“There are always tales about mythical creatures, urban legends, and the paranormal. No different is the legend of the Jersey Devil. A well known tale about a creature that goes bump in the night. Thirteenth child of Mother Leeds, wife of a drunkard and mother of twelve others, she begged to have a devil child to cause her husband pain. Her wish was granted and moments after birth, the child transformed rapidly growing hooves, horns, and glowing red eyes. This child known and the Leeds’ Devil or the Jersey devil slaughtered all in sight, and the Leeds children who did survive the slaughter were the only ones left to tell this horrific tale. The Leeds family descendants continue to inhabit New Jersey to this day. From horn to hoof this creature has haunted the minds, and pinewoods, of the New Jersey people for over three hundred years. It hunted the innocent, murdering any who dare cross its path. Those brave enough to journey past civilization and into the undeveloped bogs of the Pine Barrens were either never seen again, or brutally attacked, living long enough to tell their tales. I never believed in such a tale. These rare occurrences were probably just people who survived an animal attack who didn’t see what was coming at them. Of course there were other accounts of such attacks stretching past New Jersey and into Pennsylvania, but they didn’t seem very plausible. My name is Cori Evers paranormal investigator, and I am here to put the myths to rest.”
I turned my camera off and turned to face my laptop. “I love my job. I love my job. I love my job,” I muttered angrily. It was really quite a drag, different locations of course, but the same lifeless tales of ghosts would always remain the same, pun not intended. I used to love paranormal and urban legends, small pieces of cultural history brought to life through generations of storytelling. To be honest, anything mildly scary, or even out of the ordinary, was on my radar, but most cases that I have investigated just turned out to be people in masks or false claims made by the unknown faces in the comments of my blog page. It was quite boring really. Make a video, upload the video, gather evidence, upload the evidence, make a conclusion after a couple months of living in a van as you travel into the darkest places of human society, upload your demise and conclusion to these far fetched tales. Six years of blog posts later and I couldn’t believe that people were still buying this garbage. At least this time I had my friend Charlie to help me through this experience.
“Well, in all honesty you were made for this job, Cori. Nicely introduced, good connection with the audience, I can see why so many people follow your blog,” He said enthusiastically. I turned to face him, my eyes connecting with his green ones. I simply returned his remark with a small smile, trying to show my gratitude. It was nice to have someone else around beside myself. Having new eyes on a situation would be nice, possibly frustrating because of his blind curiosity, but all in all, I just needed to talk to another person, a close friend. I was tired of living the solitary lifestyle that my job forced on me.
“We should start looking for a decent looking motel soon, you definitely do not want to be stuck out here when it starts to get dark,” I advised, “It’s never fun after dark,” I added with a chuckle. We shifted our positions from the back of the van and scooted our way to the front. Day one of traversing the backwoods of New Jersey for evidence of this legendary devil would begin tomorrow. Fun.
* * * *
We woke up bright and early, trying to get a head start on our journey to Wharton State Forest, only about an hour away. We had several locations to visit and people to talk to, so a busy day of filming and writing was sure to come. Charlie and I spoke very little to each other, just animalistic grunts and the occasional “okay” was sufficient enough to communicate our ideas this early in the morning. We walked out into the steamy morning air and got into the van, beginning our drive to the state park.
We spent long hours at the park collecting everything from ground samples to pictures of claw marks on trees, anything that was within reach. After our expedition through the woods we stopped at the main entrance to complete the blog video for the day. I looked to my friend holding the video camera and he cued me in, “Known as the hunting ground for the Jersey Devil, Wharton State Forest has held many accounts of Jersey Devil sightings. The most recent in 1980 by Alan Macfarlane, Chief Ranger of the Wharton State Forest for over 20 years. Today we dug deeper and looked farther into these sightings, collecting an array of interviews for you to watch about other local accounts of the devil. We searched never before seen caves and shacks as we hunted for information on this elusive creature. Stay tuned for today's journal entry as we begin the hunt for the Jersey Devil.” He turned the camera off and looked at me with a smile.
“Looks good, I believe we are done here for the day,” he stated enthusiastically, “Happy to finally take a shower. Man it’s nasty out.”
