Always Go East

As I write for the second time about running on Antelope Creek Road a thought keeps crossing my mind; no one on the current team knows the exact reason why we always go east where the road forks. You can continue South or you can turn to the East We always go east, but that was not always the case. Some, I assume, think it’s because in going east, the road never ends.  While others probably think it’s just the directions of Coach that make us turn that direction. There were only five of us who know the real reason and now that some time has passed and we have all move on its time to share why we always go east.

Scary movies are not my thing, never have been, never will be. I just don’t like them. Once in a while, though, I will man up and go see one with a few friends. During the late fall of my Sophomore year, I had done just that, and gone and caught a weekend showing of the movie “Orphan” with my college teammates. The movie creeped me the hell out and it was a while until I saw another horror film. With this movie going through our minds, our group of five set out a Tuesday long run along Antelope Creek Road at around 4:30pm. Anyone who has spent some time in the mid-west in the late fall knows it starts to get dark around this time and it didn’t help that it had been overcast all day.

Slightly after 5pm we reached our turn around point somewhere around the five mile mark, approximately three miles south of the fork. The sun was just finishing it dip behind the hills causing the air to chill with a familiar dampness and cold. Maybe it was from the rain earlier in the day, or maybe it’s just the great plains, but for some scientific reason that I was never too concerned about, a fog began to form. It never really rolled in out on Antelope Creek Road, like it does in town, it always just kind of formed. On this particular evening, the fog formed quite thick, limiting our visibility to maybe 20 feet. This was nothing that we, five strong, brave men could not handle, as our run back was an easy one. Just turn around and follow the road back until you find the van. Too easy.

To say we found the van, got in and drove away would be wrapping this story up too neatly. We found the van alright, but probably set some sort of land speed record in doing so, and we definitely broke all speed limits when driving back to town. The reason you ask, about two miles into the run back, the fog had reached its thickest and we were running by one of the few abandon farms along the route.

The freshman with us was the first one to hear the plodding of a new pair of footsteps along the road behind us. Thinking that it was a harmless prank, we ignored him a first. But after some more insistence, one by one, we stopped talking and began to listen. Sure enough we all began to hear the rhythmic sounds of footsteps on the road that were not ours. They were close, almost too close for comfort, but due to the fog we couldn’t see much.

Somewhere in the route back, we had to crest a small, sharp incline, and at this exact location the footsteps caught up to us. It was a weird experience as we all looked back at the same time to try and catch a glimpse of the object making mysterious  footsteps. We all saw and said something different, but our reaction was the same, we took off sprinting, trying to find the van and get back to the safety of the dorms and fast as humanly possible.

You may be asking what we saw; All I remember is pointy ears and a long muzzle. Some others saw teeth and piercing eyes, while one saw large paws and a matted coat. We don’t exactly know what we saw. All that is truly known, is that it was large and scared us half to death.

The following week, we were on another run out on Antelope Creek Road, and upon reaching the fork, we all just turned and headed East. No discussion, no complaints, we all just went East. During college, I never ventured south at the fork again. And, despite running in the fog many more nights near the same stretch of road, I never met the beast that scared us so bad again.

Looking back on it, I am now almost sure that we had just picked up a large farm dog that just wanted to join in on our adventure. Most likely harmless in every way. I can only speculate, but that is why we always go East on Antelope Creek Road now.

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