“Walter! Artie! Shush!” I yelled, hobbling to my front door. Another ring of the doorbell set the dogs off into a fresh round of barking. I shushed them again, unlocked the front door and peeked outside.
“Hieeeee!” Called a petite brunette woman through the crack. “Liz! Hi!” She exclaimed, stepping forward, arms outstretched. She shoved a wine bottle shaped gift bag into my right hand and a bag of Double Stuffed Oreo cookies into my left and stepped inside.
“I’m so glad I caught you at home, I hope this isn’t a bad time,” she said cheerily.
It actually was a bad time for a pop up visit, but I said, “No, no, not at all. Come in, um-”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I’m Gwen! Gwen Tegtmeier! I live behind you guys, just a couple houses down,” she explained as she shrugged out of her jacket and hung it on the stairway banister. “I’ve been meaning to stop by for months!”
“Oh, great,” I said, “Come on in, can I get you some coffee or water?”
“No, no, no,” she replied. “I’ve just got a couple minutes,” her eyes scanned the entryway and she craned her neck into the dining room. “Oh, you’ve done a beautiful job in here! It’s so bright! I walked through during the open house it was so bland before. Now it has personality!
“So cute that you let the kids put up their art. Will this tape affect the paint, though?” She demanded with furrowed brow.
“No, I don’t think so,” I replied, suddenly unsure.
“Good, good, it’s cute,” she said.
I followed her into my family room, “OK, stop it, this rug is to die for! Oh, I could just sit in here are read for hours! Do you use the fireplace a lot?” She asked flopping down onto the couch.
“Yes, I mean just with those single burning logs though, we’re too lazy for the real thing,” I replied. I placed her gifts on a side table and gingerly took a seat across from her in an armchair.
“Huh,” she said, turning her scrutiny on me, “Is your back really bothering you?”
“No,” I replied, “It’s fine, I had surgery last week so I’m still moving a bit slowly.”
“Oh, hell!” she shrieked. “What was I thinking, stopping by unannounced while you’re convalescing?” She jumped up from the couch and I slowly followed suit.
“Listen, enjoy the treats, but I simply must have you over to the house. Are you up for venturing out?”
“Well, I suppose in a couple weeks or-”
“No, no sooner than that. We have something in common! I am literally a hop skip and a jump from your home and you’ve got to get some fresh air. Just go two doors down then cut through the Patterson’s back yard, they won’t mind at all. Don’t use the wooded pathway, connecting our streets, OK? Go through the Patterson’s.
“My house is the white Colonial with green shutters, number seventy-three, the last house before Boulder Brook. Are the kids at school and daycare tomorrow?”
I nodded my head and followed as she walked to the front door and slipped back into her ski coat.
“Perfect! I’ll see you at, let’s say ten thirty?”
“Ah, sure, great,” I replied, opening the door for her.
“Bring your recorder!” She called over her shoulder as she bound across the front lawn.
And with that she was gone as quickly as she’d appeared. I locked the door and shuffled back into the family room to open the canvas wine bag. Inside was a chilled bottle of Rombauer chardonnay.
I regret that I slowly dropped out of my little social scene after I injured my back a little over half a year ago. I tried to hang in there for a while but ultimately I had to admit that I simply couldn’t handle my life like I used to. Managing the house and every detail of three small children’s lives while maintaining my marriage and trying to ignore the chronic pain took all my energy and then some. In addition to allowing little things to fall by the wayside (like staying on top of the laundry and dishes) my mind slipped a little too. I had the brain capacity of a goldfish, forgetting appointments, double booking dates, and completely forgetting long conversations. Pain medication played a significant role and I see that now, but at the time I thought I was truly losing it.
My sanity depends largely on friendships and regular exercise, without those two things I stumble. Though it had been out of necessity, I’d let my world become small. Thankfully, the surgery took away that chronic pain, and I’d be cleared for exercise in several weeks and the pain pills were a distant memory, so things were looking up on that front. But I knew I needed to do some real work when it came to reconnecting with my friends. I’d been out of the loop for so long that I felt lazy and antisocial. If I didn’t push myself to connect again I feared that I might lose the friends I had. I was in such a weird, hermit-like headspace that I had a hard time mustering up the energy to text, let alone see anyone.
And then Gwen had breezed into my life. Even in tip top performance I don’t think that I would have accepted an invitation like the one she’d extended, but I was vulnerable and bored so I went ahead and walked two doors down then cut through the Patterson’s back yard, hoping that it was true they wouldn’t mind the trespassing.
