Locked away in attics, basements, and dark corners across the world are stories of beings and beasts that hide in the night.
These are those stories.
This is the Sleepless in Suburbia Podcast
I’m Brooke, case manager for our team, and this is the audio recap for Case 124: Nomads.
A couple of quick housekeeping things before dig into this week’s case.
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Alright, housekeeping over, let’s kick-off case 124 Nomads Wood, and it starts on an unsuspecting day.
“No, I said,” looking back and forth between Claire and Lo as we made our way around the walking path through our favorite park.
It was a gorgeous day. The sun floated along lazily in the sky, children squealed happily as they got pushed higher on the swings, geese honked at one another around the tiny paddle boarding lake, and my friends were about to mental ninja me into the woods again.
Claire checked her fitness tracker before plastering on her most “But Brooke” smile; I think you know that smile because every friend has one specifically for you. It’s the one they use when they really think you should give something a try or step out of your comfort zone, but… they know you’re a total chicken little and will resist until they bend your will. If you’re sitting there thinking, nunuh nope, my friends don’t have that look for me, hogwash… you just haven’t pinpointed the look yet, but it’s there.
“You went into the woods a couple of weeks ago, and nothing happened,” Claire said. “You investigated, you came out. No tragedy. No crying children. Nothing happened, except what we all went there to do.”
“A headless ghost basically broke my leg, by chucking a boulder at me,” I said, wincing at the memory.
“Aren’t we being a touch dramatic?” Lo asked after a long drink from her water bottle.
Was I dramatic? Maybe. Probably. The knot inflicted from Case 123’s ghost was almost totally healed, but there were a few painful days of ice and leg elevation. If you haven’t heard about my ghost encounter in the foothills, now’s a great time to hop back to last week’s episode. We’ll still be here strolling around the trail when you get back.
“He pelted me repeatedly with rocks, that’s what happens when you camp or wander all willy nilly into the woods,” I said.
“Okay, so you got hit with a couple of rocks,” Claire said. “But did you die?”
“I’m going to remember this the next time you bang on my door in the middle of the night because a hell hound is chasing you through the house,” I mumbled.
An email had brought us to this point. An email from Connor Colby, a history teacher from the boot heel, to be exact. Here’s his email, and maybe you can guess why this society disagreement went down.
Subject Line: My Research Has Brought Me to You
My name is Connor Colby, I teach high school history, and one of our class projects led me to you.
Each semester my classes have a large project they work on for the entire semester, enlou of a final exam. At the core, the final project is in-depth research encapsulated in a 15-page paper and 20 min classroom presentation. The subject matter is always broad, allowing the student to find something of interest and changes each semester. Last semester the topic was Local History and Lore, with the stipulation that at least 3 of their sources come from places other than books and the internet.
I decided to tackle this semester’s project alongside them, to learn more about our local boot heel culture. My students loved it. What started as comradery in the classroom has evolved into a borderline obsession. The woods, Nomads Wood, the sightings, happenings, unexplainable experiences…. The history reads more like a Stephen King novel. I’m in deep, and I think my research follows me home from hours wandering the woods searching for it. For them.
I need your help sifting through my research and sorting out my encounters. I’m either onto a colossal discovery or teetering on the edge of madness.
They wanted to drag me back to the woods, but not to a specific location like a campground or a hideaway. This was the definition of wooded wilderness. Us, some maps, a compass I still had zero clue how to use, and a history teacher. It was the making of a straight to Netflix horror movie.
“Horror movies begin with people traipsing into the woods searching for legends,” I quipped, dodging a little girl who zagged around us on her bicycle, her mother jogging after her with an apology. “It’s okay,” I waved to the brunette mom looking workout fab in her lulu lemon leggings.
“If we’re going to be a horror movie’s inspiration, then let’s give them something to write about,” Lo said.
Nomads Wood is a vast conservation area nestled in the bootheel. It’s 1443 sprawling acres of various terrains. 1210 acres are lowland forest containing a mix of willow oak, water oak, water locust, sweet gum, cypress, and tupelo trees. 195 acres are fields with various indigenous grasses and wildflowers. The last 44 acres found on portions of the south and west border surprised me; these acres comprised a swampland. I’ve lived in the region most of my life, and I had no idea we had swamps.
