Thursday, January 9, 2014

Bake Run Beast

First off, the reason I call this blog “The Strangest Thing Ever” is because when I started asking my friends for stories it was difficult to explain what I was looking for.  I would ask about paranormal things or unexplained events.  But it was difficult to get my meaning across.  Eventually I started asking, “What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you?”  The stories on this blog are the answers to that question. 

I decided to start off the blog by talking about my strangest ever.  I haven’t thought about this incident in close to a decade, mostly because it was easy to brush off as a trick of my mind (as you’ll see in the body of the tale, I wasn’t in the most lucid frame of mind).  But I think at least part of the reason I never think about it is because it creeps me out.  It makes me wonder how close I came to something that would have changed my life forever.

It was a warm spring night in Lower Macungie Township, the trees were bright green and the sky was clear.  My friend John and I were driving along the back roads, just outside of Macungie town proper, when we saw something I cannot explain.

In those days the unincorporated portions of Lower Macungie Township didn’t have a police force, but were patrolled by the Pennsylvania State Police.  The Staties, were, as you can imagine, stretched pretty thin (Pennsylvania is kind of a big place).  They usually didn’t bother with the back roads for two reasons.  First, the mountain roads are twisty, dark and don’t provide good places to catch speeders (mostly because it’s difficult to speed on the curvy roads in the first place).  Second, they don’t want to get lost.  The roads that run through South Mountain are labyrinthine and confusing.  I can tell you from personal experience, it’s not hard to get lost for hours back there with no highway for miles.

The reason John and I were on those roads was because the state police weren’t.  We were doing, what was called at the time (and probably still is) a “bake run.”  Meaning, we were smoking weed while driving aimlessly.  It was common knowledge that the State Police only patrolled parks, schools and parking lots, unless they were called to a crime or an accident.  So, as long as we stayed mobile and out of their way we didn’t have to worry about getting caught.

Mountain Road runs from Macungie town, past the tiny hamlet of Alburtis and stops just outside of Longswamp (for those of you unfamiliar with the area, none of those towns are much bigger than the average neighborhood.)  It was a serpentine road, with only a few scattered houses along the sides, but mostly bordered by thick woods.  We were coming down off the mountain, having just turned off of Mountain Road, and were heading toward Macungie when I saw the thing I can’t explain.

I drove a Saturn with manual transmission, it was dark green and the interior smelled distinctly of teenaged boy.  The ashtray was constantly full, the cup holders constantly sticky and the floors and utter mess.  But our windows were cracked after the bake run, since we both smoked cigarettes and the air inside the car was clear.

The road, which was called Gehman Road, was difficult to see from Mountain Road as it was crowed on either side by black walnut trees and thick shrubbery.  In the fall it’s an especially dangerous turn because the walnuts fall in the road where the rotting fruit causes slick spots and the nuts turn into wooden gravel at the edges.  But in the spring it’s still relatively safe.  The road cuts through the thick woods for perhaps a hundred yard and then breaks out onto a mostly deserted road.  A few houses lined the road near the tree line, but after a quarter mile the houses gave way to empty cornfields.

The last house on the left was a ranch home right next to a line of black walnut trees that served as a windbreak.  On the right, the houses were set back a little farther from the road and a dirt track used by the farmer to get between two fields ran between thick stands of trees.  Across from the dirt road was a driveway and next to the driveway, on the cornfield side, were two large pines, maybe fifty feet tall.

We were approaching the cornfield, and when we were about thirty yards away from the dirt road and the pine trees when I saw it.  I don’t know how best to describe it other than to say it looked like shadow given form.  It was a longish, roughly oval shaped object bigger than a man by at least half again.  It flew from the dirt track to the other side of the road, twenty to thirty feet above the road.  I didn’t catch it in the head lights, but could make it out as a darker shape against the sky (which was brighter due to light pollution from nearby Allentown).  I remember most clearly the impression I got when I saw it.  Graceful, like a deer in mid bound.  I didn’t see from where it jumped, nor did I see where it landed.  The trees on the right, next to the farmer’s dirt access road obscured my view, but whether because they blocked the light or because the object started from within and among the trees, I cannot say.  I didn’t see where it landed either, though I got the impression that it was heading toward the large pine trees.

That might have been the end to the story, and surely it would have been were I alone.  But I wasn’t alone.  I slowed the car down, as I mentioned it was a standard transmission, so the amount I slowed was tiny.  I was in third gear and I took my foot off the gas and let the engine slow me down for two to three seconds and then accelerated again.  I ventured a look at John, his face was drawn and pale in the dull glow of the instrument panel.

Looking at me, he said, “Did you just see that?”

I told him I did.

“What was it?”

I said I didn’t know and asked him what he thought he saw.

He described something very similar to what I saw, an oblong shadow moving over the road about thirty feet off the ground.  He said he thought it was “flying,” while I got the impression that it was leaping.  I remember thinking of an arc as it moved, though maybe just a barely perceptible one.

We spoke of it a few times afterwards and of course told all of our friends, but because we were completely stoned, most people didn’t believe us.  Until just a little while ago I marked it off as just a stoner delusion, some minor hallucination (it wouldn’t have been the first or last time someone dusted our weed.)  But I do remember hearing at least one other person saying they saw something, though it was a friend of a friend who told me about it.

Eventually I convinced myself that it was a trick of the light, or my mind playing tricks on me.  It was easier to tell myself that it was just the drugs and the late hour than to think about what I may have seen.  I’m still not sure I saw anything at all, but I do wonder sometime.

I’m curious if anyone else in the Lower Macungie/Alburtis area ever had a similar experience.

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