Gwen’s house was right there, as described. A white Colonial with green shutters, number seventy-three, the last house before the Boulder Brook path.
Before I’d even pulled my hand back from the doorbell Gwen threw open the door and demanded, “Come in! Come in!”
I stepped inside and allowed her to help me out of my coat.
“Follow me, we’ll fix our coffee then sit in the sunroom.”
I did as I was told and followed Gwen into her beautiful chef’s kitchen, complete with a faucet over the gas stove for filling pots.
“Beautiful,” I said, simply.
“Oh, gosh, thank you,” she said, waving away the compliment with a hand. “This was all done before we bought the house. I am not a cook, so it is totally lost on me, but it is quite pretty.”
“How long have you lived here?” I asked.
“Oh,” she considered, yanking open the refrigerator door, “I guess it’s been about five years. Ever since my oldest, Cara, was in preschool. She’s in fourth grade now, and her younger sister Sara is in second, over at Bates, of course.”
“I have all girls too,” I commented.
“I know!” She enthused. “It’s crazy how much we have in common.”
There was that comment again, I wasn’t sure how to respond. I quickly put it out of my mind though when I saw the large bottle of International Coffee Delight Hazelnut Creamer.
“Awesome,” I said, pointing to the bottle.
Gwen smiled and put it on the counter next to two large white coffee cups. “Here you go,” she said.
I fixed my coffee and we made small talk about the neighborhood. Gwen was a real kick. She was excitable, quick talking, wordy and prone to tangents. Her voice rose and fell depending upon the topic at hand. So much so that at times I would have to watch her mouth and basically lip-read to understand what she was saying. At other moments my hands lifted involuntarily to cover my ears and I’d have to force them back down so as not to be rude.
She was like an energy drink. All fizz and pop and I’m gonna sweep out this garage right after I schedule dentist appointments for the whole family and organize that basement motherfucker! I liked her, but it was hard to keep up.
Once we’d doctored our coffees I followed my hostess into a bright sunroom. Bare trees and brambles filled the view from a huge picture window, which overlooked the entrance to the Boulder Brook Reservation. White overstuffed chairs sat facing the window and a creamy soft-knotted wool carpet lay underfoot.
“This is beautiful,” I commented, “I’m terrified I’ll spill my coffee.”
Gwen waved the comment away with a hand, and pointed to the glass coffee table which held a plate filled with cinnamon buns, “Please, have some! They’re from Quebrada!”
“I will, thank you,” I said enthusiastically.
We sat across from one another in comfy chairs. I commented on the huge black and white beach photo on the wall behind Gwen. She explained that she’d taken it out at Siasconset on their first trip to Nantucket; the photo on the wall behind me was Dionis.
Gwen tucked her legs underneath herself and asked, “Is that chair comfortable enough? Does your coffee taste all right? Did you bring your recorder?” In rapid succession.
“Yes, everything is perfect,” I replied, smiling. “It’s so nice to be out of the house. And I did, I have my recorder in my jacket pocket. Should I grab it?”
“No, no, no, you sit,” she insisted, “I’ll go grab it for you!”
I smiled and sipped my coffee and enjoyed the room. Something felt off, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I chased the thought away rationalizing that I was just off my game and feeling awkward having been a shut-in for weeks. This neighbor must have a ghost story to share, and that was fun, I reasoned.
The window had pretty antique-looking tables at each side and on one of those tables sat a teddy bear. It’s body turned towards the window. A small camera on a tripod was trained on the bear’s face, another camera on a taller tripod faced out the window, sharing the bear’s perspective. I imagined it might be some sort of school project for one of Gwen’s daughters.
Gwen popped back into the room.
“Here you go!” She said excitedly, “Want me to turn it on for you?”
“Sure,” I replied, again feeling a bit off.
“I have the exact same one!” Gwen said smiling and shaking her head. “OK, we have so much to discuss!”
“What do you want to talk about?” I asked.
“Boulder Brook,” she replied.
I looked out the window at the entrance to the trail through the reservation. The hike began in a field then looped along a rocky trek through thick woods. The path was set in what had once been Boulder Brook Farm and crumbling stonewalls were still scattered through the woods. The mile and a half long loop was surrounded on all sides by packed neighborhoods, though once inside the dense forest you wouldn’t know it. I used to include the path in my running route and I couldn’t wait to get back to doing just that.
“What’s up with the trail?” I asked.
“There’s something in there, it’s dangerous,” Gwen’s sunny demeanor was gone.
