The Creature of the Dump
By Stephen Wagner
Have you ever seen a creature you could not explain? For one junkyard treasure hunter, her encounter with a strange animal is one she’ll never forget.
Sometimes it’s difficult to believe your own eyes. When people encounter a thing they cannot explain - something completely alien to their experience - they tend to doubt their own senses at first. The mind tries to relate what is seen to previous experiences, but when that thing is so totally bizarre, many people second-guess their experience. “I couldn’t have seen that,” they tell themselves. “It doesn’t make sense.”
In a poll of readers a few years ago, I asked if they had ever seen a living creature they could not explain. Of more than 650 respondents, 47 percent said that they had. That’s a lot of unexplained sightings.
Paula M. had one such sighting. But it wasn’t of a Bigfoot, a sea serpent, or even a chupacabras. In many ways it was much stranger. And try as she might and after diligent research, she has yet to come up with an explanation for what she saw.
HUNTING FOR GLASS
The encounter took place on a warm, otherwise ordinary day in the summer of 1999 just outside a small town in Oregon.
One of Paula’s hobbies was prowling through old junk yards and dump sites for old vintage bottles and glass. On this particular day, she headed to an old off-road dump site that she had heard about but had never been to before. Paula parked her car on the side of the road and hiked a short distance to the dump.
The dump was typical of several she had been to: Piles of discarded household items and furniture, scattered mounds of rusting old appliances and metal. This recess was quiet and secluded. It was surrounded by trees and had patches of tall skimpy grass and weeds amid the trash. A small stream rested at very bottom of the recess with slow moving water one to two inches deep.
HOLES IN THE GROUND
Then Paula noticed something peculiar - something she had never seen at any other dump site.
"As I was staking out the area," she said. "I happened across some tunnel-like holes in the ground. The holes were of a peculiar size, which made me wonder what kind of animal possibly could have dug them."
Paula noticed six or seven of the holes, each about two inches in diameter and partially camouflaged by the sparse growth of the recess. The holes could have been made by any number of burrowing creatures, Paula reasoned. She didn’t worry about it.
Experienced in this hunt for junkyard treasures, Paula sifted around here and there for about 30 minutes until she found a spot that looked inviting on the slant of a hill, about three-fourths of the way down to the stream. Dropping to her knees, she took her hand trowel and began to dig. Paula especially valued the old bottles with embossed lettering, but such finds rarely made their appearance quickly or easily. She dug in the dirt for nearly an hour - so long that in this kneeling position her legs were beginning to go to “fall sleep.”
Paula decided to take a break from her excavation and stretch her legs. She stood and walked around a bit. “While I was moving about at the bottom of the recess, I thought I saw, from the corner of my eye, a clump of dirt move. It was about the size of my fist.”
She turned to look squarely in the direction of the movement, trying to detect it again. But nothing moved. “Nah,” she thought, “it was nothing.”
Paula was about to return to her dig when she saw it again. About 10 feet away from her, the clump of dirt moved, like it was pushed out of the ground from beneath, and rolled down the hill. Paula began to get a little nervous. Whatever had made those tunnel-like holes was apparently making another one. And she wasn’t particularly keen on watching a rat, a snake, or some other potentially dangerous animal come slithering out.
Then she saw it. Something living began to poke itself out of the ground!
THE CREATURE APPEARS
Paula’s first reaction to seeing this “thing” was saying, “Oh, my God! What are you?”
Paula was familiar with the outdoors and was reasonably sure of what animals she might encounter in a junkyard. But this thing she could not identify. She stepped cautiously closer to it, thinking that the vibration of her digging maight have driven it from its burrow.
She stopped about four to five feet away from the creature. What she could see of it was poking out of the ground about five inches. “At this point, I wasn’t sure what end of the animal I was looking at,” Paula said. “It was about two inches in diameter, and the end of it was perfectly smooth and round - like a cue ball. It was light-brown in color, very much like the surrounding earth. It had a worm-like shape, but didn’t taper down at the end as worms do, and was firmer around looking. It had no distinguishing or familiar features to indicate to me what it was.”
Its size made it obvious that this was not a worm - at least not any kind of worm Paula had ever heard of. And she could not see its entire body, only what was poking out of the ground, so who knows what the rest of this thing really looked like.
Paula looked at the creature closely, trying in vain to find anything familiar about it. She could not detect any eyes, mouth, nose or ears. It had no fur, scales or worm-like ripples on its skin. What it did have was patches of peach-like fuzz - very fine and spaced apart like the hair on a young human’s arm - covering what looked like soft, dusty skin about the texture of a person’s. It was not wet, slimy or tough looking.
By now, Paula was completely perplexed. This was like nothing she had ever seen in person, at a zoo, or on any nature program on television. And if this creature wasn’t strange enough, it then gave Paula a remarkable surprise.
"All of a sudden," she said, "while I was examining it, two big beautiful crystal blue eyes popped open! Now I knew what end of the animal I was looking at."
All thoughts of this being some kind of giant worm were immediately dismissed. Worms don’t have eyes - not like that! More curious than frightened of this remarkable animal, Paula began to wonder how big the body was and what its arms, legs, and tail looked like - or if it even had any such parts. “The white of the eye surrounding its blue iris was the whitest I’d ever seen - a pure virgin white. The size of the eyes were quite big in proportion to its body size. I wondered if it were a juvenile.”
Paula was totally astounded when the eyes opened because while first looking at it she could not tell that it had eyes at all; there were no visible eyelids, eye lashes, bulges, indentations, holes or slits of any kind. The curiosity seemed to be mutual. “My presence didn’t seem to bother it because it studied me for only a short period of time. Then it ignored me. It appeared content and relaxed while it exposed itself to the sun. Its slow motion movement and blinking reminded me of a turtle.”
A CLOSER LOOK
Paula felt that the creature was harmless and stepped even closer to it for a better look. She looked for its mouth, nose, and ears, but couldn’t find them. She wondered if they were camouflaged in the same way that its eyes had been. She also tried to determine where its head ended and neck began because it had no chin or indentations of any kind to separate the two. The body, neck, and head appeared as one - like a living, flexible tube with eyes.
Paula was startled when the creature began to move, and she instinctively stepped back. The animal slowly began to sway the top of its body back and forth as it stretched itself upward toward the sky, all the while slowly blinking.
"I tried to get it to look at me again by clapping my hands and yelling, but it continued to ignore me." Since it had no discernable ears, Paula wondered if perhaps it couldn’t hear sound. So she tried waving her arms and hands about to draw its attention to her. But all it did was stare at the sky, continuing to sway its head back and forth, stretching upward while blinking slowly. It was as if it were hypnotized by the light of the sun.
After about five minutes, the creature decided to retreat into its lair. “I watched it until it finally pulled itself slowly back into its burrow. I looked into the hole after it, but it was so dark that I couldn’t see anything.”
Paula isn’t quite sure what to make of this peculiar encounter, but it haunts her. “I haven’t been able to erase it from my mind, and it’s driving me crazy! I’ve asked many people about it and have spent countless hours searching the Internet for answers to any known or unknown animal fitting the description of the animal.”
Paula returned to the dump site the following Spring in hopes of getting another glimpse of the mysterious creature. No such luck. Some of the hole openings were there, however. “I am convinced that this animal still exists and lives there. It’s possible that it hibernates, so I will go back again in early to mid-summer and try and get another glimpse of it - and possibly capture it on film.”
Hopefully, Paula will succeed in capturing the animal on film or video. It could be something well known to science, if unusual. For now, however, the creature of the dump remains unknown.