Setting up camp was difficult, my small umbrella tent which usually sets up in less than five minutes took me nearly half an hour. The site where we were pitching our tents was nothing but rock rubble and it was nearly impossible to put tent stakes in the ground. We ended up using stones where we could not use stakes to weight down some corners of the tents. To make matters worse it was obvious that even though we had foam pads under the sleeping bags we would still have rocks poking us in the back all night long. By the time we finished it was starting to get dark. Both Frank and I were too tired to eat anything and decided to wait till the morning to eat. With a last effort I crawled into my tent and managed to find my way into my sleeping bag where I quickly drifted off to sleep.
At one point during the night I was awakened by a loud cracking sound. I tried to identify it in my mind what it could have been. It was not quite like a gun shot, more like two solid flat objects being slammed together sharply. I thought perhaps it was a rock falling from the cliffs around us and hitting on the rocks below, but then there should have been sounds of it bouncing off other rocks as well and that did not happen. It was just one sharp “CRACK!” I was very groggy and although I was curious about the sound I was too tired to give it further thought. Without any effort I quickly drifted back to sleep.
Sometime later I suddenly bolted upright out of sleep. My heart was racing and I was filled with an incredible terror. I did not know why, I had not been dreaming. My tent was filled with bright blue light (my tent was brown in color) and light seemed to be coming from within the tent but had no visible source. Outside there were the sound of something or someone walking around and the clear sound of something rubbing against my tent. From the tent next to mine I could hear Frank screaming hysterically.
"Dale! Something trying to get in my tent!"
My brain was racing, I knew who/what it was but could not bring myself to say it, not to Frank, he’d think I was crazy.
"It's...a-h-h... some deer or... mountain goats... grazing!" I said knowing how stupid that sounded. We were camping on rocks, there was little in the way of grass or plants for anything to be eating by our tents.
The sound of something rubbing on my tent continued, there seemed to be several persons/things around the tent making the sounds. I could see the indentations in the tent fabric as they pushed against the tent at times. Once I struck against the tent hoping they would go away. The terror I was feeling was almost paralyzing. Several days later I would find out that in the other tent Frank also was beating on his tent at the creatures brushing against it.
"They won't go away," Frank screamed, "they're trying to get in!" His panic seemed to be growing.
Then I remembered I had brought a .38 special revolver with me, it lay just inches from my hand. In terror such as I have never known before or after I began to reach for the gun. Suddenly there was a numbing feeling in my head and a commanding voice/thought filled my mind..."It's the wind...go back to sleep!"
"It's the wind, go back to sleep!" I heard myself calling out to Frank. The voice was coming from my mouth, but I didn’t feel that I was the one saying it.
"Oh...Ok!” he responded in a voice that seemed to taper off in an unreal, almost drugged sounding calm.
As he was replying I was quickly fading of into sleep my eyes closing of a volition that was not my own. I was staring at the door to the tent as my eyes slowly closing and thinking..."I hope the little bastards can't find the zipper,” and then I was asleep.
I need to add a note here for the reader to grasp the outlandish nature of this event. If you have ever awakened in the night frightened by something you will know that once your body fills with adrenaline you become very awake. Even if you find there was nothing to have been frightened about and wanted to go back to sleep it takes a while for all the adrenaline to dissipate and for you to settle down enough to go back to sleep. This was not the case with Frank and myself. Where, in one instant we were filled with the most awful terror you can imagine, hearts racing and in total panic, the next second we are completely calm and within less than ten seconds asleep again. Strange as that sounds that is exactly what happened.
Sometime later in the night I awoke again. It was calm outside, just normal night sounds. I could see shadows on the tent wall that were cast by the thin sliver of moon shining through the nearby pine trees. It was strange...earlier when the blue light was in the tent there were no shadows, the light seemed to be within the tent, this light , the moon, seemed normal the brown fabric of the tent appearing dark the way it should. I got my flash light and I looked at my watch. It was 3:45 AM. Thinking the earlier event must have been the wind (it had to be, I had to make myself believe that) I went back to sleep.
In the morning when I awoke I was feeling a little better. I still had trouble breathing and could only walk short distances before I'd have to rest but I managed to set up my small camp stove and prepared breakfast for Frank and myself. Frank got up shortly after I did and seemed in a foul mood. I had known Frank several years and had never seen him in such a negative state. He kept picking up small stones and throwing them at trees or other rocks as though he were trying to kill something. He began complaining about things, in fact about almost everything, a trend that lasted for several days. This was not like Frank. While we were eating Frank suddenly said in an inquiring sort of voice.
"I had a strange dream last night...?"
"Oh..." I replied as the hair on my body began to stand on end. I feared what he was going to say. I didn't want to hear it! I almost prayed he wouldn’t say it, but I had to play out the part, for my own sake if not for Frank’s. "What was it?” I asked trying to sound as unconcerned as possible.
"I dreamed that after we woke up last night... you remember...when the wind was blowing, that I looked out of my tent.” He paused briefly then took a deep breath. I kept looking at the food I was cooking but I could feel Frank’s eyes burning holes in me as he continued. “There was a UFO over your tent.” He paused and took a deep breath again before continuing. “Little men with big eyes were taking you out of your tent. Then one of them looked at me and told me to go back in my tent!"
Inside I wanted to scream, to get up and run, to do anything, I could feel myself sweating even though it was cold in the early morning mountain air. My mouth suddenly felt as though it were coated with a metallic copper tasting paste. I was fighting to hold down the panic that was taking over my body. Frank was looking at me with an expression on his face that seemed to say "Tell me it didn't happen, tell me anything but don’t tell me that it's true." Instead I said, "What did this UFO look like?" I went back to looking at the food and trying to avoid Frank’s gaze. I tried to sound only remotely interested. I couldn't bring myself to admit to Frank what had happened. I still hoped that in his story there would be an out, something that I could rationalize and make it not so.
Excerpted from "PUPPETS IN THE NIGHT" by Dale Musser. Copyright © 2013 by Dale Musser. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Dale Musser was born in 1944 in a small rural community in Pennsylvania. From 1967 until 2012 he was employed as a structural and piping designer in the marine and offshore industry, the cogeneration power industry and in hard rock metal mining. His work at three shipyards and assignments with several engineering and naval architectural firms during his career in Virginia, Texas, and Maine took him to such places as London, U.K., Abu Dhabi, U.A.E., Scotland and Mexico. During this time, he was responsible for the design of reactor compartments for nuclear aircraft carriers and submarines for the U.S. Navy and the structural designs of numerous offshore semisubmersible oil rigs, tanker ships, supply boats, and other vessels and equipment used in the offshore industry. After the death of his wife in 1999, Mr. Musser changed careers and went to work in Arizona and Utah in the hard rock mining industry. He retired in fall of 2012 and currently resides in Mesa, Arizona; however, his plans for the near future involve a move to New Mexico.
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