Estimated reading time — 13 minutes
By: Ben Meadows
First of all, I want to clarify that I cared about the people in this account that were taken from me very deeply. Their screams and spirits haunt me to this day. To their families, I promise you, when I find the thing responsible for the atrocities in this story; it will pay for the lives it has destroyed.
The blazing sun beat down on my neck as we walked. It had to be at least a hundred degrees and the Kentucky humidity didn’t help the situation. My National Guard unit was drilling out at Fort Knox in the summer and we were on our last day of training for the month in the woods near one of the shooting ranges. The other medics and I had already qualified with weapons and were winding down with some conversation. The same usual bullshit, talking about late nights getting hammered drunk and every aspect of the sexual encounters we had experienced during the month prior; there was also the occasional spousal joke thrown in between. My friends, Specialist Jeremy North and Private Austin Rivers had been by my side the entire time. We were relatively new at our unit and always got picked on accordingly, so we stuck together most of the time. It was about high noon and we were trying to think of ways to pass the time. The card games were getting old and the batteries were dead on our smart phones, so there wasn’t really much else we could think of to do other than walk around and shoot the shit.
“So how’s your woman doing, Red? Tell her she needs to give me her new number.” North said to me slyly with that ear to ear grin he had. “I’ll tell her she needs to renew her restraining order.” I retorted as I punched him in the arm. Rivers just snorted that goofy laugh he had and followed it up with something incoherent as expected. We walked over to the concrete building that housed the weapons to see if we could find someone to talk to or possibly charge our cell phones. Inside was Staff Sergeant Wake, a former Active Duty soldier who had made the switch to the Guard after eight years of service. “How’s it going, Sergeant?” asked Rivers, as he closed the door behind us. “Hot as hell, boring as hell, and tired as hell” he replied. I hadn’t seen Sergeant Wake all day and that was a good thing. He probably would have given us some kind of bullshit work to do so we would look somewhat productive in front of the officers from the other companies there.
We exited the building from there, realizing that we were dangerously close to receiving some kind of task and began walking back to our tent. The tents were large and green with big flaps on all sides, as if they would have looked any different being Army tents. From there we met about twenty-five other medics and started to pack all of the equipment up: the tents, M16’s, sleeping bags, and anything else that would have taken a while to put away, as we were hoping to leave before daylight in the morning to drive back down to southern Kentucky where our headquarters was. After this long and tedious process, I started to pack all of my personal things into my ruck. My other uniform that had been buried under my sleeping bag was still soaked with sweat from the day before. The name tag read “Winters” although my friends and everyone else at my unit affectionately referred to me as “Red” due to my unusually bright red hair. Rivers looked to me and asked if I would start separating my stuff from his because he had to take a leak, and I obliged. The temperature was getting to everyone. A chorus of frustrated grunts of the other medics trying to reform objects down to their smallest possible size before shoving them into their bags surrounded me.
I looked up into the tree line and smiled, though. I loved the woods and nature for the most part. I was raised in the woods and was always taught to respect the Earth. It’s hard to describe the feeling I get when I’m alone with nothing but the green canopies of leaves above.
Later on, as the sun started to advertise its departure from the sky, an orange glow slowly became more visible and the air started to cool down as well as become dryer.
My friends and I settled on the cots we had placed earlier and waited for the inevitable brief we were going to get from Sergeant Wake about what we needed to do to get out of there as quickly as possible without getting “hung up in more brass bullshit” or something of that nature.
One of the other medics, named Robinson and I were talking about recent news about video games, movies, and TV shows when a sudden realization hit me. I looked over at North who was sitting on his cot with his forehead in his hands rubbing it like he had a headache. “Hey North, have you seen Rivers?” I asked in an unconcerned but curious tone. “Nope, he must have gone to the latrine or something.” This answer didn’t satisfy me. He had been gone for at least two hours and it was getting too dark to be doing anything productive. I looked over at his ruck and saw that it was half empty with some of his things lying around it in a sloppy configuration the way I had left it. I ended my conversation with Robinson and started looking around the camp. I asked ten other people if they had seen him and at this point a concerned North was accompanying me. “He can’t be too far from here.” I said, this time in a concerned manner. “We’ll give it another hour and if he’s not back by then, we’ll tell someone” said North who shared the same apathetic tone as me. We weren’t the over reactive types and just assumed he had found an outlet for his phone or something.
