In the backwoods of western Pennsylvania, there’s a little-used highway that cuts through a deserted forest. Across the highway’s cracked pavement the thickly-wooded forest casts long, sinister shadows. The forest is known as Broome’s Quarter and the road is Route 666 and both are haunted.
Jeff writes to tell me how he ended up driving Route 666 one dark September night in 1998. Jeff was a civil engineer in Altoona, Pennsylvania, and, after attending a conference up in Erie, Jeff got a little lost on the way home.
“This was before we had all the GPS stuff,” Jeff tells me. “I had a map but I don’t think I even opened it.”
Jeff decided he needed to turn around. He pulled off onto a side road, made a turn, and headed back down the road. A quarter of an hour later, Jeff realized he had made a mistake.
“I was on Route 219 or something when I turned around,” Jeff remembers, “and here comes a sign saying Route 666 East.”
Jeff has no idea how he came to be on a completely different road, a road he had never seen before. And he wasn’t put off by the ominous sign. “It’s just a number,” Jeff tells me. “I’m an engineer, so I’m not afraid of numbers.”
Jeff considered his predicament. He was lost. He was headed east and he needed to go south. There wasn’t anyone around to ask for help.
Suddenly a figure loomed up out of the dark trees and into the path of Jeff’s car. His headlights snared a young deer and it stood frozen in the road. As Jeff began to swerve his car, a shadow swept in front of his windshield and he lost sight of the road.
“I nearly stood on my brakes as this thing came in front of me,” Jeff tells me. “It all happened in a split second or faster.”
When the shadow passed, the deer was gone. Jeff’s car sat still, his tires smoking. Jeff was breathing heavily and he was surprised to feel sweat dripping from his nose.
“I just sat there stunned for a minute,” Jeff recalls. “I thought I hit the deer and it must have flown over my car or something.”
Jeff got out to check the damage to his car. The night air made Jeff shiver. “I checked the front and the sides but there was nothing there,” Jeff remembers. “Not even blood.”
Jeff thought he must have missed the deer somehow and his thoughts turned to what exactly he had seen. It seemed that something had swept down and then the deer disappeared. “Now, did something pick it up?” Jeff asks. “Did I have a guardian angel? Or did the deer?”
Jeff got back in his car and swung it around so the headlights would illuminate the spot where he had last seen the deer. There was nothing there but one of the rare highway lamp posts flickering with a dim light.
Jeff walked toward the post and scanned the road for signs of the deer. He saw the grim, silent trees and the dark cracks that snaked across the highway, but nothing of the deer.
He paused under the buzzing, orange glow of the lamp post. He thought he heard a noise like running water or cracking very close by, but couldn’t make out the direction. He saw a patch of dark liquid at his feet but couldn’t make out the color. Was it blood or oil?
Then, the bottom half of a severed deer leg landed at Jeff’s feet with a heavy, wet splat, showering Jeff’s shoes with specks of blood.
“I was in shock,” Jeff says. “I didn’t figure out where it had come from at first.”
Jeff staggered back, his mouth open in silent fear as he quickly realized that the deer leg had fallen from the lamp post, that something else was up there in the dark, too, and whatever it was, it had swooped down in front of Jeff’s car, picked up the deer, and was now dismembering it, most likely eating it.
“I guess that deer didn’t have a guardian angel,” Jeff says. “And neither did I.”
Although the lamp’s light made it difficult to discern clearly, Jeff could see a shadowy figure perched at its peak. And the sound he had heard previously, like a wet crunch, was definitely coming from up there, too.
Jeff walked backwards toward his car. The figure on the lamp post moved little, seemingly taking little notice of Jeff.
“I got to my car – fumbled with the door – not taking my eyes off that thing,” Jeff recalls. “But I finally got a good look before I left.”
As Jeff started to turn his car around, it seemed the thing on the lamp post became aware of his presence. Jeff saw the shadow sit upright. “I thought it heard the car or something,” Jeff says, “but I think it realized it had dropped that leg.”
The shadow leaned down and Jeff thought it looked like it was studying the ground with some sense possibly other than sight. Suddenly it fell to the ground right on top of the deer leg.
“It looked like a big black garbage bag at first,” Jeff remembers. “But those were just the wings.”
The body was smaller than Jeff expected: it was child-size, but wiry and muscular, with greyish mottled skin like an old tree. It was human-like, in that it had a head and two arms and two legs, but its arms ended in something more like scissors than fingers and its legs bent backward at an sickening angle and the head was a black stump divided by a teeth-filled maw.
And the great black wings that hovered above and enclosed the creature like a cocoon swayed and quivered in what Jeff could only surmise was a kind of pleasure.
“I couldn’t make sense of it,” Jeff says. “And I was strangely ashamed that I couldn’t make sense of it.”
The creature continued its meal and two pale grey disks watched as Jeff drove away. It wasn’t until years later that Jeff would come across the legend of Mother Meade and the monsters she left to wander in Broome’s Quarter. It was only then that Jeff contacted me. It was the first time he told anyone about his mysterious encounter with one of Mother Meade’s monstrous children, about the night he came under the shadow of demon wings.
“I don’t know what they are or where they came from,” Jeff tells me. “All I know is that I don’t want to run into one of them ever again.”
Read more about Mother Meade's monster children here.