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In the Valley of Shadows

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In the Valley of Shadows

Where the real wild things are

The house in November sounded of winter. The wind blew outside in gales and gusts, some going over 30 miles an hour.

Inside, a young couple sat watching a rented movie. No cable hookups this far out of town on the Pack River Road and they couldn’t afford a satellite yet.

The young woman had always felt isolated out here on the property her new husband had inherited from his grandfather, but they couldn’t afford anything else as yet.

AS the movie ended, in an unsatisfactory way, Carl looked at his wife and pointed the remote at the VCR, hitting rewind. “What a piece of crap.”

“You rented it,” Becca responded and smirked.

Rewound, the machine turned off; the sound of the wind fell on them. Both used to living in town, they thought it eerie, the sounds of nature without human noise to go along with it.

Oh, there was civilization—after all, Buck and Edna’s was less than half a mile away and there was... well, actually, that was it for another couple of miles.

Turning the TV off, Carl headed to the bathroom as Becca went to turn the porch light off. Not that they expected visitors to just drop in this far out, but the light made her feel better for some reason.

She returned to the couch and flicked off the lamp with the only light coming from the kitchen/dining room. A scratching came from the outside wall around the front window. Just a branch moving in the wind, most likely. The scratching, however, seemed... well, as if something more substantial was behind the noise than just a branch. Besides, there wasn’t a tree close enough to be the culprit.

Carl emerged from the short hallway, the sound of the flushing toilet behind him. Glancing at her husband, Becca suddenly saw a startled expression come to his face. “What the hell?” he said. There was real fear in his voice. Becca turned to see what he was looking at.

There, just above the curtain that covered the bottom half of the old fashioned, two-paned window were two glowing red orbs. Or so Becca first interpreted the sight. As she continued looking, however, she realized they weren’t orbs, but eyes! Eyes that would have been more than seven feet off the ground to see in over the curtain.

Recovering from his initial shock, Carl turned, opened the nearby closet door, and withdrew a hunting rifle. Since they didn’t have any children as yet, he kept it loaded. He quickly moved a round into the chamber. “Hit the lights!” he yelled and ran to the door as Becca, her husband’s voice bringing her out of her initial shock, complied.

Carl ran to the door, hitting the porch light switch as he flung the door open. He quickly stepped out onto the small porch and swung the weapon to the right. Nothing was there. A moment later Becca joined him as they heard a movement from the edge of their maintained lawn as something large crashed through the perimeter brush.

After a long moment they looked at each other silently, an stepped back into the house.

Later, friends kidded them about seeing a Bigfoot. But what bear stood over seven feet tall an could peer in through a window? Then again, what ‘natural’ creature had glowing red eyes?

The legend, if not the reality, of Bigfoot has long since been a denizen of folklore dating back to the American Indian’s Sasquatch. There are other incarnations: The Wild Man of China, the Skunk Ape of the U.S. Deep South, and the most famous member of the family, the Yeti or the Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas.

The rational, scientific explanation is that these creatures are a remnant population of Giganthapithagus, a huge hominid whose fossilized bones have been found in many places; the bones indicate a creature ranging from seven to twelve feet tall. They were thought to have been less than a human, but more than an ape.

Could a small remnant population of these creatures have survived in several forms past the time of their supposed extinction thought to have been during the last ice age, 12,000 years ago?

About twelve years ago, a longtime friend of mine took me up to the Continental mine.

Abandoned in the late 1940s, the mine had extensive facilities, even a small hotel. But the vein of silver played out suddenly, making profiting from the mine unlikely after World War II.

The remnants fell into disrepair as the property went through a succession of owners. The final one I am aware of was an obscure, Seattle company.

When I was there with my friend, his son an two friends of his, the last of what was left of the mine was a machine house, rusting equipment and a rat-infested bunk house which we spent a couple of nights in—my friend’s idea of fun times.

Situated well north of upper Priest Lake and only about five miles south of the Canadian border, I would be hard pressed to imagine a more isolated part of North Idaho.

There was no encounter with the unexplained on my trip, though I didn’t relish the two hours I spent at the eerie site alone when my buddy and his other friend decided on a whim to venture through old mine tunnels a half mile from the mine while I had ridden my mountain bike.

My buddy’s next trip with other friends was more memorable. This time, having enough of the old rat-infested bunk house, my friend and these other guests chose to sleep in a tent nearby. During the night, my buddy heard the call of nature and trekked a few dozen yards into the brush to relieve himself.

Halfway through, he heard a growling in the darkness, a noise that did not sound at all familiar. Jeff and his family were loggers, and had spent a lot of time in the woods and knew the sounds of bears and other animals. This was completely new.

Pulling up his pants an departing in a hasty manner, he was sure that he was chased until within a few feet of his camp.

Next morning, he returned to the scene of his indisposition and, after a time, found a tuft of hair snagged in a tree. He sent this to the Department of Lands in Boise and, after a few months of silence, called, only to be informed that no such sample had arrived.

Final analysis, this attitude of government agencies seems to be dominant, as in a story I related last year: denial. Denial of anything beyond its control or understanding.

Next month: the Haunted Apartment... in my own building, here in the Valley of Shadows.

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Author info

Lawrence Fury Lawrence Fury is an inveterate letter-to-the-editor writer, and a conservative conscience for this area of North Idaho. He's also an expert on local ghost stories, and is compiling a group of them for future book publication. You can read more about him in a Love Notes feature for the River Journal

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