Chris and Jenna's Story
You know that old saying - that anything that seems too good to be true usually is?
But in late in 1982 we – my husband Chris and I, could only think of the unicorn right in front of us; by that I mean the perfect house. Not that the actual house itself was perfect, but it was situated where and how we wanted, and it had all the particulars we were both looking for. Most of all, land, woods and no neighbors in sight.
You see, I had spent a lot of time in my youth growing up on my grandparent’s farm outside of Corbin, Kentucky. It was 113 acres of cattle pasture, crops and the back half of the property was heavily wooded.
But the best thing about that place? Not. A. Neighbor. In. SIGHT.
The reality of being an adult and living in a city had begun to weigh heavily on me. I dreamed often of those pastures and woods. I became depressed when every window I looked out of in my little suburban home only gave me a view of my neighbor’s brick.
It didn’t really matter to my husband WHERE we lived My husband worked calibrating, trouble shooting and repairing a specific machinery whose brands were found in numerous manufacturing companies, and he generally spent some combination of a few, or all the days between Monday and Friday traveling throughout the Midwest and the Great Lakes region, so It didn’t really matter to him WHERE we lived, as in his own words “Every commute home was a long commute” This meant I was alone much of the time, but I was okay with that – I was and still am perfectly happy being by myself.
It was the fall of 1982 that we found the little house near the edge of the Blue Rock Forest, and moved in just before the New Year.
We had been told that the previous occupants had been elderly, and lived there since the early 1950s, but wanted to make the move back to the city because they wanted to be near their children – and that they needed to be closer to their doctors as health issues had come up. We were told this the day we first looked at the property – the listing agent made sure we understood why some things were the way they were, such as projects started and not finished. It seemed plausible to me, after all, that is exactly how it happened for my grandparents and why their farm was eventually sold.
This was pointed out to us as we walked the property, specifically as we came near the treeline – it was clear that someone had begun to try to move the treeline further back away from the pole barn and the surrounding area, as there were literally hundreds of tree stumps everywhere. The line of stumps only went about ten to 12 feet deep into the treeline, but seeing that the treeline had been cut to that depth for about 200 feet all along the front, it must have been a difficult task. I assumed the old man must have tried to do it himself, rather than pay someone, and it made sense that he could not finish it. We thought no more of it.
Soon, we had settled into what we now look back on as an idyllic time, and we enthusiastically worked on upgrading the interior of the house.
When spring rolled around, I could hardly wait to get outside and start on the garden I had planned all through the winter months, and Chris was happily organizing the pole barn for his woodworking, which was a serious thing for him – more than just a hobby. And he was good at it, too, and had made several things, including some pieces of furniture that he sold in the early days of our marriage for extra income.
But - Our first inkling that something was happening on our little piece of heaven came late one Saturday night in April. We were sitting on the deck, watching the sun go down after dinner, soaking up the fresh air after being cooped up inside for months. The trees were just beginning to bud out at the tips, but the branches were still bare enough that we could see the sun through the forest as it sunk below the trees.
I was mid-sentence talking to Chris when he hushed me - “Shh - did you see that?” he asked quietly.
“What? No, where?” I hadn’t seen anything. He never raised his hand from the arm of the chair, but rotated and pointed almost imperceptibly with his forefinger. “There – near the pole barn”
I looked in the direction he pointed but didn’t see anything but trees.
“Wait. Just keep watching. It’s there. It’s right there – but it isn’t moving. Just wait” my husband whispered.
I wasn’t sure what he thought he saw, but I’d been married to him long enough to know he was serious about whatever it was. So I stayed silent and watched with him.
“There” he said.
And - I saw it. What I had taken to be a leafless tree in the tree line moved. Just a few steps, then it stopped. I felt certain it was watching US. Tentatively, it took a few more steps, and passed behind the pole barn. I couldn’t say for certain how tall it was, or what features it had - I could only see a dark mass moving. My first thought, as everyone’s usually is, is that it’s a bear. But then I reminded myself that Ohio didn’t have bears – at least, not at that time, although they are there, now, I’m told.
