Estimated reading time — 9 minutes
I grew up in Northern Nevada, and have always had a love for the macabre side of things. Interested in ghost stories and the town’s folklore, I often found myself searching for haunted locations around the city. All through high school, I never found one that was truly haunted, and it let me down. I began to think that there was nothing in the city that was weird enough for me, so after I left high school, I went to college in Washington, in a town that I thought had much more history to it. I had only learned about the real dark stories of my home town when I came back to visit at the beginning of this summer…
During vacation I was working the summer at a sushi restaurant that had employed me a few years before, I only really got the job because most of my friends were still working there too. I was up talking with the sushi crew and they invited me to hang out on north fifth and talk about life and probably smoke a little. North Fifth is a street that leads (as you would guess) out the north side of town. If you follow the nicely paved road out far enough you will come across a cattle guard and the pavement will give way to sand and dirt and rocks. The roads are lined with gnarled sagebrush, the kind that grows everywhere in Nevada like a cancer. I felt like I hadn’t seen my friends in ages and I didn’t want to spend the night indoors so I agreed to go.
Once the clock struck 9 P.M. all five of us busted our asses out of the restaurant and headed up Fifth Street. My friend Liam and I were in his jeep, following behind Jay, Austin, and Jay’s girlfriend Danielle. We passed the cattle guard as we were following our friends, and Liam turned to me.
“I hope we don’t go out too far.” His eyes darted around his face, almost in a fit of paranoia. I had no idea what provoked that statement, but I felt like it would lead to something terrifying, so I bit down and swallowed the bait.
“Why shouldn’t we go out too far? Ghosts?” I chuckled as I spoke, because I was a supernatural junkie. There isn’t anything like the rush of encountering something that felt like it wasn’t totally there. We waited in silence for a moment as I watched the weeds pass the jeep while we got deeper and deeper into the desert. I’ll never forget how my friend looked when he replied, like there was a history. Like there was something out north fifth that Liam had run into before, and never wanted to see again.
“I’ll tell you later.” His voice had turned cold. There was only fear present in his words.
“Why?” I probably sounded angrier than I wanted. Admittedly, I was irritated and confused at Liam’s dodgy attitude.
“They don’t like it when you talk about them.”
My head was jumping from thought to thought, I was trying to delve into my subconscious and remember what my family and friends used to say about the desert. My brain never stopped thinking, I was coming up with all kinds of monsters in my head. After a while I began to think that I wasn’t going to get any sleep when I got back home tonight. That was par for the course though. As a matter of fact, my brain was often the cause of my sleep loss, and I hated it. Of course, if there wasn’t a piece of me that loved the adrenaline from this supernatural, paranormal terror, I wouldn’t have been driving out North Fifth in the middle of the night to begin with. I seek it out. I loved that feeling. I don’t think I will anymore, though. A few minutes passed, and Liam spoke again.
“Just be respectful. We’re coming out to smoke and talk. We won’t be destroying anything. We should be okay if we are respectful.” Liam’s words confused the hell out of me, because I wanted to know exactly what it was that he was talking about. Of course, he wouldn’t tell me. I wanted to respect his fear as much as possible. Even if I had to spend the next couple hours in a blind confusion.
We arrived at a clearing way out of town, and as we got out the car I heard him mumbling about “Reservation Land” and Coyotes. I was still confused, but out of respect to his fear, and the realization that he didn’t want me to talk about it, I didn’t say anything.
The two of us met up with our three other friends and they loaded their pipes as we all began talking. Our conversation bounced from parties we had been to, how life was for us now, how the restaurant was doing. We talked for maybe thirty minutes before Liam decided to speak up. He shivered when he did.
“Are we on reservation land?” His body was so cold that his teeth were chattering. At least, I hoped that’s what it was. He told me the next day that he was terrified and wanted to leave as soon as he asked that question.
One of our friends, Austin, spoke up.
“I think so. Why? Are you not supposed to be on Tribal grounds?” He was as confused as I was. Liam grabbed his hat and pushed down on his scalp.
“Oh my god I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be here.” Liam’s face was hard to see under the black sky. The moon was cast behind thick shadowy clouds, all we had to light our adventure were a handful of dim stars.
“Did you guys see any coyote’s on the way here? It’s important.” He was leaning up against the door of his jeep, almost as if it was holding him up. At this point, I was pretty freaked out too. I didn’t know what was the matter and he wouldn’t tell me, so I was forced to sit in a cloud of confusion, which made me uneasy.
“Why?” came Jay’s voice, out the driver’s seat of his car.
“Wait… is that frogs?” Liam spoke up, more or less ignoring Jay’s question. The rest of us sort of chuckled, but Liam got excited. He turned his ear away from the rest of us to get a better listen.
“No, no. Frogs are good luck! They keep evil spirits away.” He said, leaning off of his car and now standing, the fear in him had subsided at least a little bit and it seemed like he was enjoying the experience a little more.
“Are you talking about skin walkers? Is that what you’re afraid of?” Austin let out a laugh, after figuring out what it was that Liam was so afraid of. As he spoke, his dreadlocks swung around his neck. “I don’t give a shit about a skin walker. Don’t worry. I will kill every single one of them if they come try and mess with us.” Austin patted Liam on the shoulder and the group fell silent, minus the sound of inhalation and the occasional lighter flick.
After ten or so minutes had passed, Jay and his girlfriend Danielle looked out the front of their car and turned the lights on. It wasn’t strange, because Liam had been randomly turning his lights on when he couldn’t handle being in the dark anymore. I was thankful, because I was growing more uneasy by the minute. I wanted to ask exactly what a skin walker was, but I was sure that I didn’t want to figure it out.
