Appalachian Supernatural Stories: Devil's Nose
This is a story that has been told to me by the people of my hometown, all of whom wish to remain anonymous, as this type of supernatural story is beyond even the normal scope of supernatural enthusiasts. The creature has never shown itself to me, and therefore I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the second-hand testimony that I am giving you here today. As the picture in my icon is my actual photo, it probably wouldn't be very difficult to track down the identity of the town I'm referencing, but I will omit it from my story out of respect, and I ask that no one revile it in the comments or anything like that.
This area is all backroads. In order to travel to and from town from people's rural homes, one must drive along poorly maintained mountain roads that are often missing important components like blacktop or guard rails. The only way to get a decent road is if you decide to sell your mineral rights, because coal companies seem to be able to magically produce transportation area to move their crew on-site, and their product off-site. As a result, we generally don't have the money for fancy things like lighting or, as I've already noted, safety precautions. I tell you this, because I want you to understand that accidents in this area are fairly common. The roads are difficult to maneuver, and at night, nearly impossible to see.
The area that has been given the nickname “Devil's Nose” is a particularly dark and curvy stretch of road cut into the hillside. On one side is a steep cliff above a creek, and going over this has led to more than one death. On the other side is the upward slope of hillside that eventually becomes mountaintop. This hillside is just as unkempt as the road itself, and is overgrown; in places the plants have grown over the powerlines, and a good wind will knock the electricity off for weeks. For some reason, the electric company waits until this happens to fix it, leaving their customers in the dark until they can, rather than preemptively keeping the lines cleared of debris, but that is an issue all on it's own and isn't really related to the supernatural activity that has been reported in the area.
Description of the Creature
This phenomenon almost never seems to happen during the day, so one can safely assume that the creature, if it exists, is nocturnal. It has been described fairly consistently, if erratically, because no one ever seems to be able to get a good look at it. But the stories have enough commonality among survivors, that I can attest to the demon having the following traits. It either lives or lies in wait in the hillside, because it is always seen emerging from the wooded area, never climbing up the clifface and returning home, which one would assume it would have to do. But it will always ambush a car from the wooded area, either leaping or flying onto the car. Oftentimes, it will alight on the hood, causing the driver to panic, and many deaths have been attributed to someone seeing the creature, losing their composure, losing control of the vehicle, and plummeting over the cliffside.
I mention that the creature can fly, because it has been reported to have wings. However, I've never been able to get a solid size on these wings, other than 'big'. The creature itself is said to be bigger than a human, ranging from 8 to 10 feet, so I find it odd that it would be winged. The size of wings required to lift something like that off the ground would be so considerable that it seems unlikely it would ever evolve such useless appendages. To raise an average sized human off the ground, a pair of wings would have to be 6.7 meters ( http://www.yalescientific.org/2013/03/qa-why-cant-humans-fly/ ), and the weight of a pair of wings that big would make them too heavy to function.
Description of the Demon Cont
We can also assume that the creature is mammalian rather than ornithological, because the people who are willing to go into detail have said that it has a thick, black fur. I've never encountered anyone who claims that it had feathers. Likewise, it seems to be more sturdy and dense than a bird, often leaving dents on the vehicle that it has attacked.
It's also said to have reflective eyes that seem to glow in the dark, like a cat. This trait is undoubtedly creepy, but it's not uncommon among nocturnal animals. What I mean by that, is that the witnesses seem to think that this is a supernatural trait, yet they always compare it to a cat. Which I find odd. They don't think that this trait is supernatural on the cat that they're using for comparison. In nature there are lots of animals who have “glowing” eyes. Their eyes are reflective in order to maximize the dim light that they have in their dark environment.
The creature is said to claw at the car, particularly to claw at the windshield, and very often breaks the glass or leaves scratches deeply embedded in the metal of wherever it alighted on the car. This is a testament to the strength of the beast, because I'm not sure how much force it takes to break a windshield or dent/scratch holes through a car, but I'm sure it's beyond what I could do.
Having now gotten a grasp on the creature from the description of the witnesses, I'm left with a few questions. The first is obviously, “Are they telling the truth?” I have to wonder if anyone actually saw anything, or if this is one of those urban legends that everyone just really wants to be true. Having said that, the cars really are damaged, and there really are an unusually high number of deaths on that particular stretch of road.
Is it a Demon?
Which leads to my second question. “What is it?”
The legend would say that this creature is a demon; and this is obviously the most far fetched of any possible answer. However, I will take a paragraph to address it as if I were not a skeptic, in order to seem impartial. If we do not immediately discount the supernatural, the most likely suspect would be a spirit that feeds off negative emotion. Apparently, there are demons who feed on fear, according to http://www.gods-and-monsters.com/get-rid-of-demons.html. Since the creature never actually eats the physical remains of its kill, this would be the most likely supernatural culprit. It wouldn't need the physical sustenance, because it already fed on the emotions. Likewise, because some demons are shapeshifters, according to http://lighthealer.hubpages.com/hub/The-types-of-dark-forces-that-exist and can apparently jump into and out of the physical plane of existence, this fits the description of the creature nicely. Also apparently this one would be immune to healers. Whatever they are.
More realistically, I have three theories. The first is that people aren't actually seeing anything, they're just freaking themselves out and crashing their cars. They run their car into the woods because it's dark, the road is not in good repair, and if you swerve, you'll either turn toward the cliff, which usually means a fatal accident, or you'll turn toward the hillside and run into the forest, scraping your car up on rocks and trees and the like before you find the road again.
But More Realistically, it's Probably not a Demon
But if people are seeing something, I think that there are two animals that we can safely assume it may be. The first is a big cat of some kind. Appalachia is home to variety of large cats including mountain lions, bobcats, and cougars. Lynx are the most common, and although small, they are very strong. They are known to hunt deer and could easily break a windshield or scratch through a car's metal body. The obvious problem with this identification, however, is that lynx are generally tan, not black, although they sometimes are black; but more notably they generally don't have wings. I'll even go on record to say that I've never seen a single one with wings. But, I will also point out that people tend to misremember or missee things when they are trying not to drive off a cliff. So I don't think that it's at all that far of a stretch to think that if a wildcat jumped onto a car, the driver could be wrong about a few details, like the color or the presence or absence of wings.
But even if they weren't, that doesn't necessitate supernatural interference. You know what totally does have wings? An owl. They also have giant, reflective eyes. And remember how I mentioned the power lines being overgrown with vegetation earlier? Well apparently, according to http://www.kentuckyawake.org/Great_Horned_Owl , power lines really mess up owls. So it's really likely that an owl could get trapped in or confused by a power line, and accidentally dive-bomb a car. Now it's true that these critters are only about 2 feet tall. But have you ever seen one with it's wings out? It's wingspan gives it over twice it's standing size, and if it were flailing around, trying to right itself and get off a moving car, it would be almost impossible to properly judge it's size. And these things are birds of prey. Their claws are meant for killing. And so while I've never seen on scratch through a car, that doesn't mean that one couldn't.
True Fact: The Owl
What is it?
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