Imagine the scene: It’s late on a chilled, winter’s night and the witching-hour is looming perilously close. Your high-pressure job takes you out of town on a regular basis, and right now – after a hard week spent on the road – you just want to get home to your wife and the comfort of your own bed. But before you can do both, you are forced to concentrate on driving through the winding, tree-shrouded roads of large, ancient woodland. Your eyes are tired, the light is poor, and mysterious shadows dominate your field of view. And, little do you know it, but there’s something else on the road, too. It’s something terribly monstrous, as you are just about to find out.
As you negotiate a sharp bend – a bend you have traveled on probably hundreds of occasions and one which is particularly dense with tree cover – you slow down and turn on your high beams to help illuminate the blackness that beckons. Suddenly, your eyes become hypnotized by something incredible on the right-side of the road.
You hit the brakes hard and you sit, astonished and wide of mouth, never giving even a single thought to the possibility that another vehicle may slam into you from behind. Your mind is utterly elsewhere. And it’s not surprising.
Glaring at you in menacing fashion, and sporting what appears to be a pair of large, glowing, yellow eyes, is a huge black cat. No, it’s not just someone’s spoiled, overfed pet. Rather, it’s just about the closest thing you can think of to a fully grown, menacing puma.
Its penetrating eyes bore into yours, it changes its stance to one of attack, and – while gripping the steering-wheel and holding your breath, as if your very life depended on it – you try and prepare for the absolute, very worst. Fortunately, the worst does not come.
Without warning, the beast’s head quickly turns. It races across the road, into the safety and camouflage of the trees, and is gone. You sit there, for a few minutes, trying desperately to get your breath back, and fighting off the rising panic that threatens to overwhelm you. Finally, the shaking in your hands begins to fade, as does the adrenalin-driven dizziness that hit you when overwhelming fear set in.
It’s then you realize the potentially life-threatening fact that your car sits in the middle of a dark road late at night. That practically no-one is likely to be out, at this hour, on this very stretch is probably the only thing that has saved you from becoming the victim of a very nasty, and potentially fatal, accident.
You floor the accelerator, race home, and relate the details of the amazing experience to your wife – who you have roused from her slumber, an action prompted by a high degree of both excitement and fear.
She listens carefully, and after having done so, the two of you come to a stark and sensational realization: you are one of the ever-growing number of people in the British Isles who has had a close encounter with a large, exotic and predatory cat of a type that simply should not exist in Britain, and which the government says are merely the stuff of nightmare, mistaken identity, and hoaxing.
But, now, you know better – much better, in fact. Although, given the gut-wrenching experience you have just suffered, you earnestly wish you did not.
The story above is not fiction. It occurred in 1977 to a man named Jimmy Freeman. And the forest in question is no normal forest. It’s an area that has been a veritable hotbed of supernatural strangeness for centuries. Never mind just big cats, the forest can claim to be the domain of a strange Bigfoot-like creature known as the Shug-Monkey. Sightings of ghostly entities abound.
Fiery-eyed devil-dogs – provoking distinct imagery of The Hound of the Baskervilles variety – roam the woods. And, in December 1980, this very same locale was the setting for Britain’s most infamous of all UFO encounters. Its name is Rendlesham Forest, a 1,500 hectare area of picturesque and wooded proportions that is located on coastal heath land in the county of Suffolk, England – clearly a place of supreme strangeness!