A Childhood Experience with the Woodboogers. 1966. It looked almost human- I was a child of five in 1966. We had recently moved to a place in the countryside, a place that held dark secrets. A new house and new friends of a similar age who lived nearby. We played all day during the days off school until the sun went down. We fished and cycled and climbed trees and climbed hills. Every day was an adventure. The place we often played, usually in the evening and so we could make as much noise as we liked, was at one side of a river on a large flood plain of about three acres. On the other side of the river a large steep bank heavily wooded and overgrown.
The first event that at the time went unnoticed but now is important was the stone throwing. Stones would land with a thud close by as we sat together. We all blamed one another who else could it be, no one else was here or even close by. We even started doing it ourselves, tossing a stone up in the air when no-one could see. We became good at spotting a sly arm lobbing a stone upwards. Some of us put our parka hoods up to protect our heads. This happened on consecutive days when we first started to hang about near the wood. It was only when we were all paddling in a calm part of the river that we noticed something strange. Small stones started to land in the river around us, so we watched each other as we were all together to spot who was the culprit, ‘plop’ a stone hit the water. That meant it wasn’t one of us it must have been someone nearby. Very few people were ever seen in this area.
We looked around to see if someone was hiding in the trees on the opposite bank. Plop, another stone landed, where could they be? When someone throws a stone the arm is extended and would generally become visible but there was no sign of a throwing arm. Then a stone landed that was much larger, large enough to do injury, it landed with a large splash about three feet from the group. That was strange; who would throw a stone that large at children and who could throw a stone of that size a distance of over 50 metres, which was the distance we had visually checked for stone throwers. We moved away to avoid injury. It was obviously meant to discourage us, it did, but in the long term the opposite, it became a game and eventually the stones stopped.
The next event was the night runner. As we were gathered in a group on the grass about ten metres from the river, it had gone dark, we must have lost track of time, as we had to be home before dark. From somewhere on the flood plain the thud-thud of a heavy runner. The vibrations came through the ground and through the air. It was coming toward us fast getting louder. We braced for a collision with the heavy runner but then the sound had moved past and was moving away. Heading toward the river, it was too dark to see but it sounded as though it jumped the river, there was a break in the vibrations then a faint rustle but no splash. At the time some of us had been practising the Indian trick of pressing your ear to the ground and listening for horses or anything. Something we picked up from cowboy films. We found it worked, you could really hear a lot. That night the sound was strong enough to feel it through our hands pressed to the ground. We didn’t question what or who it was for very long as we had no idea who could be that heavy and be able to run so fast. We speculated who it might have been; a local beef-boy; someone angry at us. Just another strange event at our playground. In hindsight that was probably another scare tactic to keep us away and again it did the opposite.
Bluff charges are a common behaviour of primates, and many other creatures who feel their territory threatened. This creature had waited for the cover of darkness to do it. There were other small signs like one very large footprint in the soft sand at the water’s edge. The ducks that landed on the river sometimes didn’t get to fly off. One night we heard them being taken and their quacks being silenced. Small events that could easily be dismissed at the time, but in hindsight they meant the presence of something very special.
The infant exposed itself rarely; usually you could sense it was around. One day I was on the opposite side of the river when my friend pointed to something at my side and shouted “what’s that”? I looked round behind and something darted away. It was dark under the trees and there were bushes to hide in. My friend described it as small and hairy, not human. For years I believed it was an alien.
The only encounter with the mother was after we had been playing near the river one evening, adjacent to the wood; their home. It was nearly dark and we needed to be home or we would incur the wrath of our mothers.
The other four children had gone ahead and I was the last to move from our place in the long grass. I MOVED QUICKLY TO CATCH UP WITH THE OTHERS AND AFTER A FEW STEPS CAME UP AGAINST A MASSIVE SHAPE. (see sketch)
There were no obstacles in the area so it surprised me that something was blocking my path. It was difficult to see what it was as I was right up against it. There was hair, long and thin wispy hair. I had to peer round the shape to see, firstly, how wide it was. Then to see hands hanging at the sides, and slightly lower than my line of sight, hands bigger than I have ever seen. They were very large and very human; another one on the other side. On looking down there were naked toes just visible in the poor light poking out from thick hair. On realising the mass had limbs feet and hands I looked up to see the head but there was nothing but darkness. A face slowly came into view as it looked down, the first thing I noticed was how small the face and head was compared to the body, the head moving from looking to its left where its young might have been. A strange face looking down at me with a look of amusement, amused at the surprised child looking up in shock and wonderment. It looked almost human, there was an expression so there was thought behind the face but none of the facial features were identifiably human. The eyes had round iris and pupils; didn’t notice the nose or the ears. The mouth was an awful gash. Pug faced like the dog with the ugly face.
