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Red Eyes: A Mystery that terrorized a town

Red Eyes A Mystery that terrorized a town


Estimated reading time — 43 minutes

One – The town of Redding

There are some things you should fear. Things that really go bump in the night. Just like there are some stories you should never cast aside as just another scary story. Parents and other adults may assure you that there’s nothing to fear to protect you, but some stories are real and as you grow up fear has a purpose to protect you from danger.

I learned these sad truths the summer I turned twelve. My name is Leanne and I grew up in a little town called Redding. It is a port town along Big River where barges often stopped to be filled with grain which would then be taken to other towns and cities along the river for processing into feed and other food supplies. Sometimes the barges would be carrying ore of one kind or another. The river was a big part of our town, but so were the outlying farms.

I lived about three miles from the river, not a far walk or drive. Often mom took us to the river to watch the barges and the races they’d have during the town’s big festival every summer. Our house was a trailer in Red Park, a trailer park named for the lipstick red fences that surrounded it. No one knew why those fences were painted red, but they were and no one bothered to repaint them.

There was only one entrance to Red Park. You would follow Lake Avenue to Tenth street where you take a left. Then you follow Tenth street all the way down to the road on the left caddie corner from Lilac Lane. That was the entrance to the trailer park. The tracks ran behind the park and on the other side was a tiny neighborhood of Manufactured homes as the people liked to say. I however, never figured out what the difference between a trailer and a Manufactured Home was. They looked the same to me.

Our house was the third trailer in, lot 28. It had a big maple tree in the backyard perfect for climbing in or swinging on the branches. Although dad got upset about the latter since it pulled the branches to the ground which made it hard to put the picnic table under the tree.
Our house also had a large front porch on it minus the railing. My sister Chrissy and I spent a lot of time on or under that porch and in the maple tree. Especially when we weren’t with friends. Another favorite haunt was the creek. Our town didn’t have a public pool until around 88 – 89, several years after this event took place. With no public pool it was swimming in the creek or playing in sprinklers to beat the summer heat. Especially that summer with the drought going on.

It was crazy hot during the day and hot and humid at night that summer. There was no break from the heat any time of day. Even the storms at night didn’t help. So a whole group of us kids would get together (With parents permission, of course.) and tramp acrossTenth street and down the dirt road across from the park entrance. Then we’d cross a grassy field and corn field (the farmer didn’t mind as long as we didn’t cause damage.) to the creek where we swam and swung from a rope swing into the water.

The rule was that we had to be home before dark. In the evenings, a group of us would play games like night hide and seek, or Ghost in the Graveyard. Sometimes we played it in the cemetery across from the school. We were respectful when we played there hiding behind trees and avoiding the graves. That ended when we were scared out of there by necking teens. But, that’s another story.

In the summer, at least once a week some of the adults in our neighborhood would get together for a cookout and to gossip while us kids would play and talk amongst ourselves. That summer it was too hot to cook inside and often too hot to play games as well. We sit on the porch listening to the adults talk and chatting amongst ourselves. Mom kept a supply of homemade popsicles made from juices and Iced Tea and Kool aid. During those hot days and nights she’d pass them out to us kids. They were the best. Also we were allowed to sip on ice cold sodas and other cold drinks.

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Later just before everyone would go home to bed, the parents would break out the marshmallows and smores makings. We’d roast marshmallows on sharpened maple branches and make them into smores while the Parents would tell stories. Sometimes the stories would be about normal everyday activities other times they’d be Scary stories.
Those were the best. Our favorites were “The Big Toe” and “Bloody fingers”. Although, the parents would throw in other scary tales that sometimes were real and happened to them when they were young. Often they’d relate some tale they’d heard around town, usually some superstition.

Two – The Tale

It was July, when we heard the tale that was to become a nightmare before the summer was out. That night was stifling like it had been all summer. We’d been to the creek earlier that day for a swim and noted the water was shallower than normal due to the drought. But, even that did little to ease the unbearable heat.

That night our families got together for a cookout since it was too hot to cook in the house. (Note: at that time air conditioners were not common in houses and definitely not trailers.) They grilled hot dogs and hamburgers. We also had Corn on the Cob, potato Salad, baked beans, chips, macaroni salad, and Ice cold sodas (a rare treat that became common for that one summer. Bad for the teeth, you know.) For dessert we ate watermelon. Those were the days.

It was so hot we saw heat lightning that night and again too hot to play. So we sat on the porch talking amongst ourselves while the Parents talked. Now every town has those who are superstitious, especially older folk who’ve been around awhile. They’ve seen things we would know what to do with. That’s my mom’s reminder to be polite and not scoff. Most of the tales were often old wives tales and we never paid no mind to them nor did we disrespect the older folk who told them. We just saw them as great entertainment.

That night was no different as we made smores and listened to the tales being told. One neighbor spoke up about a rumor going around town. Apparently, several people were attacked by something. Old folks were talking about something called Red Eyes. When one of the parents asked what they meant. He said, “Nobody knows really. Those who’ve seen it only see the fiery red eyes before being chased and attacked. The police said wild animals are responsible for the attacks, coyotes perhaps. But, people are saying it’s something else, not an animal, but not human either.”

He then related the tale he was told by his father. His father was out hunting with some friends when he was young around his twenties. They were camping on this particular trip. They had already bagged a deer for the season and were celebrating before heading home. Their catch was trussed up in the truck to be taken to the butchers the next day on their way home.

They were sitting by the fire having a few beers in celebration and chatting happily. A few beers in, the fire started to die down and they were getting ready to turn in when the fire was out completely. Picking up unneeded gear and such. It was close to midnight or just after. He couldn’t remember.

Suddenly, they heard an unearthly growl followed by movements, starting and stopping as if they were being stalked. They gathered close to the fire unnerved and discussed just packing up and going home that night. One of them pointed out that it was deathly quiet other than the thing they could still hear stalking them and growling. No frogs, crickets, or other night sounds. Suddenly, a mournful howl filled the air causing the men to jump.

They hurriedly packed up the remaining gear including the tent and threw it haphazardly into their truck. They then began extinguishing the fire with whatever they could find. His father grabbed the Beer cooler which was the last thing and ran for the truck. He didn’t see what was chasing him and catching up quickly but as he leapt into the truck he felt a searing pain down his back as his clothes ripped. Then they managed to slam the door.

The next minute they were hurtling down the dirt road back to the farm one of the guys owned at top speed. He looked back at the same time the other did and what they saw nearly had them peeing themselves. A pair of fiery red eyes was giving chase, keeping up with the truck and at times almost catching them.

They hurtled into the driveway fifteen minutes later, the creature still on their tail. When they skidded to a halt, it leapt into the bed of the truck and began shredding everything in it. Several times it lunged at the back window causing them to duck down and try to climb into the front seat though there wasn’t room.

