Author’s note: Charlie Thomas contacted me in July 2011 with a story of a gnome-like creature that terrorized her family in their two-story Porterville, Calif., home by the Tule River. I had heard the story – at least a similar story – before, in 2009 from a woman named Tammy who moved to Porterville, Calif., into a two-story home by the Tule River. A gnome-like creature terrorized her and her family. I’m investigating to see if they lived in the same house. My guess is they did. This is the first of two parts.
The house seemed perfect. Charlie Thomas, her husband, their two-year-old twin girls and two golden labs moved into the two-story country house in Porterville, Calif., in March 2010.
“The house was perfect for us,” Thomas said. “Exactly what we were looking for, and we couldn’t wait to move in. There are three bedrooms, a huge kitchen, dining room and living room and lots of windows all around it.”
The deck that poured from the back door opened to woods and the nearby Tule River. A deck in the front overlooked a pond. Thomas placed fairy, gnome, and toadstool yard ornaments around the pond, and stocked it with Japanese koi fish to make it more like their home.
But they would soon find it wasn’t their home.
Thomas began taking her daughters and the dogs to the river in the afternoon. The dogs loved the water, and the girls enjoyed throwing in sticks for them to fetch. One day at the river, Thomas heard her husband shouting for her.
“I heard my husband calling my name from the house,” she said. “He sounded kind of frantic and it worried me so I hurried the girls as much as two-year-olds can be hurried and started for the house.”
As they approached a rickety structure on the property Thomas calls “the shack,” the dogs grew defensive.
“As we got even with that shack the dogs went crazy,” she said. “They were barking and snarling and the hair on their backs was standing up and something told me to run so I grabbed a twin under each arm and ran for home.”
In the house, she slammed shut the door, locking it. But her husband wasn’t there.
“He was nowhere in the house,” she said. “I called his phone but he said that he hadn’t been home.”
Thomas’ thoughts went to the shack.
“There are two sheds on either end of the house,” Thomas said. “The shed on the west end is newer and we use it for storage and the one on the east end is just an old shack that looks like a strong breeze would blow it down. Something about that shack gave me the creeps, especially at night but I don’t know why.”
Thomas served in the Army, her husband in the Marines. They were both engaged in firefights in Iraq and Afghanistan and didn’t frighten easily, but something about the shed terrified them.
“After we had been here for a week or so I started noticing that none of the animals would go near that shack,” she said. “Our dogs, the stray cats and the wildlife gave that shack a wide berth when walking past it.”
Doing yard work one day, Thomas and her husband heard a fight coming from inside the shack.
“It sounded like a cat was in a fight with something way bigger than it was,” she said.
Her husband went into the house, grabbed a flashlight and ran to the shed.
“Just as he got to the door the noise stopped,” she said. “He went in and looked around with the flashlight. Just as he turned to go back out of the shed something in a corner caught his eye. There was something moving and sounded like it was struggling to breathe.”
He shone the light in that corner. It was a cat.
“He ran out of the shack and thought he was going to be sick but after a few deep breaths he was OK and told me what he had seen,” she said. “There was a cat and it looked like it had been in a fight with a meat grinder. It was totally skinned on one side and its neck looked as though some thing had taken a huge chunk out of it.”
Once he caught his breath, he ventured back into the shed – the cat was gone.
“There was no way that cat moved by itself,” she said. “We were standing right there. Where did the cat go?”
Next week: The evil little man.
Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt, P.O. Box 501, Maryville, Mo., 64468, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”
Jason’s newest book on the paranormal, “Paranormal Missouri: Show Me Your Monsters,” is available at Jason’s blog, from-the-shadows.blogspot.com.