The wildlife in such a vast preserved area would likely be plentiful. We’d be dealing with dear, mole salamanders, and alligators. Okay, okay, for real bite your arm off alligators probably didn’t come this far north, but we’d have alligator gar and snapping turtles to contend with. Snapping turtles are nothing to laugh at. I was bit on the butt by one while swimming in a lake about ten years ago, that’s a whole other story, but I can tell you it hurt.
Lo and Lark hosted an epic three-girl sleepover for Maggie’s half birthday. One of Lo’s many extraordinary qualities, when she celebrates, she celebrates epicly. There were vegan cupcakes, sherbet, Twizzlers, and gluten-free pizza. They spent the night painting nails, making pastel-colored popcorn balls, and watching Sister Sister on Netflix. I’m not sure who had more fun, the little girls or the big girls. I’m a little jealous I missed out.
I was sleepwalking, people from beyond the veil were visiting me when I did sleep, and I grew increasingly edgy. Not so much snapping at everyone edgy, but a constant state of anxiety above my average level kind of edgy. A dear friend, Lauren, suggested we sneak away for a short yoga retreat. Ten women in the country, practicing yoga, eating vegan food, and drinking delicious wine by a lake. She didn’t have to ask me twice. I figured at the very least, the change in local, might confuse the late-night spirit callers.
Claire, Jeremy, and Dean spent a weekend in a tiny lakeside cabin 4 hours away. A spontaneous trip, suggested by Jeremy, to help Claire unwind a little from the stress of starting her new job and aid Dean in unplugging from his teenage addiction to all things electronic. A short little family getaway to refresh and recharge.
They walked through the small lakeside town, eating ice cream and acting like tourists. As the sun began to set, they headed out on the boat to watch the sunset over the water and stargaze. Back at the cabin, Claire made a couple of frozen pizzas, and they all curled up under blankets to watch a movie.
After everyone went to bed, Claire, unable to sleep, decided to head back to the living room to read for a while. Glancing out the window overlooking the lake, her attention fell on the dock. Illuminated by the single dock light was a woman. Setting her book on the side table, Claire pulled back the sheer lace curtain and peered out just above the window ledge. She wanted a better view, but not to draw attention to the fact she was watching.
The woman had long dark hair, and she paced the length of the dock in a pale dress or nightgown. Every so often, the woman stopped, dropping to her knees to peer into the water. Then she’d climb back to her feet and continue pacing. Claire grew increasingly concerned that the woman was lost or confused; she decided to grab her phone and head down to the dock to help the woman.
The night air had a slight chill to it, causing Claire to pull her zip-up hoodie tighter around herself. How was the woman in just a dress without freezing? Claire was halfway to the dock across the dimly lit backyard when the woman dropped to her knees again. This time, she leaned forward towards the water, her body toppling forward. Claire called out, beginning to jog, but before the splash, before the woman touched the water… she vanished.
Claire stopped in her tracks; then, she sprinted towards the water. Standing over where the woman fell, there were no ripples, no bubbles. No one was there. She sent me the following text –
Claire – Can ghost people swim?
Yup. ‘Can ghost people swim?’ is what I woke up to on the second morning of a small yoga retreat. My response back to her-
Me – I guess it depends if they could swim in their physical life.
Pru has started her own baking outlet to handle the stress with the chaos that is this school year. Thankfully, unlike Claire’s baking, these treats won’t force me into bigger pants. Pru’s culinary focus, dog treats. So far, she’s sent apple o’s, peanut butter banana bars, and carrot pupcakes home to Champion and Laney. And I will admit, the pupcakes smelled so good, I was briefly tempted to try just a nibble.
And finally, welcome to this week’s installment of Ford’s Crystals Corner. If you don’t have an Amethyst stone, you should consider investing in one, especially if you could use a little de-stressing in your life. Its calming qualities can help smooth out emotional highs and lows. Some believe that having this stone nearby during bedtime will help you sleep and experience lucid dreams. I actually carry a small piece of amethyst in my pocket; when I know, I will be in an emotionally charged state, to help keep my energy even. Plus, you can’t beat the gorgeous purple hues. And… that concludes this week’s Crystal’s Corner with Ford.