“Do you mean the coyotes?” I asked, placing my coffee on a coaster and grabbing a pink cocktail napkin and a cinnamon bun. I had a feeling things were about to get weird so I figured I might as well just tuck in.
“No, not the coyotes, though, they are a part of it I suppose. You’ve been in the neighborhood for around a year, right?”
I nodded my head in confirmation, my mouth full of cinnamon bun.
“Have you ever noticed anything strange in the area?” Before I could answer she said, “I mean outside, not in your house.”
“Well, I mean, the ice cream truck is super aggressive in the summer and there are a massive number of rabbits around here. Though I suppose they’re all over town, so that’s everywhere. We haven’t many mosquitos, everyone seems to keep up with their yards, it all seems pretty suburban,” I rambled.
Gwen shook her head; I realized I had failed the question.
“How about at night?” She prodded.
“I’m not out much at night, I can’t think of anything particularly odd,” I replied, feeling pressure to give the correct answer this time. “Wait, a couple weeks ago Chris and I were watching TV after the girls were in bed and I heard someone outside playing Mary Had a Little Lamb on a recorder. It was, like nine o’clock at night. That was really scary.”
Gwen laughed, “They give those to all the third graders, they have to learn to play them.”
“Oh, thank God,” I said, laughing along with her and feeling truly relieved. The nasal sound of the recorder floating through the night really had been chilling.
“Do you guys sleep with noise machines?” Gwen asked.
“Turn it off tonight, and listen,” she insisted.
I noticed for the first time that Gwen had a facial tic, her eyes occasionally blinked three times in rapid succession.
“What am I listening for?” I asked, nervousness beginning to creep up within me.
“You mentioned the coyotes, but there are less and less sightings. The night is quiet now; it wasn’t like that when we first moved to the neighborhood. Something hunted those dogs out of existence in the area,” she replied.
“Like what? Wolves? Shit, do we have wolves?” I asked, alarmed.
“No, it’s not wolves, I honestly don’t know what it is, but there is something living in the Boulder Brook reservation and it’s incredibly dangerous.” Eye blinks.
Just then the teddy bear near the window, the one being video recorded, giggled and said “Ha ha! That tickles!”
“What in the fuck is happening?” I demanded.
Gwen looked over at the bear and began laughing so hard that she couldn’t speak.
My fear grew into terror. I said so, “Gwen, you’re scaring me.”
“Oh! No, no, no, I am sorry. I am not laughing at you! Oh,” she breathed, wiping tears of laughter from her eyes. “I’m sorry but your reaction was just priceless.”
“What is that thing?” I demanded.
“That’s a BooBuddy, it’s one of the devices I use to detect changes in the environment. As a trigger object it’s been quite effective. I had been using a traditional EMF detector in here, with relatively good results, but the teddy bear exterior definitely entices the creatures to interact more often.”
I took a deep breath, “That bear is a ghost detector?”
“Kind of,” she said excitedly, “It is amazing, it can even ask questions and record EVPs, it measures changes in the electromagnetic field, and it alerts if those changes occur or if there’s any movement or temperature changes.”
“Are you a paranormal investigator then,” I asked, genuinely surprised.
“Amateur investigator, I mean I am no where close to Biddy or Eric. I’ve really only done investigations at home in Pennsylvania, and here in our neighborhood.”
“You know Biddy?” I asked.
“Only by reputation,” she said quickly. “But I don’t hunt ghosts. I’m into cryptids; it’s been my passion for a long time. And,” she leaned forward and whispered, “I think there are at least two but possibly three creatures in Boulder Brook.”
“Animals can’t trigger an EMF detector,” I said, confused.
“They’re not animals,” she replied excitedly. “At least not the way we think of animals. The best way to describe them is interdimensional. They affect the environment in a unique way, EMF is just one way to detect their presence!”
“Hold on, are you saying that one of those creatures was here, just now, and made that bear go off?” I asked, goose bumps running up and down my arms.
“I asked you to be here around ten o’clock because they are usually here sometime between ten fifteen and eleven every morning. Except Mondays. I haven’t figured that out yet. It is the only time during the day that they show up. I figured it out after I set up the video recorder and trained it on the BooBear, then created a log of the disturbances.”
“So something was in this house with us just now? How do you know it wasn’t a ghost? If it was a creature or monster it would have to be invisible,” I reasoned, trying to reassure myself.
“There are so many things invisible to us, though, right? So it’s not far fetched to think that a living being could be just as hidden from our sight as a dead being or entity. It’s all connected, right? I mean you agree. Everything paranormal, demons, aliens, cryptids, ghosts. If we are on a certain plane of existence and those things are on another, or I don’t know how it works, but maybe those planes overlap sometimes.”
