I know what I saw

Everyone tells me that I'm crazy – that I'm imagining things. Maybe I'd been drinking – or smoking something – but I wasn't.

This happened back in 1995. I would have been eighteen and I had decided that in the summer between high school and college I was going to get a job to earn some extra money. Now, in the small town I lived in, this wasn't as easy as it sounds. Fortunately, I lucked out in that my Uncle worked at the only drive-thru restaurant in town and they were hiring. It was a family run operation and there was a catch, of course, in that you were doing the night shift at weekends and you'd have to clean up after the supervisor had shut up shop for the night but I was fine with that.

Now you have to remember; I'm an eighteen year old kid and this job is not the most mentally taxing thing in the world to do, but it is physical work. After about three weeks of working the shift with one of the supervisors – a girl by the name of Annie who was about three years older than me – told me that on that particular Friday night she needed to leave early and asked me to lock up. Of course I agreed – after all, this was a chance to show people how responsible I was. I remember she left around 10pm and I would have the last two hours to manage before closing things down.

The rest of the night was a breeze. A couple of customers ordering late night burgers around eleven but that was it. Trade was always quiet in the run down to closing time on a Friday night. Midnight rolled around and I killed the external lights and locked down the counter window. I was feeling pretty good about things when I grabbed the two trash cans of unused food and started to make towards the rear of the building.

Before I go any further, the town I lived in backed onto the edge of the Appalachian Trail, not too far from Harpers Ferry in West Virginia. I know everyone talks about how the trail can be pretty spooky – and that's before you get into some of the local legends or the fact that people just go…missing from there at times – but I've never felt uncomfortable around it.

So, I head out the back and approach the place where I'm going to dump the rubbish. That's when I see it, rummaging around the bins, less than ten feet from me. Even with just the illumination of the street light at the side of the building, I could see it clear as day. It was around seven feet tall, every bit of six hundred pounds and covered in short dark coloured matted hair that reminded me of raccoon hair. And the smell – the smell was disgusting, like a mixture of dead, wet dog and body odour that made me feel sick.

I remember that I dropped one of the trash cans I was carrying at that point and it startled it. It turned and looked at me – its eyes must have caught some light from the street lights as they were glowing red. That's not natural, right? The face looked human…but how was that possible? I know what I saw. It wasn't a cougar, or a mountain lion, or a bear…and it wasn't Jack the Ripper either. It was a god-dammed, real life Bigfoot. And it was rifling through our trash!

For a minute I didn't know what to do – my body was frozen; the hairs were standing up on the back of my neck and I could hear my heart pounding in my ears. Then I felt something running down my leg and I realised that I was pissing myself and I could feel myself starting to shake. The creature looked me up and down, and then looked over at the trash that had spilled onto the floor. It took a step towards me – that body was so huge, so massive – then stopped. I felt the tears start to well up in my eyes as my mind screamed at me to move but my body refused to acknowledge it. The creature looked down at the floor, then at me, like it was trying to size me up. Its gaze alternated between me and the trash for what seemed like the longest time.

Something inside me seemed to snap and I took a shaky step backwards, then another, prompting the creature to take one step towards me, then crouched down and reached out for the uncooked burger patties that had spilled out on the floor. It scooped them up in hands that looked like catcher's mitts with sausages for fingers and began shovelling it into its mouth. That's when I realised that it was hungry. I watched it eat for a moment, massive primitive teeth tearing into the meat before I dropped the other trash can on the ground…and then bolted for the back door.

I slammed it shut and bolted it, even though I knew something this flimsy wouldn't stop that if it wanted to get in. I tripped over myself and scrambled back into the main area of the restaurant, expecting at any second for that…thing to tear through the door and rip me apart. Everything became abit of a blur after that. I don't know how but I remember waking up when the sun came through the windows and hearing voices inside the building. The day shift had arrived to find the internal lights all on and me, rolled up in a ball in piss-stained trousers, shaking under the desk in the manager's office.

Annie told me a few days later that she always thought it had been bobcats or raccoons getting into the trash on a night. My job lasted a few more weeks after that and I never worked another night shift there again. Of course, no one believed me, but I didn't care.

But I know what I saw.