I don’t scare terribly easy in life. Movies and video games can kick in fight or flight, but in real situations if I’m with other people it’s not too bad. One event though sticks out in my mind. The night I think I saw a Skinwalker.
A Skinwalker is a Native American shaman that can change shape by wearing other creatures skins. They are said to be immortal, can run as fast as cars, and invulnerable to bullets. As a legend, they are comparable to the Wendigo as a cautionary tale. Many of the Native American stories I’ve read over the years are metaphors. The Wendigo for instance, is a cautionary tale about cannibalism even in the worst of times. Eating the flesh of men will turn you into a monster that hungers for the flesh of men but is never satiated.
The Skinwalker message though, is to avoid and beware witches.
So why I think I saw one.
My extended family owns a ranch in California that butts right up to a Native American reservation. Remains of earlier habitation can be found among the ranch grounds, such as grinding stones, arrowheads, and the like. Now, it truly is a beautiful place with remarkable views. I proposed to Karen out there. But night time gets a bit ominous.
I love when we visit the ranch. I get to see my family from California that I don’t have many chances to see, the grounds are gorgeous, and I have miles of land to target shoot on.
As I’ve mentioned multiple times, I enjoy camping and don’t have a problem stomping around at night in the dark woods. The ranch though, is completely different. Just dark, open fields and a few horse barns all nestled in a valley between dark mountains. Anytime I’m there at night I feel the sensation of being watched. One night things came to a head.
My friend Graham had accompanied my family and my sister’s boyfriend at the time, to the ranch for a week one summer. There’s a guest house on the property we stay in, and about a quarter-mile away there are offices, barns, warehouses, etc. My extended family has their main house about a half mile away.
Now, the only satellite TV was in the office. A two-story building set about a half mile from the main house, and the quarter-mile from where my parents were. My uncle offered to take us over there to watch a scary movie, so we loaded up in golf carts and drove over.
We watched the Ring 2, and it sucked so bad my uncle left midway through. He asked us to lock up, took a golf cart, and left us to finish the movie. The movie and CGI was so bad it was laughable, and left us in a good, normal mood. We started switching off the lights and happened to glance out the window towards the road.
Now, the road that ran throughout the ranch was generally dark and branched off a few times. The road back to the guest house had 2 street lights that provided a small amount of light piercing through the darkness. About 100 feet from the office were two fenced in paddocks for horses and cattle. The 5 1/2 foot tall fences were separated from the road by about 6 feet of grass.
So, the four of us were talking while watching those circles of light. All of us looking.
Something the size of a man leapt over the left paddock fence, ran directly through the light while hunched, and leapt over the right fence. It was too fast to notice details, but it was almost like it was specifically waiting for us to all look. It could have chosen a quarter-mile of darkness to cross the road, but it chose to make its impossible jump right underneath the light.
My blood froze, and we debated what to do. Finally, and anticlimactically we ran to the golf cart, and made a 10 mph escape.
I’ve never seen anything like it since. One of the common stories of the Skinwalker is that they’re known to play pranks and try to scare people. If that’s what it was, it sure as hell succeeded.
They also know when you’re talking or thinking about them, so, well, sorry.
Karen’s gone out with me to the ranch a few times since then. She’s a a photographer and decided to take a time-lapse photos of the stars since light pollution from Chicago prevents that around here. The photos end up with really cool ghostly curves as the stars move through the sky, and the slow shutter speed picks up enough ambient light that the surroundings become visible. It’s a long process that can take hours depending on the wanted effect. She wanted me to come outside with her since it was creepy at night, which I gladly did. I just happened to bring my .45 I had brought for target shooting.
She gets scared easily. While we were outside I told her it was for coyote. Coyotes don’t attack people, but I didn’t tell her the real reason I brought the 1911 out until we were safely back inside.
I love exploring that place, but there I know that the safest thing to do is to just wait for daylight.