March 21, 2011

Shadow in the Sky

In the eighteenth century, the legendary Mother Meade gave birth to thirteen wicked children. All thirteen were born into the world as terrifying monsters. The children of Mother Meade either lived lives long enough to survive the centuries or had children of their own, producing new generations of horror.

Mother Meade’s children are said to haunt the vast stretch of Pennsylvania wilderness known locally as Broome’s Quarter. Every day, people live and play in the Quarter; by daylight, the towering pines and majestic oaks stand as a testament to the marvels of nature.

At night, however, locals know not to wander from the well-worn trails and to always listen closely for the strange and loathsome sounds that might signal the presence of the Quarter’s unnatural residents.

Allie writes to share with me the story of the time she was unlucky enough to spend a night in Broome’s Quarter. Allie grew up a few counties over from the Quarter, so when her friends were looking for a place to spend a weekend camping, they didn’t know they were choosing a forest with such a troubling history.

Allie and her friends arrived late on a Friday for their big camping trip. “People say you should make camp way before the sun sets,” Allie tells me, “but we didn’t know any better.”

As the teenagers struggled with tents and coolers, Allie found herself distracted by the presence of Brandon, her long-time crush. As campfires pushed back the deepening gloom, Allie and Brandon planned a late-night rendezvous. “He was tall and cute and I loved his hair,” Allie tells me of Brandon.

After the campsite was finished, the hot dogs were eaten, and the smuggled beer was opened, Allie and Brandon disappeared into the trees.

“I got my sleeping bag and some flashlights,” Allie recalls, “and we just started walking, looking for a good spot, you know. We weren’t paying attention to much else.”

Allie and Brandon found themselves swallowed up by the massive screen of ancient trees. Through the shadows, their flashlights shone as brittle beacons, barely able to pierce the gloaming. They walked on, however, sustained by more youthful urges.

The young couple came upon a small valley clearing ringed by pine trees. They spread out their sleeping bag, set down their beer, and spent the next hour talking and doing things that teenagers do.

As Allie and Brandon got to know each other, the night’s remaining clouds vanished from the sky. “There were so many stars and the moon was full and bright,” Allie remembers. “It was really beautiful.”

The magnificent trees that towered over the couple in the clearing were revealed to be dwarfed by one truly titanic specimen. “We were watching the stars,” Allie tells me. “I didn’t notice until the moon came out, this giant tree right over us.”

The night grew chilly and the couple snuggled closer together in their sleeping bags. As they considered the starry spectacle above them, something about the large tree kept nagging at Allie’s mind. “It was a perfectly normal tree,” Allie recalls, “but I kept getting drawn back to it for some reason.”

It soon became apparent to Allie the reason for her interest in the tree. A low buzzing noise, like a bee hive, drifted through the trees, but seemed to be coming from somewhere near the top of the large tree.

Brandon turned his head to listen and suddenly the buzzing stopped. “It was real quiet, like I didn’t realize how loud the buzzing was,” Allie tells me. The silence was broken by a series of loud, sharp clicks that made Allie jump. They, too, seemed to come from the enormous tree.

For a moment, Allie and Brandon were still. The night went quiet again and the couple could only wonder about what the strange sounds could mean. As they whispered to each other, they heard a rustling, like animals climbing in the trees.

“We stopped talking again and we were just watching the tree, looking for whatever was making the noise,” Allie remembers. As they watched, the strange sounds grew louder but somehow seemed more distant, as if something very large was beginning to move.

“And then this great big tree – the top of it – just unfolded,” Allie recalls. The shadowy silhouette  of the colossal tree began to spread out across the sky, unfurling before them into a vast, new shape. It looked as if the tree had suddenly grown giant wings.

“It got darker because it blocked out the moon,” Allie remembers, “and then it covered up the whole sky.” The great wings spread out from the tree and blotted out a broad swath of the sky above them. For a moment the wings seemed to stretch across the whole valley from hilltop to hilltop before they began to flap.

“The wind as the thing took off,” Allie recalls, “it would’ve knocked us down if we hadn’t already been down.” The great wings began to beat, whipping up a cyclone of twigs and dirt and debris. The tree shook and groaned as the huge beast took flight. It dropped, a monstrous shadow that seemed to swallow the world, and swooping low over the couple in the clearing, nearly grazed the ground before gliding silently away through the sky, obscuring the stars as it went.

As the couple watched, the shadow in the sky disappeared behind the trees above the valley and a distant screech pierced the night. The enormous tree was not so enormous now. “I guess almost the whole top of what we thought was a tree,” Allie tells me, “was really that thing.”

Allie and Brandon left the area and returned to their friends. Although Allie wanted to leave the Quarter immediately, she was reluctant to share her story with her friends. Allie spent a sleepless night in her tent, hoping whatever thing she had seen would not return in the night and carry off her tent with her inside.

Is the beast that so frightened Allie another of Mother Meade’s monstrous kin? If so, then it seems that not only is the wilderness of Broome’s Quarter haunted by monsters that slither and crawl, but the sky above it is claimed by strange flying horrors that hunt by darkness and shadow.

Only more sightings of these terrible beasts will help us unravel the mystery.

Read more about Mother Meade's monster children here.


  1. Now, that's a legend I hadn't heard of. Reminds me a lot of NJ's Jersey Devil and Mother Leeds who wished her 13th child be a demon. I love folklore. It fascinates me how there might have been some granule of truth in the stories before they became cautionary tales. I have to admit, I'd rather run into Bigfoot than such a big winged creature!

  2. The Jersey Devil can be a very inspiring horse-bat monster. Interesting stories –whether folklore or fiction – are always about something that is meaningful if not necessarily true.

  3. I have never heard this one. Great story.

  4. --I just found this blog today and have bookmarked (and followed) it! This site is AWESOME, with great stories!

  5. Thanks, Jessica. Glad you enjoyed it.

    I'm encouraged by your enthusiasm, AutumnRose. It's not every day we get to hear we're awesome. I hope you come back to read more stories. In April, another theme month begins with A History of Horror!

  6. My husband and I have really enjoyed reading these stories. I hope to continue finding new stories available as time goes on! Keep up the great work!

  7. Thanks, Britt. Glad I'm keeping both you and your husband scared! I've recently gone through the files of the now-defunct Jefferson County Extra-Historical Society, and I think I'll be able to publish some new scary true stories quite soon. Thanks again!


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