I was seventeen, living at home on our farm in Arkansas, when one night we heard a roar from the fields below the house. It sounded like I imagined a lion would sound, but this wasn’t Africa and I was no great safari hunter.
Whatever made that noise, it drove our cattle wild, sending them stampeding across the field, bawling as if their tails were on fire. My older brother and I grabbed our guns and took off in the truck for the source of the commotion. Both of us were afraid, and I know I felt the beginnings of terror because I had no idea what that roar could be. As far as I knew, nothing in Arkansas could roar like that. But I’d read about cattle mutilations and could easily imagine something that might make that sound. Something…not of this world.
We reached the field where the cows were and they had quieted down a bit. I had to open the gate for us to drive through, and that was terrifying in itself because I kept thinking of what might come out of the darkness. My heart was beating so hard that it fluttered my shirt. But I got the job done and lived to get back in the truck.
There was a little hill awaiting us, and as we crested it and started down the other side the lights flashed out over the field and for a moment I saw--literally--hundreds of little glowing purple balls floating in midair in the darkness in front of us, floating a few feet off the ground. Paul David, my brother, slammed on the brakes and we slid to a stop. I looked at him. He looked at me. I could feel the hairs curling on my neck, and I’ve always had a lot of hair to curl. I could hear the cows moving about, right in the midst of those purple floaters. How could that be? How could that be?
My brother was a braver man than I. He let off the brake, inched forward, and as the light from the headlights struck further into the field we saw suddenly that the floating purple orbs were eyes. But not alien eyes. It was the cows, their eyes wide open in terror as they reflected the headlights. I’d never seen them that scared before; nor have I since.
So what made the sound? We never found out. There were no tracks the next day, but we were missing a calf and we found its mother with her ears stripped to threads by the teeth or claws of...something. Before that night I often walked the farm in the darkness. After that night I seldom did again. Fear can go away, but terror lingers.