This event happened in January, 2011 to me and my friend, Patrick. Patrick was visiting from France for three days and I wanted to show what England had to offer him. As such, I had planned to take him to see Stonehenge, but the roads were too icy, so we went for a walk on the moors just outside of Tavistock in Devon instead (as Tavistock is my hometown).
It had recently snowed and so we were both wearing warm clothes and had packed a thermos flask full of coffee. (I prefer tea, but he was the guest after all.) As he was something of a hunting nut, he was very interested in all the tracks various animals had left in the snow. I was precarious as I had recently had a scary encounter with what I can safely assume was the Beast of Bodmin Moor.
He had his eye on a set of tracks he could not identify. This was strange for Patrick as he had an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of animal tracks. At first I put this down to him being from France and that perhaps this was some creature indigenous to England, but they seemed strange to me as a novice as well. They were almost like giant human hand prints in the snow, with deeper indentations at the fingertips, as if the creature had been gripping the snow.
I was afraid that in following the tracks we might just stumble across the creature’s lair, and while I was interested to find out what it was, I didn’t want to be its supper.
As we followed, we found that the left hand print was less strong and the right was getting deeper, almost as if the creature was limping. To Patrick’s disappointment and my relief, we lost the tracks at a small brook.
We discussed what had happened. I reasoned that it might have been someone pulling a prank on us, just as Patrick liked to play pranks on me. Or perhaps it was just some as-yet unidentified creature of the moor, but Patrick was convinced that it was a monster, like Bigfoot. We each failed to convince the other of our point of view and it ended in an argument.
We sat at the brook, him drinking his coffee and me smoking one of Patrick’s own rolled cigarettes to calm down. As he drank and I smoked, I felt this weird wave roll over my body, followed by a hollow call, like a backward drumbeat. I turned to Patrick and it was clear he had heard it, too.
Before I could ask what it was, he was off. I chased after him and called his name, but he wasn’t listening. He seemed intent on following something far ahead of him. I regret to say that I am no runner, and in no time at all Patrick had lost me.
The moors are an easy place to get lost in, so I decided to retrace my steps back to the brook. To my astonishment and horror, there now seemed to be more of those hand prints – the creature had circled us!
And then I heard it. The hollow, throaty, resounding call of that nightmarish creature. I ran. It seemed as if the whole wood was alive. I heard creaking branches, rustling leaves, rasping winds, but most of all again and again I heard the cry of the beast.
I arrived in a clearing and would have stormed right through it had I not noticed a shiny object on the ground. I stooped down to pick it up and realised it was my thermos flask. What had happened to Patrick? As I stood there, the noises increased tenfold. I tried to run, but my feet were rooted to the spot. By fear.
A crashing noise came toward me. Something was racing through the undergrowth toward me. It was Patrick. He looked rather worse for wear – cuts on his face and neck and his shirt grubbied. He refused to say what had happened, but urged me to leave the moor as soon as possible. I thought he was probably afraid of some phantom, so I indulged him and we both headed for home.
Patrick looked tired so I offered him a drink from the flask. He refused. I offered again and got the same response. This was peculiar because Patrick was a thirsty person at the best of times, and after jolly good run he must have wanted some more coffee.
As we reached the outskirts of Tavistock, Patrick turned around and turned as white as a sheet. I could read the terror in his eyes and knew that the monster was right behind us. I ran. Within minutes I had reached my home and threw open the front door, and without bothering to take off my shoes I slammed it shut behind me.
Within seconds there was a banging at my door. Terrified, I slumped up against it and expected the worst. After a few minutes the banging subsided and I mustered enough courage to look through the peep-hole and saw that the porch door was wide open.
I have not seen Patrick since. I tried to ring him, but he never picked up. The thermos sits in my kitchen to this day, untouched, as I fear as to what I should find if I ever looked inside.