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Although this did not happen to me directly, it is an account that has been talked about on my mother’s side of the family for years. My grandmother had told this to my mother and my mother likewise passed it down to me. I would have normally dismissed such a tale as merely a family fable passed on from generation to generation as many families do. However, all the other myths familiar to my family are recognized as just that. This story was received a very different treatment, my grandmother was always embarrassed to talk about it for fear of being suspected a lunatic or simply ridiculed for what others might presume to be feeble mindedness for believing such superstitions. My grandmother was actually angry at my mom for telling me the story that goes as such:
My great grandfather lived in rural West Virginia, he had originally lived in DC his whole life but decided to spend his autumn years surrounded by scenic beauty. When he moved there, for a long time he was able to enjoy the very aspects of West Virginia that he had sought. However, it came to his attention that his neighbors being almost all farmers had discovered a lot of there livestock had either missing or horribly mangled, at first they took it to be a predator as there are many of those in the mountains of West Virginia. He also noticed that around the same time this happened a stranger had moved in around his area. Since he lived in such a rural area neighbors were few owning a lot of land and he knew all of them just as they all knew him.
Everyone noticed the arrival of this eccentric woman stranger. She spoke and otherwise associated with nobody and was always seen wearing the same clothes everyday. Nobody could see this predator responsible for the disappearance of the locals livestock. After a while people started to go missing but unlike the livestock no mangled remains were found anywhere near the victims’ homes.
My great grandfather decided that perhaps there might be a connection between the eccentric stranger and the missing people and animals. He gathered some of the women’s silver jewelry and melted them down too cast silver bullets and one night he and some of the men of this area decided to accompany him to stake out this strange woman’s house. No one saw the woman. But oddly enough they did see what they assume to be the culprit of all the missing people and animals, a large cat. My great grandfather said he thought it was a panther or a mountain lion. He shot it several times and… (now this is where the story gets stranger until to the end) a bunch of what appeared to be smoke, although my great grandfather said to him it seemed more like mist, started flooding out of the panthers wounds, so much spilled out in fact, the strange beast became completely obscured, the smoke/mist and was thus imperceptible. Of course, my great grandfather and his companions were utterly aghast and decided to wait to see what if anything was going on underneath that blanket of mist/smoke.
Finally, when the smoke cleared they did see something that wasn’t the large cat or human it was the clothes of the eccentric lady lying where a dead panther/mountain lion should have been. They recognized the clothes instantly because of the frequency in which she wore them.
I know this sounds really odd and like one big family fable but all I can say is I know my mom and my grandmother and they are not crazy, liars, or drug abusers. I also know that when my grandmother is reluctant to disclose information for reasons of pride, that very information is invariably true. True, I did not see any of this myself nor did my source.