It must have found the deer because it stopped lunging at the window and instead pulled something out of the truck bed right over the tailgate. Then it disappeared into the night. The men ran for the house not even waiting to pick up the mess. Once inside they locked the doors and called the police.

The police arrived, looked at the mess, took their statements, and even had them show them where they were camping. Their official findings were that a wild animal attacked the men. Most likely a coyote. It was responsible for deep scratches on his father’s back that required stitches and the other damage. They also said the animal had leapt into the truck bed just before they left which is why it appeared to keep up with the truck as they barreled home. The men swore it was not a wild animal, but no one believed them.

The neighbor continued with the tale one of the elders in town shared. It went like this:
If you are out late at night, near or after midnight and the crickets go quiet, run. Run home as fast as you can and don’t look back. If you do, you’ll see a pair of fiery red eyes watching you. Then you’ll hear a low growl like a cross between a wild cat and a wolf. It will then begin to stalk you. Slowly. Deliberately. When it’s ready to give chase it’ll give a low mournful howl that’ll raise the hairs on the back of your neck. At that time, you’ll only have minutes to run. Whatever you do after you begin to run, don’t let Red Eyes catch you. If it does you’ll never be seen again. Remember the only thing you’ll see is those fiery red eyes. As it gets closer the howls and growls will get louder. Only the lucky ones who make it home live to tell the tale, They are few. The rest just disappear without a trace.

Three – Kids stuff

We thought it was just another corny ghost story meant to scare us. We didn’t believe it. I mean come on, red eyes really. Couldn’t they even be bothered to come up with a better name. That wasn’t even remotely scary. It was probably a dog that scared them that night or another animal. Case solved or so we thought. We however did not voice our opinions. Our parents would have grounded us for such disrespectful behavior. Not how we’d like to spend our summer.

We should have listened to the story, not blown it off with jokes even if they weren’t spoken. Perhaps even paid attention to the neighbor who told the tale. The way he held himself and the fear in his eyes as he recounted the tale his father told him said it all if we’d only paid attention. But, we were kids. Young and dumb, you might say. Chrissy paid the least attention of all of us. She was snapping pictures of everyone with her new polaroid camera. It got annoying especially for the parents.

Dad leaned forward, “Christina Snow Daniels! Stop with the camera or I’m taking it away and you won’t get it back till school starts.”

She immediately put it away. Chrissy and I never pushed dad when he spoke. We knew he’d immediately follow through with what he’d said he’d do. Sometimes, that punishment was paddling as that was still allowed so long as you didn’t leave bruises. We also knew when mom or dad used our full given names as he had just done it was serious and we’d better listen.

Before the end of the summer, we’d be glad Chrissy kept that camera with her and took pictures of nearly everything. Chrissy was the younger sister, by one year to be exact. We were fairly close though and behaved more like best friends. We also hung with a pack as mom often called us. There was Chrissy and myself, Chrissy’s best friend Erin who was the same age as her, Wendi, one of my best friends, and Amanda, my other best friend. We went everywhere together. You’d hardly see us without the others. In time we forgot about that story and went about our days like normal. Biking, swimming at the creek, climbing the maple tree and such activities.

We didn’t know that summer would be etched in our memories forever and not because of the awesome memories we made each day, but for something far more sinister and nearly deadly that would occur.

A week later, we were playing over at the neighbor’s house with her grandchildren in the evening. Little did we know we’d have our first brief encounter with Red Eyes that night. Everyone had gathered at Violet’s house for dinner. It was her grandchildren we played with when they came to visit. Braiden and Aiden were their names. Their Grandma was awesome. She was a neighborhood grandma you could say. She kind of adopted us girls as her grandkids since our grandparents all lived at least 900 miles away in Ohio and Kentucky so we didn’t get to see them very often.

Violet spoiled us rotten with candy and pies. She even made us things like our christmas stockings and a little mouse for chrissy. We loved her. That night like so many that summer was scorching and again we had a cookout. This time on Violet and Her husband Alden’s carport they use as a porch in the summer. Hot dogs and hamburgers again, with all the fixings. And of course watermelon for dessert. We then sat on her porch eating a pie Violet managed to bake before it got too hot that morning and listened to the adults talk.

The red eyes story came up again. This time a hunter and two of his friends went missing after a weekend hunting and camping trip. This time they read the Newspaper clipping. Now, with all the weirdness this summer everyone has been keeping clippings of various news stories. The Clipping read: Police baffled after local hunter, B.J. Mills Disappears with his hunting party.B.J. Mills, a Redding native disappeared Saturday night along with two others, Jared Stone and Gregory Eierson.

The trio of friends went out on their monthly camping trip. They left Friday evening for a weekend of hunting and fishing. They had planned to return on Sunday afternoon. Their families reported the men missing Monday afternoon after they failed to return Sunday as planned and did not contact them from the bait shop near where they camped. Police began investigating the disappearances. They searched the woods near Geisha falls where the men were last reported. Early Tuesday morning they found the campsite which appeared to have been rifled through. All their supplies were spread throughout the woods. The tent was shredded as if someone either cut their way out of the tent or into it in a fit a terror. Their hunting rifles were bent in unnatural angles making them unusable. But there was no sign of the hunters in the area. According to a police spokesman the whole scene was baffling, chaotic and looked as if they’d either fled in a hurry or were forced to flee by someone or something. The police are asking anyone with any information to please contact them. Our neighbors’ theory was that Red Eyes got them.

We decided to go play some before bed. Violet also had a large tree in her backyard which would have been great for climbing except there were no branches low enough to get ahold of. So we played tag instead. Braiden’s mom had brought their dog with them and it was tied to the tree. We gave it space so it didn’t think we were teasing it as we ran by while playing. Violet’s two boston terriers were in the pen out back there too. We also allotted space so we didn’t crash into the pen.

We were having a blast. I was it, having been tagged by Chrissy. I was chasing them struggling to catch one of them as I wasn’t as fast as they were. I didn’t care, I was having fun. That was until we heard the growling. Everyone stopped running at once, I almost crashed into Wendi because she stopped so fast. We looked back towards the fence and there were two bright red eyes staring right back.

The crickets had stopped and the dogs were now going crazy. It growled again, blending with the dogs and we screamed. Turning we bolted back to the carport. We tumbled into a little pile on the carport crying and shaking all over. Our parents talked to us and calmed us down so they could understand us as we were talking over each other about having seen Red Eyes.

The men all went to check things out. All they could find out there was the dogs. They told us we had seen the dogs eyes glowing in the dark and heard them growling at something. That’s what scared us. They didn’t believe we’d seen Red Eyes though. We, however, knew what we’d seen.

The parents asked our neighbor to please lay off the Red Eyes tale for a while as it was scaring us. It was, but not the way they thought. We were sure we’d seen it. It didn’t help that the newspaper had reported recently on the strange disappearance of a local hunter either.