After a while Jay turned his lights on again, and we all shifted our attention to the front of his car after we heard him yelp. Standing in the road about thirty feet ahead of us was a single coyote. Its eyes were dark, and unreflective. Unlike the way animal’s eyes usually were. This one didn’t reflect light from anywhere. As a matter of fact, they looked almost… human but they were devoid of emotion, and staring at us. It wasn’t a blank stare, there was intent in it. Liam and I had screamed, but Austin remained quiet, Meanwhile, Jay and Danielle had tightened their grip on each other and Jay was trying to keep Danielle calm.
See, we all knew deep down what the skin walkers were. We knew the stories. We’ve been hearing them since we were little kids.
According to some people, if you find yourself on Indian Reservation land at night, and are causing a ruckus, or even just doing something you aren’t supposed to be doing, they will come out. They will crawl from the shadows, and peer over hilltops. They are sub-human, and often come disguised as coyotes. Vengeful creatures, and the only way to know what you’re really looking at is to look at its eyes. They will never look natural. The animal’s eyes will look flat like a humans. There will be very little gloss on them…
I pulled in a breath, and whispered to Liam.
“We need to leave…” I watched the coyote with him as he was nodding his head at me and opening his jeep door. I slid slowly from the side of Jay’s car to the door of Liam’s jeep. My eyes were fixed on the coyote’s eyes, and it followed me. It was staring at me, unblinking as I climbed into the vehicle. Before I broke eye contact, I could have sworn that I saw it smile. The sight of its fangs shook me to the core. Long, and sharp, they seemed to glow in the night. It howled, and was met with an echo of howling all around us. The sound of the dogs bellowing everywhere in the canyon twanged at my soul. It was an evil sound.
The worst part though, was what was just out of sight. The lights from our cars bathed the ground in front of us and illuminated the coyote, but on the edge of the light, my eyes caught multiple pairs of feet. There were maybe ten people standing there behind the coyote, staying out of the light of our vehicles. Their skin was dark. It was dark and unnatural, like is wasn’t really attached to the flesh. Like it could slip off at any moment. The feet then, began to move toward us. From dark skinned ankles covered with mud and paint, the light slowly illuminated the hunched over figures. Their knees were scraped from rocks and dirt, their legs covered in blood. I couldn’t bear to see the full figure, so I slammed my eyes shut and felt Liam shift his car into reverse.
Liam backed out of the clearing that we were parked in. the trees passed us, and I was sure that I could see glowing eyes in the shadows. The way the legends go, when the Skin walkers were in their human form, they would have the gaze of a beast. Their eyes would never match their bodies. Always shining when they weren’t supposed to be. We were backing up quickly. Dangerously. I don’t blame Liam for wanting out. He didn’t even want in.
As we broke through the tree line and back into the sagebrush, Liam turned the car around in a patch of grass off the side of the road. He must have seen an owl fly past, because he pointed it out and said that it was good that we left.
“Owls are observers. They are smart creatures, and they know to leave when there is danger. So… we should leave. Now. Is Jay behind us?” Liam’s voice was trembling and his fear was easy to feel. I’m sure that mine was too. I remember looking back and seeing jay’s truck, but not before I saw the man standing right behind the jeep. His eyes glowing white, skin painted black wearing the skin of a mangled coyote. He had a sick grin on his face, a grin I’ll never forget. His teeth were black and yellow, and his body looked like a gnarled root. I screamed, and ducked under the seat as his hand slammed against the metal frame. There were no words coming from his mouth, but we both heard a howling. A dark howling, coming from out in the darkness.
Liam knew that it was time to stop asking questions, and he slammed on the accelerator. For a moment, we quit caring about Jay, Austin and Danielle. We just wanted to get out of there. About four miles away from the tree line, Liam started to slow down. My heart was still beating furiously, and I was still huddled in the back seat of Liam’s jeep.
“It’s okay. We aren’t on reservation land anymore. We should be okay.” His voice came slowly, through long gasps for air. We drove until we reached the pavement and then stopped to wait for Jay. A few minutes had passed and we saw his truck crest over the sagebrush behind us. My head flashed images of the eyes, brooding, waiting, thinking, floating in the trees. It was so much darker there than it was here in the city. It was darker, but there wasn’t any less light than where we were. It was the air itself that felt dark.
I parted my ways with Jay, Danielle and Austin after I made sure that they got back to us safely. The ride with Liam was quiet, so I tried to break the silence.
“Man, I thought frogs were good luck.” I tried to joke with him, but Liam didn’t respond. He just pulled onto the street and drove me home. The silence bothered me, I felt bad for Liam because he didn’t want to be there, and yet we talked him into going with us at work. He pulled up to my home, and we then parted ways.
The next day we all talked about the experience. I still didn’t get a lot of information about them, so I left work and did a lot of research when I got home about skin walkers. None of the natives wanted to talk about them, so it was hard to hear the local stories. I did find out some interesting things online though… They say that they have all of these poisons, and dusts that they can use on you. Or that they can take the shape of anything they’ve consumed. Anything that they’ve consumed…
They say… When you lock eyes with one, it attaches itself to you. That it’ll follow you to your house, try and break in, try and take you. They try and take you. All I can think about is that coyote’s eyes. They seemed so… dead and empty. So here I am now, my dogs are barking downstairs, and there is a banging at my door.
Man… I thought frogs were good luck.
Credit To – Alan Larkin