On the morning of February 12, 1963 a small town in North Dakota woke to a strange and unsettling phenomenon. Drayton, a quiet city with a population of only 800, was built in the early 1800s on the bank of the Red River where they received trade from Ontario, Canada. That morning, however, the river had brought something else down from Canada. Something that seemed quite sinister.
Fresh prints in the snow has appeared overnight. They came out of the Red River but they were unlike any animal tracks anyone there had ever seen. The tracks were shaped like oblong hooves, almost 10 inches long and 4 inches wide, with a stride of around 3 feet. A local game hunter analyzed the tracks and surmised the hoofed animal walked upright and based on the gait was about 6 feet tall. The creature was thought to be between 250 and 300 pounds.
The tracks started on the shore line of the river and the depressions continued across a road, through a frozen field and then over an 8 foot tall fence. And by over, I mean that they stopped on one side and started again on the other. The thing had jumped it, somehow. The tracks continued onto a farmer’s property, were lost in her backyard pond, reappeared next the house and then, curiously, appeared on the roof of the house. The family that lived there reported no thumping or disturbances the night before. In fact, they claimed it had been quiet and serene, as snow-covered nights usually are. They had heard nothing.
The tracks reappeared in the yard at the front of the house and continued into town. It was a quiet night, a Tuesday, and no one had been out at that hour. No one, they would find, except for Jacob LaMere. Jacob had had a drunken fight with his lover the night before and she had kicked him out of their house. He had had no choice but to wander the cold streets for a few hours until she calmed down. His tracks were there, too, on George Street, and the next morning, shaken awake by his girlfriend, Jacob explained best he could what he had seen in town the night before.
It was midnight, or perhaps one, he thought. He was drunk, pissed off, and cold. He’d walked to the bar, Rally’s, on George. It was closed since it was a week night, and most people had to work at the nearby sugar refinery the next day. Jacob had banged on the pub door for a few minutes, begging to be let in from the cold and served a pint. When no one answered, he turned around to leave.
Jacob says he saw someone in the street then, from a fair distance away. He assumed at first that it was a person, because the thing walked upright and was the height of a man. But as he continued to study it, with one eye closed and a hand on a pole for balance, Jacob thought maybe it wasn’t a man. Maybe it was a strange animal. It was dark in color, and seemed to get taller as Jacob studied it, but then shrink back down, and then grow and straighten again. It would not stay one height.
The thing shook silently, as if it were erupting in laughter at him, but the only sound Jacob heard was a low moan, like the creak of a building in the wind, long and low. It didn’t take a step toward him, but in Jacob grew a very innate and ancient sense of fear. He turned and hurried back to his home, falling asleep in the shed and wondering if the whole thing had been a drunken illusion.
The tracks continued through town and into the forest beyond. There, the tracks became confusing. They walked right up a tree, as if no gravity existed, and then back down. Sometimes they seemed to jump from one tree to another. The people of Drayton were very confused. Still, they were able to follow them to an old cabin at the edge of the woods. No one knew who lived there. In fact, no one in Drayton had even known there was a cabin in this area.
The door was open and the tracks were inside. They walked right up to a crib in the corner. It was an old crib, but dressed with new blankets and sheets. A recently mixed up bottle of baby formula lay in the corner. Other than the crib, and a low burning fire in the hearth, the rest of the house was abandoned. It looked as if someone had been keeping a baby here, hiding it from town. But there was no baby in the crib now.
The tracks then led away from the bassinet and out another door. They continued through the woods, this time direct and deliberate, to the banks of the Red River where they disappeared into the water. The tracks were never seen in Drayton again and no one found out who or what was being kept at the cabin.
But there are theories. One in particular, seems to have particular merit.
On the third anniversary of the tracks appearance, a note was found just outside of town. It was written by Elena Havert, who had been 19 at the time of the incident. It said simply:
I didn’t mean it. I asked it to take him. But I didn’t mean it.
Elena’s body was nearby. She had drowned herself where the tracks had first appeared from the Red River.
The note was found at the cabin.