Saturday, October 31, 2009

Presque Isle UFO video Presentation

Part of my seminar series at this years Erie Horror Film Festival was a multimedia presentation of local true tales of terror. One of the stories highlighted was the Presque Isle UFO encounter in the 1960s.

You can find the video on my Examiner page:
The Presque Isle UFO of 1966

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Lurkers in Twilight

Steve was a normal rugged boy at the age of twelve, an ourdoorsman in the making. Like the other boys that lived in his country setting he divided the time he had left over from school and chores with hobbies and adventure.

The thrill of adventure that stirred Steve's young heart was that of exploration. He certainly was born in the right place to fulfill his quest for adventure, for he was surrounded by miles of wilderness with strong flowing streams that cut deep crevasses in the ancient Alleghany mountains.

There were many abandoned settlements dotting the overgrown landscape, the land lost to Indian was in an era lost to time; or to the Great Depression, when the poor farmers moved to urban areas to fend for their families as the local economy ground to a halt.

Of the many ancient ruins that he came across in his adventures, nothing gave him such a distinct unsettling feeling as coming across an abandoned and dilapidated graveyard in the middle of the forest. With no visible houses or signs of habitation in the area, these forgotten villages of the dead gave one the impression that something terribly wrong must have happened for someone to totally their forsake ancestors as these ones had. Did something unspeakable happen that drove them from this place, making those interred here the dishonored dead? Was the land cursed? Though Steve would never know for sure the reason, the feeling of dread and despair always accompanied coming upon such sites.

On one occasion he encountered more than just a nameless fear that covered the area like a shroud of darkness.

One time he was sure he met the darkness itself in physical form.

It was late afternoon one hot summer day when Steve and his best friend Randy came across a strange sight while exploring a local creek. It looked as if the shale had exploded in the creek bed, from a distance they saw large pieces of rock standing upright on the shore and other similar sized pieces scattered in piles nearby.

But as they drew closer, they could see that it was not the thick shale from the creek that protruded from and littered the ground that edged the creek.

They were headstones.

The names and lettering were almost completely obliterated after years of exposure to the elements. Gray green mold covered most of the markers, which gave an odd texture to the few stylized features that were still visible on the surface. But the thing that disturbed Steve and Randy most was the oddity of having a graveyard placed on the shores of a creek. It seemed like a very odd and unlikely place to bury the dead. The boys thoroughly examined every stone, looking for a name, but the letters were too worn to be discernible. It was then that they had the distinct feeling that they were being watched.

Steve knew the feeling well, having spent many hours hunting in the woods. It was instinctual, but training made one rely upon and enhance that instinct. And he knew there was something off to the right watching them. He nonchalantly turned, still keeping his eyes to the ground. Then without raising his head he looked up into the wooded embankment where he felt the eyes upon him.

And he saw it. It was staring back at him.

Behind some foliage there crouched a hideous humanoid figure.

From what he recalls it was dressed in literal rags. The shirt and pants were torn and filthy in so much that the original color could not truly be discerned. The body was unnatural. As it hunched over, you had the sense that this was its natural posture, a misshapen body that tried to look like a human but failed on a basic level.

But it was the head that was the truly frightening thing.

Like the body, it was as if someone who had never seen a human being before had tried to make one out of a few mangled pieces. The head was large and bulbous in a way that one could only call 'squash' like. The eyes were oddly set and protruding from their sockets like they were made too large for the skull that held them. The creature's greyish skin was covered in lesions and boils from which a shiny ichor leaked, drenching the flesh.

They stood there staring at each other for what seemed like hours, eye to eye measuring the other. The only movement was the lurching of the things body as it rythmically breathed. Then as Randy turned and saw the monstrosity stalking them, he let out a high pitched shriek.

And the creature dissapeared.

It did not run. Steve and Randy had kept their eyes on it the whole time. It just simply faded away as if it never existed.

The two boys stood there stunned, wondering if they had just hallucinated the whole thing. But a quick examination of the area where the being had stood showed that there had been something physically there. The ground was disturbed and there were vague footprints in the mud.

They quickly halted their investigation and made haste in returning home. They never returned there, they were too afraid what they might encounter again.

What was the spectral image that Steve and Randy saw when they were young boys? Was it an apparition of one of the dishonored dead, buried haphazardly by the side of a creek in the middle of nowhere? Was it a hallucination after a long hike and a spooky setting which played with young boys minds? Or was it something else?

Although this encounter happened years ago, a similar incident brought the story back to mind.

I work with paranormal groups across the nation and some oversees, doing consultation with some very odd cases. One such case bears a striking resemblance to what those young boys encountered over 10 years ago deep in the Western Pennsylvania woods.

A group from another State contacted me a few months ago, they wanted my opinion of an unusual case. At first I thought someone was pulling their leg, or they were attempting to pull mine. The case involved a very violent haunting where a man was being physically attacked. There was something scratching him, pulling his across the floor and things being thrown across a room. But the strangest thing and what made me pause was the appearance of a disfigured humanoid in the man's house.

Its appearance was very similar to what Steve and Randy had encountered all those years ago. The bulbous head, the disfigured body in tattered clothing. however the thing did not just disappear into nothingness. It ran away, but someone other than the victim saw it trying to enter the woman's house.

All of this might have been dismissed as hallucination or hoax if it were not for the respectability of the victim and the witness. Adding to the veracity of the tale, the victim and the witness both do not wish to be in the spotlight. He does not seek fame nor glory nor his fifteen minutes of fame. He just wants it all to stop. He wants the terror to go away.

Is it mere coincidence that these two phantom beings have the same physical appearance? Many would say it is a demonic class of being, or a creature akin to the old world elf or gnome. A creature of supernatural abilities that seems to be a crude mockery of humanity. A specter out of folklore, coming to haunt our modern day world.

Which makes one think, what other creatures of native folklore that lurk in our Fortean world might in truth be more spiritual in nature than flesh and blood? Some of the same periphery phenomena that occures during paranormal manifestations also occures during encounters with cryptids and UFOs. Batteries drain, temperatures drop and electromagnetic fields fluctuate. I myself have had personal experience with this, last year while visiting the same area where I encountered the giant bird in 2000 I once again saw either the same or a simular creature. But this time I was prepaired, with digital camera in hand I began to snap pictures of the large bird as it was being attacked by smaller birds as it rose into the air a little more than 100 feet from me. But the camera froze. The batteries were dead. But they had just been purchased and placed in the device a few moments before I entered the area. By the time I switched out batteries I did manage to snap a few pictures, but they were blurry and you could not make out anything of value. They were pretty darn pathetic. I only told a few of the experience, mostly because of the bad evidence I had onhand. I only share it now as example.

Many who study various areas of the unexplained do not like to have their genre of study lumped with the descriptive title of 'paranormal phenomena'. But perhaps, there is more commanlity in all these encounters with the unexplained than we would like to presume.

Perhaps we, with our dim mortal vision of the mysteries that surround us, are the true lurkers in twilight.

Until Next Time,
Pastor Swope

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Phantom Child of Wintergreen Gorge

On my Examiner Page, a retelling of a story that strikes close to home.

Just on the brink of happiness, Tim Randall dies a horrible death. Does he walk the cliffs of Wintergreen Gorge reliving the best times of his life?