“No matter where you live in this planet, someone within two hundred miles of your home has had a direct confrontation with a frightening apparition or inexplicable ‘monster’ within the last generation…. There is a chance-a very good one- that sometime in the next few years you will actually come face to face with a giant hair-covered humanoid or a little man with bulging eyes, surrounded by a ghostly greenish glow.”
Thus writes John Keel, in his Strange Creatures From Time And Space (1975), and indeed, compared to these days, the world of the 1970’s was so much more filled with what Keel named those ‘ambling nightmares.’ Unique monsters came out of nowhere, stomped around for a while to then disappear forever into what void they came from. But often they left a legacy that is still with us today, and became deeply ingrained in popular culture.
Just think of such icons as The Flatwoods monster (1950’s), Mothman (1960’s), Momo (1970’s), Owlman (1970’s), the Beast of Bray Road (1980’s). These creatures were so bizarre that biology alone cannot account for their existence. But the many eyewitnes accounts and in many cases the baffled responses from law enforcement stating that the severely frightened witnesses must have seen something, prompted many researchers to search for alternative theories.
Keel developed his superspectrum idea, Jon Downes coined the word ‘zooform’, Jim Brandon mused about a global consciousness responsible for these crazy monster appearances in his Rebirth Of Pan. Books like Alien Animals (1980) by Janet and Colin Bord were published, not only cataloguing these critters from beyond, but also trying to find a unified theory explaining their existence.
Having an interest in these exotic monsters, I have been involved for the last decade or so, in the research and collecting of these monster accounts. Keel did not exaggerate when he wrote:
Uncounted millions of people have been terrified by their unexpected appearances in isolated forests, deserted highways, and even in the quiet back streets of heavily populated cities. Whole counties have been seized by ‘monster mania’, with every available man joining armed posses to beat the bushes in search for the unbelievable somethings that have killed herds of cows and slaughtered dogs and horses.
Looking back now at the thousands of reports and clippings that I collected this last decade and trying to make some sense of the bewildering multitude of reports of slithering, flying, shambling and skulking creatures, I noticed a few things. Compared to the ufo phenomenon, and there are many overlaps as Keel and others already pointed out, I also noted that, where the ufo phenomenon since its modern appearance in 1947 became progressively more bizarre over the decades, in fact, certain aspects of the ufo phenomenon were so out of this world that the term ‘high strangeness’ was coined to label these events.
Let’s take a ride with Bob and Jackie Bair and hear what they experienced for three days on 900 miles of those lonely stretches of road, across three states in October 1984. The newspaper reporters found the two completely unnerved and continuously smoking cigarettes. “He was not only frightened, he was terrified, continuously looking and motioning out the window.” Truckers Bob and Jackie were on what should have been a routine trip, hauling liquid cooking oil on their newly painted semi-trailer to Madison, Wisconsin. It was a regular run they were used of making almost weekly.
Everything went fine, they were enjoying the trip, until they reached Montana. That’s when they spotted the lights. “we thought it was a plane”, Bob said. According to Bob, a man at a Montana rest stop also saw the lights. “They made people think they were stars.” The lights, ‘nine little ships and one big ship’ began to follow the Bairs. There were creatures too:
“The individual things were described as shaped like about eight inch people with V-shaped heads, wings on their backs. They became hostile, shooting ‘fine, needle-like shavings like silver metal through the glass of the windshield. They were shaped like a prehistoric bird”, Bob said.
There was some evidence for this, as Jackie pointing out the paint chips and nicks in the new paint job. “Every time I touched them I got blisters on my fingers and it turned into a V, showing one on his wrist to the reporters, adding that their fingertips glowed in the dark from the unknown substance they touched. The creatures attacked the Bairs several times, putting up dense fogs. One time when they stopped, “it was like a backwards tornado” coming from the mouth of the leader of the ships. “It was like a ray that he was sending down with the funnel. He did it five times, then we left.”
Their ordeal was hardly from over. Driving along, they were now bombarded by “little black things, thousands of them coming out of the sky, squiggly things, all around us”, as Jackie described. The lights kept up with them, even driving 70 miles an hour. Then things like ‘vitamin E capsules’ began to form on the passenger windshield as they moved. The whole inside of the frame was covered with them. “At first they were real little, They got bigger, there were big black ones the size of baseballs and whatever size or colour they had, they all had ‘a crystal-like thing’ inside them.
There the bizarre encounters did not end, but suffice to say the couple holed up and refused to drive further. State Police became involved, but none of them could see what the couple saw. “They were very scared people, Police Chief Trierweiler agreed, “but I did not see what they saw.” According to the boss of the couple, they were employed for 18 years and were the best drivers he had. All he could do was to send a replacement driver.
This happened in October 1984. It made a couple of newspapers, and then quickly faded from view. Since the case was so weird, I doubt if any local ufo group did a thorough investigation of the alleged incidents, although Bob did contact such an organization.
But do Bob and Jackie, living somewhere out there, still shudder at the recollection of what they experienced those three damned days in October, 1984? And how many more like Bob and Jackie Bair have been hiding in their homes, cringing at the thought, desperately trying to forget what happened to them? Even more experienced researchers like Ted Holiday, once they were ‘touched’ by the phenomenon, expressed their bewilderment. Holiday titled his last book, published posthumously in 1986, The Goblin Universe and talked about ‘a hall of mirrors’. And judging from the amount of data I collected, there must have been many, many thousands of ordinary people more who went through similar experiences.
It’s just our memories that have been failing.
The monster phenomenon, I found out, always had its weirdness wrapped firmly around its edges. From creatures like the Jersey Devil to Van Meter’s luminescent flying things, I even have 19th and early 20th century accounts on file of monsters shooting out electric rays, monsters clad in metal scales, luminescent creatures enveloped in ozone mists, next to the – in comparison – more ‘usual’ accounts of giant flying dragons, hairy hominids, wolf-like predators and sea and lake serpents of those times. And sure enough, there are accounts of strange creatures coming out of, stepping into or turning into fireballs descending from or ascending into the skies, predating the connections that would emerge decades later between hairy hominids seen stepping into or coming out of ufos.
But I also noticed something else. Like the executions of a blind and blundering program from somewhere beyond our reality, this has been going on for a long time. However, during the last decade these monster flaps and encounters of the utterly strange kind have dwindled to almost nothing. And I have taken into account the usual Internet hoaxes like the Montauk Monster, the weird slapping dwarf from Latin America, a continent that always had richness in weird monster sightings. But creatures like Momo, the Missouri monster, the Riverside Reptilian, Bishopville’s Lizardman, the Beast of Bladenboro, Chupacabras, the Beast of Bray Road, Batsquatch or Monkeyman seem to have left our sphere of reality.
There used to be a time when not a week went by or the local newspapers would publish accounts of encounters with some terrible cryptoid. This is not the case anymore. Nowadays this vacuum in the field is occupied and muddied by bigfoot hoaxers, military men claiming solutions for monster sightings, artificially created memes like Slenderman – but there is an overall lack of true monster flaps. Where are the weird creatures of today that will become iconic in a decade or so?
Have these monsters gone the way of the Dodo? Is there a reason for this?