A National Guardsman, stationed at Ft. McCoy, Wisconsin, encounters a pale crawler humanoid that steadily stalks him during night land navigation training.
I recently came across the following account:
"I want to share an experience I had while training with my National Guard unit at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. I moved from enlisted to officer via ROTC, and was attached to a unit in my prospective MOS while in the program. I don't really want to give specifics on my service, as the community is small enough to identify me to peers.
In 2014 my platoon decided to conduct night time land navigation at Fort McCoy from 2030 to 0030. While the Army is typically all about buddy pairs, night land navigation is one of the few cases we can do things solo if we so choose. Having done night land navigation plenty before I step off alone, compass, map, and headlamp in hand.
For those who do not know; land navigation involves seeking out markers on a course by plotting their coordinates on a map and moving there via terrain reference and compass. At night this is typically done without light as much as possible. When light is used it is red. This minimizes damage to night vision. Ostensibly, these methods also keep you concealed in a tactical environment when employed with noise discipline.
I bring this up so you can understand a few things about my circumstance. I was moving through the woods while making a token effort to be hard to spot/hear. The woodland I was in was part of a larger forest system, but was frequently traveled. That night we had some 15 soldiers clomping around. My illumination was a togglable headlamp, but was toggled to be red when turned on. To cycle to white light I have to turn it off twice (the cycle was off- solid white- off - flashing white - off -solid red - off - flashing red - off - solid white).
My assigned points will take me to the other side of the course and back. A good hour and a half of walking as the crow flies. They're more or less in a straight line so I estimate two and a half hours out and back. I know if I come back too early I might be given another set of points. So I resolve to walk out, take a break for an hour then mosey on back.
The first half of this goes as planned, I get my points without much trouble and wind up sitting on a hillside at around 10 at night. It's cloudy, but the moon is full. I can see well when the sky is clear, poorly when it's not. Occasionally, I see a red light bobbing in the distance below me. Once a pair of platoon members pass down the hill from me, using white light to try to read their map. I startle them when I ask if they needed help.
At the end of my break there's no more motion in my area. Most people had likely already walked out and back, or they were too lost and took the handrailing road home. I'm feeling pretty at one with my surroundings, having sat in the same spot eating stale Skittles for a good long while. Owls hoot, trees sway, all is well.
I trot down my hill and step through some brush. I'm in a clearing where prairie intersects forest. There are some dead trees in the area, one of them is split half way up. At the top (~ 15 feet) I can make out a head and shoulders silhouette against the clouds backlit by the moon. I walk up to ask how they got up there (and if they're stuck) when the shadow twitches and I get the impression it's turned toward me. I stand there looking at it, and it's maybe looking at me.
The situation feels off, but I'm not going to let a battle buddy punk me. I ask if they need a hand. Midsentence, the moonlight comes back. It's clear the thing on the tall stump is not a soldier.
This moonlight glimpse is the best look I get at the thing. It looks like a stretched out bald person. Its long arms are clutching the stump. I can't make out the face, but it looks pinched. By that I mean I couldn't see its eyes or mouth, like they were small and in the middle of the head. It's skinny like it hasn't eaten, but it's tall and obviously strong to have made such a vertical climb.
It was definitely facing me. It probably was the whole time I was in the clearing. Maybe since I came down the hill. Maybe my speech startled it.
I swear loudly. It rapidly scurries down the trunk. I flick on my red light and catch it on all fours moving toward the brush line in the direction I'm heading. Automatically, I keep toggling the lamp to be in white light. That means it goes off, then to flashing red. In the flash I see the thing at the wood line, but I think it's flipped around and is backing in (probably to keep eyes in me). In the few seconds it takes for me to get to white light it's gone.
I scan the tree line which is silent. When it moved there was a scraping noise, plus the woodland brush is dense. If it was still running I would hear it. I reason that it must have stopped. It must still be watching me. I fumble out my knife and keep looking around the woods in front if me. After ages I start inching along a perpendicular path to my initial route of travel, an angle that will link me up with the hardball road that runs up and down the side of the course. Once in the road I can take it back to where my platoon is parked.
My major problem is that the road is ten minutes of walking away from my current position, mostly woodland. That can't be helped, I have to get out of the clearing first. My progress on that front is painfully slow. I'm fighting my natural urge to freeze in place like a deer in the headlights.
After side stepping a good 10 meters I hear a corresponding rustling and think I see movement. It's enough to get me to turn and bolt, right into a downed log which trips me. I scramble up to my feet and look back to the wood line where there is a audible commotion. I glimpse a leg and ass moving back into the woods. At this point I'm done with the whole situation, but don't want to run again. I start power walking to the road, turning to look as much as I can while seeing what the thing is doing.
Over the movement of my own kit I can hear it moving along side me, parallel. As I near the end of the clearing I think I hear it picking up pace as if to cut me off. I make the decision to sprint. When I enter the woods my path is clear, but I think I can hear it in my periphery. I don't stop, and run hard until I hit the paved road. I bite it hard a few times along the way, but recover with a frantic speed I cannot consciously replicate.
Once in the road I run perpendicular to the forest until I don't think I hear it anymore. I'm winded from my break out run. From the middle of the road have good visibility and decide to walk to catch my breath.
It's quiet for a while. Then I hear a branch move around thirty feet in the air from the woods I had just fled. I snap my gaze up, see a pale ovular face, half in shadow peeking at me from around a trunk. I take off again. After way too long I make it back to the headlights of our LMTVs. Its 1215.
"What happened cadet, did you get lost out there?" "You're covered in mud. Did you fall down?" "Why are you out of breath?"
"I got lost in my way back."
I knew better than to claim I saw a monster. Already my reaction had left me feeling foolish.
In the years since drilling at FMC I have never experienced anything like that again. McCoy does not have a history of disappearances, as far as I know neither do the two closest towns (Sparta and Tomah). I've done night land navigation alone a few times since without issue. This is less from courage, and more from me deciding I must have misinterpreted a the situation. Maybe the world is weirder than I thought." R
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