down in Grand Rivers, would help me draw a bigger picture of what this thing actually was. Then, a few more years in passing, in the early '80's, two police officers would tell me their own tale of the events of a tragic scenario discovered in one of the campgrounds down in LBL. Events that were never published in the media.

Just about ten years ago, in the early '90's, Joe and my dad, who had come down from St. Louis to visit, decided to venture into those same woods in front of my aunts house. They took a couple of pistols and two rifles and were gone for several hours. These were two brave men, the bravest I know of, both of whom served in the military and fought in two separate wars, wars of their own time. These two men came back ashen faced and bewildered. They had walked all the way back to the old saw mill. The pits, fresh ones, were still around, filled with the bones of forest animals. The holes in the bluff still there also. They both experienced the feeling of being watched and felt an uneasiness that 'something' just wasn't right. The area where the sawmill was had no life stirring around it. No birds, no squirrels, no crickets, no bugs, even the small pond was still and lifeless. The birds that did fly made their way around the area and refused to fly overhead. The men couldn't shake the feeling of being observed by a secret watcher, and both swore they saw a large black shadow lurking in the shade of one of the mysteriously dug caves. That had been the first time Joe had been down that far on that side of the woods since he was thirteen, and both of them agreed that it was to be the last. My dad said there are some things you just can't explain, that science doesn't know about it, and these things should be left alone; they are not a part of our modern world. He felt that whatever it was that had scared the crap out of us so many years ago still existed in the same area. His intuition has never been wrong so far.

Urban legend? Maybe some of the stories passed along over the years have been added to or stretched a bit, like all local folklore and firsthand stories are over time. My story wasn't an urban tale though. It was a firsthand account of something I really and truly do not want to believe in, and wish I could forget or erase from my memory, because the nightmares remain real, while the events are still inexplicable by the laws of science as we know it.

~ Jan Thompson.

(NOTE: Jan stated in an email that Joe saw the sketch below, and they both "agree on the animal's features, except for the ears.") Joe remembers the creature with a bit shorter ears than are depicted in the sketch.)

[Cryptozoologist's Note: Geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing) is a worldwide game of hiding and seeking treasure. A geocacher can place a geocache in the world, pinpoint its location using GPS technology and then share the geocache's existence and location online. Anyone with a GPS device can then try to locate the geocache.]

Stories and sightings of the Beast of LBL go back for over 100 years. Some say the Beast is an exiled Indian Shaman that used his shapeshifting abilities to do evil and was killed by tribal braves - before he died he vowed to torment the tribe and anyone on this land. Others say the legends of the beast were conjured up by moon shiners to scare people and keep them out of the wood so there stills would not be found. More recent explanations say the beast is a predator cousin of Bigfoot that kills for sport and always kills more than it can consume.

So what is the Beast of LBL? Descriptions of the beast state that it is a werewolf-type creature, with a wolf-shaped head, and a muscular human-like body, it walks on two legs, stands 7 feet tall, it is covered in thick dark hair, with large fangs and ominous claws. Many stories tell of it's wolf-like wail and guttural growls.

Experiences with the beast range from hearing howls in the distance to fleeting glimpses in the shadows to victims being stalked or chased and even tales of murder.

The cache is placed near the alleged site of the most horrific account of the Beast. In the early 1980’s, just down this old road bed at the waters edge, officials were called to a camp site where a family of four were found viciously killed, dismembered and partially eaten. Bites and claw marks let the officials know that they were dealing with a very dangerous animal. However, there were no animals native to this part of the country that could have caused the type of wounds found on the victims, so theory turned to the legend of the Beast. It is not known what the outcome of the investigation was, because this story was never released publicly. But there are those that believe that the government took over and bunkers were built so the military could hunt and kill the Beast.

This cache is located within site of the alleged bunkers. As you walk down the old road from the cemetery you will see concrete structures evident along the road and in the woods throughout this area. To visit the site where the family was supposedly killed continue down the old road, past the bunkers, to the lake. The cache site can also be reached by a short bike ride along the Canal Loop Trail from the Visitors Center.


The cache is not in or near any remnants of a structure and it is not necessary to go near the structures to find the cache. Some of these structures have access hole in the tops that a person could be injured if they fell into them, so do not walk on and be careful near any structures you find here or anywhere in LBL. It is forbidden to drive off of un-maintained roads so if by chance the gate is open YOU are not allowed to drive on this or any road that is not clearly marked with a road number.

ON THE DARK SIDE

LAND BETWEEN THE LAKES - AFTER DARK

Land Between The Lakes is located in Western Kentucky and Tennessee. It's basically a huge wildlife refuge, with nothing but forests and undeveloped shoreline. There aren't residential areas or businesses located in LBL.