Historical Society Research/ Onsite Interview Recap/And Combining Forces With Connor:
Case 124 is a hefty case with A LOT of history, haunts, and encounters to sift through… so our format is going to be a bit different for this case.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s swamp gas?
“Over those trees,” Connor pointed west over the swamp. “Is where the first UFO was seen and reported to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in 1962.”
Fall 1962, Waylon Myers (18) and his girlfriend Patirica Allcot (17) came to Nomads Wood for a picnic. They found a spot in a clearing in the southwest edge of the wood. Laying together, looking up at the stars overhead, Patricia noticed one of the stars grew larger and larger. As she pointed it out to Waylon, the star began to pulsate color, switching between blue and then yellow strobing light.
The couple sat up, captivated by the broad sphere of flashing light hovering over the swamp. Suddenly a bright beam of iridescence shot down from the sphere, lighting up the murky water beneath it. Charred leaves sprinkled down onto the water. Slowly the beam of light moved towards Waylon and Patricia. Frightened, the couple grabbed only their flashlights and began running through the wood toward Waylon’s parked Chevy Impala.
Weaving through the woods, the beam of light moving more quickly, trailed just behind them. The air smelled like singed earth; Patricia would later compare it to the smell to the prescribed burns at her grandparents’ farm. Overhead the sphere hovered just above the trees, filling the night air with a low hum. Moving too quickly, a root twisting up from the earth caught Waylon’s foot. He fell, momentarily stunned. The iridescent beam grazed his exposed ankle. Patricia grabbed Waylon beneath his arms before the beam could run up more of his body, and the two continued running.
Once in the car, Waylon floored it towards the Sheriff’s office. The sphere continued its pursuit; something hit the chevy’s roof, over and over again—boom boom. Patricia ducked down in the passenger seat, covering her head. Boom Boom. A bright light engulfed the entire car, then a turn in the road, and the buildings of Mitscrown became visible. And like a switch being flipped, the blinding light vanished, and the banging of the roof stopped.
Sitting at the Sheriff’s Office waiting to file a report, Patricia pointed to Waylon’s ankle. A pink, sunburn looking mark showed in a stripe from above his shoe, upward about an inch. Despite looking kind of angry, the burned patch of skin was not painful.
A Sheriff’s deputy took the teen’s statement, even documenting the burned skin, but chalked it up to a couple of kids either screwing around or high on the marijuana or worse, LSD. Though the couple later broke up, throughout their lives, they insisted that their experience near the swamplands was 100% factual and experienced without the assistance of drugs. When Waylon died in 2015, he still had the pinkish strip of burned looking skin around his leg.
“Have there been other UFO or lights in the sky anomalies sightings out here?” Ford asked, pulling her red curls up into a ponytail, before settling her baseball hat back on top of her head.
“Yes,” Pru and Connor said, speaking over one another, laughing.
Pru scanned her notes, “Five… six…. Lark and I found six detailed UFO sightings while searching online forums and message boards.”
“And I likely have most of the same ones printed from my online research, and I conducted several interviews with residents about their experiences,” Connor said.
Pru and Lark had met their researching match.
Countless residents and people passing through Monroe County have reported strange things happening in the night sky. Those general anomalies include:
- Large, brightly colored orbs in the sky.
- Sometimes pulsing green, blue, or yellow.
- Bright spheres of light forming a triangle shape.
- White and sometimes orange-tinted beams of light from the sky touching down inside the trees of Nomads Wood.
- Spheres in the sky at night that are darker than the sky, and even have glinting pieces on them resembling stars. Is this an attempt to camouflage a spacecraft?
- Beams of light are seen coming from clouds and vanishing into the swamp and woodlands.
Here are a couple of documented unexplained UFO type experiences near Nomads Wood.
A resident, we’ll call him Bob, as he requested to conceal his identity for privacy reasons, was driving home from work a little after 1 am. As he crossed Settlers Bridge, a bright burst of light in the sky caught his attention. He watched as a meteor, bright orange and red, streaked from left to right. The meteor stopped amid its trajectory over Nomads Wood, seemingly motionless in the night sky, but growing larger in size. Then it vanished.
