There was a legend of a creature that stood as tall as three men, covered in thick hair as black as coal and having eyes that burned like fire in the night - the figure was said to have arms so long they dragged behind him as he moved, many of his fingers and toes seemed to be gnarled and broken and his mouth was filled with jagged teeth of iron, the sound of these iron teeth continually grinding against one another coupled with his rasping breath and a stench akin to rotten flesh were said to be omens of his arrival and he rarely strayed too far from his cave, the entrance to which had remained a local "no-man's land" for as long as anyone could remember.
He was known as the "Hairy Man" and I admit it in my youth I had found myself fascinated with his existence, alongside many other bogeyman that in my adult years had come to represent a past I had looked upon with shame.
For I had grown to be a man of science and reason, throwing away the childhood obsessions and began to debunk the myths that had once kept me awake at night - I had managed to confront so many of my old fears and now I was set to prove to myself that the Hairy Man was also little more than a relic of a bygone age, a being of folklore which my adult mind could easily dismiss and send to the realms of fantasy, where such things belong.
So, perhaps arrogantly, I set up camp near the mouth of the "Hairy Man's Cave" - a place so many refused to go, my goal was quite simple: to spend the night there and defy the old taboos, to show to myself there was no truth in the legend and be free of my last childhood fear.
As I settled down for the night I comforted my nerves by reassuring myself that come the morning light I would awake to find nothing - just as I had found nothing when I checked under my bed for the monster or how I had discovered the scratching "beasts" outside my bedroom were little more than the branches of an old tree.
Yes, as I closed my eyes and curled up to try and get rid of some of the night air chill I kept telling myself that this was just another part of growing up - that I had to prove all the superstitious locals that the "Hairy Man" was ridiculous.
I remember how they looked at me as if I was mad, perhaps I was a little mad but in the end I admit to finding a bit of a smile creep onto my face as I imagined the look on their faces when I would return home to show them how silly they were to be scared of a ghost.
Then it happened, a sudden and violent reminder of my own hubris as a hairy figure ran out from the entrance of the cave - smashing into my makeshift tent with such force it tore apart, terrified I tried to get to my feet but was powerless as the tent collapsed around me and the figure beat down repeatedly, heavy blows that eventually knocked me unconscious.
After what seemed like an eternity I woke up to find myself laying in a dark cave, a large figure sitting opposite me and watching with unblinking eyes that burned in the darkness. Frozen in terror I stared at the figure for a few minutes, the stench of rotten meat began to make me feel sick and I felt pain across my entire body - the figure then flashed a grotesque smile, showing iron teeth that were jagged and continually ground against each other, making a horrible sound in the process.
The figure then proceeded to stand up, showing horribly long arms that began to drag across the ground as it came forward, large feet showing toes that were gnarled and broken, having many more toes than an ordinary man.
Not that I had long to think on this before a large hand reached over and grabbed me, tossing me over a hairy shoulder as I kicked and shouted in fear - the figure didn't even flinch as it carried me over its shoulder and out of the cave.
I kicked and screamed for what seemed like hours as the hairy creature trod along a worn path in the woods nearby, eventually tossing me to the ground and standing over me.
Covered in mud, bruised and terrified I scrambled to my feet and ran down the path, not even daring to look back as I fled the area and never returned..
To this day I have no idea why the "Hairy Man" allowed me to survive, all I know for sure is there are monsters in the world that even adults would do well to fear.