We went home shortly after that and went to bed. Mom and dad said that was more than enough excitement for one night. We didn’t argue. Instead we said goodnight to our friends. Tomorrow was the start of the Town Festival Reddie Days to celebrate a more well known and popular cryptid in our town. The lake Redding monster we all know as Reddie. WIth tales of sightings that date all the way back to the 1800’s and even further counting the Native American Legends about the lake.

That was one thing we never missed. It was always a blast even if we didn’t believe Reddie existed. We still pretended we did when asked by tourists. Our favorite besides the games, was the ferris wheel, you could see the whole town it seemed. Then there was the night hunt for Reddie and everyone participated. It ended at Midnight. That was the only thing I worried about, but I was determined to put Red eyes out of my mind and have fun this weekend.

We got up the next morning and helped mom get her chili ready for the Chili cook off at noon. My sister Chrissy and I picked out our outfits for the day. She chose a tank top and short shorts with sandals while I donned bermuda length jean shorts and a tank top with sandals. I was a bit on the heavy side so the shorts avoided unwanted heat rash on my legs.
Chrissy, however, was the epitome of thin and pretty. She had long legs and long red blonde hair any girl would kill for. I was short and rather pudgy. Not fat per say, but a little on the tubby side of things and I had long dark brown hair. By dark brown I mean it was so dark it looked almost black. You had to be real close to see it was actually brown. My hair color was a source of arguments all my life. Erin, Chrissy’s friend, had long platinum blond hair and long legs. They were both slender and athletic. Wendi had short dark red brown hair and was pudgy like me and Amande was tall and thin with dirty blond hair cut in a page boy.
We helped mom load the Chili in the car and climbed in ourselves. Then it was off to Reddie Days.

Four – The Reddie Festival

We drove downtown to the Redding River Park. That’s where the cookoff, bake sale, craft sale, and two night corn feed were being held. We helped mom carry the Chili to a large tent by the playground. They showed her to the table that was set up for her. Then they allowed her to plug her crockpot into an extension cord to keep her chili warm until it was time for the judges to arrive.

Mom gave Chrissy and I ten dollars a piece to spend at the bake sale and craft sale. Then we were off with a promise to be back by three to help mom clean up. Our first stop was the playground by the swing set to wait for our friends. They arrived only a few minutes later. Talking and laughing we roamed the stalls of the sales. We bought cute hats that all matched and brownies to share.

One stall we stopped at had cool doll clothes and furniture. Mostly for barbies which we were still crazy about. We spent a long time looking at that stall. I bought a couple of dresses and a cape for my doll. My sister bought pants outfits for hers. Erin and Wendi bought similar items for their dolls and Amanda bought a wardrobe for her doll clothes as she had a lot of clothes for her doll.

Then we moved on. At noon a horn sounded and everyone gathered to watch the boat races. We all had our favorites. I cheered for the bright blue one, so did chrissy. Erin cheered for the green one, while Wendi and Amanda Cheered for a red boat. In the end, however, it was a purple one that won the race. The races continued until two o’clock that day. When we realized we had to get back.

We flew down the sidewalk towards the cook off tent. We ducked and dodged tables and people all along the way. Suddenly, a dog ran into my path. I tried to dodge it, but I tripped on the leash and scraped my knee. Luckily there was an EMT nearby. Well that was probably because we were in front of the first aid tent. The owner of the dog apologized like a million times.

“I’m so sorry dear. Are you sure you’re alright? He’s never done that before. Must be all of the people. He is so excitable, you know. I really am sorry.” She blurted out all at once.

“I’m ok, it’s just a scratch.” I answered back and smiled. It hurt but it really wasn’t bad and the EMT was almost finished bandaging it anyway. It wasn’t like I needed to go to the hospital.

“It shouldn’t have happened anyhow. I really am sorry. Here’s five dollars for you. Enjoy yourself today and please forgive this absentminded old lady.” She said handing me the money. I again assured her I was fine and we headed on to help mom while the EMT reminded her to keep a better watch on her dog and shorten the leash to avoid accidents like that in the future.

I shouldn’t have taken the money, but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings either. I also didn’t think she’d take no for an answer. So, I simply and graciously accepted the money. I felt bad about it, but my friends and sister comforted me by reminding me that she would have insisted on giving me the money anyway.

We arrived at the tent to help mom a little late due to my accident. Mom was a little upset, but more concerned about whether I was ok or not. Which I assured her I was. It was mom who came up with the idea to return the favor of the money to her. Mom had one bowl of chili left which she served up and put a lid on it. We helped her collect the garbage and wipe the table down real quick. Dad took the crock pot back to the car for mom while she took us girls to find that lady. On the way I bought a pretty little bracelet with the five dollars she gave me. It only cost three dollars, so I had two dollars left. It took a while before we caught up with her.

“Hello dears, how are you? Better I hope?” she asked. We nodded in unison and mom smiled.

“I wanted to thank you for making sure my daughter was ok when she fell. I had a little chili left from the batch I made for the cook off and thought you’d like it. I’m Amili Daniels and these are my girls Chrissy and Leanne with their friends. Erin, Wendi, and Amanda.” Mom said, handing her the chili.

“Oh thank you dearie. I’m Lola Emerson and it was my fault she fell. Toby is very excitable and I didn’t realize he’d yanked the leash so loose. So, you needn’t have done this.” she explained while still holding the chili.

“I wanted to. You were kind to my daughter and her friends. It’s only right I thank you for that.” Mom said.

I spoke up then, “I wanted to thank you myself for your kindness. I bought this bracelet with you in mind. It reminded me of your kindness.” I said and handed her the bracelet with a smile.

“Thank you dearie. So much. I hope you all have as wonderful a day as you have made mine. Maybe you can come visit some time.” She handed mom a piece of paper with an address on it.

“We will.” Mom assured her and put the address in her pocket. We all said goodbye and watched her leave. I didn’t know it then, but that was when we first met the woman people often referred to as the witch of Redding. Although, anyone could see she wasn’t a witch at all. We learned later that she used candles to keep her electric bill down and they created a flickering light that was seen outside her windows. It was that light people assumed was a fire over which she was preparing spells or potions.

People are strange making such assumptions. I never understood why nobody would simply ask her about her candles, let alone try to get to know her. But people often do things we don’t understand. At least that’s what mom always told us. She also said we should never assume things about a person because our assumptions may be wrong and can cause a lot of problems.

We spent the rest of the day at the carnival and corn feed. That night was the Reddie Hunt. The time when everyone in town searches for the Lake Redding Monster. Anyone with any evidence wins a prize, but the Grand prize goes to the person with the best photo. It is a One hundred dollar prize. The prizes for the evidence goes as follows: Claws and teeth that could be Reddie’s – $15, Scales of Reddies – $10, A piece of eggshell – $20, and One of Reddie’s eggs – $50.