“I’m doing my best to follow, but I’m kind of hung up on the idea that there are invisible creatures living in Boulder Brook Reservation. I walk there all the time. High school kids party back there. I would think word would get around.”
“They’re new,” Gwen replied.
I shook my head, “What-”
“These creatures, the cryptids in the reservation,” she explained, “I only recognized the signs about a year and a half ago. Something let them in and I think I know what happened, I just don’t know who did it.”
I grabbed another cinnamon bun, decided to jump into the abyss with her and said, “Alright, start at the beginning.”
Gwen’s face brightened and she said excitedly, “Do you need more coffee?”
I shook my head.
“OK, you let me know if you do,” Gwen said before scaring the hell out of me with her story. She began, “I grew up in Bradford, Pennsylvania. I spent hours hiking and hunting in the woods with my dad. I know wildlife and I know what’s normal. What is happening here is not normal.
“OK, what I am about to tell you sounds far-fetched, but please hear me out,” she paused, her eyes blinking rapidly, then continued quickly, “When I was sixteen years old I saw a Sasquatch in the woods on a trail near my home.”
She paused again, then whispered, “Do you think I’m nuts?
I couldn’t reply my mouth was full of pastry so I just shook my head.
“Whew! Oh, it is such a relief to say it out loud!’ Gwen said, loudly. “I haven’t had anyone to talk about this with in years,’” she took a deep breath and went on, “I was on a trail near my house headed back home after a day of hiking. I came around a bend in the trail, and boom! There it was about twenty feet ahead of me. The trail rose in elevation a bit, so I was sort of below the thing looking up at it. It was standing stock-still and staring down the path back at me, I must have startled it.
“It. Was. Huge. Like a big long-armed, broad gorilla man, maybe eight feet tall; at least that’s what I estimated by how high it was compared to the tree it was standing near.
“And man, it stunk. It smelled like wet dog and skunk and poop. We stared at each other for at least thirty seconds. Long enough for me to blink my eyes hard and try and shake myself back to reality.”
Gwen grabbed a pastry and took a huge bite. She stared at me, chewing, wide-eyed.
I couldn’t think of anything to say, so I said, “No way.”
“Yes!” Gwen said with an exaggerated shiver, “It moved towards me, kind of aggressive. That made me stumble back about three or four steps, I didn’t want to turn my back to it, but I didn’t want the thing any closer to me than it already was. I was trying to decide if I should wave my arms and yell, like you’re supposed to do with bears when the creature just stopped, turned and walked off the path back into the woods.
“I froze. I didn’t know what to do, I couldn’t turn back, it was getting late and I still had about half an hour’s hike to get to the road. Do you need more coffee?”
“What? No!” I said, startled out of the woods by her question. “No, no thank you.”
“OK, let me know. So, thankfully the creature was gone for good. I just put one foot in front of the other the rest of the way home and didn’t see another sign of it, though the entire hike back I felt like I was in danger. I refused to look off to either side of the trail. I kept my head down or stared straight ahead. It felt like I was being hunted.”
“Oh my God, what if that thing had attacked you? Is there any way that it could have been a big bear or something, though?”
“It wasn’t a bear!” Gwen yelled.
I sat back in my seat and sipped my coffee, goose bumps again covering my arms. I apologized and said, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to second-guess you.”
“Ugh,” Gwen said, “I don’t mean to be sensitive, but it is just so fucking dismissive of my experience.”
“I didn’t mean it to sound-”
“I know, but it does sound like that. What if I suggested that little man you saw in your basement was a raccoon or some other animal that had just gotten into your house? No. You know what you saw and I know what I saw.”
You also know an awful lot about me, I thought.
I said, “Good point, sorry. I believe you.”
“Thank you,” she said, eyes blinking furiously. “He, or she, or, I don’t know, it? It was dark brown and covered with fur, nice shiny fur, not dirty or matted or anything. It walked like a person, a bit lumbering, but I think that was just due to the length of its legs. It had very long legs a bit out of proportion to its torso and it’s arms were too long to.”
As she said this an image came to mind of the man-like entity Chris had seen in our basement months ago. Tall with arms too-long for it’s body.
Gwen was staring out the window, I looked towards the place in the woods she was staring at, half expecting to see a Sasquatch out there waving at us.
But there was no cryptid, just bare trees and scrub.
I said, “It sounds like an animal to me, some big huge animal that we just haven’t discovered yet, right?”