We saw no more of it, and we assumed that whatever it was had gone away. We were just talking about it getting colder, and maybe it was time to go in when we heard a thumping noise. It seemed to come from behind the pole barn. Whatever it was, it was back. We could hear the metal rattling as if whatever it was, was trying to get in. Chris stood up and started yelling, “HEY! HEYYY! GET OUT OF HERE – I’m calling the police!”
“What are you doing?” I asked him.
“If it’s a bear, it should be scared off, it’s a teen thinking this place is still empty, I’m letting them know it’s not.”
We stood there a few more seconds and heard nothing but the breaking of branches as something retreated to the forest.
“Tomorrow, I’ll run into town and get some more motion activated lights for out here.” Chris said as walked into the house for the night, making sure to lock up and leaving the outside light near the sliding doors on the deck on all night.
When Chris came back in from checking the pole barn in the morning, he didn’t say much. At the time, I thought perhaps it was because there was nothing to report. He did go into town and bought some motion activated lights and spent the afternoon installing them.
That night, he asked me to please stay close to the house until we knew the “bear” was gone.
He left out that Monday morning, only going over to Greenville, Ohio to do some calibration for a company that made appliances. Chances are, you likely have one of their appliances on your counter. I did stay close to the house that week, and mostly stayed indoors as I was working on patching and painting down in the family room. It was one of those traditional, 50s den-type room with a brick fireplace at one end and matching, built in shelving on either side. The shelving was now sagging and had been painted at least a dozen times, and we had decided their useful days were over. Chris, being the woodworker that he was, was going to custom build me some new ones and add a bit more bookcases wrapping around the one side of the room. My job was to make everything ready – patch everything, paint everything, and since Chris had taught me some electrical, I was replacing the old light switches and outlets and some light fixtures.
That kept me busy a lot of the week, so when Friday rolled around, Chris finalized his shopping list for the bookcases. He headed out bright and early Saturday morning to run errands in town and his last stop was going to be picking up the wood.
I need to tell you that from the road, the driveway came up alongside the right side of the house into a car porch, and then went further back directly to the double doors of the pole barn. Convenient and nice.
It was mid afternoon when I heard Chris honk the truck’s horn in the car port. I went out the side door and grabbed the bags with the groceries I had asked for. As I moved around the kitchen putting groceries away, I caught glimpses of Chris from the kitchen window as he began unloading the wood from the truck and carrying it into the pole barn. After that, I spent the afternoon chiseling pink tile out of the hall bathroom. After a few hours, I realized that if we were going to eat dinner that night, I needed to clean up and start prepping the food.
After cleaning up in the family room, it was running afterto 7 o’clock before I made it into the kitchen. It was early May, and while the days were getting very long, by that time of day the sun was already going down, and the forest was leaving long shadows across the yard. This meant I would be grilling with the porch light on, which is a pain in the you know what.
I put the steaks in their marinade and prepped the foil packs of potatoes before I headed out the sliding glass doors to start the charcoal for the grill. But I hadn’t made it two steps onto the deck when my heart almost stopped.
Vaguely, my mind resgistered the “nnnnnnnnt - - - - nnnnnnt “ of whatever Chris was doing, and between each run of the power tool I could hear his little radio blasting away with music. He later said he was cutting dados, whatever those are.
But it wasn’t what I was hearing that terrified me – it was what I saw.
There. Standing next to Chris’s truck, stood the outline of a large, hairy – thing. It was perfectly silhouetted in the light shining out from the building. It just stood there, not moving. It was still light enough out that it was very visible. The hair? The fur? Whatever it was covered with, was a brown-black color, like a dark chocolate chip – not black, not brown, but a little of both. The fur seemed to be either shorter on the head or it lay very close to the head. I had the impression that the fur covering it was not very long, but not very short either. It hugged the whole body. Using the truck as a gauge, I would have to guess the thing stood 7-1/2, maybe close to 8 feet tall.