Really, after dark LBL is spooky. You can go out there in a car, turn off the headlights, and you are in total darkness. You won't see any lights out there.

There have been many reports of things not in this world out there. There have also been reports of weird creatures and evil spirits.

There have been many reports of red eyes in LBL. There is a legend that if you see a group of white-tailed deer out there at night, to turn back. They are trying to warn you not to go any further because a "demon" is nearby.

I personally have seen the red eyes. About thirteen years ago, I went out to LBL with a friend. It was night, and we were just driving around. There's something about LBL that makes people want to do that for some reason. Anyhow, we went down one of the side roads that led to an empty area that people use as a campground. There was nobody else out there that night.

He got out of the car to find a tree, which I really though was a bad idea. Before getting out of the car, he turned off his headlights. You couldn't see anything outside the window. Even the moon was dark. He gets out and disappears into the night. While waiting, I looked around and in the distance I saw two red glowing eyes.

As I watched it, it started moving closer. Believe me, I was scared to death. I opened the door, and literally hollered for my friend. He came running, jumped in the car, and got going. When he hopped in, he glanced in the direction and saw exactly what I saw. It was a scary experience. The oddest thing? After turning on the lights, we didn't see anything at all that could have had the red eyes.

A few months later, I went out again to LBL with a group of friends. Once again, it was night. We were riding along, and I started feeling this overwhelming feeling that we needed to get out of there. As we kept driving along, I felt so spooked. The feeling just got stronger and stronger.

Finally, I mentioned something to my friends. Knowing the way that I am, they immediately turned around and we headed back towards the bridge. I cringe to know what would have happened if we hadn't turned around.

The ironic thing is, before writing this post I did a search online. I came across a forum post from a lady that had a similar experience to mine. It really gave me the spooks to see that I'm not the only one.

"We continued our drive deep into Land Between the Lakes, searching for wildlife of any kind. As we drove, I started getting a very funny feeling, but kept it to myself. Little did I know, he was having the same feeling. At one point, he mentioned that the hair was raising on his arms and he felt that something wasn't right. "

There is a lady named Jan who has written a very extensive article on the Beast of LBL. She is from the area, and her page is updated. It's really a creepy and scary tale that is based on her true experience. [Cryptozoologist's Note: To read Jan Thompson's accounts of the Beast of LBL, see my previous blog post, "The Beast of Land Between the Lakes - Part 1"]

Last but not least, is how Roderick Justin Ferrell used a structure in LBL as his vampire hotel. He made world news for his arrest after murdering the parents of his friend. He believed that he was a vampire and a leader of the vampire clan. Ferrell told people that he was a 500-year-old vampire named Vesago. This clan used a structure in LBL, and called it the "Vampire Hotel". The oddest thing about this was that I could find only one picture of this online. After the story broke, officials made every effort to make this place disappear. They closed the road, and the location is pretty much secret now. Some sources say it has been demolished

LBL can be a spooky place. Should you ever find yourself in Western Kentucky, you might find it worth the trip to travel through it at night. You might end up having your own horror story to share.

Comments

I know of only one beast that could inflict such horrific damage. I have no doubt in my mind that the Beast of Land Between the Lakes is a Werewolf, and a particularly vicious one at that. My thanks to my good friend Randy Merrill for allowing me to borrow these articles for my blog. He may be found at: The Cryptozoologist.

Sources

http://thecryptozoologist.webs.com/apps/blog/show/6515972-the-beast-of-land-between-the-lakes-part-1

http://thecryptozoologist.webs.com/apps/blog/show/6516150-the-beast-of-land-between-the-lakes-part-2

http://walkingonthedarkside.blogspot.com/2008/11/land-between-lakes-after-dark.html

http://www.guardiantales.freewebspace.com/JAN-FromTheWoods.html

http://www.guardiantales.freewebspace.com/JAN-LBL.html

http://www.phantomsandmonsters.com/2014/10/kentuckys-beast-between-lakes.html

http://beforeitsnews.com/strange/2012/08/the-beast-of-the-land-between-the-lakes-2442404.html

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book Review: Monster Files (2013), by Nick Redfern

One of the most popular and widely-believed conspiracy theories is that world governments are guilty of covering up sightings or encounters with the unknown, particularly those relating to UFOs and monsters. I personally find conspiracy theories to be interesting, but I place little to no credence in most of them, nor do I believe in the existence of UFOs or aliens. Some of them, like David Icke's belief that shapeshifting Reptilians are walking among us and are actively trying to take over the world, seem absolutely ludicrous to me. Others, like the governments of the world covering up encounters with monsters and trying to silence eyewitnesses, are much more believable to me. This is what author Nick Redfern covers in one of his latest books, Monster Files.

