Most people I talk to admit something happened. Even the papers and the local news were willing to say that much though the statements were all pretty guarded. There were remains. Eyewitnesses. No photos. Some blogger posted one but it was fake. Still there may be some out there. Maybe a satellite got a picture and we just haven't seen it yet. I like to think satellites see everything so there's always a true picture. At the same time I don't.
I saw it. I wasn't the only one. I just seem to be the only one ready to stick my neck out and tell the whole truth about that day. I can't tell you what it was all about. I'll only tell you what I saw. I hope it'll inspire other witnesses to do the same. Maybe one day we'll understand.
The incident took place about a quarter past noon on the summer solstice of that woeful year 2016. I never checked the time but I remember hearing the chimes of the old chapel shortly before the ruckus.
It was an unseasonably chilly day following a stretch of rain and gloom. The sky was partly blue like a dusty marble. There was a feeling in the air that day. A certain aura. Like a shadow hanging overhead. It's easy to say that now but I really do recall expecting something to happen.
I had the whole day free. I was headed downtown on foot to retrieve a bicycle. I won't waste your time explaining why.
I noticed something unusual when I came to 17th St. You may remember the school renovation that summer. I saw the construction crew but they weren't working. A small crowd had formed. I jogged over to see what it was about.
Everyone was gathered around one of the stones brought in for the new landscaping. It was a large slab with layers like a biscuit and a similar color. A jolt had split it in two and exposed a curious feature. It looked like a face.
Details were missing. You couldn't make out things like eyebrows or lips. Even the eyelids were indistinct. Everything flattened toward the edges 'til it became featureless stone. Still the impression was unmistakable. It was a human face wearing a wide grin.
There was a lot of discussion going on. Whether it was a man's face or a woman's. Whether it was natural or man-made. I should've stayed around. I might've learned something. I do remember hearing someone say it was an ordinary hunk of rock that should've been the same as any other hunk of rock from the quarry.
I don't know if the stone had anything to do with what happened later. It happened. It was remarkable. I record it.
An hour or two later I was back on Main St. Far enough downhill that the cross-streets were single digits but high enough I couldn't see the river from the sidewalk. That was when I heard a rumbling sound accompanied by screams.
It all happened so fast. I only perceived it in broad strokes. The sequence isn't clear at all. I remember emotions more than sights and sounds.
I remember walking into the street trying to understand what was happening. I remember suddenly being very afraid. I don't know if it was the sight of the thing or the sound of the thing or the reactions of the people in the street. Something rapidly filled me with fear. I wished I'd never set out. I wished I'd stayed in bed.
The pavement was pounding. The railroad bridge was clattering. Windows were bursting into shards. Cars were getting wrecked like fragile china. There was lots of honking and screaming.
I must've realized something big was crashing down Main St. At some point I caught a glimpse. I remember getting a blurred impression of a large brown-red beast with sad eyes. I didn't try to get a good look.
You enter a different state of mind when something that large is moving around nearby. It's like being in another world. Playing another role. You are prey. You are insignificant. It's a terrifying way of thinking. Once you've felt it you can tap into it a little. Maybe put words together that convey it to some extent. But it's something very different to feel it. To live it.
I needed shelter. I ran for the nearest door. Unfortunately it was the antique store that's never open when it should be. The next door was locked too. I ran down the block 'til I spotted the four foot gap between the lousy deli and the out-of-business phone store. I dove in like I was sliding into home plate.
Things get a lot more certain from that point on. I wasn't truly safe but I was safe enough for my mind to function somewhat close to normal. I trust my memory of what happened next.
I saw it go by. I was about five yards from the sidewalk. Just sitting there on the concrete in my dark hiding place. Coughing as dust and debris fell. I could see it though. Through the yellow-white cloud, out the crevice between buildings, I could see it.
I don't know what I expected to see. An animal I suppose. Maybe a vehicle of some kind. Not what I saw, that's for sure.
It was a brick building. Most of the bricks were darkened to a molasses color with age but the ones in the windows were a classic terra cotta. Those bricked-over arched windows had given the impression of eyes and eyebrows a moment before. The building didn't only have eyes. Its stone foundation had split in two and was working like a pair of stumpy legs. Bricks, glass, ivy, and dirt fell to the ground as it took gargantuan footsteps.
I recognized it. The empty old building on 5th and Main. It's not on 5th and Main anymore. At the moment it was lumbering down the middle of Main St.
At the next moment it was out of my sight. I heard it recede into the distance. There was a thundering splash when it reached the river. Then there was only the ringing in my ears and the ringing of car alarms.
After some time passed I came out of my hiding place and headed up the hill. Sure enough, there was a big empty space when I came to 5th St. The building was cleanly removed from the ground like a pulled tooth. There were severed pipes and cables but barely a scrap of the foundation. The building next door was intact too. I could see the silhouette where its companion had stood all those years.
Then I just walked home. It seemed like the only thing to do at the time. It was getting colder. The sky had turned lamp-post grey. My day didn't feel free anymore.
On the way back I saw a commotion at the school. The stone was in pieces on the ground. Men were shouting over who was at fault. Children were weeping. Now they'd never know why it had a face.
That's what happened. I was there to see it. A lot of people were but nobody wants to say what happened. I don't know if I'll ever learn how or why it happened but it did happen.
I see that face often. I remember that toothless, lipless grin standing out from the chalky stone. I imagine it understands. It smiles because it's amused by the hopeless mortals who search for explanations in a world they'll never comprehend.
Written by Floyd Pinkerton