Five – The Hunt for Reddie

The whole town gathered at the Port of Call for The Hunt for Reddie. It has been a tradition now, for fifty years. Everyone was given the rules.

The hunt starts at the end of the fireworks and ends at the blast of the trumpets.
For evidence like claws, teeth, and other items search the lake shore from one end of town to the other.

No using evidence collected in other hunts that wasn’t turned in.

You can go out in boats or on the pier to get pictures. Do not trespass on the marinas.

Use your flash to get good pictures. It will be dark.

All participants must return when the trumpets blast.

Turn in all evidence at the end of the Hunt.

Judges will examine the evidence and the awards will be given out at the Mayor’s address in front of city hall tomorrow.

Be sure your evidence has your name, address, and phone number attached to it.
Above all, have fun.

We collected our evidence bags as they were handed out, labels, binoculars, and cameras. Then we gathered at the park for the fireworks.

We oohed and Ahhed at each blast of colorful light. Everyone stood up when the finale began and prepared to search.

When the finale ended everyone one took off on the Reddie hunt. Our group headed for the big pier. There was a path that led down to a small beach most people overlooked. We started down there. I found a couple of teeth and scales, along with what looked like an egg shell. The others found similar items. Chrissy However, found what appeared to be a nearly intact eggshell. We put the evidence in our labeled bags and began to take photos of the lake and the shore. From there we climbed up to the pier and walked all the way out to the end. Only a few others walked the pier. At the end we took more photos. Since we were using polaroids we tucked them in evidence bags too. An hour and a half later the trumpet blasts signaling the end of the hunt filled the air. We could see boats heading in as we turned to head back. As we walked back along the pier we heard a sound off to one side. Our group stopped to look over the railing, but we couldn’t make it out. Chrissy suddenly snapped a photo and we saw a little girl sitting on the ledge covered in scrapes and bruises.

Dad sent us for help and talked to the girl down there. She was so scared. It took us a few short minutes to find a police officer and when we told him what we’d found he called for rescue immediately. Everyone had to vacate the pier so the rescuers could work. From the shore we watched them get her into a harness and hoist her up. The fireman who’d climbed down to put the harness on her followed her up.

Once they had her back up on the pier, they checked her over and carried her back to shore. By this time, her parents had been found. They’d been looking for her for quite some time after leaving the pier. The little girl, we later learned was named Sophia. She had slipped under the railing while her parents were taking pictures to look at the rocks for scales or teeth. She stepped on a loose rock and fell down to the little ledge. She was lucky because usually the ledge was covered by at least five feet of water. Also she was lucky she suffered no more than bruises and scrapes. She could have been really hurt.

WIth the drama of the rescue over we all reported to the port of call and turned over our evidence. The next day, we got our rewards. I got Twenty five dollars for my evidence, so did Erin, Wendi, and Amanda. Chrissy got $50 for her evidence. But the big winner was Sophie. Not only did she find what was a complete egg, but when she fell her camera snapped a shot in which appeared to be Reddie peeking above the water. The rescuer had found the picture next to her. Sophie won $150. She was all smiles. I’ll bet the pier won’t be empty next year.

The rest of the day was filled with shopping and the carnival for us. Then we again had the corn feed. Soon the concert was set to begin on the street between the bank and Conoco Station. That was our cue to head home as we weren’t old enough to attend the Concert. Besides on Sunday morning, we always went to the pancake feed and then to church where the pastor preached about excess in life. His famous end of the festival sermon. We all had it memorized.

Six – The Idea

Now maybe it was kids being kids wanting to show how brave we were or maybe it was just the sheer excitement of camping, but the five of us girls had what we thought would be a great idea. We knew about the teens that liked to beat up kids like us and even scare them.
They spent a lot of time doing that to us throughout the years, but that didn’t stop us from hatching this idea. Nor did the constant reports of disappearances seem to bother us. Most of the disappearances happened in the woods outside of town and were usually hikers, campers, and hunters. We were in town and would be in a group like the police suggested. We’d be in our back yard and could readily go inside or call Mom and Dad since the windows would be open. What could happen.

We talked it over with our parents who in turn discussed it amongst themselves and decided it would be ok under some conditions: Don’t stay up too late. Don’t scare ourselves silly with ghost stories. Clean up after ourselves. Make all bathroom trips in groups. Last but not least if something happens don’t try to be brave and stay out there. Get inside and tell my parents.

We were ok with that. After all we figured we were big girls now we could handle anything that happened and if we followed the rules we should be safe. We planned our night campout down to the detail.

We were going to meet on my front porch with backpacks and sleeping bags ready. Mom would serve supper which would probably be cold sandwiches. We didn’t mind cold meals because the heat was always unbearable, it had been all summer.

Everyone was ready for a break in the weather. Maybe even a storm or two, it wouldn’t hurt. After supper we’d help set up our large green, A-frame ten man tent that had two rooms in the backyard under the maple tree. After word we’d settle in, pick our spots, unpack, make last minute bathroom breaks. Then once settled in for the night, the fun’d begin. We had planned to play games, paint nails, eat snacks, tell stories, and devour some marshmallows. It was going to be a blast.

Little did we know this idea of backyard camping was going to be the worst idea ever and we’d regret it for years afterward. Our parents planned it for the next weekend so both my parents would be home just in case. They took us shopping beforehand to get supplies. They had decided we could have chips and pretzels. And even allowed us to get some soda for the campout. We even used some of our prize money to get nail supplies to which we were warned not to spill it in the tent. Oh yeah this was going to be the best camp out ever!

We should have known with all the tales of red eyes going around it would be a bad, like really bad idea. Like I said, however, we were kids and to us no Idea was bad.

To illustrate how bad an idea it was the Lord threw a warning in the form of two more disappearances just two days before our fateful camp out. This time three teenagers had gone hiking late one night looking for a chance to get a picture of the night wildlife. They had only been hiking for about forty five minutes when they heard the low growling. The lone teen, Jon Jones, who’d made it back, compared it to both a wolf and a wild cat.

He said the growl was followed by movements that made it seem they were being stalked. That was when they decided to head back as quickly as they could. Unfortunately they’d only gone a few miles when they heard the mournful howl and chanced a glance over their shoulders. They saw a sight he said he’d never forget as long as he lived. Two fiery red eyes behind them. That was all they could see even when they aimed their flashlights right at the thing that was stalking them.

Suddenly, it lunged at them and they began to run as fast as they could. He said he didn’t dare look back, instead he just kept running. Not even when he began to hear the screams. Screams he’d later realized were his two friends. The sounds soon faded and the crickets began singing again. That was when he slowed down. “You guys ok?” He called. No answer. He called again as he turned to look behind him. Again no reply and he realized as he looked that he was completely alone.