About forty-five minutes later, Sergeant Wake called us all over for a head count. North and I were genuinely concerned for Rivers at this point, not for his safety, but we feared that he might get in trouble if he missed the head count. We told Sergeant Wake about the situation and he sighed, pinching the skin between his eyes at the bridge of his nose. “Had to be one of you fucking new guys” he groaned in an irritated tone. He called all of the medics over and gave us specific instructions not to tell anyone outside of our detachment because if we could find Rivers before tomorrow, no one would have to get punished; he was a nice guy in that way. I was starting to get really worried at this point. Rivers was a sensible guy and this wasn’t like him to just run off like this. We spread out amongst the woods in different directions in 3 man teams. It was getting really dark now and the chances of finding him were getting slimmer as the chances of us getting lost were growing. It had to be around 23:00 and each hour that passed made me grow more concerned for my friend. North and I exchanged glances of doubt and it seemed like we both knew that this wasn’t going to end well. We ducked under tree limbs and crunched the dirt under our feet as we made our way through the unfamiliar woods. We were walking at a pretty fast pace until we reached the mouth of a wide cave adjacent to a creek that seemed really out of place for the terrain. The other man that accompanied us was PFC Terrence Hale and he wasn’t afraid to vent his frustration of the whole situation towards us. “He’s your buddy; why the fuck did you let him run off? I mean, seriously, haven’t you ever heard of Murphy’s fucking Law.” Hale whined in a nasally voice. I just shook my head and proceeded into the cave with a flashlight. The air in the cave was cool and moist, a relief from the summer heat outside. The three of us made our way further inside and continued our search, hoping Rivers would show his face sooner rather than later. Behind me were North and Hale looking in opposite directions of the cave as I looked straight ahead. Hale was still extremely agitated. “I can’t believe this shit, this has never happened before. I swear, if we find him and he’s just fucking with us I will be so fucking..” He trailed off. I saw him stop and hold his breath as he backed away from what had just seen. A feeling of dread crept up on me as possibilities roared through my head. I didn’t want to look; I really, really didn’t want to look. I pointed my flashlight hesitantly over to what had Hale so shocked and vomited. There lying on the ground in a pile was Rivers, or what was left of him. His torso was ripped wide open exposing his lungs and heart and his stomach and other organs looked like they had been eaten away. What once was the face of one of my best friends was now a pit of flesh dug into the semicircle that was his head. And that was all I had the stomach to look at. While we were American soldiers and had been trained to deal with shocking sights.. This.. This was nothing like I had ever experienced. I was sure that this was certainly a very large bear or.. Or a mountain lion or something that had done this, but I was very wrong, so very, very wrong.
Hale let out a scream and North just stood there in shock as we tried to gain our wits. We had to get the fuck back to camp and tell everyone what had happened. We were starting out of the cave when we heard it; the low, bellowing moan of the thing that inhabited the cave. I froze; I had never been so disturbed in my entire life to hear a sound. It was accompanied by footsteps that mushed the clay and mud underneath it. As it approached, I began to smell the odor of decay, the pungent stench of something reminiscent of a dead animal. North and Hale began shining their flashlights in the direction the sound was coming from and Hale dropped his when we all saw it. An enormous, disgusting, humanoid creature took up the entire entrance to another chamber of the cave. It glanced over at us and began taking several awkward steps towards us. The more I saw of it, the more I wanted to vomit the rest of my dinner. Its stomach was swollen with the remains of Rivers it and walked on two long, hairy legs. The entire thing was covered in thick, matted hair from head to toe and its long, wide arms ended in two skinny hands with sickeningly long fingers that were reminiscent of a spider’s legs. The creature had to be at least eight feet tall standing upright and weigh at least a ton. It appeared neither male nor female and had a head that resembled something close to an emaciated deer or a goat with huge, gaping maw that housed several dull, bloody teeth several inches apart and pitch black eyes. Slimy saliva dripped from its mouth and I could smell the disgusting odor of my friend’s remains on its breath. Hale fainted when he realized what he had seen. I wanted to as well but I fought it as hard as I could. And then the room started to spin..
I can remember the blurry scene of North and I trying to drag Hale out of the cave as that thing.. That monster grabbed his legs and easily won the tug of war between us. As it got a hold of him, it lifted his body up by one leg towards its enormous mouth and in one crunching display bit his entire head off before proceeding to rip his limbs off individually. North and I started to fire at it with our M16’s but to no effect. It merely flinched at the rounds and looked as if it wasn’t even bleeding. We pounded through the woods towards our camp using pure adrenaline to push us. We had made it pretty far away from the cave, but something suddenly slammed into North hard and he fell. I heard the sickening crunch of his ankle breaking accompanied by his scream of pain. I tried to pick him up and carry him but I was still reeling from what had just happened and fell down myself. I eventually managed to lift him onto my back before I was struck with a large rock to my back. I lay there in agony, my back felt like it was broken and I could barely breathe. I barely had time to process what had happened before I turned over to witness another horrific sight. I watched as North was dragged away from me by his legs at incredible speed by the abomination. I picked up my weapon and fired every shot I had left in my clip above him at the thing that was dragging him away but still the creature seemed apathetic to my rounds. As it all happened, North’s gaze met mine; what can only be described as a look of sheer hell filled his dark eyes as he was pulled faster and faster away, screaming.
Now I’m not proud of what I did, but I turned around and I ran. I ran as fast as I could with my weapon in my hand, sweating profusely, and breathing so hard I thought my lungs would collapse. When I finally reached the camp, I broke down and balled uncontrollably. All of the other medics had already returned and could barely gather my story through the tears of agony. “In the cave..” I said and simply pointed in the direction I came from and fifteen of the others ran off into the woods. I begged them not to go, to wait until daylight but they wouldn’t. They grabbed everything we had at our camp and bolted into the tree line.
