Longreads

Ken LayneDesert Oracle | Winter 2015 | 11 minutes (2,903 words)

The story you’ll hear most often goes like this: There’s a young Marine on guard duty in some far-off corner of the massive Twentynine Palms desert training base. He hears an awful sound in the dark, something like a growl. Then, the breathing, coming from one side of his lonesome little guard booth and now from the other.

It’s circling him.

He steps out into the dark, his sidearm drawn. There it stands, eight feet tall, an unbearable stench from its hairy body, the eyes glowing like red coals.

Sometimes, the Marine is knocked unconscious by the beast and found hours later by the next shift. One version occurs at the old rifle range, where the watchman — also armed with a rifle — wakes from the assault to find his weapon bent in half.

Since…

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