There are a lot of unusual things in my hometown, not the least of which is the
relationship between me and Windy Scott. Individually we are both unusual, so it
should be no surprise. Windy is strange among 12-year-old girls. She can climb a
rope in gym class with no legs, and she once ate a wasp that annoyed her. I, on the
other hand, am strange for any kid, any age. I have a bedroom full of books on the
paranormal, and I wear my laser-tag gear everywhere I go.
Together we make an odd couple. By day, she protects me from geek beaters at
Eastview Elementary School; by night, she teases me and makes up unflattering
nicknames for me. Our relationship is a certifiable real-life, true, unexplained
I share with Windy my paranormal investigations. She's not a True Believer, but she
likes adventure and a good freaky story. Someday I'd like to form a club at school
for those other True Believers, but I'm afraid it would be a club of one.
"Too many impediments. It's an omen," I had said to Windy when we passed right
of the main entrance to the mansion and saw the full scope of what separated us
from the woods. At the other end of the side yard was the obstacle course we'd
have to navigate to reach ground zero of the possible UFO crash site. The
extravagant entertainment complex included an array of groomed shrubs,
staircases, terraces, and humongous trees, all contained within a tall fence. The
rear of the property also included four bodies of water: a pool, hot tub, and fish
pond inside the fenced area, and what appeared to be a large retaining pond in a
weedy field near the woods. "Not even Superman could get past all this," I had told
Windy. "Let's go back home."
She shined the light onto the face of a huge boulder. Damp and rough to the touch,
it was sandy-brown in color with lots of divots and scoops taken out of it, as if it had
been pocked by meteors for hundreds of millennia. It was twice the height of me.
"There's your angel," said Windy when we stopped just a few feet inside the tree
Something unusual was, in fact, inside the prospective UFO graveyard.
Windy grabbed the flashlight, turned it on, and minced the blackness with the beam.
She started to run toward what I'd seen, trying her best to keep the flashlight fixed
ahead, so I of course followed right behind. It would take us 15 strides to reach it,
and I made a mental note of the distance for recording in these investigative notes.
"You're not going to believe this, but I saw an angel up there." I know. The words
sounded ridiculous to me too when I heard them resonate back to me off the still
trees. But if zombies could live in New York City sewers, like I read about in the
best-selling zombie-hunting book, Fifty Shades of Graves, then an angel could be
strolling through the woods. At that point, my mind spun with the possibility that I'd
seen a real-life, true, unexplained phenomenon.
"What's wrong?" Windy had asked.
But we only took a few steps before I froze in my tracks and gasped the biggest
breath of air I'd ever taken before or since. The beam of my flashlight had swiped
across something 40 feet ahead, just inside the woods and only a few feet off the
west side of the strip of mowed weeds. I clicked off the flashlight.
We finally reached the forest into which Mr. Beverly had seen the ball of light crash.
The glow of the pool and fountain lights in the backyard no longer provided any
illumination. I retrieved my flashlight, which lit up an apparent entrance into the
woods. Scanning all directions, I saw nothing unusual, except the trail we'd taken
turned sharply right, running immediately in front of the trees, perpendicular to the
point of entrance, heading north. Neither Windy nor I obviously knew where the path
would take us, and I honestly was in no hurry to go into the dark woods, so we
passed by the entrance and continued due north on our trail.
Outside the gate, the grounds were not groomed, but there were mowed trails
through the weeds. One trail led us beside a small cove that was part of a larger
pond. Given the effort to protect the spectacular pool grounds with the sword
stockade, I wouldn't have been surprised if from the shallow bay slithered Burmese
pythons and starving alligators to snatch trespassers who approached the estate
from the rear. Snakes and reptiles were nowhere to be found, and we passed north
of the bay without incident, constriction, or amputation. This was all going too easily,
and for that reason, I was scared.