The next morning was a hazy blur. The men that had gone into the woods returned with three M16’s and a single, blood-stained combat boot. “We went to that cave he talked about” said McKenzie, a Sergeant who had accompanied them. “We found their weapons and a ton of blood, but none of the bodies or the thing that attacked them.” I was asked to submit a report of what happened, and I tried my best to explain the events but no one would believe what I truly saw. We eventually left two days later and as I got into the back of one of the HMMWVs, I took one last look at the tree line. A blackish brown dot stood in between two large trees. I squinted hard at it and it became clearer. The monster that had taken my friends faced me for a moment before turning around and vanishing into the woods moving with incredible speed for its size.
After that, I wasn’t able to sleep more than a few hours at a time. I was constantly bombarded by visions and nightmares of the abomination coming after me to finish its work. I did a ton of research on the thing and the closest thing I could find was something called the Wendigo, which is a Native American legend about a creature that has an insatiable appetite for human flesh. I had no idea what the fuck this thing was or how to kill it. The entire experience had turned my world upside down and I was making it a point to move away from Kentucky and as far away as possible once my military contract was finished.
The following night, I looked out my window and saw something that sent a violent chill down my spine. I live in the woods with only a couple neighbors who were out of town, and my girlfriend was out visiting her parents, so I was the only one in the neighborhood. As I stared into the darkness, I saw the disgusting deer head of the creature with its mouth gaping wide open. I instantly jumped up and grabbed my Remington 12 gauge along with a box of shells. I said a prayer, clutched the cross I always wore around my neck and ran out to meet the creature. It had moved from its original spot. I grabbed my flashlight and headed towards its direction but stopped myself. “That’s exactly what it wants.” I said to myself. I went back up into my living room, picked up my phone and called the police. I made up some bullshit story about a home invasion so they would actually come. I was not going to let this thing kill me or my girlfriend. I started back onto the porch to keep an eye one the thing but it had moved again. This time I panicked. It’s somewhere close and I had no idea where. I ran all around my property looking for it and eventually gave up. I returned inside and resigned to waiting for the police. At this point, my head was pulsating and my eyes started to become blurry again. I collapsed on the floor and looked up to see the creature standing about five feet away from me on all four legs, it reached out to me with its mutant hands but I managed to gain the strength to get up and run. I sprinted outside and collapsed in the driveway which ran parallel to a steep decline that led into the woods. The monster, now walking bipedal became more visible in the light of my porch. It was a greyish color with wrinkled skin as if it had been soaking in water for days. Its matted hair contained bits of blood and flesh from its past victims and its face was what terrified me the most. Its disgusting Baphomet face housed black eyes that revealed to be pits of where eyes should have been, which led me to believe that the creature relied off of its senses of hearing and smell to hunt. It crouched over my body and wrapped one long, bony hand around my face. Its skin felt like that of a squid’s, and the smell made me want to vomit.
“This is it.” I thought. “My life is over.” My survival from weeks earlier was just prolonging my death at the hands of this monster. It lifted me up with its second hand now wrapped around my torso as it moved to take a bite out of my neck when it suddenly stopped.
The sound of police sirens was now very close. The thing apparently didn’t like large groups of people and didn’t want to get caught. It dropped me to the concrete and started slinking its way back into the woods, but I wasn’t going to let it get away that easy. I ran as hard as I could and jumped down the decline after the creature. I barreled into the thing with all 200 pounds of my body weight and sent it careening down the hill. It was pissed now, and starting running back up the hill towards me with shocking speed, I barely had enough time to let out a buck shot right into its mouth as a slimy substance similar to pus shot out of the creature. I had hurt it! The creature wasn’t pleased and grabbed me with both disgusting hands. It immobilized me as it began slowly lowering its gaping wide mouth towards my head. I fought it as hard as I could but to no avail.
Seconds away from certain death, I started praying. I prayed harder than I ever had before and the creature stopped and threw me down. It backed away writhing in pain like I had seriously damaged it. I began praying again “My father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” and starting walking towards it, blasting at it with the shotgun, each shot putting pus-oozing holes into its stomach and neck. As I advanced, the creature turned around and ran faster than it had in our previous encounter into the woods. I screamed at it with tears rolling down my eyes as it limped away through the trees with its impossibly big body.
The past few weeks have hard. I’ve been to three funerals, gone through several police investigations, and I’ve barely been able to sleep. I rented a cabin far away from my girlfriend until this is all over; I’m convinced that the abomination has marked me, and I refuse to be the cause of her death as well. As far as she knows, I’m visiting some friends down in Tennessee. Now the thing not only threatens me physically but also in my dreams. I wake up some nights, screaming about the things I see. I know as well as it does that this is not over and that it will come back for me. I can only speculate on how much time I have left. I want this to be a written record for anyone who may find it if I don’t make it out alive this time. If I’m never seen or heard from again, tell the Winters family that I love them very much, and tell Jessyca Small that I never had the courage to ask her, but I was planning to make her my wife someday. There’s a thunderstorm outside, and I can see the shape of a figure between the lightning strikes. I would have been able to dismiss it as a trick of the mind, but there’s one inescapable thing I noticed about what I just saw- the glint of service tags wrapped around its wrist…
Credit To – Ben Meadows