Bay Reflections

Vol. 8, No. 32
Aug. 10-16, 2000
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The Bear-Witch Project:
Our Intrepid Reporter Stalks Big Foot

By Mark Burns

An eerie haze envelops the construction site. Unmanned bulldozers, half unseen for the thick night, rest at a tilt on the shoulder. Dense groves of traffic cones and orange barrels contort the road into a disorienting maze. What few motorists dare tread this weird highway slip through smoothly, slowly, silently.

The heavens smile not upon this surreal landscape. Lamps perched atop poles towering high into the fog bank cast their light in lieu of celestial glow. Alas, they’re barely enough to illuminate a vast expanse of empty earth — or the lightly girded skeleton of a mammoth building at center.

Trailers clustered on the fringe of this strange territory are huddled together, like game herding themselves against a predator. One shows light through its windows, standing sentry against the night …

On an evening such as this, you might cross paths with the devil hound of Sherlock Holmes’ Baskerville traipse.

Or, perhaps, a local Sasquatch.

Such is the scene Sunday, August 6, as I stalk Arundel Mills’ construction site in Hanover, prodded by the July 31 report of a 12-foot-tall creature with 15-inch footprints and inhuman eyes. I plan to sight this beast first-hand, settling any question of its taxonomic heritage.

Missing link, or duplicitous bear? Eyewitness accounts favor the former; scientific analyses bespeak the latter. Either way, I will stay this night, the one-week anniversary of said beast’s appearance, inside my car.

I survey the scene twice in passing, doubling back to an entrance on the southern extreme of the site, the only of two entries not blockaded by Jersey barriers. A brief drive brings me to the trailer cluster’s center and threshold to the alleged stomping grounds of one bipedal behemoth.

The plan is to stake out the site from within. But something deep in my being — whether fear of the unknown or fear of prosecution for trespassing — freezes my progress. Besides, it’s a fine view from here of dense woodline bordering the unfinished perimeter road. With engine idling and one hand rested on the gearshift, I’m prepared for hasty flight even as I settle in with camera at the ready. I wile away the time listening to the radio and wiping fog off the windshield.

Ten minutes. Twenty minutes. Thirty.

Security slowly yields to insecurity. I feel as though something’s oppressive gaze is focused directly upon me. Bear? Bigfoot? Wary construction worker?

Eyes dart about in search of an answer, but all they find is fog. Fog more suffocating than before. Fog that demonizes the dark stand of trees. Fog that whips simple imagination into unsettling brainstorms.

Well, now, look at the time.

In one swift motion I whisk the car around to the entrance, casting nervous glances along the way to make sure my escape route is safe. All clear. But just as I’m about to ply barrel groves en route to the home stretch, I see them — two very inhuman eyes glaring at me through the rear view mirror …

Oops. Nope, those are mine. I need sleep.

Copyright 2000
Bay Weekly