's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" Dundee Creeper "

Submitted by J. Ford

Navigate through the back roads of Hanover Township and you’ll find some old war wounds from the coal mining days. Along these roads you’ll find abandoned machine sheds rusted blue and brown, hills of loose stone with bald tress, and bogs of greenish brown water that attracts mosquitoes in the summertime. Cut into one of these hills is a tunnel framed by tree roots and overgrown vines. What makes this landmark different from the others that appear on every highway and road in the county is because of a persistent entity.

Many who travel the Dundee Cross Road are familiar with the traditions but know little of the peculiar creature that haunts the tunnel and its surrounding areas. The Dundee Creeper has made sporadic appearances to the unlucky motorist that happens upon it. For many living in the vicinity, the Creeper has since become the “go to” explanation for lost pets and irregular echoes coming from the forest. It leaves behind an acrid slime with the distinct hint of sulfur raising suspicion that the creature dwells within the rusted ventilation pipes jutting from the ground. Eyewitnesses will vary in their descriptions. Some suggest that it’s covered in hair, scales, or plated armor. But the facts remain that it is slender and prefers the shadows.

A persistent legend claims that a few years ago, a small party traveling in a Convertible with the top down (the car is always topless in each telling) passed through the Dundee tunnel at dusk. As they cleared the structure, one passenger was snatched from their seat. The rest of the occupants figured he fell out and slowed down expecting the person to come running out from the darkness. No one came. After a second or two, the driver shifted to reverse and slowly backed up towards the tunnel. Reflected in the rear view lights was a thin figure suspended from the ceiling- it’s pin-prick eyes reflecting back the light from the vehicle- clutching the mangled body of their friend. To this day, the story remains unconfirmed.

The closest reported encounter with the Creeper took place on the evening of August 31st, 1996. Brothers Eric Ichor and his brother Sean were driving on the road heading from a Labor Day gathering. They coming up to the tunnel and Sean rolled his window down to yell out the window as they went through.

“It all goes back to when we were kids,” Eric explained, “whenever we went through someplace dark we’d scream to ward off the boogens. “

Once they cleared the tunnel, he and Sean heard something fall from overhead and hit the roof with a heavy thud. Eric stopped the car just in time to see a round bulk bounce off the back bumper. When they got out they could see the object lying on the ground only three feet from their car. What they found looked like a tree branch roughly twenty feet in length. The brothers described it as being pock marked with white spots and some gnarled little twigs. When lifting the branch, Eric recalled how “greasy” it felt.

“The thing started sagging while we were holding it like it was all rotted. Then Sean started complaining of a burning on his arm. So that’s when we let go.”

After dropping the object, it began to contort and violently whip around. Each little twig revealed themselves to be legs that “clickety-clacked” along the pavement. A tail (or some kind of appendage) brushed against Eric’s foot. The two young men made a mad dash for the car and drove away leaving behind whatever it was that struck their car.

The next morning Eric surveyed the damage. The roof was dented with a coating of dried mud caked onto the creases and a spidery crack on the rear windshield. The residue gave off reeked of “rotten eggs and horseradish.” Sean bore a painful rash on his left shoulder that required treatment and the stench on their hands and clothes took days to wash out.

Eric’s story happens to be just an outside reference compared to the tales from the residence of Loomis Park. An eccentric woman named Ozzie Prushinski, has lived in one of these red brick houses since the early 1960s. Of the many pets in her domestic bestiary, she has two Siamese cats and one greyhound, a chicken coup out in the backyard, and a family of rabbits (three are owned by her granddaughter). She argues that it’s quite the skill to raise this many animals in an environment like hers.

“More often than not, children would run screaming to their parents about how a ‘snapper’ almost got them.” She continued, “Their parents figured that they were playing around near an old mine well and nearly got bit by a mine rat; grow the size of Dachshunds they say. So the parents just scolded them not to go near those places and stick close to the neighborhood.”

On one occasion during the month of June 1981, Mrs. Prushinski was going for a walk around the neighborhood when she noticed the appearance of two unusually sized “caterpillars” crawling near the tunnel. From a point on the hill leading down to the Dundee road, she observed “two bulky black things that would move along slowly like fluid.” She also described them as being covered in a fine silky hair, like that of a cat’s and mistook them for such until she saw one crawl along the upper interior lip of the tunnel. There was also the strange sound the caterpillars made which she described as, “a guinea pig squealing and gurgling.”

Another sighting occurred the following year, as Dave Raynock woke at 5 a.m. to find a long snake rolling and splashing in his above ground swimming pool. When pressed for further description, he referred to the box art for the Atari game, “Centipede,” as a close approximation. Said creature was reported to have left a “soupy mess” in Mr. Raynock’s pool that had to be cleaned out.

Other residents of Loomis also claimed to have had closer encounters with the slithering creatures. One such incident occurred on the afternoon of March 1998, when George McHugh saved his bull terrier, Clete, from a nasty attack.

“I was sitting at home watching ‘The Price is Right’ when I heard Clete barking outside. Then I hear him whimper and screeching like he was in pain.” He rushed out and saw what he described as a “plated cobra with a long body and tiny arms” biting at Clete’s ribs.

Mr. McHugh grabbed an aluminum baseball bat and swung at the animal causing some damage and “breaking one of its fangs.” Eventually, it got the message and “parted its bloody jaws and hissed” before slinking into the growth.

Today the road is like any other- more or less traveled. In recent years, the Loomis residents haven’t been as frequently visited by the Creeper. Just before the tunnel is a sign that reads: “No Parking Standing Stopping.” The newly revitalized business district only a mile from the main road may serve as a perfect mask for the grey forests surrounding it. At least commuters will be encouraged to drive towards the light but pay no mind to the darkness behind them.