Then I was looking into darkness again, the head must have swung round very fast, so fast I didn’t see it move, but then it came back into view this time from the right. The head moved very smoothly, without any movement of the body; similar to the head movements of an owl. I watched the face through the gloom for a few seconds then it was gone with darting speed the head had turned to train its powerful eyes behind it. This must have been the point where my friends were talking amongst themselves.
The head returned and stared down. The eyes were enlarged to reveal two huge golf ball sized (green eyes, possibly, too dark to be sure). The eyes were so big at first I thought it must be wearing thick glasses. A child’s mind trying to make sense of this being. Time had stopped moving forward and my mind was spinning in turmoil. It must have sensed it was exposed because after glancing behind it the expression changed from amusement to disgust. It wanted me to flee, so it could flee without being seen.
The skin on the face was thick like pig skin which hampered any expression. The brow slowly knotted as the skin on the brow formed into creases. The mouth was rough and jagged without lips and large for its small face. The expression faltered between amusement and annoyance as if it struggled to articulate the emotions, or maybe it couldn’t decide how to react to this situation it had made for itself. The brow contorted into a frown and the mouth began to sneer. The face was not appealing its main purpose seemed to be to carry the eyes and provide a portal for food to enter its body through the jagged mouth. It wanted me out of its way. That was my cue to remove myself from this presence and get to the safety of my friends, if it would allow it. I moved past the mass and moved quickly along the path, not daring to look back, in case it followed.
The walk to my friends was about 100 meters but it felt much longer. Meeting it face to face was easy hurrying away was much harder. My legs were shaking and the uneven ground was trying to trip me up. My eyes strained in the poor light to see the undulations in the grassy path. I was afraid if I tripped over it would catch me. On meeting up with my brother I told him someone had just blocked my path. He turned back to see who was there, grasping my arm to come with him but I refused and hurried away in the direction of the others of our group. They asked me what it was that just barred my path; they could see it in the poor light. My reply still confuses me to this day. I told them I didn’t know what they meant. I wasn’t lying; I genuinely believed it even after 30 seconds previously having told my brother a different story. They asked me repeatedly for days until it began to feel taunting, and I gave them the same answer.
Fifty years later the truth dawned on me and the memory of looking into that face now haunts me. Memories of such strangeness after fifty years have a very vague feel to them. It is difficult to say with any certainty that they are real but my memory has never been wrong. The most unbelievable event and one I struggled with is the memory of an infant that suddenly joined me and a friend. The same infant who was seen two years previously on the opposite side of the river by my friend who said it wasn’t human. This infant must have watched us playing our games for years and yearned to join in. Our screams and shouts would have permeated the wood as we played. Her mother must have been denying her freedom to play with us. Until one day it suddenly appeared close to us on our side of the river. We stared at the creature its long grey wispy hair running down its back as it crouched waiting and hoping for acceptance. My friend was afraid and wanted to go but I persuaded him to stay. It only wanted to play I told him and I was afraid to be left alone with it. He asked what it was but I had no answer for him. It had waited a long time for permission from its mother; it would have been cruel to run away. It wasn’t too strange looking, without the hair it could have passed for human.
It kept its face hidden despite all my efforts to see it. When I reached out to touch the silky hair on its back it moved away quickly, and re -positioned itself back into a crouch. Looking across the river there was no visible sign of a parent but they must have been watching, unless the infant had no permission to join us. We tried to play with it, throwing a pebble for it to catch, hanging from the branch of a nearby tree, nothing took its interest, or maybe its shyness inhibited it. Occasionally it moved a short distance by half extending its legs and repositioning back into a tight crouch. After a short awkward few minutes it left, wading across the river on long, slender legs that had been tucked away within its crouch. It’s hairy back above the water line, bent over as it waded. It took two or three steps on the far bank and it was gone. No scrambling up the steep bank, no wrestling with the heavy foliage. It melted into the foliage. There must have been tunnels in the foliage with an access point at the place where she vanished from view.
We were relieved it had gone. We started in the direction of home slightly in shock, my friend eager to inform his parents and others. “What are you going to say? they will never believe us,” I told him. “We will be persecuted if we mention this. We can’t say anything, forget it ever happened.” We agreed never to mention this as we walked away, it would have caused us a lot of trouble. It would have made our lives a misery. My friend may not have accepted this and told his parents because his credibility took a sharp drop around this time. He seemed burdened and out of character for weeks. I should have supported him; they would have condemned us both. I must have done a good job of forgetting this; it took 50 years to recall it. Approx. Year-1972.
One day, (1974) not sure what got into them, two of my friends decided to venture into the lair, probably bravado, but could also have been something to do with my friend’s loose tongue. It was his elder brother who made the decision to go in. It was also the only place we hadn’t trespassed on, so it was about time. I was invited but declined, someone needed to raise the alarm when things went bad. I knew something was spooky about that area, but couldn’t put my finger on it. All the signs had been ignored but together they meant it was spooky. They emerged after about 15 minutes very nervous and badly disheveled. The only thing I remember was one of them saying to the other “what was that thing”? I didn’t want to know it.