He started calling for them. For his friends James and Madison. But they didn’t answer. He walked back a little ways searching for them without any luck. He’d only gone a short distance when the crickets stopped again and the growling began again. That was it for him. He bolted home and didn’t even think about grabbing the car. Once he got to his house safely, that’s when he called the cops. He took the police to the place where the two teens disappeared. A search effort was under way to locate the missing teens.

Seven – Setting up camp

The authorities asked all residents to stay out of the woods especially at night which means no more trips to the creek. Bummer. They however didn’t say much about being in our yards after dark other than to be watchful.

We didn’t cancel our campout. We weren’t going to be in the woods so we should be fine. Even our parents thought so. When the sheriff stopped by, my parents asked him if it was safe for us to camp in our yard. He told them we should be fine just put away all food when we were done with it and don’t go running all over. He also said to keep an eye out for anything strange and call 911 right away should we have trouble. Not that anyone was anticipating trouble.

The thing is, we should have canceled the campout. We should have known that whatever was attacking people in the woods may not stay there. However, what we know now we didn’t know then and nobody knew what we were dealing with. No one knew what it even was. Had we known so many choices would have been different.

We were all scared, but we were determined to go on as if everything were fine. We let the police handle the disappearances and the unknown creature that was attacking people. That’s what people usually do.

So mom and dad pulled out the tent. We helped them go over it as we put it up looking for any hole or tears. There were none. With the group of us it was no problem to set it up and set it up quickly. Once it was up mom made sure the tent was clean and bug free. She opened the outer flaps, but left the screen closed to air it out while we got ready.

We packed our backpacks, making sure to include our pjs and clothes for the next day, our nail kits, flashlights, books in case we couldn’t get to sleep, Some soda, our snacks, and our teddy bears. Why teddy bears you ask? Well, although we believed we were big kids, we weren’t above needing a little comfort when we were away from mom and dad, even if it was only out in the yard. Then we got our sleeping bags and pillows ready for the big camp out. We spent the day sitting in front of what mom called her redneck air conditioner. She would set a gallon bucket of water in the freezer until it froze solid and then put it in front of the fan. When that ice melted she swapped it for another frozen gallon bucket and refroze the first one to be used again later. We often played with dolls or read in front of the fan. It was a great place to beat the heat.

The missing people were the talk of the town especially since there were now six missing people and no clues as to what happened to them. No clothes or blood. Their bags and gear had even disappeared. It was bizarre. The police figured the hunters just decided to travel to another area to hunt and forgot to let anyone know. As for the teens, they were believed to have run away. These were the only logical reasons for their disappearances according to police.

They thought Jon Jones had found himself suddenly abandoned in the middle of the woods by his friends when they ran off. He became frightened because he couldn’t find his friends and was now on his own. The animals added to his fear and he was probably chased back by a bear, coyote, or wolf. Since his friends ditched him while his back was turned it appeared they’d disappeared into thin air.

Jon, however, kept to his story and denied his friends running away vehemently, saying they had no reason to just take off like that. The police believed each of the missing people would eventually turn up. The gossip mill was going about a million miles a minute with these disappearances.

Mom told us not to let the stories scare us. They’d eventually be found. We hoped so. Every Sunday the pastor had asked us to pray for the missing people’s safe return. Yet, our parents allowed us to keep our plans for the camp out. That night as I went to bed, I prayed we’d all be safe during our camp out.

Eight – The Big Night

The next morning Chrissy and I got up bright and early to check on the tent and make sure we were ready. We were so excited. Our first night as big girls was here. It was going to be so great. Mom reminded us of the rules. The lawn had been mowed yesterday, but we still had to help mom weed both the flower garden and vegetable garden. Then we were to hang out the wash and water the gardens that evening. Dad also wanted all the toys and tools picked up and our bikes parked in a line by the long granite slab that marked our driveway which was big enough for two cars. He parked closest to the house and left that spot for our bikes. Last but not least of the chores was taking out the garbage and making sure our rooms were clean.

Dad said using the tent was a privilege and we had to earn it. Which I understand now that I’m grown and know just how expensive a tent can be. We didn’t like chores, but accepted they were a part of life and learned that if we did them, mom and dad would often do something for us in return like the campout. That made it worth it.

Finally, the time came and our friends arrived. Mom served homemade egg salad sandwiches. They were the best. Along with the sandwiches, we had chips and ice cold tea. We cleaned up after supper that night and had popsicles for dessert. Our parents sat and talked about the strange occurrences that summer.

One big topic was the farmer who was attacked by a large animal. Luckily he was in his tractor that night. He was hauling some hay back to his barn late that night for the cows and had stopped to check the load which appeared to be lopsided. He was just opening the door to get out and check when something heavy hit the door slamming it shut. That was when he heard the growling. He watched as two fiery red eyes moved around his tractor to the other side. He thought it may have been looking for a way in and lunged again, hitting the window. It howled and continued lunging at the windows and door which he’d locked by that time. One window cracked but did not break. Suddenly the tractor was being shaken from side to side. The farmer looked back and it appeared that something was ripping the hay bales apart. Trying to see what he was dealing with, the farmer turned on all of his lights. Although he could see hay flying all over the place, he still couldn’t see what was ripping it apart. But as soon as he turned the bright lights on whatever it was screeched as though it had been shot and fled.

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He didn’t waste any time, just started the tractor up and drove home as fast as the tractor would move. Heck with the wrecked hay bales and heck with whatever that was. As soon as he was home, the farmer, one Mr. Fred Barrows, phoned the police who arrived sometime later. They took his statement and took pictures of the damage. Then got blood samples from the cracked window and bits of fur off the fender. At least they think it was fur. Dusted for fingerprints. They also searched the hay for evidence and found more fur.

They even had Mr. Burrows show them the exact place he was attacked, where they found footprints. Their theory: Another wild animal attack. Food is becoming scarce as game moves on looking for greener pastures and predators are searching for prey only to find there is little if any to eat due to the drought. Therefore they are looking elsewhere for meals. People and livestock for example.

Mr. Burrows disagreed wholeheartedly saying that none of his livestock, chickens or cows have been attacked. He still has the same number of chickens and cows he had at the beginning of summer. He is certain the predators would go for the livestock first since they are a more ready supply. He believes in the story of a creature called Red Eyes. Even called it a demon with an unending hunger and unquenchable thirst.

Dad changed the subject stating it was not something that should be discussed in front of the youngsters. Nightmares are not needed right now. We girls latched onto the police explanation, they wouldn’t lie after all their job is to protect us. Besides we knew they would catch the creature or animal that attacked the farmer. No need to fear, we said.
Later that night, our friend’s parents said goodnight and went home. Mom and Dad escorted us to the tent and went over the rules before going into bed. We made a last bathroom trip and settled into the tent.