The great iron enclosure that protected the pool area from intrusion had been
forged by a master of metal arts. Swords big enough for a mob of giant musketeers
stood side-by-side, business end up, creating an intimidating 10-foot barrier. I
made a very lame attempt to scale the fence, while Windy just opened a gate and
walked through it. Amazingly, no alarm sounded. Windy slid past the sculptures,
greeting each one with her longest finger, and led us unremarkably through a
complicated maze of shrubbery toward another gate in the rear, where we left under
the lion's relentless glare.
I followed Windy toward the backyard. An unusual wrought-iron fence that I was
positive had to be linked to a security system surrounded the pool area and the
pristine garden. In addition to a lighted koi pond and grand fountain, there were
several statues dotting the grounds. Roaming the open-air museum were dozens of
creatures - half human, half animal. A human and lion were the closest figures to us.
The human was in the form of a naked man standing near the front of the swimming
complex on a circular pedestal peeing right into the pool, while the lion sat nearby,
protecting the premises from everything but public urination. Other unusual
creatures also surrounded the pool, with a ten-headed green monster right beside
it, and a cherub carved from limestone hiding in the shadows of two real palm trees.
Just outside the back door of the home, a white tower pointed at the stars. If it had
been a sunny day, I would have thought I was actually in paradise, but in the dark,
with all of these weird statues, and this close to a possible alien landing, I felt like I
was part of a circus freakshow.
At that moment, a heat-pump compressor ten feet to the left kicked on, making my
heart jump out of my chest and dashing any possibility that I was going to wait
"Don't be a chicken, Cluck Kent," she said. She raised her arms as if flying and
ventured further into the property. "This is your investigation. I'm just here to make
sure you do it. And to make fun of you. But I'll check the woods on my own if you
That's how Windy came to accompany me to the bottom of a long driveway leading
to a ginormous house. To both the north and south of the entrance was a tall
concrete wall set off the main roadway engraved with elegant script confirming we
were, in fact, at 1200 The Meadows Boulevard. In the distance were the woods into
which the alleged ball of light had entered. The woods backed up to the municipal
reservoir, so the only ways to reach the forest were via foot, boat, or airship. We
were determined to get there that night, and feet were the only thing within our travel
budget. Between us and the woods, however, was a large estate in Spanish motif
by which we'd have to pass to reach our destination. Although a black Hummer with
tinted windows sat in the driveway, no interior lights glowed inside the massive
home, so we took the chance that nobody was inside on this late Friday night.
Windy became interested in the present case when I told her about a series of
articles from the News Journal. The newspaper reported that a Mr. Beverly, while
driving to his rural home late Monday night, had witnessed a fantastic ball of light fall
from the sky. It had landed in some woods along a sparsely populated country road
near the reservoir on the outskirts of town. The only other witness was the man's
father, who saw an orange afterglow in the woods 45 minutes later. The next
morning the two walked to the woods to search the area, but they could find no
damaged trees, scorched vegetation, or downed aircraft. Still, they reported what
they'd seen to authorities. The National Guard, county sheriff, and highway patrol all
investigated the incident but discovered nothing. A follow-up article from
yesterday's newspaper indicated that MUFON attempted to conduct its own
investigation into the affair, but it was unable to because the landowner would not
grant the UFO network access to the forest and said he'd shoot anybody who
trespassed onto his gated property. But MUFON did not need permission to gain
access to the property. They just needed Windy Scott.
I jumped all the way to the ground from what felt like the sky. "Beam, bulb,
lightstick," I stammered until I finally just snatched the flashlight from Windy's hands.
The mowed trail we'd taken to and from the forest was part of a larger intelligent
design. Even in the darkness, I could tell that the series of paths in the meadow
mirrored the pool area, except the whole scene was positioned one-quarter turn
It wasn't until Windy reached the rear gate to the pool area fifty-one steps later that it
struck me. I turned around and took one last view of the weedy meadow. I couldn't
see well enough, so I took a running start and leapt onto the fence. I've heard of
women who lift stalled cars on city streets to free their pinned babies in
unexplainable moments of super-human strength, and that's what must have
happened to me, because I scaled the security fence until I'd reached the top of the
enclosure, a feat not within my usual physical capabilities.
