In 2010 when I first started in Kosovo I met a Polish man named Jozef who was very old. He never told us his true age but he had been in Bosnia in the early 90’s and in Iraq in 2003. This guy had seen a lot and looked like it.
One day at camp he told us of a time where he and his detail had been sent up into some hills in about 1993 to search for a small mortar that was firing on the village bellow.
He and his small convoy made it to the end of a mountain road and had to continue on foot. Villagers about kept away from this mountain and the woods around it. Old Jozef and his men did find the mortar pit. They were surprised to find that the Serbs manning the mortar had plenty of ammunition, food, and water as well as a small dug out and hide away.
They may have been able to take Jozef and his men if they had been alive. What they found was a small grave with about ten bodies thrown in. The women in there were naked.
Jozef and his men investigated and found that after digging and throwing the bodies in the grave one of the men opened fire on his comrades, killing them. He then shot himself in his head and fell into the grave. And Jozef swears to this day that this man who turned on his men and shot himself was lying locked in embrace with one of the dead women.
In the winter of 2011, I was manning a guard post at a tiny airfield close to the Montenegro border. There were woods all around and it was just me, my radio, my gun, and a window to these dark woods. Flood lights lit up the edge of the place, but the glare from the windows was hindering. The worst thing was this terrible downpour of snow. The airfield itself was tiny and held a single tiny prop airplane.
Opposite the airfield was an identical box where another poor soul named Taravitz enjoyed the same grueling job as I. We chatted on the radio about stupid things; girls we would enjoy sex with, drugs we enjoyed, the situation with the Bosnians, politics, etc. All of a sudden Taravitz yelped and started freaking out saying he is sighting unidentified personnel on the edge of the treeline. He said there are four and that they are closing.
He opened a little slot and began yelling at them. Also the creepy things is about 30 meters away in the tree line is a sturdy chain link fence which rattles a lot when jumped. He told them to halt or he will use force and that they need to identify themselves. I grabbed my rifle and run out towards Taravitz’s post.
As I ran, I heard a gunshot. Then another, then another, then another. I get to his cabin and he has the window opened and is scared to all hell. I looked around to try to identify these contacts. I saw one figure as it looks at me and turns its head in a weird kind of curiosity.
It was human in shape, but very animal-like in stature and the way it carried itself. It was just as puzzled by me as I was terrified of it. It looked at me like a cat looks at a leaf falling. That really rattled me and just thinking about it freaks me out to this day.
I saw the thing wave and then I can make it out no longer thanks to the snow and darkness. I stayed with Taravitz as an officer comes in wondering what happened. A bunch of people show up to secure the perimeter and in the morning two of the four bullets are recovered. No tracks were found and no breeches were in the fence. After an eternity of paperwork, Taravitz is taken off the guard roster (lucky bastard) and on the next night things get worse.
So I was assigned to his cabin and a man named Jurten is assigned to my old cabin. We talked of much of the same things, only this time we were both on edge. Jurten was young, and especially superstitious and jumpy, I think we both kind of wanted something creepy and sinister to be happening just out of boredom. As we were talking about fucking some actress I see a shape out of the corner of my eye go past the window to my left.
I told Jurten what had happened and he tells me to stay calm and he would take a look. We were assigned a call and response, "Lion - Starfish" . So I sat tight, not making much out except the terrified reflection of my own face in the glass. I don’t know how much time passed but I put it to about an hour of radio silence with Jurten. I got pissed and tried to convert that anger to courage.
I was going to jump out and secure my surroundings, not be toyed with in this tiny box. And so I waited, my mouth dry. I released the lock and jumped out, my rifle trained. No Jurten was to be seen. But what I did see was a bunch of figures retreating to the woods quickly. I went to see Jurten and he was on the floor of his post, his gun up.
