I thought I’d share a strange, unexplained experience I had a good 7 or so years ago.
So this was in the autumn months, my most favorite time of the year, like it is right now… so I guess the weather made me really think about this again. This specific autumn was pretty nerve rattling and not my ideal fun time. One night, I was riding in an old friend’s car and not really in the mood to be there, so I was staring off, just observing the sides of the road. I got into the habit of this as a kid, I’ve always adored animals so I wanted to be the extra eyes at all times to watch for little buddies who might get in harm’s way. As I was scanning the very familiar road that I know I’ve gone up and down hundreds of times in the past, I saw something at the far side of the road! It was pretty big but I couldn’t identify the creature exactly. Now, I’m pretty familiar with most mammal species, especially those found in the area, so keep in mind that I had never til now looked at a local critter and had no idea what it was.
When the headlights hit the creature, it was already staring dead on at the vehicle. It was built like a medium-large sized dog, long skinny legs and thick chest, but with a feline face and a low hanging tail. Its fur was either black or a dark brown, the lighting wasn’t exact. Its face wasn’t like a big, wild cat, it was like a large house cat’s head was plopped onto a dog’s thick neck! Its eyes seemed too large for a dog’s and its facial shape, muzzle, ears, everything read “cat” in my head as my mind raced, trying to identify this thing. Those big eyes reflected that familiar bright green like any cat with huge, dilated pupils hanging out in the dark. That whole stretch of road, I was staring at this creature as we drove by at a decent pace, about 35 mph, I assume. So I got to look at it for a good 15 seconds or more, so this wasn’t a quick little glance. I got to examine it for a bit, much longer than I’d need to easily identify any other local animal. I even turned around to keep an eye on it until the tail lights no longer caught the shiny fur. I asked the other two people in the car if they saw it and they said they didn’t. One was looking in the other direction and the driver wasn’t really watching the sides of the road since they weren’t used to the road.
When I got back home, I told my parents about the sighting and they made these excited expressions and looked at each other. My mom told me that my dad had seen a weird, kinda big animal in the same location about 2-3 days prior. They said the description matched perfectly. We had no idea what we had seen but we haven’t seen it since.
I would joke and say that I saw the Wampus Cat, since we lived in the North-East corner of Tennessee at the time. The Cherokee tribe, my dad’s and my native blood, calls her “Ewah” and the stories differ depending on who tells them. Funnily enough, (or not so funny) I got dreadfully ill a few weeks later and didn’t recover from it fully. Dealing with symptoms that just worsened with time, almost a year later, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of cancer. Because I’m very lighthearted, I still joke that she was my bad omen or a kindly warning to my illness. I’d rather go with “kindly warning” since the creature was quite stunning! The memory is still very vivid in my mind, I’ve drawn this creature several times over the years but I finally whipped up a quick digital doodle to put along with my experience.
I’ll probably never know what that critter was. Pretty interesting to say the least.