I was frozen, as I said – except for my mind. It was doing that thing your mind does where it thinks through a hundred scenarios in a nano second. And I don’t know if I *could* have screamed at that moment if I wanted to, but I knew that I shouldn’t. I knew screaming for Chris would be useless – he would never hear me, but that the thing standing there probably would, and from there I couldn’t guess what would happen. And I knew how Chris had laid out the interior of that pole barn, which meant that Chris almost certainly had his back to the door – and to the beast. It was the though of that – thing – creeping up on Chris without him knowing it that put me into action – again, in a nano second my mind told me exactly where to go and what I needed to do. Some of you listening might have done something different, and it’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, but at that moment, this is what my brain told me to do.
I ran inside and tore everything out of the bedroom closet like a wildwoman - to get to the only gun we had – a .22 rifle left over from Chris’s days as a young boy who pretended to like hunting just to spend weekends with his grandfather. I had never fired that gun or any gun, but I didn’t think about that. I just had to do something before it did – what? I don’t know what it might do, but I didn’t want to find out.
I ran back to the deck and – it was gone.
I stood there for a moment, my insides shaking. I looked around wildly – where did it go?.Did it hear me run inside? Was it IN the pole barn with Chris? I couldn’t see it. My mind did another nan-second processing of my situation, and I knew instantly that the only thing scarier than seeing that thing was NOT seeing it.
I didn’t know where it was, but I had the gun and I decided to chance it. It would be dark, soon, and I couldn’t let Chris stay out there any longer.
I bolted down the deck steps, and over to the metal building, clutching the rifle to my chest the whole way. I began yelling Chris’s name as soon as I made it to the doorway. As soon as I knew he saw me, I whipped around with my back to him so I could keep my eyes on the door and truck area.
I kept looking over my shoulder at him, trying to get enough breath to tell him what I’d seen.
“It is NOT a bear, Chris. NOT A BEAR! NOT A BEAR!” I kept repeating it over and over.
I must have seriously scared him, because at no time did he tell me to calm down, take a deep breath or any of those other things people often say. I had backed further into the pole barn, keeping my eyes facing outward.
I chanced a sideways glance at him, as he hadn’t said a word to me. I saw him glance down at the rifle and then outside again.
“Alright. Here’s what we’re going to do,” he said as he pulled the truck keys out of his pocket. “We are going to go outside together, I’m putting you in the truck then I’ll get in the truck. And driving back up to the car port, Understand?”
I nodded. I was dumbstruck at how calm he seemed, but then I told myself he hadn’t seen it. He probably thinks I’m crazy and overreacting. I felt sure of it when he grabbed a hammer off the side of his workbench and headed to the entrance.
“What are you doing??? A hammer will be useless against that thing.” I yelled – and I held out the gun.
He nodded and said, “I know, but - It’s not loaded.”
“What???” I yelled.
“I haven’t had bullets for that gun in years,” he said.
I looked at the gun stupidly, then I looked back up at him. In my panic hadn’t even thought of bullets. Sweet Jesus, I thought – I don’t know what I would have done if I had tried to fire on the beast only to find out I had no bullets.
Slowly, we crept toward the open double wide doors, each of us looking around carefully. Chris motioned for me to stay put as he knelt down by the door and looked around outside. He stood up, stepped outside and motioned for me at the same time he opened the passenger door. Chris tossed the keys in my lap as he shut the door and made his way around to the driver’s side and got in, taking the keys out of my lap and starting the truck up. It hadn’t even registered when he threw the keys in my lap, I only noticed when he reached over to take them. Many nights later, Chris told me that as I was getting in the truck, he was pretty sure he had seen movement somewhere behind him, and his mind did a nano-second thing and it told him that if the beast was coming up from behind, he would never make it in the truck even if he pushed me in and crawled over me, so he threw the keys in so that if the worst happened before he could get to the other side of the truck, I could drive myself out of there. I was stunned when he told me that.
