Ever felt like you shouldn’t be somewhere? What if it was a place you’ve been dozens upon dozens of time before? That happened to me about a decade ago while out running. Let’s set this up.
I’m originally from Woburn, MA, and spent my high school years running cross country in the fall, indoor track in winter, and outdoor track in spring. Add on summer training and I was out running 6 or 7 days a week for basically four years straight. The house I grew up in was very close to local landmark Horn Pond, a decent size pond surrounded by conservation land and plenty of trails and paths around the pond that are pretty moderately trafficked by everyone from hardcore runners to parents with strollers. All those days running, most of the time I found myself at the Pond. I loved that Pond, still do really and even though I don’t live near there anymore I’m sure I could still remember all the old paths and trails. This is all to set up just how familiar I was with the Pond. I knew those paths like the back of my hand and never got any strange vibes or feelings. Except this one time.
This was around 2013ish, late in the year. I remember that for a few reasons. First, I was living at home that semester of college, so when I decided to go for a run that day I went back to my old stomping grounds. Second, I distinctly remember that the deciduous trees were all bare but the pine trees of course still had all their needles. So maybe like November or December 2013.
The coordinates I tagged here are a small grove of pine trees I decided to cut through that afternoon off one of the main paths around a small lagoon next to the Pond (really when locals say “the Pond” we’re talking about the Pond, the lagoon, the small hill nearby erroneously referred to as Horn Pond Mountain, and of course the woods surrounding; check the map, I think what I’m trying to describe should be obvious from a bird’s eye view.) My goal was to leave the path, cut through the woods, and out to the local country club that was already closed for the season.
And that’s when I felt it. The best I can describe what I felt was a gripping sense of dread and absolute fear. The wind kicked up and I stopped dead in my tracks, rooted to the spot, too afraid to move. All I heard was the sound of the wind through the pine needles and the thump of my heart ready to beat out of my chest. This was a pure sense of terror I’ve never ever felt in those woods. After what felt like an eternity but was really probably just a few seconds, I got control of my fear and hightailed back to the path.
I’ve thought a ton about that day ever since. Why did I feel that? What caused it? Was there something in those woods with me? I didn’t see anyone or anything else in there. And yet I still got a deer in headlights feeling of just pure horror.
The logical side of my brain has come up with one “normal” possibilities. One, the easier explanation, is that maybe there was an animal in there with me. Just because I didn’t see it, doesn’t mean it didn’t see me. Being suburban Massachusetts, there’s some small wildlife; deer, foxes, coyotes and the like. But it’s not like I was going to stumble upon a wolf, mountain lion or bear. Not at the Pond, I have to believe it’s too heavily trafficked by people. Though of course black bears have been seen in Woburn so… maybe?
Another idea I’ve come up with is courtesy of Astonishing Legends, specifically their series on the Dyatlov Pass incident. During that series, they discuss the concept of infrasound, sounds at such a low frequency that your ears might not actually “hear” the sound, but your brain can still detect the frequencies. It’s actually something that’s super common in workplaces (all the whirring of electrical equipment) and interestingly can cause visual hallucinations. The idea is that the low frequencies are similar to the growl of a predator, so it tricks our brain into thinking DANGER NEARBY. I mentioned this area was all pine trees. Perhaps the wind blowing through all those pine trees rustling up all those needles caused frequencies low enough that my brain triggered DANGER NEARBY.
One more theory if you’ll humor me. This one is the most… out there. Years after this incident, think it was early 2020, I finally got around to reading The Mothman Prophesies. I’m not going to go as far as to say I encountered the Mothman, but Keel’s writing gave me an idea. Keel described one visit to the famous TNT bunkers he felt a “fear spot.” Kinda like what I felt, Keel describes how at one spot on the approach to the bunkers he was gripped with a deep, all consuming fear in the pit of his stomach. To me, this has always seemed like the Mothman not trying to harm Keel but to say hey this is my space, leave me be.
Maybe I encountered a cryptid that just wanted to be left alone. Horn Pond is a pretty normal place on the surface, but is a bit weirder when you dive deeper (water jokes!) The Pond provides a few natural borders. There are tributaries that feed it and modern borders on the map follow; there’s an intersection nearby known as Four Corners because it’s a intersection where you go go to four different towns. Another weird thing about the Pond is that there’s an electricity power station nearby. Cryptids love water; they love borders; they love technology. And the Pond has all three.
I’ve kinda rambled here a bit but I hope I’ve really illustrated the weirdness of the situation. There’s an awful lot of weirdness that could be hiding in those woods. And I for one think I almost encountered something.