“Thanks, Charlie. Let’s head back, I still have a lot of writing to do and we need to prepare for tomorrow,” I responded. As we were walking towards the parking lot I could’ve sworn that I saw something dark in the corner of my eye, but when I turned to face the spot where it was it vanished. We returned to the hotel room later that evening. Upon walking into the motel room I collapsed onto one of the beds, pulling out my laptop and opening my blog page. I began to write my first entry for the new investigation.
June 3rd, 1997
Nothing really happened in Wharton forest today. My friend Charlie and I were able to get a few interviews with local hikers and state policemen discussing their superstitions and personal experiences with the illusive devil. Very sparse on information there. We decided to end the day on a good note by exploring the woods spotting a few shallow caves and steamy bogs. Like a typical summer day it was buggy and hot. Nothing surprising in the local news today, just a few missing pets, but nothing that demanded attention. Videos from today’s expedition are to come.
I checked it over once and posted it to the page, receiving a myriad of comments a couple minutes later. I closed the laptop and drifted off to sleep.
* * * *
The days came and went as we traveled around the southern New Jersey area. The days seemed to blend together into one continuous month. The evidence that we collected didn’t add up, and any new lead we had only brought us to another dead end. I couldn’t comprehend why everything seemed out of order in this case, and neither could Charlie. My journal entries lacked excitement and our story lacked a proper closing. It seemed that the identity of the Jersey Devil wanted to stay a secret.
Despite the ordinary results of the case, there was something much darker at play. What I found particularly strange was when I started to see humanoid figures in the woods that we searched. I could always sense the peering eyes of something in the distance. It was a feeling all too strange to be passed over as nervousness or fear.
* * * *
July 5, 1997
It was day thirty-two in field research. We’ve finished the majority of the outdoor shots and just have a few more left to go, I honestly couldn’t tell you what I’ve been seeing. It’s in the same spot everyday, a tall black shadow standing right outside of the motel window, but every time I wonder over to check it out, it disappears into thin air. I’ve begun to think that I’m going absolutely insane. I can’t even sleep anymore because I can hear something scratching at the base of my door. It scares the living life out of me every night. Yesterday I could’ve sworn that I saw something standing next to my bed, but as soon as blinked, it was no longer there.
Days went by and we found nothing. Absolutely nothing and we were headed to our last location, the original Leeds family house. Upon driving up the road a couple miles from the property an eerie feeling emanated from the dilapidated house. Charlie and I entered cautiously, avoiding weak spots and shards of broken glass on the floor.
“Here should be a nice spot to finish filming for the blog,” He declared.
“A shame that it had to end on such an unsatisfying note, but I don’t think I can last much longer on such a tall tale,” I replied solemnly.
“Whenever you’re ready, Cori.” Charlie pressed the play button on the video camera.
“And this is the Leeds house, also known as Shourd’s House, the ground zero for the Jersey Devil and place of,” I stopped speaking. Charlie stared at me in complete fear. “What?” I questioned furrowing my eyebrow at him. He let out an almost inaudible squeak as sharp chill ran up my spine. Charlie lifted his finger pointing behind me. I slowly turned my head. A bony hand was on my shoulder, its claws digging into my skin. I winced in pain and fear racked my body. I couldn’t turn any further, the creature’s grip preventing me from moving. The black mass that I saw all those nights before. The ominous red eyes that traced my every step. The animal scratches, the harmless looking footprints. It was all too familiar.
“Run!” I screamed. The rest happened in a slow blur as we sprinted out of the house and into the woods nearby. The car was miles up the road, too far away to be considered a temporary safe haven. Trees blew past as I sprinted through the thick lines of pine trees. I spotted an opening in the bottom of an elderly tree. Running up to the tree I ducked inside. Lungs burning. Beads of sweat dripping down my face. I closed my eyes for a second contemplating my next move. A shadow crossed in front of the opening twice the size of a human. The slow flap of wings was audible. That’s when I saw it. Every detail, every bit of evidence, it all added up and it was right behind me the whole time. The creature, it was there in the flesh. It was … My world went completely black.