Welcome back to Scary Things! As usual, Scary things is part of the Trick or Treat tag for the month of October! If you want your fix of funny, creepy, or even sweet and thoughtful Halloween stuff, check it out!

This week, I want to hear from those of you who have seen a monster, or know someone who has! I am not even kidding on this, by the way, as my story for this week is about the time when I saw something that was definitely not any known animal at all. so SCARY STUFF WARNING RIGHT NOW.

First I want to state very clearly that I in fact have an extensive undergrad education in Biology, am an excellent observer, and am very familiar with all the wildlife in our area. Additionally, I've seen animals with mange before, so this is not an idiot I-saw-a-Chupacabras-that-is-really-just-a-normal-critter-with-mange story. I'm telling you all this because people always try to find an explanation for the following story as though I never tried to find a more comforting answer than the one that is "there's some kind of horrifying creature out there". I am very certain of what I and others saw, and here you go.

When I was 15, I lived in Aurora, Colorado, which is still kind of a bizarre amalgamation of wilderness corridors, standard suburbs of wildly varying income levels, and trailer parks. One night, my friend M. and I were trying to meet up with a couple of friends of ours. We were supposed to meet at a particular parking lot at a specific time, but when the appointed time came and went, our friends hadn't shown up. This was long before cell phones were common outside of certain businesses and super-rich people, so we had the options of going home, waiting in the gathering dusk with nothing to do, or wandering around to various places we all frequented in hopes of finding our friends and bitching them out. Our home lives weren't great, and the parking lot was dull, so we opted to wander around. This was pretty unproductive, and it had gotten to be full dark at the point that everything turned to the terrifying.

We were walking along a footpath that follows a creek that runs through a rather broad, shallow gully. The houses backing up to the gully all had extra-high privacy fences, and floodlights in their backyards. This is an important detail, because the effect of this was to brilliantly light the creek and an area around it, while simultaneously shading our eyes so we weren't blinded at all. As we tromped along, joking and talking about how we were going to kill our friends, M. suddenly got incredibly freaked out (she was in front of me on the narrow path, with no trees or scrub, so she saw things before me, but nothing was obscured). She said, and I quote, "Oh, holy shit! There's a fat guy in a white shirt under the bridge!". She sounded TERRIFIED, and that confused me as much as her statement itself. I looked up (I had been trying to avoid rocks and broken glass), and saw something white under the bridge we were walking toward. It was just a normal street bridge over the shallow creek and a couple drainage tunnels, and we were still walking straight toward it, with the floodlights lighting the space under the bridge beautifully due to the curve in the creek. I immediately assumed it was a large white trash bag that was caught on the rough concrete slope, and in fact began saying as much to her, when it suddenly turned, looked at us, spread out its arms (which had hands, although I couldn't see fine detail like nails) and legs, and slid into the pool under the bridge. It was...this is going to sound idiotic, but it very slightly resembled the demon dog things from "Ghostbusters". It had fairly large eyes that looked black, a round head and flat face, small ears high on its head, broad shoulders, and what looked like possibly short legs in proportion to its arms. It was bone-white, muscular, and hairless, and must have weighed well over 100 pounds. I was close enough, with good enough lighting, to see it horribly clearly, and I was in no way primed to see anything out of the ordinary.

We both shrieked and started running...and our best bet was straight at that bridge. Later we agreed that all we could think was that running the other way, farther into the wildlife corridor and toward areas without lighting and a good 1/4 mile before we had a path out, with that thing at our backs, well...yeah, no. We ran as fast as we could, in full terror-teleportation mode, to the bridge, and across it to the 7-11 that stood there, welcoming us with lights, walls, and a pay phone. We got in, and the guy behind the counter stared at us slack-jawed and asked if we were alright. I caught a glimpse of ourselves in something reflective (I frankly don't recall if it was a mirror or mylar-covered window or what), and we were sheet-white and visibly shaking. We went ahead and called our parents and took the hell that came with it. We later discussed the whole thing, and agreed on every point. When I asked her about the "fat guy" comment, she told me that she had spotted it, but its back was toward us and it was sort of hunched over...all she could think of was that it was a big fat guy in a white shirt, but for some reason she was totally terrified by it, even before we saw it in all its wrongness.

The friend that M. and I were trying to meet up with that night, K., heard our story within a couple days of the incident. K. actually had no trouble believing us, as that entire area has kind of a spooky reputation, and she also knew that if we were going to prank her, we would have said so as soon as we got a humorous reaction out of her. We wouldn't try to maintain some sort of elaborate fiction. Also, apparently our fear was obvious.

About four months later, I had convinced myself that it was safe to walk outside at night as long as I stayed away from that branch of the creek, although I did my best to limit my time anywhere near it. K. and I were walking to a friend's house one night, almost entirely along well-lit streets. Unfortunately, Aurora has areas where the streets are laid out like tangled string, so we had reached a point where we could either stick to streets and have another eight blocks to walk, or we could take a shortcut along the creek's bike path that we would only need to be on for maybe a block or two. K. persuaded me that it would be safe, as we were three miles or so from where the sighting had occurred, and we wouldn't be near the creek for more than maybe eight minutes.