But - To say we threw gravel as Chris reversed the truck and almost did a donut to turn around towards the house is an understatement. And while the beast was not directly behind Chris as I was getting in the truck, it was definitely there, and very likely he really did see movement in his periphery, because while Chris was looking out the back window of the truck as he was reversing, I had a clear view of what was in the headlights – and there WAS something just to the side of the pole barn – the side that Chris had his back to as I got in the truck.
We sped up to the carport attached to the house. We pulled in with the passenger side of the truck against the house, and we both exited from the passenger side and safely got into the house, both of us shaking.
We slept little that night, and instead sat in chairs we had pulled up next to the sliding glass doors that led out on to the deck. From there we could clearly see the pole barn, the doors still open with the little radio still inside playing music. There were a few tense moments when we would see one of the creatures walking around the pole barn, and one did actually step into the open doorway. It just stood there for a moment, looking. We couldn’t figure out what it was doing other than – looking. Or maybe it was listening to the radio. We wouldn’t get an answer until some time later, but we’ll get to that. Eventually it had seen or heard enough of whatever it wanted to see or hear and walked around the side of the pole barn and faded from sight. A moment later the motion activated light on the back side of the barn kicked on and a second later we heard the sound of something like glass breaking, and the light went out for the rest of the night.
When Dawn came, we were both still awake. Later, we both wondered why we didn’t call the police. I don’t know. Maybe it was because deep down we knew how crazy it would sound, or maybe because when the worst of it was happening, there was no phone near. But, no, we never called the police.
We went that day to get bullets for the rifle and had to go all the way to Columbus to find somewhere that we knew was open that sold bullets – that is one drawback of rural life – not everything is available all the time, especially not almost 40 years ago.
Then, and only then – in the bright sunshine of a May afternoon, with a loaded rifle did we head out towards the pole barn and turned off everything in the metal building and closed and locked the doors.
I was not very educated on guns, and while Chris was no hunter, he knew something that he hadn’t told me at the time: a .22 rifle would have only pissed off whatever that thing was. He knew it wasn’t much security or defense, but he did not tell me so at the time, and only told me many years later.
Over the next few weeks, we stayed inside as much as possible, and never went out except in full sun – and even then, we didn’t feel safe. The hardest thing was to be there alone for most of the week almost every week. I felt like a prisoner in my own home. The motion activated lights by the pole barn were systematically destroyed after that night, and we didn’t bother to replace them.
I took to going along with Chris on his travels. It was terribly boring and lonesome to sit in a hotel room all day by myself – before the internet, movies on demand and all the other things I now enjoy so much. And trust me – daytime television in the 80s was nothing exciting.
When we realized we were both dreading returning home, and that on the nights we were home, we were more often than not hearing things in the treeline just beyond the pole barn, and even when we didn’t, we rarely slept – well, we knew we had a decision to make.
We did see the creatures – the biogfoot or sasquatch, or whatever you prefer to call them – we did them a few more times before we moved out, but always safely at a distance from inside our house.
It was actually one of the last weekends we spent at the house when we received many answers to questions we didn’t even know to ask.
It was now late August, and the day was HOT. We were out front loading Chris’s truck with some of the last items we had in the house – we had already had the moving company come and take most of the large items, and Chris specifically contracted with them to pack and load everything in the pole barn. But, family heirlooms, some fragile antiques were still left - it was these things we were loading when we saw a car slow down near the mouth of the driveway. It stopped, as if it was uncertain, and then backed up, stopped and pulled into our driveway, and parked alongside the pickup truck.
An elderly man got out of the car, and introduced himself as “Kenneth” – who lived up the road. He said he had been sick over the winter, and couldn’t introduce himself after we moved in, but he had tried over the summer, and no one was ever home – and he was sorry that we were leaving so soon.