A little over a year ago in July 2013, Nick had just published Monster Files in May, and I had made it known that I wanted a copy on Facebook (which is where I first made contact with Nick). I had originally intended on buying it from Amazon. However, Nick told me that he'd be more than happy to send me a free review copy, saying that I was a valued colleague and friend. I jumped at the chance, naturally. I gave him my mailing address, and within a week I had a new book! I started reading it soon thereafter, and discovered that it was filled to the rim with all sorts of interesting information. Just wait and see...
 
Nick covers just about everything to do with monsters, government cover-ups, and even a few things in between. Topics run the gamut from werewolves, Filipino vampires, the Flatwoods Monster, UFOs and aliens, Sasquatch, flying bat-women, and the Yeti, to the Minnesota Iceman, sea serpents, relict prehistoric beasts, El Chupacabra, weaponized animals, pets with psychic abilities, the Loch Ness Monster, out-of-place big cats, and phantom animals. Nick covers each one of these topics with a blend of his knowledge and investigative skills and his own particular brand of humor, while giving the reader everything they want to know (and still leaving some room for readers to investigate for themselves) and giving eyewitness testimonies in an unbiased manner. Not only is this book a veritable treasure-trove of monsters and conspiracies, but it's extremely hard to put down! I had to force myself to close the book to keep me from getting too far ahead at once!
 
Although I don't necessarily agree with some of the conclusions in the book, Monster Files is a fantastic book. It's easily a ten out of ten. The author doesn't pull any stops with his investigations, and it leaves little to no question as to why Nick Redfern is one of the most prominent researchers and cryptozoologists in the field today. I am very thankful to count Nick as one of my best friends today, and I hope to repay him for his kindness someday. His books are amazing, and I heartily recommend that any serious monster hunter, researcher, or cryptozoologist pick up some copies of his books as soon as possible.
 
Do monsters really exist? I believe that they do, and so does Nick Redfern. Do the governments of the world know more than they're telling us? Apparently, they do...a lot more! One of these days, the secrets will come out and the government will be forced to admit to their knowledge of these subjects. To quote the book's back cover, "Despite what your parents might have told you when you were a child, monsters, creepy creatures, and terrifying beasts really do exist. And our governments know all about them!"
 
Nick's blog can be found at nickredfernfortean.blogspot.com, where he can be contacted directly. His book, Monster Files: A Look Inside Government Secrets and Classified Documents on Bizarre Creatures and Extraordinary Animals!, may be found on Amazon.com and purchased or ordered from just about any good bookstore.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Mahaha

Demons aren't just a part of the Christian belief system. They are found all over the world in all religions and cultures. One of the most unusual of these demons belongs to Inuit traditions. They know it as the Mahaha, a maniacal creature that has inspired fear and caused terror in parts of the Arctic for centuries. This monster has been described as having ice-blue skin and a thin, sinewy body that is cold to the touch. It has white eyes and long, stringy hair that is dirty and always hangs in the creature's face. The demon is said to always be grinning and giggling, and is unbothered by the intense cold of its arctic home.

According to legend, the Mahaha is possessed of preternatural strength, and always runs around barefoot in the snow. In fact, the demon wears little or no clothing at all, and yet the cold never seems to bother it. But what makes the Mahaha truly unique among demons and monsters is that it loves to tickle its victims to death with the long, vicious talons on its bony fingers. According to Inuit tribal elders, this leaves a telltale expression on the victim's face - a twisted, frozen smile. Such a sign on any corpse is an indication that this monster is on the prowl.

Despite this creature's evil nature, the Mahaha isn't very bright and can be fooled rather easily. Most tales of this demon end with the creature being outsmarted by its would-be victims. In these stories, the Mahaha is tricked into leaning over a pool of water, a stream, or a river to drink, only to be pushed in from behind by its prey. The monster is then swept away by the current, supposedly never to be seen again. If one ever finds themselves cornered by the Mahaha, they should request to share one last drink of ice-cold, refreshing water with the demon before they die. If the demon hasn't learned by now that this is a trick, it probably never will.

Sources

Mahaha (Inuit Myths)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Oniate (The Dry Hand)

Tales of disembodied hands seem to exist all over the world in cultural folklore. One such legend is that of the Hairy Hands, a ghostly entity that haunts the backroads of Dartmoor, England. Another is Mexico's La Mano Pachona, the Demon Hand. This severed clawlike appendage hides under beds and inside toilets, where it waits to strangle unsuspecting victims and drag them to Hell. Among the Iroquois is the legend of a mummified hand whose touch brings blindness, disease, and eventual death to its victims. They know it as Oniate, the Dry Hand.

