As any field hand or outdoor construction worker across the deep south will tell you, that southern summer sun can be a true killer. The humidity will make you fight for breath and the blaring sun will bake you until you spit dust and literally sweat through your jeans. You keep your cap low, move slow, rest when you can and soldier on.
And you almost never, ever look up.
The sun is up there, see, beating you like a scorched dog. Blaring and hot and almost evil, it’s the last thing you want to see. On the rare occasion when you do steal a skyward glance, it’s always in the hopes of catching a glimpse of a merciful grey cloud hopefully headed right over that fiery scorching sun and giving at least a few minutes respite from the southern heat.
Which is exactly what I was doing when I saw it. I sensed a shadow, felt a slight breeze and looked up. What I saw would later take me a while to grasp, but I knew it wasn’t a cloud in about a half second.
I was on the mountain top just above Fort Payne, Alabama, not far at all as the crow flies from Little River Canyon, the largest Canyon east of the Mississippi river, in a little town called Sandrock. Up until I looked skyward and had my complacency shaken, I had been busy running a hog-wire fence for an old farmer for 40 dollars. Hot work, long work. Summer in the south work. It was early August, 1988.
Now, I wasn’t a ‘ridge runner’ by birth, I was what the locals called a ‘flatlander’ from just north of Birmingham, displaced temporarily to this mountain ridge by my second wife.
But even a flatlander had heard the tales: tales of cattle found ripped open, stories of lights all over the sky to the north and east. And yeah, the weirdness of the cattle, missing organs and sometimes even blood, would sure make anyone wonder. I had certainly wondered what the hell could have been responsible for such a thing.
And that thought flickered through my mind the instant I saw the Thing That Didn’t Belong in that sunny sky.
Now, before I continue, I have an admission: Just like almost everyone, I had heard of UFO’s even at that time. Unidentified Flying Objects. Flying Saucers, Silver Discs. I had never taken much interest in, or given much thought to such things, but yeah, I had heard of them. Because as soon as I saw the shape in the sky, my very first thought was :”that’s a freaking flying saucer!”
Because, frankly and truly, that’s exactly what it did look like. Almost a stereotypical movie saucer. A caricature. All of which made it even more creepy somehow.
I was in a wide open, long field. It was just before lunch, because I was hungry as heck. Despite my wishing for a stray cloud, there were none and the day was both clear and stifling.
I will be as clear as memory allows: I had no idea at all what I was seeing, but I knew absolutely what it was not. There was no sound, zero sound at all. There were also no wings, nor lights, nor smoke from the object. “Object” being the best description, because it absolutely looked solid. As for size, it was about the same size as if you held a softball in your hand at arms length. It was not small, not fuzzy or blurred either.
Now in the twenty plus years since seeing this thing, I have read everything I could about UFO’s, witnesses to such, cattle mutilations, etc. I know that 95 percent or so of all sightings are misidentified natural or manmade objects. But I am absolutely certain and convinced it was not a cloud, not swamp gas, not Mercury or Venus or a weather balloon.
From where I stood, it was almost due north of me. I suppose , looking back as I have about a thousand times over the years, that I was transfixed. I was staring right at a sizable, disc shaped something in the sky. I had no doubt it was solid, I could see surface features on it. It’s important, at least to my mind, that it did not appear metallic however. In fact, it had almost a wooden look to it, like a saucer made of pine maybe, and painted greyish-dull silver. I saw no reflection from it and it just hung in the sky rock steady. It was not spinning at all, as I could make out a scrawl or something on the surface. “Scrawl” or scribble, some surface discoloration.
At times like that, a person’s mind questions, and I suppose I almost doubted my eyes. I know I removed my cap. I walked towards the thing, and remember hearing a dog barking . I was maybe a mile off of a two lane county road. I know my heart begin beating faster, and I felt kind of a rush. I was literally afraid to take my eyes off of it, thinking it would zip off. A part of my mind was screaming :”I’m seeing a honest to gosh Flyingdamnedsaucer!”
Later, I would study UFO sightings of that region, mostly night time lights, that were being reported all over northeastern Alabama at that time. They were very common place, and if you have ever been on those mountain tops, you can see precisely why.
But it was no night time light I was seeing; it was something solid, silent and real. I walked ‘closer’, that is, in the direction of the object, until finally it begin to rise, straight up, no zip off, no zooming off, just a steady rise. It rose to a certain height, then moved silently eastward until it eventually vanished from sight. All told, I imagine I viewed it for at least a full five minutes.
My reaction after it faded from sight was odd in retrospect. I felt a little sad, a little like I had missed some sort of opportunity. On the other hand, I felt a bit of elation just at having seen it at all. It was a very surreal experience. Not unlike seeing something like a car accident or maybe a large tree getting struck by lightning. It seemed both hyper-real and yet unreal. You know and understand you saw it, but your mind is numbed from being unable to process exactly what it was you had seen.
As far as I know, that specific August day, no one else saw (or reported seeing) anything like I described. The reports of night lights and UFO sightings in that general area of the state would intensify and increase over the following months though, and the mutilated cattle still turn up across the mountain to this day.
Since that day, I have had a deep interest in UFO’s, etc. I have never seen another, or anything like I witnessed on that hot southern August day though. I think things like that probably come along only once in a person’s life.
Over all, I’m thankful for having seen it. Whatever it was, it has left an impact on me.