Nine – Camp out party

We were now officially camping out. The first order of business we took over after the bathroom trip was “The Pinky Pact “ as we called it. A swearing of secrecy regarding some knowledge we didn’t want the whole world to know about. We each swore silence regarding our stuffed bears. We hadn’t quite grown out of cuddling our stuffed companions, yet, especially when in unfamiliar places and a tent in the yard instead of our bedrooms was unfamiliar for sleeping. Not to mention all the noises we weren’t used to.

So we pinky swore never to tell anyone about the bears. As any kid can tell you, pinky swearing is a serious business. If you break the pinky pact you’d suffer what we called, “The Pinky Curse.”

Besides losing your friends, you suffer some horrendous punishment like your pinky swelling up to a monstrous size and eating you. It differed with different groups of kids, but it was nonetheless horrifying. Adults would call it silly kid stuff, but to us it was as binding as an adults legal contract.

With the pinky pact made, we moved onto more interesting activities. We started out our party taking turns doing each other’s nails carefully so as not to spill anything in the tent. We’d trim and file, then choose a color and paint them. Because the person doing your nails got to choose the color our nails turned out interesting. My nails ended up a rainbow of colors. Chrissy had orange and red nails. Erin’s were purple and blue green, while Wendi’s were painted blue and pink, and Amanda’s were silver and gold. WIld colored nails were all part of the fun.

When all nails were finished we put our nail kits away and told jokes while our nails finished drying. Then we played eye spy and pudgy bunny. A game where you put marshmallows in your mouth and say the words pudgy bunny continuing until you can’t fit anymore in your mouth and speak without the marshmallows popping out. It was hilarious watching each of us try to beat the others and keep from popping marshmallows out. In the end they always popped out when your mouth was full. Funny thing Chrissy won that game. We took a break to slip into jammy’s and snack some. The Ice cold or rather slightly warm pop felt good after the gooey marshmallows. While we munched we challenged each other to see who could say a tongue twister fastest. We started with Peter piper. Wendi was the fastest saying it in like two seconds. The next one was How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood. I got that one. The next twister was: Sue sells seashells by the sea shore. Erin and Amanda tied that one. The last was: Betty bought a batch of bitter butter. Chrissy got that one before any of us did.

With our snacks gone, we started a game of truth, dare, double dare, promise or repeat. During that game we learned a lot about each other and subsequently were sworn to secrecy many times. There are also hilarious dares such as to moon one of your friends and yodeling the alphabet or at least attempting to do so. Then you have the repeats such as I have a hippo on my butt or I have warts for brains and other such silly things. At one point in time we were laughing so hard and loud that dad asked us to keep it down so we didn’t wake the dead.

We cleaned up our trash including pop cans and tied up the garbage bag. Then we started our final game of the night, Hot potato or as Erin hilariously called it, hot potash. We asked her what potash was but she didn’t know. We started out passing the potato slowly, and saying the rhyme. “Hot potato, hot potato, hot potato, hot” when we stopped whoever had the potato was out of the game. We got faster and faster passing the potato (Ball) until it was almost a reckless pace and someone got it in the head. Luckily the ball was a soft squishy ball so no one was hurt. All during the fun, Chrissy snapped photos to add to our scrapbook she said.

We settled down after dad threatened to make us come inside and began telling stories. They started out as scary stories like “The Big Toe” and “Bloody Fingers” then moved onto less scary tales into our version of made up fairytales. We did this to keep with the rule of not scaring ourselves with scary stories.

By this time it was getting late although we had no idea how late. We decided to get quiet so we could relax some for sleep. Some of us read books we’d brought along. Others wrote in their diaries or journals. We also sang some songs we knew quietly while listening to our walkmans. Boy George was a favorite amongst us. Little did we know what was about to happen to us or how it would affect us later in life.

Time was ticking away towards disaster for us and we were oblivious to it. Just kids being kids enjoying games, stories, treats, and good old fashioned fun.

Ten – Danger!

I don’t know if it was the soda and sweets or just an unfamiliar setting, but try as we might we just couldn’t get to sleep. We joked in whispers that we’d scared ourselves with the scary stories earlier. We even tried to make up our own bedtime stories and sing lullabies. Nothing worked.

It was Chrissy who noticed the sudden silence except for our whispers. “Guys,” She said, “Do you hear that?”

“What?” Erin Asked while the rest of us listened for whatever Chrissy had heard.

“There’s no crickets.” Chrissy answered a slight waiver in her voice. Our breaths hitched as we realized something was wrong.

“She’s right.” Amanda piped up, “There’s no sounds at all, not even frogs!”

We sat there for a long time just listening to nothing. My heart sank. They were right. It was deathly quiet and still not even the wind was blowing. It was as if the world was holding its breath waiting for something to happen.

My mom had taught both Chrissy and I the signs of danger in the woods. There are different signs depending on the type of danger. One – panicking animals fleeing a danger that was heading their way like a fire or tornado. They’d be screaming warnings to others as they ran to get out of the way of what was coming. Your best bet when the animals do that is to get out of dodge with them.

Two – a deathly quiet, not a sound to be heard but your own breathing. This warning usually happens when predators are around. It means all the animals are in their homes hiding to avoid being eaten. Chrissy and I both knew we were in serious trouble even if the others didn’t. Danger was near, but where?

The animals didn’t help us figure out where the danger was they were busy hiding. Now afraid we scooted closer together almost resembling kittens or puppies in a pile. Questions race through our frightened young minds. Do we stay? Do we run for the house or try to defend ourselves? What should we do? We all remembered the rules about getting my parents if something happened but in truth nothing happened yet except the silence.

Keep in mind that this took place before cell phones so we couldn’t pull out a phone and call out parents. What we could do is yell for my parents, but they might not hear us or if they did they might run into whatever was lurking out there in the dark and silence. What a conundrum we had. We just sat there in the dark, one lantern lit listening and hoping whatever it was would go away and leave us alone. We even prayed it would go away.

Suddenly, we heard a sound. Movement maybe. It would start and stop as if something was stalking us. No other sound but that movement and our breathing. It seemed to last five, maybe ten minutes at least.

Then we heard a sound that stood our hair on end and nearly stopped our hearts. A low other worldly growl rent the air as shadows flitted across the side of the tent. We jumped as something smacked the tent hard. A trembling starting at our feet and moving up our bodies shook us as fear raced through our blood streams.

It grew quiet again except for the movement. Start and stop. Over and over again. Then another growl filled the air and more shadows flitted across the other side of the tent.

Followed by another hard slap to the tent. It continued like this for about an hour almost like it was playing with us whatever it was. We sat frozen in place afraid to move and draw attention to ourselves.

Finally Wendi spoke up, “What is going on?” she whispered, trembling like a leaf.

“I-I don’t know.” I stammered trying to hide the shaking I was doing. Another low growl filled the air. It sounded like a wild animal of some kind making our hair stand on end once more.

