Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Weird Wednesdays: The Dover Demon

Although it’s been over 30 years since I first heard about it, I still hate the Dover Demon. I’m sure most people have no idea what I’m talking about – and good for them. The story is trivial, meaningless, and without any verification whatsoever. But it was a story that struck right at my core, particularly since I had an older brother who took no small joy in scaring me.

The time would have been late spring, perhaps June, since I believe I was out of school already. The year was 1977, and I was 12 years old. I do recall that it was a pleasant night in my central California town, and my brother, Steve, who was 18, myself, and two of his friends had decided to take a walk about half a mile or so to our nearest 7-Eleven, where we might grab a Slurpee or maybe some other treat. It was a clear, warm night and many stars were visible. In other words, it was a pretty nice evening to take a walk. Unless you have a sadistic older brother, that is.

As we wound our way down the streets of our neighborhood, Steve began to discuss a story we’d heard recently on the news. Here I am indebted to Loren Coleman’s wonderful book, Mysterious America, for the particulars of the case, as I was unable to recall them. Four kids in Dover, Massachusetts had reported seeing a strange creature over the course of a 25 hour period on April 21-22, 1977. Witnesses described it as a small, 3-4 foot tall, spindly humanoid, with light, peach-colored skin, and long toes and fingers. The most disturbing detail was its head: it was unusually large, shaped like a watermelon, and had no features except for two large glassy eyes. The kids saw it in different locations in their small town, all at night. One witness, John Baxter (whose drawing is shown above, from Coleman's book) saw it climb over rocks in a gully, with its feet “molded” over the stones.

As we walked along, talking about this weird thing, we approached a large brick wall. There were no street lights in the immediate area and it was fairly dark. My brother said, “What if we saw that thing right now? What if it was climbing up over that wall?” I told him to shut up, which of course only goaded him on. “What if it was crawling along the wall, staring at us with those big, glowing eyes?” That was it – I was completely freaked out. The hairs on the back of my neck were at full attention. But Steve kept it up. I wanted to run back home, but we were too far and I was too scared to do it alone now. I had no choice but to keep going with them, nervously looking over my shoulder.

We finally made it to the 7-Eleven, and I was able to calm down. Nothing like a cherry-cola Slurpee for a case of nerves! The only problem was, we now had to walk back past that wall again!

As we walked towards the wall, things were quiet. Probably the only sound was our footsteps, and me drinking my Slurpee. Suddenly my brother yelled, “What’s that?” I just about choked! I looked around frantically only to see Steve laughing at my reaction. I wanted to kill him, but even more, I wanted to get home!

As far as I know, the Dover Demon has never re-appeared - except in my imagination, whenever I am out for a walk at night. Damn you Steve.


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