We started along the bike path, and were maybe fifty feet in when we heard something following us, off to the side in the tall, dry grass. We both froze, and looked at each other. We turned to look at the grass, and about twenty feet in, we could see where there was something moving. One of us (I really honestly do not remember which of us said it...I was kind of delirious with fear right then) said something about it maybe being a Coyote...and as soon as those words were said, I KNEW that it was the thing, it had heard us, and worse, that it recognized me. Right then, we saw a broad, smooth, bone-white back sort of rise up just above the tops of the grass, and it started moving away quickly. We were relieved, until we saw that it was, in fact, circling forward about fifty feet, and seriously looked like it was going to emerge onto the bike path in front of us. We finally snapped out of our terror-induced paralysis, and ran like hell for the nearest street exit, which happened to be right next to us. We got to safety, and I frankly don't recall the rest of the night too clearly.

After the second sighting, I avoided the bike path after dark like the plague. I felt that I had escaped something horrible by the skin of my teeth, and I didn't want to push my luck. In fact, the outdoors at night was in and of itself terrifying for me. I was afraid to look out my window at night, because I was afraid it would be out there, looking for me. I realize that sounds nuts, but I swear I had developed some sort of...awareness, I guess...of where it was, and whether or not it was "awake".

As time went on, I occasionally would tell the story of the thing to close friends. When I told my only cousin about it (he and I are sibling-close, and largely grew up together), though, he got a weird expression and said "do you think that was what we saw in that culvert when we were kids?".

I had forgotten.

Shortly after my dad moved into the house in Aurora, about five years previous, my uncle (his only brother) moved in as a roommate. As a result, my cousin and I were together most weekends. One summer day, we went down to the creek, and were just sort of exploring around. we decided to go a little way into a huge culvert, just in a general sense of exploration. I got maybe fifteen feet in, when I realized I could see...something...quite a ways in, where the light almost didn't reach. I backed out and told my cousin to stick his head in, and I peered in behind him (the culvert was big enough for me to look over his shoulder, but not enough for us to both be in there).

"Do you see that?"

"Yeah...what is that?!"

At the sound of our voices, the pale, bulky figure shifted, and tilted its head...what little light there was showed something that looked pale, smooth, large, and not human.

We got the fuck out of there and went home.

I had somehow forgotten about this first incident, likely because the lighting was bad enough to preclude a clear sighting, and I had been able to tell myself that I must have imagined it...while it's good to have a sense of wonder at the world around you, it's not nice to seriously consider that there might be an actual monster two blocks from your house. When my cousin immediately connected the culvert incident with the most recent incidents, I felt like I couldn't breathe.

When I said I had a sense of where the thing was, and whether or not it was "awake", I should have clarified that it almost feels like the sense goes both ways. As though the thing can only go certain places at certain times, but I also think it knows, vaguely, where I am.

Especially if I talk about it out loud, in the open air at night.

I realize that sounds like superstitious hogwash, but honestly, when you've clearly seen a monster more than once, you get a little more open-minded about things like that.

Over the years, snippets of other people's stories would filter along to me, and there were many, many stories from people who had grown up in the area. People would tell me them without any direct prompting, and having never heard about my experience. Stories about how they had "seen something" down by the creek when they were little, and had no memory between playing by the creek and being inside their door, screaming, often so hysterically that an adult had to physically restrain them until they calmed down. Stories about having nightmares about the creek, or hearing something large following them in the tall grass.

Most people just...didn't go down there at night. Nobody ever said why, but very few people spent time in that area after dark.

Years later, I told my little sister the story in an e-mail.

"Oh my god...I wonder if that's what my boyfriend saw?"

Her boyfriend at the time, a nice-but-unimaginative guy, was about twenty or twenty-one at the time and had been goofing around with his brothers at the stretch of the creek that runs about a block from their house. My sister has no idea what happened, but they saw something that night that made them refuse to ever go near the creek at night again. If asked for any details, he would just get pale and agitated, and refuse to talk about it.

A couple weeks later, My sister told me something else. After she had gotten a vicious case of the heebie-jeebies from reading my account of the thing, our younger brother had asked why she was so creeped out. She opened up the e-mail on her laptop upstairs in our dad's kitchen, and went downstairs to watch TV while he read the story. He came downstairs a few minutes later, sheet-pale, wide-eyed, and shaky.

"That was it! That was the thing I saw last summer!"

Apparently about eight months prior, my brother had been hanging out at a friend's house that happens to back up to the tall grass that borders the creek. They had seen something large rustling around in the grass maybe twenty feet away from them, still within the circle of light from the porch, and had gotten worried that a Coyote or stray dog was out there. Then it reared up out of the grass, looked at them, and dropped back down into the grass and started moving, possibly away from them, or possibly just angling around to the side. The thing they saw was exactly the thing I had described.

They got the fuck inside and stayed there.

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Have you ever seen a monster? If not, tell us your scariest story anyway!