"The answer is right under our noses," I had said to her, as we traveled the mowed
trail, and I counted our paces for later recording in these notes.
I begged her to stay and continue the investigation. Still arguing, we exited the
woods where we had entered.
I tried to stop Windy to no avail. There was no way I was staying out in those woods
alone, so I followed her down to the forest floor.
"The only thing my senses are picking up on is your armpits."
"Wait. Don't you see, Windy? There's something strange about this place. We
haven't even explored the woods yet. My senses are picking up on something."
I guessed Windy did not share my curiosity with the scene when she said, "This is
so a waste." She began her descent.
Windy reached the top first, and she flung me up at least five feet onto the summit
using just one heave and a Roman handshake. There was a small space to stand
at the top - plenty of room for both of us plus a couple aliens, had they decided to
join us that night. The air felt much cooler at the top, and I read my hiking watch: 39
degrees Fahrenheit. That seemed impossible. It is near the end of summer, but the
temperature on the ground had been in the mid-60's. I still have no explanation for
the large drop in temperature.
"This is exactly the problem with paranormal reports," said Windy. "Humans suck
as eyewitnesses. That's why you can't trust anything in those silly books you read."
She moved the flashlight in slow circles and caressed the jagged face with her
hand, studying the rest of the boulder under light and palm. "And, I hate to say it,
Custard, but the same thing goes for Mr. Beverly's UFO. We are not going to find
anything in these woods."
There was no heavenly winged being in sight, but there were lots of graphic
carvings etched into the stone. My holy hallucination had been merely the result of
indentations, shadows, and sparkly minerals - as well as, I'm sure, too many late
nights reading The Girl Who Kicked the Yeti's Nest, Shudder Island, and The
Under the glow of the flashlight, I examined the carvings that ran the length of the
rock, hoping to divine some secret meaning from their shape, pattern, or number.
But I quickly deduced these were not ancient symbols arranged in diabolically
clever configurations that revealed the secret to extraterrestrial life but about
two-and-a-half dozen stories of teenage lust in temptingly isolated woods.
Because of the limitations imposed by the darkness, we could not have noticed
sooner that a much larger object sat 20 feet beyond the boulder. More than a hill, it
resembled a small mountain with a massive quadrilateral base. Although our
flashlight beam was not strong enough to find the top of it, the night sky provided a
back light revealing that it tapered significantly as it climbed, forming a polygon with
three vertices and a like number of edges. It was neither part of the terrain nor
comprised of dirt, as an actual hill or mountain would be, but was a separate object
from the ground around it. It was monstrous and seemed to have been dropped
there from the sky. White moonlight sparked off its skin, which resembled the
texture, reflectivity, and color of obsidian.
But what we discovered behind the huge boulder drew my attention from the
carvings and the deflating realization that there were no unexplained phenomena
Windy and I discussed the merits of climbing it. Windy won, ignored my protests,
and we began our ascent. Although Windy would have had no problem scaling it
even if its surface had been smooth like glass, I was helped significantly by
occasional nooks in the rock into which I could insert a hand or foot. It made the
climbing easier but still difficult enough that Windy had to wait on me and
occasionally pull me to the next-highest hole with a helping hand.
So when Windy had to pull me by the shirt collar to help me climb, she did so
without grudge. She did it because she knew that she was one of only two people I
have in this world. I fully trusted her with every clasp of our hands. In the eight years
we've known each other, the only thing that has ever come between us is the
cornfield separating our houses.
I have no brothers or sisters. I have only Windy and Will Scott. They have each
other. They are a team unmatched in all of the school system. That claim holds true
all the way to the very upper levels of high school, where the Scott twins have
already caught the attention of bullies and hoodlums. I've heard the rumblings on
School Bus #11 - there are older kids who want to see if the twins are as tough as
they've heard. I also feel a rising tension there because these do-badders know the
twins are my best friends, but so far nobody has poked the sleeping lions by
messing with me. I often wonder what value I bring to the relationship in return for
living under the twins' umbrella of personal security, although they have never asked
me for anything in return. They have my full commitment to our friendship, I guess.
