Friday, January 04, 2008

Red Eyes and Virginia's "Wild Men"

I was in high school, too young to drive, so I was forced to ride the bus when it was so uncool to be seen on the cheese wagon. Even though I could walk up a hill near my house and see Radford High School, I went to Pulaski County High some 20 miles away. With the speed of school buses and all of the stops that had to be made, there was plenty of time for card games, story telling, a chew of tobacco and fights to develop. It’s where you were able to relive childhood memories with the neighborhood school yard kids that tend to get lost in consolidated secondary county schools. It’s also where I learned about the Red Eyed Wolf.

I forget the kid’s name, so I’ll call him Shane for the sake of the story. Shane was one of the last kids to get off the bus, as was I, so we ended up talking from time to time. He wasn’t the kind of person that I would typically hang out with. He was a rebel…with a long mullet and shaved hair well above his ears. He was smoking cigarettes when he was 12 years old. He talked back to teachers. He didn’t give a damn about anything. I’m pretty sure Shane worshiped the devil.

Shane lived in a trailer park that was across the highway from my family’s farm. The farm is mostly wide open rolling pastures with the exception of a forested area. It also lies in corner of the intersection for two major roads, both on the school bus route. Shane had a friend, we’ll call him Chris, that lived in another trailer park that was off of the second road. Shane and Chris would use the farm as their shortcut to get to each other’s house instead of hiking the extra mile or two along the roads. They would have to pass through the forested area of the farm on their journey. It’s a very old growth forest with patches of dense underbrush from logging about 10 years previously. It’s kind of a creepy area with steep hills, cris-crossing cow trails, thorns the size of tiger teeth and big knotty old oaks. It also backs up to a well-to-do subdivision.

Now that you have a little geographical background, on to the Red Eyed Wolf. This is the story that Shane told to me, as I remember it, one winter day on the school bus. I’m pretty sure that it was a Monday:

Shane was yelling at me to come sit in the seat across from him as soon as I got on the bus. He was an intense dude anyway but this day he was a little over caffeinated. “Mason, man, I saw some weird “stuff” on your farm this weekend.”
“What were you doing on the farm?”

“Walking man, back from Chris’ house Saturday night. I had just come out of the woods and was sitting by the pond and I saw this big-ass thing running across the hillside. It was fast, faster than any cow that I’ve seen. It was dark so I couldn’t get a good look at what it was but the moon was bright so I could see an outline. I was bigger than a dog, smaller than a cow but fast as hell! I threw a rock in the pond about at about the same time that I saw it running and when the water spashed, it stopped and looked at me. I knew it was looking at me because it had red glowing eyes. It was dark and it’s eyes were glowing!”

Now, Shane and Chris were reputed to partake in some illegal smoking activities early on in the high school years so I thought that Shane’s story may have been conjured up by an altered state of mind. At the same time, Shane didn’t get worked up over much and he was freaked out over what he saw. So, the story was born, to me anyway.

Months later, I was hosting a campout in our old horse barn one Friday night. Usually these were impromptu camping trips when one of my friends could get his brother-in-law to buy us a bottle of Jack Daniels. A pint of bourbon split amongst 10 teenagers probably didn’t get us drunk but we sure acted like it did. Like previous campouts, we decided that the smart thing to do would be to climb up on the roof of the barn. We made our way up to the ridge and sat up there for an hour or two telling lies about our girlfriends and the such. I decided to recite the Red Eyed Wolf story for all of the guys and get them a little freaked out. I had no less than just told them about something running across the hillside when something sizeable darted out of the woods and ran across the field at a speed that seemed fluid, like the wind was pushing it or a rope was pulling it. As soon as it was there, it was gone. There was no noises or red eyes but it was some type of animal. We decided to stay on the roof a while longer and see if it came back but it never did. We were about 50 yards away and it had the size of a mature calf, but we had no cattle or horses on the farm at this time.

My younger brother was in middle school at this time so he started making friends with kids that went to other elementary schools in the county. He became really good friends with a kid named Scott. For a while it seemed like Scott was a member of the family because he was always at my house. Scott’s visits didn’t come without a warning from his grandmother, who happened to grow up near the family farm. She warned Scott not to go back in the woods because a red eyed creature lived there. She remembered hearing about it in her childhood. When he told me and my brother this story, chills went up our neck. He swears that he had never told Scott anything about the wolf previously so it seems there could have been something to the stoner’s story.

Jump ahead to the following Halloween, or better yet, the day after. That is when I learned that Shane and Chris had a sighting, sort of. Again, they were trespassing but on a mission at the same time. They were going to sneak up on the well-to-do subdivision at the back of the forest and egg the house of a cheerleader that went to our school (peer outcasts hate cheerleaders thus their house must be decorated with eggs). During their stealthy approach, they heard a howl that they can’t associate with any animal. It seems far away so they keep on with their mission. A minute later, they hear the howl again but this time it seems like the distance between them and the source of the scream has been cut in half. They are a little freaked out so they decide to speed up their pace. Moments later when they get in site of the house, they hear the scream, a booming bass that transitioned into a high pitch howl, directly behind them. They swear it was within 10 feet of where they were standing. At the same time of the howl and from the same direction, they heard something massive crack, like an entire tree snapping off at the trunk. The story is that they ran toward the house without turning around to see what made the noise. Apparently, Shane was still able to hit it with an egg as they high-tailed it back to Chris’ house.

Fifteen years have passed since this incident without another episode to speak of. I have spent a lot of time in this section of woods over those years and have never seen any signs of something non-cattle or deer-like. The Red Eyed Wolf has become a joke to my family but had not been brought up in a long time until this week. My brother sent me this link to a story similar to Shane’s on the VBRO website. Could this be the relative to what haunts my forest? While at this site, click the link at the bottom of the page to look at the county map (or click this). There are some good and some not so good sighting reports in Western Virginia. At any rate, this site deserves exploring.

1 comment:

Buzzardbilly said...

What an excellent post! I don't just say that because I love all things 'unexplained critter' but also because it was written excellently.