The little cunt nearly shot me when I entered. But I said Lion, and he said Starfish, so luckily I was not riddled with bullets. We stayed in there just waiting until the sun rose. And on inspection we found footprints circling both our cabins, sometimes four times around. That really gets me. Also Jurten is a bitch for abandoning me.
So this next story was in 2011. And this one really freaks me out. It is the shortest and the least involved, but I hope you can understand the horror of what I saw and heard.
So, the police in a local village were having problems with looters from the hills, so a tiny group of us NATO types stepped in and stayed in a large, fortified, comfortable mayor’s house. He was a very nice man who fed us good food and let us sleep in his beds as he slept in the attic. At about three A.M. I was awoken to go on patrol with three others. We walked around this tiny town and we came to this open air market.
A few merchants were setting up rugs and vegetables to sell. We saw a man in all black run to one of the stands, push down the merchant, and grab a bag of his food. He saw us and about shat himself. We were lightly armed and armored, and so, against better judgement (and NATO regulation) we chased this man. He ran and ran and we followed. Eventually we left the village and we saw him disappear into the side of a small hill.
We scouted along this hill until we found a small cave. Up until this point we were having a good time with a good chase, and we were smiling.
This ended immediately. The man was pushing food into the maw of a decomposing corpse. We arrested him and were ordered to investigate his ‘house’ for arms. We found that he had the corpses of some ten people; most were his family members.
Most of them were dismembered in what looked to have been explosions. We found some of these corpses to be from the early 90’s. Even worse the guy had been living there, and by the looks of it with some of the dead, feeding them and bathing them. Even worse, we find a minister’s uniform. The guy had been a church minister.
One day in ’11 a woman came to us with a deep cut on her forehead. She told us how she had gone into church at midnight and the dead had tried to make her join them. We were ordered to investigate the church as kind of formality to gain some trust from the locals.
The place had a huge crater in the top where a shell had hit it. It was as creepy as you might expect a dead church to be. The one thing we did find was a knife on the altar with a bit of fresh blood. We laughed it off uneasily and continued on.
I am in my mid 20's and from a country in the North of Europe. I have three confirmed kills and two unconfirmed. In my three years in Kosovo and those disputed territory in the NATO Kosovo Force (aka KFOR) I have learned that in such rural places where superstition is king things do happen outside what I can explain. It is quite humbling.
Jozef once told me of a mosque that opened fire on his convoy in 1993. A translator told them over loudspeaker they were friendly and that only Croats and Serbs were considered hostiles. The Bosnians opened fire and killed the translator and a few of Jozef's men. The mosque was edged between the slope of a mountain and a dense wood.
Jozef marked the place for airstrike and told the inhabitants that they were to be targeted as enemies if they did not stand down. He told them once three minutes was up the mosque would be ash. A woman opened a window at the top holding a white flag and waving it.
Just as Jozef was about to call it off several gunshots erupted inside the mosque. The woman fell out of sight and a MG opened up on Jozef's positon. He took his vehicles up the hill and watched as Tomcats took out the location in a fireball, he saw one small girl walk from the explosion unscathed and unshaken, walking through flames.
A friend of mine called Jorge recently transferred from Afghanistan to Kosovo, and we exchanged stories. One of them stood out to me as especially creepy. He was on patrol on a small backwater road when he intercepted some radio chatter of foreign origin.
They figured out that it was not the usual tongues of the area and the translator they had could not identify it. Jorge explained this voice to be shrill and seemed to be many voices in complete and perfect unison. This was weird even for Afghanistan radio standards.
The transmission cut out mid-sentence. The day was almost over and so they pinned out the area where the broadcast was taking place as a small radio broadcasting building. They decided to investigate it in the morning. When they arrived, they found that the building had burned down.
They asked the Afghan nationals why no one had helped them (the town had a small fire department) and they told them that it burning down was for the best, as the children would stop killing themselves now. Puzzled, they talked to town officials, who told them that in the past month 32 youths had committed or attempted to commit suicide. They all blame the strange broadcast.
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