Gwen leaned forward and pointed at me excitedly, “That’s what they want you to think, right? That’s the most reasonable explanation, isn’t it? ‘It’s a freak ape or some form of humanoid missing link,’ they say,” she shook her head, “The truth isn’t so simple.”
“Then what is the truth?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she said quietly. “After I saw that thing I became absolutely obsessed. I mean, I had never even thought about Bigfoot before! I’d seen Unsolved Mysteries like everybody else, but that stuff didn’t interest me at all, and I’d spent so much time in the woods that I found it ridiculous.
“But that day on the trail blew my mind up. I spent as much time in the woods as I could after that, looking for signs, hunting for footprints. I made casts of a couple prints and that’s where I found my first big clue. Not in the existence of the footprints, I found so many in those woods that there was no question the creatures existed. The interesting thing about the prints was that oftentimes after following them along for a time on a trail they would completely disappear. I’d follow thirty or forty footprints along the forest floor and then the trail would just end. In some cases I could explain it away by the terrain, but in others it made no sense.
“That’s when I began to suspect that these creatures aren’t anything like the animals we know, these things could disappear. I’d been hunting the creature like it was a bear or a deer. It occurred to me that maybe this huge animal was so elusive because it can go where human beings can’t. Maybe we can’t find any proof because these things can leave, like completely.
“And then there’s the scat, or lack of it really. I mean, where’s the poop?” Gwen demanded seriously.
I nodded my head trying not to laugh.
“Alright,” Gwen continued. “So I’d been scurrying around the woods after this thing for a couple of months when I saw a flier for a discussion group at my library. A man named Stan Gordon lead the talk. He was head of a group called the Westmoreland County UFO Study Group. They were building the case that Bigfoot was tied to extraterrestrials.”
Gwen was leaning far forward in her chair with her elbows on her knees. Her face was lit with earnest excitement. I’d been happily riding along in her passion and belief, but the alien Bigfoot revelation was quite the bump in the road.
“Do you mean that Bigfoot is an alien or that he knows aliens? Like they’re in cahoots?” I asked, smiling.
“It is bat shit crazy,” she said. “I know! I thought so too! Look, I don’t totally agree with Mr. Gordon. He’s done his best to present the evidence and convince me, but no. There are too many loose ends in his theory. But, hearing that theory shook my mind up enough so that I could develop my own hypothesis.”
“Which is?” I said, feeling confused and wishing that I could close the wooded cottage style shutters on the picture window. It may have only been that Gwen’s absolute assurance in otherworldly creatures was rubbing off on me, but I had the distinct feeling that we were being watched.
Gwen sat back in her seat and whispered, “It’s all connected. I read this one flat earth theory that sort of pulled it all together, but-”
“Gwen,” I interrupted with a nervous laugh.
“Oh, I know,” she said quickly, eyes blinking rapidly. “Flat earth theory isn’t a reality, but it does tie up some loose ends nicely.”
“But what is living in the Boulder Brook Reservation?” I asked. “Let’s just come back home for a moment.”
“Sorry, I tend to wander when I’m thinking about them. But I have to stress that it is all connected, only no one has all the pieces of the puzzle to prove it yet. These creatures in the reservation, of course they aren’t Bigfoot, but they are connected to them somehow. The parallels, the evidence they leave is so similar that it cannot just be coincidence.”
I sipped the dregs of my cold coffee, waiting for some sort of straight line of thinking from Gwen.
“Do you want more coffee?” She asked.
I smiled; her inability to stay on track was more amusing than irritating. I liked Gwen. I would never in a million years have pegged her for a Bigfoot enthusiast. I realized I was actually enjoying myself for the first time in a long time.
“No more coffee, thank you. Tell me what you’ve found in the reservation that reminded you of Bigfoot.”
“OK,” she said scooching forward in her seat and smiling broadly, “First of all, have you seen the little structures in the woods? The branches built up against trees, like teepees?”
I nodded my head; I had seen these little structures set back from the trail in the reservation and in several of the other wooded trails I walked in town.
“That is a freaking signature calling card for cryptids. I don’t know if they are, like, some sort of portal, or maybe they are like a sign to the aliens. I mean, they can’t be shelters, way too drafty, right? But those structures show up in the woods all over the Americas and have been documented in Europe as well.”
“I just assumed it was kids building pretend shelters,” I said.
“Next time you see one, take a good look. They are always tied at the top with intricately knotted grass. Very thin, like a braid, but not a braid. Those things are tall, right? And they are built with long, heavy branches. If you really take a look you will see that some of those branches are fresh. They haven’t recently fallen, they were ripped – not cut – off trees.”