This next possible UFO encounter is a portion of a transcript from one of Connor’s interviews with country residents.
Connor: Will you please tell me what you saw on the night of July 11th, 1984?
Name Redacted: Okay, Angie [last name redacted] and I were driving home from the outlet mall. ‘Let’s Hear It for the Boy’ by Denise Williams had just come on the radio; I remember it so clearly. We’d just sang the lyric “But he loves me, loves me, loves me”, that line always made us laugh. But Angie didn’t keep singing; her eyes were glued to the rearview mirror.
Connor: Angie was driving?
Name Redacted: Yes.
Connor: What happened next?
Name Redacted: I looked at her when she didn’t sing the next lyric with me. Then I turned around in the seat to see what she was looking at.
Connor: What did you see?
Name Redacted: A big tube of light, beamed down from the sky, lighting up the road behind us like a spotlight. Then, it’s like it sprang to life, flying up the road after us.
Connor: The light?
Name Redacted: Yes, we were driving, I don’t know, 55 or 60 miles an hour, and it caught up with us very quickly. Angie and I were both screaming. The radio tuning knob started turning back and forth on its own, scanning through stations and static. When the light caught us, it was so bright I had to squint to not be blinded.
Connor: Did anything else happen when the light caught up to you?
Name Redacted: The entire car shook; I thought the doors and windows would get ripped off. I’m not for sure, but I think the car lifted off the ground. It’s like time froze for a second, and everything was in slow motion. I remember Angie gripping the steering wheel, then the light got blinding, and we both covered our faces with our arms.
[long pause noted]
Name Redacted: Then I was sitting in the driver seat, the passenger seat was empty. I yelled Angie’s name, looking around outside of the car, at the parking lot for the Nomads Wood picnic area. I heard movement behind me; in the driverside backseat, it was Angie leaning her head against the window, eyes unblinking. I touched her arm, and she jumped…. Blinking like I don’t know like she wasn’t understanding what she was seeing. She said, “Where are we”.
Connor: You pulled into the parking lot to rest your eyes or calm down after the experience with the light?
Name Redacted: No. It felt like an instant. Slow-motion followed by the bright light. Then I’m in the driver seat, Angie’s in the backseat, and the sun is coming up over the forest. That instant was at least 8 hours.
Connor: That’s a large chunk of unaccounted for time.
Name Redacted: The only thing we know happened after the light swallowed us up is this.
[The interviewee raised her left arm, pulling up the sleeve of her t-shirt, revealing a small triangle shaped white scar just outside of the armpit.]
Name Redacted: Angie has one too… in the same spot. That’s how they keep tabs on us.
Experts and law enforcement are quick to explain away the ever-growing pile of UFO sightings. Possible explanations for the sightings include: drug use, sleep deprivation, paranoia, swamp gas, weather balloon, air force test flight, solar flare, great blue heron migration, and hoax.
We headed away from the swamp, east towards the densest area of trees in the woods. “We’re heading to the location with the most concentrated troll encounters and the…”
“I’m sorry, trolls, like the pink-haired things with the gemstones in their belly buttons?” Lo asked.
Connor gave a little shrug. “Troll yes, gem bellies afraid not. And the Hell Hole.”
“Do I even want to know?” said Ford, using a long stick to sift through a pile of leaves on the forest floor. From the lack of hysterical screaming, it must have been snake free.
This is where we leave you this week; we will still be wandering through the woods next Tuesday when we all join back up together. Next week we’ll finish exploring Nomads Wood and launch our broadest investigation yet.
We’ll meet you right back here on Tuesday.
We will be back next week with another case; until then, thanks again for listening to Sleepless in Suburbia. One of the biggest compliments you can give us is to invite a friend or two to listen if you enjoy our cases. The more on these spooky adventures, the better.
I’ll leave you this week with lyrics from Anne Murray
If you go down in the woods today
You’re sure of a big surprise
If you go down in the woods today
You’d better go in disguise!
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Until next week, stay away from Barstow, bye everyone.