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Robot or Monster? Looking Back at a Classic Case from the Early Years of UFOs

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On the night of September 12, 1952, something terrifying descended upon the small, West Virginian town of Flatwoods. Precisely what it was remains very much a mystery to this day. All that can really be said for sure is that it was hideous, fear-inducing and downright monstrous. It has, quite appropriately, become known as the Flatwoods Monster. Situated in Braxton County and dominated by a cool, picturesque, forested landscape, Flatwoods is a distinctly small town – that much is apparent from the fact that, today, its population is less than four hundred. Back in 1952, though, it was even less than that. On the night in question, however, the people of the town found themselves briefly added to by one visitor from…well…no-one really knows from where. It all began just as the sun was setting on what was a warm, still, September evening. A group of boys from Flatwoods were playing football in the town’s schoolyard when they were frozen to the spot by the sight of a brightly lit, fiery object that shot overhead, provoking amazement and wonder in the process. All that the boys could be sure of was that the object appeared to be either egg-shaped or circular. Its color fluctuated from orange to a fiery red.

As the stunned children watched in awe, they saw the object begin to descend – and at a high rate of speed, no less – and then appear to come down on one of Flatwood’s largest hilltops. Not surprisingly, being kids, they saw this as a big adventure looming large. The result: they, with a woman named Kathleen May and a recent U.S. Army recruit, Eugene Lemon, headed off for the scene of all the action. It wasn’t long before the group reached the hill in question – and with nightfall rapidly closing in. The first thing the group noticed, as they reached the darkened peak, was something brightly lit within the trees. What it was, no-one had a clue. But, it clearly wasn’t the lights of a farmhouse, truck, or car. Suddenly, the air was filled with a sickening odor – not unlike that of devilish brimstone. That was not a good sign. To their credit, however, they pushed on, determined to figure out the true nature of the source behind the lights. They soon found out: as the air became filled with a strange, sizzling sound, nothing less than a pair of self-illuminated red eyes could be seen getting ever closer. Kathleen May had the presence of mind to bring a flashlight with her and she quickly focused it on the eyes. In doing so, she also lit up the abominable creature that possessed those fiery eyes.

Looming before the now-terrified band of intrepid souls was an approximately ten-feet-tall, floating monster. It appeared to be humanoid in shape and had something almost like a large, black hood-like piece behind its head – that gave the entire thing an “Ace of Spades”-type appearance. Oddly, its lower half was ice-cream cone-shaped and had wires and cables running from it. This issue of the cone-shaped lower portion led flying saucer sleuths to later suggest the monster my actually have been encased within some kind of remotely piloted vehicle. As the creature then turned its attention to the group, and wildly fired laser-like beams from its eyes, the brave band was suddenly brave no more. They didn’t wait to see what might happen next. One and all fled, screaming – possibly for their lives. Mrs. May breathlessly shouted to the boys to follow her to her home, which they all did. On arrival, and possibly as a result of exposure to the noxious odor that hung around the hill, several of the boys became violently ill, feeling nauseous and even outright vomiting.

Kathleen May quickly called the local police, who, rather intriguingly, were busy responding to reports of what was described as an “airplane crash” somewhere in the area. It turns out that no such crashed aircraft was ever found – something that suggests the “airplane” and the brightly lit UFO that descended upon the high hill that night were, almost certainly, one and the very same. As a result of the fact that Flatwoods was, and still is, a very small town, word soon got out about what had happened. The local media was quickly on the scene, and even the U.S. Air Force sat up and took careful notice. Despite intense investigations by the press and the military, the mystery of the Flatwoods Monster was never solved to the satisfaction of everyone: the creature was long gone by the time anyone else was on the scene. It is, however, decidedly interesting to note that Flatwoods is only around 125 miles from the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, where, from 1966 to 1967, yet another red-eyed monster was seen. Its famous name is, of course, Mothman.

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