“OK, that’s freaky,” I acknowledged.
“Mm hmm!” Gwen said her face absolutely glowing with enthusiasm. “Another thing to look for is the scratches. Three deep scratches along those branches and most times traced along the living tree that the structure surrounds. I’ve measured and these structures are between ten to thirteen feet tall, too tall for the Boy and Girl Scouts of America to create without the Boston Globe being called to document their brilliance. Also, the scratch marks are rather consistent. They appear to be made by an animal, not a tool or machine.”
I imagined this little woman in the woods, EMF detector in her back pocket, measuring tape in hand. I suppressed another smile.
She noticed. “What?” She asked. “I know I must sound like an absolute nut.”
“No!” I said quickly, then, “I mean, a little bit considering the topic. It’s just that listening to you talk about this, I guess it just reminds me of how much I love hearing these stories. It makes me happy that there is someone out there who gets just as excited about this stuff.”
Gwen smiled, “I told you we had a lot in common!”
I reached forward to break off another bite of cinnamon bun (yes, it was my third) and asked, “What else have you found?” I asked.
“There are the consistent EMF readings, both around the structures and also around the bear.”
I glanced over at the stuffed animal and shivered a bit. I sincerely hoped it wouldn’t speak again. I asked, “Do you think the creatures are getting into your house?”
“No, no, but I think they both unintentionally give off EMF and they are able to intentionally affect their environment. It’s sort of a way they communicate.”
“What do you think they’re trying to tell you?” I asked.
“I don’t know. It doesn’t feel aggressive, and it doesn’t seem coincidental. Every day, again, except Mondays, around the same time, that bear triggers. I can’t help but think it is intentional.
“Then there are the lights. The lights were the very first things I noticed when we moved here and they triggered a memory from one of Stan’s books.
“Not every time, but many times witnesses report seeing greenish floating lights or an actual U.F.O. at the same time they see a Sasquatch. Sometimes people see all three at once. Anyhow, the first week we were here I was out in the backyard around dusk, dumping out the kiddie pool after the kids went to bed and that’s when I saw them for the first time. Three greenish lights hovering above the reservation. I estimated they were hovering about half way across the field.
“I watched them for a while, wondering what people were doing back there. The woods had been a huge part of our choosing the home, but I hadn’t considered anyone lurking in the reservation at night. It freaked me out. I was about to go in and tell my husband when the lights slowly started to climb and then shot up and out of sight. Fast.”
“Uh uh,” I said.
“Yeah, and I’ve seen them three times since. Twice I watched them hover and then blink out but one other time they shot up into the sky again.”
“Did you manage to get any video?” I asked.
“No,” she said, sighing. “I tried, I had my phone on me two of the times, but the first time I was too slow and the second time I did record the lights hovering but when I tried to look back at the video on my phone there was nothing there.
“It was like the opposite of the stuff people find with ghosts, you know? Like technology can record EVPs and some cameras can capture images that our eyes can’t see. But in this case I could see the lights clearly but the camera couldn’t record them.”
“Strange,” I commented.
“Very,” Gwen agreed. “Then there are the whoops. It’s a lot like the ones I heard in Pennsylvania and the recordings I’ve listened to online. When these things communicate they call out with a ‘Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!’ noise.”
“But the ones you investigated back home were Bigfoot and we know there aren’t any of those here,” I reasoned, wondering if perhaps this was all just wishful thinking on Gwen’s part.
“No, unfortunately, they aren’t Bigfoot. They look nothing like them,” Gwen said, seriously.
“So you’ve seen one of these things?”
Gwen stood up and walked over to the window. She crossed her arms over her chest and stared out at the tree line.
I stared at her back; unsure of whether I even wanted to know what she’d seen. I had to live here, only about five houses up from the reservation. I didn’t want to know what monsters were lurking in there. But it was too late.
“It was last October. The girls and I were raking leaves in the early evening. I saw something move in the trees. See that small stone wall?” She asked motioning and turning briefly to look at me. I nodded my head and she turned back to the window.
“I saw something duck down behind it. It was dusk and there were still a lot of leaves on the trees, the brush is pretty thick back there so I wasn’t sure exactly what I saw but it wasn’t a squirrel or anything like that. The thing was big, it had bulk.
“My first thought was that it was a dog running around off leash, but dogs don’t hide, they bound over to you or bark at you or whatever.
“I glanced at the girls, they were in the middle of the yard fooling around in the leaves, so I took a few steps towards the edge of the yard and stood still, watching. Just as I was about to shrug it off the thing peeked over the wall at me.”