“What is that?” Erin’s squeaky whisper now the only sound other than the odd movement outside the tent.

“It’s not good….Whatever it is.” Chrissy finally answered, matter of factly trying like me to hide the fear.

It grew quiet once more. One minute. Two. Then a low mournful howl rose into the night. We pressed even closer together, nearly petrified with fear. “Red Eyes.” We whispered fearfully. More movement had us searching wildly in the dark beyond our light and tent trying to figure out where it was. That was impossible in the dark of night. It was pitch black outside our tent. The street light was too dim to reach into the backyard where we were at.
The growls and strange stalking movement continued. Every so often something smacked the tent hard. We tried not to think about it overly much as we were already battling our fear and didn’t need to add to it.

The sound of a branch snapping made us nearly wet ourselves, and another howl sounded. Chrissy saw them first. She silently pointed to the front screen door where we hadn’t zipped the main door completely shut so we could still get the breeze, her hand trembling in fear. Terrified, we turned our gazes to where she pointed. There in the window created by the partially closed door staring right at us were two glowing fiery red eyes.

We stared right back locked in a frightening staring contest too afraid to look away. We stayed that way for a while, it and us. Just staring each other down. Until those red malevolent eyes simply vanished.

That was all we needed. We rolled up our sleeping bags, pillows and all. Stuffed everything into our backpacks and turned toward the door. We weren’t staying another minute out there. The plan: Run for the house and don’t look back!

Eleven – Run!!!

Another low growl filled the air, followed by the sounds of movements. Purposeful movements. We froze at the tent door. No one moved, breathed, or touched the zipper. We just listened trying to determine where Red Eyes was for certain. It sounded like it was at the rear of the tent, but we weren’t sure.

That was until the sound of fabric being very slowly and deliberately torn galvanized us into action. I grabbed the zippers and yanked them down. One by one we filed out of the tent and into the night. I was last. We heard another low growl and movements this time faster than before.

“Run!” I yelled, “Don’t look back, just run!” I took off like a rocket refusing to look back to see what chased us. I could see Chrissy leap onto the porch followed closely by Erin. I stumbled over a tree root nearly falling and missing Amanda’s jump onto the porch. Wendi was just ahead of me gasping for air but still running headlong toward the porch.

Tears trickled down my cheeks and I prayed as I ran. The distance to the porch from the tent had never seemed so far in my life. It was now so close I could hear it growl and feel its breath on the back of my neck. The fetid stench of its last meal seemed to surround me, making me gag. That was when Wendi chose to slow a bit because she was winded and tired.

I put my hand on her shoulder and propelled her forward with me. There was no way I was going to be its next meal. I didn’t care how hungry it was or how tired Wendi was. She suddenly seemed to realize it was right on our tail as she picked a burst of speed just as I did. We ran all out the last few feet to the porch. Wendi struggled for only a minute before she rolled onto the porch. Without stopping I leapt for the porch not even giving poor Wendi a chance to get out of the way. Just as I rolled into the light something grabbed my shorts and ripped the leg leaving a scratch on the back of my thigh that burned.

My sweet, wonderful sister picked that moment to turn around and Snapped several pictures with her camera. The same camera she used to take pictures of our camp out fun just a few hours earlier. The flash from the camera either hurt its eyes or scared it because it screamed, jumped backward knocking our bikes over and then just disappeared into the dark.

We on the other hand, ran haphazardly into the house crying and carrying on. I locked the screen door and then slammed and locked the main door just as mom and dad came running into the vestibule.

“What happened?” Dad demanded. We answered all at once, panicked, talking over each other. All mom and dad could get was Red Eyes, chased and that was it. They herded us into the living room and gave us some water to drink while they waited for us to calm down a little.

After a while we seemed to calm down and stop crying some. Then Dad asked again “What Happened?”

“We were settling down for bed when we realized the crickets weren’t chirping anymore.” Chrissy began.

“We didn’t know why and assumed an animal must’ve scared them. Until we heard the growling and movements.” Erin picked up the story.

“At first we thought it was a dog, but then something kept hitting the tent, hard.” Amanda continued our tale.

“It would stop and repeat those things every so often. Then it added a low mournful howl. It was terrifying.” Wendi added.

“At one point it looked into the tent with those fiery red eyes. In fact that was all we could see of it. That was how we knew it was Red Eyes.” I said emphatically.

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“When it started ripping the back of the tent slowly, but surely, we knew it was time to get out of there.” Chrissy finished our sordid tale. We had managed to tell it through hiccups and sniffles. We could tell by the looks on Mom and Dads faces that they weren’t certain what to believe.

All of a sudden, a howl rose on the breeze and everyone jumped. Mom looked at Dad who was staring out the window intently.

“Stay here.” Dad ordered and went out into the vestibule to look out the window into the back yard. He was gone for so long, we all began to worry. Did he go outside? Is he hurt? What’s going on? He told us he was going to look out the window in the vestibule to see what was out there and check the tent.

Mom started to get up and go check on Dad when he finally came back into the living room. “It’s pitch black out there. All I could see was the outlines of the tree and the tent. It looked as if there was a strong wind blowing the way the tent moved, but the tree wasn’t moving at all. I don’t know what’s out there, probably a dog.” Dad explained calmly.

We shuddered. We knew what we saw and heard, but we really couldn’t prove it. Mom glanced at the door, “Maybe we should check the yard to be safe.” Mom said. We were about to protest, because we knew Red Eyes was out there waiting for its next meal when Dad shook his head.

“It won’t do much good at this time of night. You can’t see your hand in front of your face out there and flashlights won’t be much help. It’d be better to check it out in the morning. Safer.” Dad said again shaking his head, “You girls roll out your sleeping bags in the living room and try to get some sleep. It’s late, we all need our rest. Oh. And No more scary stories, ghosts or otherwise. We don’t need you scaring yourselves silly again.”

We obediently rolled out our sleeping bags and crawled inside them hugging our teddy bears tightly. Mom and Dad tucked us in and headed back to bed after checking the locks. They were in a hushed discussion over what could have frightened us. But we knew, whether they believed us or not, we knew.

Shortly after we got in bed, the crickets began singing again along with the frogs. Whatever had terrorized us was gone, for now. We were unable to sleep, though, and laid there awake listening. It took a long time before we actually fell asleep and we did so hugging our stuffed bears tightly. We also prayed our nightmare was over.

Twelve – Talking with the Police

Early the next morning, Mom and Dad woke us up. They had more questions for us. We found out when they took us to the tent that morning that someone or something had ripped up the tent badly. Dad said we wouldn’t be camping for a while because tents are expensive and it was going to take some time before we got a new one.

We went over our story again for Mom and Dad leaving nothing out. Also the bag of trash from our snacks was ripped apart and all over the yard. Dad called the police because of the damage to our tent. Mom herded us inside so the police could get pictures and collect evidence from the scene.