That's about all I have to offer - that and a few pretty frickin' sweet laser-tag sets.
The pool was generally square with an elongated zero-entry closest to the house.
The underwater lamps along the walls of the pool revealed a large black "X," most
likely in inlaid tile, across the bottom of the pool. A line of nine underwater drain
grates ran west to east from the center of the pool outward, directly toward the
statue of the urinating man. In the midst of the zero entry, the stone lion stood sentry.
Just outside the exit of the house was the stone column. On the south side of the
pool was the labyrinth of shrubs that Windy and I had navigated to reach the back
fence, which from our high vantage point looked like two crosses. At the rear of the
pool were the "H"-shaped fountain, zigzagging koi pond, and hot tub.
In the distance was the pool area. Although from the ground I had not been able to
discern a particular pattern in the whole of its features, from the air, I thought they all
combined to form a sort of organization that made me wonder whether it had been
purposeful. Not purposeful in that surely some well-paid landscape architect had
designed the backyard with a plan in mind, but that maybe it had been designed to
be viewed from above. With all the bright lights, rippling water, and elaborate
designs, it was beautiful to behold, but I'm not sure what captivated me or even why
I thought its configuration was meaningful. I wanted so badly to find something
mysterious, I wonder whether I had assigned meaning to randomness.
Notwithstanding the chill, the view was incredible. We could just see over the forest
trees. The reservoir was visible, as were several lonely roads in the distance. We
shuffled our feet in unison, circling around, taking in the vastness of the dark
countryside. But when we turned back toward the mansion, I stopped and stared.
Before we departed the estate in a wild sprint after we saw headlights coming up
the road, I left one of my business cards there - a cool little stone from the RKPL -
just in case the star tourists ever came back to my hometown and wanted to talk to
somebody who believed they existed.
Here is a sketch of the trails that I recreated from memory:
These were crop circles. This one was more precisely a crop formation, as it
contained other geometric shapes. The cause of crop formations is unknown.
Hoaxers in England have admitted to creating some, but thousands more
throughout the world remain a mystery. Some appear next to ancient ruins. Some,
like those in the present case, appear near UFO sightings. Some cereologists
believe they are caused by UFOs passing closely over the ground. One
17th-century theory suggested crop formations were the work of the devil slashing
designs with a scythe at night.
Kneeling on the closest path, I studied the stalks of the weeds that I had previously
believed were cut by a lawnmower blade. As I suspected, each weed had been
gently bent flat. The stalks were not broken. In a few more days, they would spring
back up, and the patterns would become invisible.
UPDATE (8:16 a.m., Sunday, August 26, 2012): Windy just came to my house. She
reported that she took Will to the mansion late last night. They looked in the secret
spot where I hid my stone, and it was gone. I knew there was something strange
about that place. I don't know where the stone is now, but I suspect it is in a parallel
location linked by some cosmic thread that cinches time and space. This case just
got a whole lot weirder.
I walked upon the pathways of bent grass for a few minutes, surveying their angles
and turns and committing them to memory before paratonic activity raised them
sunward. Windy walked beside me, intrigued, but not impressed enough to make
her a True Believer. The membership of my yet-to-be-formed paranormal club
remained at one.
Maybe the homeowners were trying to communicate with extraterrestrial life and
actually succeeded in hailing visitors from outer space.
It is impossible for me to form any opinion on this particular crop formation. I do
wonder whether the wealthy homeowners, whoever they might be, know of it. For
the same reason I was struck with curiosity by the design of their backyard oasis,
perhaps some distant visitors from another planet were also drawn to it. So drawn,
in fact, might those alien travelers have been, that they crashed their flying vehicle
right into the woods in the midst of their distraction. Intergalactic rubberneckers.