“Oh no,” I said, chills running through my body.
Gwen shook her head slightly, then explained, “It had a head like a really big fox, but without the ears. You know how fox have light eyes? It had those and they were huge. Its fur was short and really thick, it stood up a bit around it’s shoulders. It was like a dirty grey color.
“I jumped back and it stood up completely. It was only about, maybe four feet high, hunched over on two legs, short arms sort of situated closer to the front of the chest than the side. Something about it reminded me of a kangaroo.
“It was just watching me. Then one of the girls gave a shriek behind me; I could tell immediately that it was one of laughter, not fear. The thing turned it’s head toward the girls then kind of tilted it to the side and put one of it’s claws on the wall.
“That snapped me out of my daze. I started towards it, waving my rake, screaming like a total nut. I think I was saying ‘Ya! Ya! Get outta here! Go on! Get!’ Meanwhile I was also calling to the girls to get inside the house immediately. I turned away from the creature once and saw they were staring at me and I screamed, ‘Inside! Now!’ and you bet that got them moving.
“I’m not much of a yeller,” she said, turning away from the window and sitting back in the comfy chair.
“What did the thing do when you screamed at it?”
“It didn’t even flinch. It just turned its head away from the girls and towards me again. I backed away from it, I told it to stay, ‘Just stay!’ I yelled at it, like it was a dog for God’s sake,” Gwen said, embarrassed.
“I backed all the way to the front door and scrambled inside. The girls were in the front hall and they were scared to death, of me, they hadn’t seen the thing, thank God. I ordered them to go up to their room and close the door behind them. I came in here and looked out the window but the thing was gone. At least it wasn’t where I’d left it. I panicked that it had come near the house so I slammed these shutters closed checked all the doors then went into the kitchen and called animal control.
“A woman came out and looked around the house, she even went back into the woods. But she didn’t turn up anything. She reasoned that it could have been a fox or perhaps even a kid dressed up in their Halloween costume, just having some fun with me.
“That thing wasn’t a child in a costume,” Gwen said darkly. “I don’t let the girls in the yard anymore. I’ve signed them up for every after school activity I can find and I take them to the library or out for a play date otherwise. I’m always sure to get home before it’s dark out and I pull into the garage and let the door close behind us before we get out of the car.”
An image appeared in my mind of the little fox-like creature slipping in as the garage door was closing. Trapping it in along with Gwen and her kids. I did my best to push the chilling thought away.
“The next day there were three little piles of rocks set at the tree line,” Gwen continued. “I noticed the piles through this window, I didn’t go outside to look, but I grabbed my binoculars so I could get a better look at them. I don’t know how, but I just knew that there was one for each of us, me and the girls
“Jesus,” I breathed.
Gwen considered. She said, “Look, you’ve been interviewing people long enough to know that there is something strange about this town, right? And you know that it wasn’t just a coincidence that you out of the blue decided to put up a flier in the library asking for people’s ghost stories. And it wasn’t a coincidence that you chose this town, that you met Nick who introduced you to Biddy who was there to keep you out of danger. You’re protected now, but you have to continue documenting what’s happening in this town.
“Do you know why this town is special?”
I shook my head, startled by how well she knew my life.
“Ley lines,” she said quietly.
“I don’t know what those-”
“Yes, you do,” she interrupted loudly. “Think, on Ghost Adventures, The Ancient Ram Inn, season two, episode sixteen.”
Now I was truly frightened. This woman knew where I lived, knew way too much about my life and had the Ghost Adventures episodes memorized. I shifted forward in my seat, ready to get up and leave.
“Wait!” Gwen insisted. “Please, I’m not crazy and I’m not dangerous. I’m trying to tell you something important. You’ve been only half in and half out of this lately. I read the blog and I listen to the podcast, OK? You’re shifting your focus away from Wellesley. That is fine, but there is a reason for that too. Something doesn’t want you to keep digging.
“This town attracts a certain kind of person, right?”
“Well, yes, but isn’t it sort of like that everywhere? Like attracts like?”
“No,” she replied firmly. “The people in this town, their energy, it’s,” she paused, searching for the word.
“Strong?” I suggested.
“Well, that, yes, but it’s really intense. It is powerful enough to not only accomplish amazing things; it has the collective power to call horrible things in. Certain types of people are drawn to this town, this land. Wellesley was built along a very powerful ley line.”
Gwen paused and looked at me expectantly.
“I’m sorry, I do remember that episode of Ghost Adventures, but all I can recall is the old man who said he was attacked by a succubus every night.”