Chris mentioned that he traveled a lot and I tagged along during the week.
We chit-chatted for a while, and Chris and I were a little put out and getting anxious as time was ticking by – we had a strict rule that we left the property before sunset, and we still had a lot to do.
It was only a few minutes in to talking to him, that the conversation turned, and suddenly we were all ears.
It started with a question from Kenneth: “You didn’t have chickens here, did you?”
“Uhhh – no. No, no chickens here.” Chris said. We looked at each other.
“I figured they would have left you alone without any chickens” he said. “Their troubles started when they got them chickens”
“Who – who would have left us alone?” I had to ask. I was afraid to ask, but I had to ask.
“Them Things. The people that was here before you, they had chickens, and them things kept a coming every night taking them – like it was their own personal foodmart.” And then he REALLY started talking – it was like he had been waiting to spill everything at once, but had been looking for an opening. “You know, one night, Bill and I sat right out there on that deck, a shooting at those devils every time they came near the the hen house – it was like a game to them, like they was testin’ us, like it was a battle of wills. They wanted them chickens, and Bill wasn’t a lettin’ them have them.”
He stopped for a second, and we waited.
"But – we couldn’t sit out there ever’ night, and one night they just tore it all down. Bill moved the chickens that were left into the pole barn every night – and then the fool went and bought more chickens. I told him he was a fool, but Bill was a stubborn old cuss, and he said he wasn’t none scared of them things. He even ran electrified wiring around it for a while. But in the end, those beasts won. Gave Bill a heart attack, one of them did.”
The old man let that hang in the air – clearly he wanted us to ASK.
“What happened.” I asked.
“Well,” Kenneth said. “Bill went out to feed them chickens one day, and them things musta been watchin’ him, waiting. Bill went into the pole barn, and he didn’t know it, but one of them things followed him in.”
I felt my stomach drop as I remembered what I saw staring at my husband in the pole barn.
“That thing just went in, and I don’t know what all happened – Bill never would say. He wasn’t beat up or nothin, Paula said. All I knowed is that when I went to see Bill in the hospital, he said he was a layin’ there on the ground in the pole barn, knowin’ he was having a heart attack, when that thing stepped over him, scooped up two chickens, turned and looked at him let out a great big roar, then stepped back over him and walked out. It was that roar that caused Paula to come out of the house with a shotgun and found Bill where he lay. Nope, I don’t think old Bill won that battle of wills. But It sure ‘bout killed him, I knowed that.”
“is that why he cut down the trees?” I asked.
“Ayup. Me and him, we were out there for a couple weeks with chainsaws, Paula watching our backs with a shot gun, but we didn’t get tuh finish . . . “ he trailed off.
We talked a little more, mostly the old man talking about how things were along that stretch of the road in the old days. Every now and then, it would come back around to the beasts, but after the initial telling of what happened to Bill, it seemed the pressure inside him to talk about it had been released.
Though he seemed like a nice guy, the entire 45 minute or so conversation seemed – well, just awkward.
We said our goodbyes, and I was genuinely wishing I HAD wanted to get to know at least one neighbor out here – it might have saved us a lot of grief, but who can say.
After he left, we hurried with the loading, and headed out. Chris and I talked on the way to the storage unit about what he had said. We were stunned, but so much made sense now. The cut tree stumps, the thing’s fixation with the pole barn and the extreme aggression.
We left that house at the edge of the blue Rock Forest for the last time two weeks later.
The house didn’t actually sell until the following spring, but we didn’t care. We had gotten a small apartment, put the bulk of everything in storage, and juggled the burden of paying a mortgage for a house we weren’t living in and rent for the apartment that we were living in.
Financially, it was tough; It was meatless spaghetti six nights a week kind of tough, But we didn’t care – we went to sleep at night hearing all the sounds of city life – and we actually slept soundly, feeling safe – far away from the house at the edge of the Blue Rock Forest.