That was when Chrissy remembered the photos she snapped. She pulled them out of her bag and laid them out. We shuffled through them while we waited. At first there wasn’t much to them, just us having fun in the tent. It wasn’t until we got to the last three photos that we saw it. The first two were very blurry. We could make out me rolling onto the porch and behind me was a large, well, thing. It looked like a black shadow that was grabbing onto my shorts.

Unfortunately, it was so blurry no details could be made out. Not enough for us to tell with any certainty what it was. The last picture however caught something that I’ll never forget as long as I live. It was still blurry but not like the others. You could make out a black shape with red fiery eyes and a strange clawed hand. It was strange because it looked to be across between a human hand and a paw. That picture gave me the chills when I saw it. Still gives me chills to this day when I think about it.

The police took photos of the damage to the tent and the shredded bag. Collected everything that could give them any leads. Dusted for fingerprints and took molds of the foot prints. It seemed like it took them forever to finish.

There wasn’t much evidence to help in explaining what happened. Partial dog prints and a few human footprints that were matched to us. No fingerprints besides ours. The only real thing they found was a tuft of fur that was found on our bikes which still lay on the ground where they fell the night before when Red Eyes knocked them over trying to get away from the flash of Chrissy’s camera.

The police also questioned us together and separately about what happened. Our story never changed. “Oh girls, I’m going to ask a few more questions to clarify some details ok?” Officer Drew asked us. We nodded.

“About what time did you lay down to sleep in the tent? This is important so we can establish a time frame.” He said.

“Around midnight.” Chrissy answered.

“We didn’t have a clock with us, but we knew it was late.” Wendi added.

“Can you tell how long it was before you noticed how quiet it had gotten?” Officer Drew Asked.

“Ten, maybe fifteen minutes, at most.” I answered.

“It couldn’t have been too much longer than that because Chrissy noticed the crickets weren’t singing right after I put my walkman into my bag.” Amanda added.

“What did you hear after Chrissy mentioned the crickets’ silence?” Offer Drew Continued the questioning.

“At first, nothing.” Erin said.

“Yeah, at first it was eerily quiet, until we began hearing something moving outside the tent.” Wendi added.

“It would stop and start as if it was stalking something. Then after about half an hour of just moving around. We heard it growl.” Chrissy explained.

“Yeah, it was not a growl of a normal animal either. It had an eerie echo to it.” I added and we all shuddered remembering that otherworldly growl.

“What happened then?” Officer Drew continued questioning us.

“It kept up with the stalking movements and growls for about an hour. We tried to find it, looking through the screen door of the tent where we hadn’t zipped the main door all the way up because it was so hot that night and we wanted some air flow.” Amanda answered.
“We even looked at the sides of the tent for shadows or something, but there was nothing. It was pitch black out there. Somewhere along the way it had begun slapping the tent real hard.” I said.

“We were too scared to leave the tent and check it out during all that.” Erin added.

“Did it attack you at that time?” He asked sympathetically.

“No, It just sort of toyed with us.” Wendi answered.

“What prompted you to flee the tent?” Officer Drew asked.

“The snapping of a tree branch outside made us jump and then Chrissy saw them.” Erin said a wobble to her voice.

“Yeah, Those freaky fiery red eyes.” Chrissy shuddered.

“We stared at it after Chrissy pointed it out. That was one freaky staring contest. Then the Red Eyes just faded away. That’s when we knew it was Red Eyes.” I added with a shudder.
“You’re sure that’s what you saw?” He asked dubiously.

“Yes.” We answered in unison.

“Ok, so what happened next?” He continued the conversation.

“The movements and growls started again and this time they were punctuated by mournful howls. We were so scared we didn’t move other than to gather our things. We weren’t quite sure where it was exactly so we were afraid to leave the tent or yell for my parents.” I answered the question.

“It wasn’t until we heard the slow deliberate ripping near the back of the tent that we mustered up the courage to run and run we did.” Chrissy added.

“We beelined it to the front porch. Leanne screamed at us to run. She told us not to look back. When I started to get tired she propelled me forward to the porch onto which we jumped almost at the same time.” Wendi continued, “She probably saved my life.”

“Just as Leanne rolled onto the porch, we heard her scream and turned to look. Red Eyes had grabbed her shorts.” Amanda said.

“It ripped my shorts and scratched my leg. You saw the picture my mom took. Red Eyes might have gotten me if my awesome little sister, Chrissy hadn’t decided to take some pictures at that time.”

“When Chriisy took those pictures it reared back from the flash and screamed as it knocked our bikes over and then vanished into the dark.” Erin took up the story.

“Then you girls ran into the house and locked the door?’ Officer asked.

We nodded in unison and waited for the officer to chalk it up to overactive imaginations and wild animals. But he didn’t say much, just reviewed his notes. He looked at Chrissy and asked if he could see the pictures. Chrissy nodded, pulled the envelope she was keeping them in out and handed it to him.

Officer Drew examined the pictures appearing concerned when he reached the last three photos. He double checked those three photos several times before shaking his head. Then he glanced at us, “Mind if I keep these photos for further examination?” He asked.

Chrissy nodded and said, “I don’t need anything to remember last night with least of all those photos”

“Thanks. I think that’s all for now if we have any further questions we’ll call. Have a nice day.” He then spoke to our parents and left.

We didn’t find out till a few days later that the police believed it was neighborhood teens who scared the heck out of us girls by mimicking wild animals until we ran into the house. Whereupon they shredded the tents and garbage bag with knives. I caught my shorts on a nail on the porch, tore my shorts, and scratched my leg. They said Chrissy’s photos were too blurry to be of any use. That was what the police report said. To them the Case was closed, there wasn’t much they could do.

We knew though, that it wasn’t neighborhood teens or wild animals. It was Red Eyes. We knew it without a doubt. That was the end of any yard camping or any after dark activity that wasn’t with our parents. At least until we were older and no longer lived in that neighborhood. We had already met Red Eyes once. We didn’t care to see it again. Ever.

Epilogue

We moved shortly after that fateful night. By the next summer Chrissy and I were attending a new school in a new town in what Mom and Dad believed was a safer neighborhood. Unfortunately, that meant we never found out if any of the missing people were found. We didn’t even know for sure if they ever caught who or whatever was responsible for the attacks or if the missing person cases and the attacks were even related though there was some speculation that they might be.

What I do know is that they still hadn’t found any of those who’d disappeared when we moved. They had theories and vague clues provided by the evidence, but nothing more. That summer changes all our lives. Chrissy and I didn’t see our friends much after that night and when we moved we lost contact with them. But there is one thing I do know that is if you ever see Red Eyes run. Run and Don’t Look back! If you look it might just be the last thing you do.

Credit: annlarual

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