“Do you remember when he showed Zac that big book with the maps in it?”
“Vaguely,” I conceded.
“Well it was a map of British ley lines. It was first believed that their significance was only in Great Britain, but it has since been proven that they reach across the globe. They are really mystical lines I suppose that can be drawn to connect ancient monuments and megaliths. Some people believe they carry psychic or spiritual power through them. There is no coincidence that things are built where they are built, that events happen where they happen. Major events can be traced along these ley lines.
“When you draw lines connecting the locations of significant negative events and structures in North America it forms a freaking pentagram. Though the symbol itself isn’t necessarily evil or negative, the events that happened to form it are.”
“I’m not quite following,” I admitted.
“Picture a map with all of the major cities and the major tragedies in the Americas. Things that shocked the world. JFK’s assassination, then Robert Kennedy’s and Martin Luther King’s. The Oklahoma City Bombing and 911. Hurricanes Katrina and Andrew. Columbine, VA Tech Massacre and WACO can all be connected by drawing what has been called the Blood Pentagram over the maps of North and South America. It extends up into Canada and the two bottom points hit The Pyramid of Sun near Mexico city, a place that was infamous for ritual killings and the other point hits Haiti, where that devastating earthquake happened.”
“You are in this all super deep,” I said, impressed. “I mean you’ve done your homework.”
Gwen waved the comment away with a hand and continued, “Those demon nests that Gaye described in your blog post from January, I would bet money that the so-called cult leader chose followers whose families lived on ley lines. It makes too much sense, it would provide a steady flow of energy to power and connect them. Dark energy.”
“You’re making sense,” I said, begrudgingly.
“Read back through your stories from the beginning. Think about the path you’ve taken and the people you’ve met. Something is powering the paranormal activity in this town and you’re a part of that. We both are.”
“Oh Lord, Gwen,” I sighed. “I’m tired.”
“I know you are, but I also know you love this, even your own haunting.”
I smiled and agreed. It was true. This feeling, this shaky, exciting paranoia was what I’d been chasing my entire life. And now it was around me, everywhere I turned.
“I wanted to ask you,” Gwen said, “I mean, I know you don’t have any interest in actually hunting this stuff, but if you hear of anything in your interviews, anything that you think might fit into or even out of my theory, will you please tell me?”
“Of course,” I replied. “But I’m not sure I’ll know what that is, I mean other than, God forbid, someone else seeing one of these creatures.”
“No, I know you’ll know when you hear something that’s a piece of the bigger picture,” she replied assuredly. “And vice versa obviously, if something comes up on my end I will totally let you know. If we share information like that we might be able to connect some dots.
“Something is happening in this town.”
I nodded my head and said awkwardly, “I should go, I have to get some stuff done before the kids get home.”
“Don’t forget your recorder,” she said picking up the device and handing it to me. “After you!” She said, motioning to the doorway into the kitchen.
I walked through then nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard a high-pitched voice giggle and say, “Oh! That tickles.”
Dread and fear flooded my body.
“Gwen,” I whispered, afraid to move, “is one of those things here?”
“No! Oh! I am so sorry,” she began breaking down into laughter again.
“What the hell, Gwen?” I demanded.
“I was checking the video recorder and I bumped the table by accident and it triggered the bear,” she explained.
“I feel like you are fucking with me,” I said, unsure and annoyed.
“No! Never! Please don’t think that!” She pleaded. “Really! I just bumped the table.”
I let out a breath and said, “That nearly scared me to death.”
“Sorry!” She said again, shrugging her shoulders. “I am such a spaz, ugh. Here, let me get your coat out of the hall closet.”
As she handed me my jacket I was again filled with terror. I honestly wanted her to walk me home. I didn’t want to step foot out of that house. The reservation was too damn close.
She must have sensed my fear because she said, “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. You’re wearing your necklace,” she motioned to my neck.
“What could this thing possibly do to protect me against some sort of an earless, two footed fox monster?” I replied, forcing a laugh.
“Trust me,” Gwen replied, “It’s all connected. These creatures, they’ve been here for ages waiting for their chance to break through. I can’t prove it yet, but I will. The devil may be patient,” Gwen said before closing the door. “But so am I.”
I walked home, continually looking over my shoulder. Though I was absolutely exhausted from the outing I spent an hour on Google attempting to find a detailed map of Massachusetts ley lines, to no avail. After Chris fell asleep that night I turned off our noise machine. I didn’t sleep, I listened. Both wanting to hear something in the night and wanting to forget what I’d heard from Gwen.