The word oniate is derived from both the Seneca and the Cayuga languages, and literally means "dry hand" or "dry fingers" (onya meaning "fingers," while te means "dried out"). The legend is especially prevalent in the folklore of these two tribes, where it appears in two different forms. In one version of the legend, Oniate appears as a mummified bogeyman that brings terror to those who enter deserted places or areas that are forbidden. But more commonly, the Oniate appears as a disembodied, desiccated floating hand (which is sometimes attached to a forearm) with diseased fingers. Although sometimes called a ghost hand, it is unknown if this entity is a spirit manifestation or if it is in fact a flesh-and-bone undead hand.

According to legend, the Dry Hand can be summoned to punish those who don't behave themselves in an agreeable or otherwise respectful manner. In other folktales, the Oniate makes itself known as a vengeful spirit that punishes those people who would speak ill of the deceased, who sow discord among family and friends, or those who would dare to stick their noses into the affairs of other people. It appears as if from thin air, flies towards its chosen victim, and then proceeds to touch them with its mummified fingers. And while the effects can vary from one story to the next, the end result is always terrible. A single touch from one of the entity's withered fingers can strike a man with blindness, while other tales say that it can infect the victim with a horrible withering disease that will eventually kill the intended victim. And yet other stories say that a single touch from the Oniate will kill a person instantaneously. It would appear that the only way to avoid the attentions of the Dry Hand is to behave oneself and to think before speaking, just as parents have taught their children for generations. Not exactly a "helping hand," is it?

Sources
 
 

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Dalhan

The Dalhan (pronounced dah-lan) is a carnivorous demon from Islamic mythology that inhabits the deserts of the Middle East, but it is also said to inhabit the many islands on the seas off of the Arabic coastline. The Dalhan appears to be vaguely human in overall shape, but its skin is almost black. It wears filthy rags in place of clothing, and course hair grows through the rags. Its face features a sloping brow, a flat nose, and its mouth is a wide gash filled with sharp, rotting teeth that it uses to tear the flesh from the bodies of its victims. Its fingers and toes are tipped with cracked, jagged nails. The creature's body smells of decay and the filth of the grave.

The Dalhan possesses unnatural strength, speed, and endurance. Furthermore, the creature can let loose a horrible cry or a scream that causes disorientation in everyone who hears it. These abilities make it easier for the demon to hunt and kill its prey. It preys on travelers who are foolish enough to wander in the lonely places of the desert, as well as those who are shipwrecked or marooned on desert islands inhabited by this creature. It will even attack ships that venture too close to its home, especially if the creature inhabits one of the many islands.

The Dalhan is said to ride a demonic beast that, rather oddly, appears to be very similar to an ostrich. This creature has glowing red eyes and is purportedly able to run faster than any horse. It is practically impossible to escape from. When the Dalhan is in pursuit of its prey (who is usually mounted himself), the demon attacks the rider while the demon-ostrich delivers a devastating slash to the throat of the rider's mount (which is usually a horse or a camel) with long, sharp talons not unlike those of a velociraptor (making the Dalhan's mount very strange indeed). Once the rider and his mount are dead from blood loss, the Dalhan and its pet are free to feed on the fresh corpses at their leisure.

If the Dalhan is truly a demon, then it may be vulnerable to traditional apotropaics (salt, iron, prayers, holy water, holy medals, etc.). An iron weapon may be able to harm or even kill this creature. And when it comes to dispatching monsters, decapitation is always the best bet. A long, sharp blade such as a sword or a machete are invaluable for decapitations. Swords with wide or curved blades are best, while a machete should have a wide blade and a thick spine for strength. And decapitation should always be followed by burning the corpse to cinders. The ashes should then be scattered to the winds.

It goes without saying that the Dalhan is extremely dangerous, and not just because of its appetite for human flesh. The primary danger of encountering this desert demon is the creature that it rides upon. This flightless demon-bird moves faster than any beast of burden, and trying to run from it on foot is an utterly stupid idea. Even mounted on a swift horse, there is no guarantee of escape or survival. It is unknown if this monstrous ostrich-thing can keep up with modern-day vehicles, although it seems likely. Either way, it is best to stay as far away from areas where the Dalhan is said to reside. Anyone who tries to pass through these regions alone or unarmed is most likely doomed.

Sources


Bane, Theresa. Encyclopedia of Demons in World Religions and Cultures. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc., Publishers. Copyright ©2012 Theresa Bane.

Maberry, Jonathan and David F. Kramer. They Bite: Endless Cravings of Supernatural Predators. New York: Citadel Press Books. Copyright ©2009 Jonathan Maberry and David F. Kramer.