East Wind
I live in Northern Indiana, just a short drive from the shores of Lake Michigan. I’ve seen a lot of questionable things around here, from huge black dogs with glowing eyes to a mysteriously hooded man with arcane symbols tattooed over his whole body. The Midwest is no stranger to strangeness. It can be found underneath the streetlights in our suburbs, amongst the endless rows of corn in our fields or in a deserted drug store in the middle of the night.

My story takes place on the beach of Lake Michigan, which is part of the Indiana Dunes National Park. We have woods, swamps, bogs and sandy beaches all within a short drive of each other. I like to take nature pictures and I often drive the backroads that border the swamps and woods looking for interesting locations. This particular day I had decided to park my car and walk the beach. It was late summer, early fall and our area recently had a round of several strong storms. This made me hopeful that I’d find new things to photograph…maybe the winds had downed trees or maybe I’d find something interesting washed up on shore.

I walked the beach, just out of range of the water so that I didn’t get my shoes wet. I took pictures of dune grass, waves and an adorable puppy that was enjoying the beach with its owners. Soon I came upon a stretch of the beach without anyone on it. I briefly wondered why there wasn’t anyone around but it was then that I smelled it. A strong smell of fish and rot so putrid that I was instantly nauseous. I pulled my t-shirt up over my nose and gagged. I was about ready to turn around and call it a day when I saw a strange pattern in the sand, coming from the water’s edge. It was as if something had dragged itself from the lake. Perhaps I could’ve explained it away as an injured animal or something but then I saw the handprints. They were small like a child’s handprint and they were on either side of the drag mark. I got a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach when I saw this but I was hoping that it was just a kid on his boogie board pulling himself across the sand and having fun.

I followed the drag mark and handprints away from the water and toward a thick patch of dune grass. The foul smell got stronger as I got closer to the grass and I had to put effort into not getting sick from it. I stepped into the waist high grass and looked around, parting it and scanning the sandy ground. I didn’t see anything, so I softly called out, “Hello? Is anyone here?” There was no reply; so I turned around and that’s when I saw it.

Blocking my way back was a 4-foot-long, slimy, gray colored creature. It was almost humanoid and laid there on the sand on its belly reaching for me with human like arms and small webbed fingers. Its mouth gapped open, gasping, with thin, rigid lips. Pale, almost translucent, skin was stretched tight across its face and it looked at me with inky black eyes. I screamed and fell backwards into the grass as it swiped the top of my foot with a clammy, cold hand. A raspy wet sound came from its opened mouth and its whole body shivered. It looked…sick. It pulled itself along with its arms, inching closer to me and dragging its back half which ended not in a tail or legs; but just simply ended like it was some horrifically unfinished mutant creature.

I scrambled to my feet and was able to sidestep away from it with a couple big leaps. I then ran away, down the length of the beach. I must have scared several beachgoers when they saw me speed by with such a look of terror on my face. I didn’t stop until I got to my car and locked myself inside. My chest hurt, my throat was dry and my stomach was now threatening to get sick from my panicked running. My mind raced as it shot down one explanation after another. I had seen pictures of mysterious, dead creatures washed up on beaches before, but I’d never seen one quite like this, let alone still alive!

It was about this time, as I sat in my car calming down, that I realized that I couldn’t find my camera. I laughed and shook my head. I’m sure I dropped it when I fell and there was no way I was going back there to get it!

It’s been 3 years since my encounter with this unknown and hideous creature. I haven’t told anyone about it for fear of them thinking I’m weird. I still like to drive around the area and take pictures. I’m still fond of the special kind of creepiness that can only be found in the Midwest. But, I now have a new rule I follow. Don’t go walking the beaches after a bad storm has stirred up the lake. You never know what you may find.
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