Editor's Note: The following story is true, as told to the author. The caller wished not to be identified by name, so fictional names are used.
By Ken Korczak
The rugged gravel road that winds like a serpent through the thick forests of Minnesota's Northwest Angle seems especially lonely when you travel it by night in a rattling old pick-up truck.
That’s what Duke Rialto was doing one humid summer night in August of 1991. He was headed for a cabin at the Northwest Angle Resort in Angle Inlet where was supposed to join his buddies whom had arrived ahead of him for a week of fishing.
It was after midnight and Duke was dead tired. He had started out early in the morning from Esther, Iowa, and had driven all day to reach the wilds of the northern peak of Minnesota — “The Angle.”
But now, after hundreds of miles, Duke’s ‘65 GM decided it had enough. A sudden loud clunking noise erupted underneath, and the old pick-up lost momentum fast.
I don’t care who you are, it’s a scary feeling to have your truck go dead at night in the middle of the mysterious wilderness of The Northwest Angle. Duke had driven this road before, and had often seen large bears, moose and other variety of ferocious beast prowling the edge of the forest. Now he was faced with walking along this wild road in the inky blackness of night with God-only-knows-what manner of furry brute waiting in the dark to jump out at any warm meal walking by.
Duke pounded the steering wheel and cursed his old GM, but all the foul language in the world can’t fix a blown U-joint. He thought about waiting for someone else to come by, but anyone who has driven the Angle Road knows that the chances of another car coming by late at night is next to none.
Cursing his luck, Duke reached into his cubby for a flashlight and a .22 caliber pistol, which probably hadn’t been fired in five years. The thought of shooting at something in total darkness made him even more nervous.
Then suddenly, Duke’s luck seemed to change. As soon as he switched off his headlights, he noticed a faint yellow glow coming from deep in the woods on the east side of the road. “A cabin!” he thought.
He got out of his pick-up and walked toward the light. When he reached the edge of the forest, he could see that the light was a considerable way into the woods, but difficult to tell how far. It was also hard to tell what the light was. It might have been a cabin window, or maybe a campfire.
Reluctantly, Duke stepped into the woods keeping his eyes on the yellow glow. He told me:
“To be honest, I was so scared I was shaking…I mean, there I was out in the black woods with a dim flashlight in one hand and an old pistol in the other. I kept thinking I’d run into a bear. But the worst, I think, is what your own imagination projects out into the dark unknown.”
The woods were wet with dew. The pungent smell of rotting leaves and old wood hung in the air, as did patches of mist drifting up from the forest floor.
Branches tore at Duke’s clothing and slapped his face as he moved along. He stumbled often, and cursed every time. All the while, he was filled with fearful uncertainty. He had no idea what the light was — his heart pounded and his mind raced with wild ideas — maybe it was a UFO! Maybe some murderous lunatic hiding out in a shack!
But as he got closer, Duke began to sense that what he was approaching was stranger than anything he imagined. About 20 yards away, Duke made out the shape of three men standing around some kind of large light. In Duke’s words:
“It definitely wasn’t a campfire,” Duke said. “I’m sure of that. It didn’t flicker like a campfire. It was a steady glow. It was like a large globe on the ground. And those men were just standing around it, stiff-like — they just didn’t seem right. You usually sit around a campfire, but these guys were stiff and just strange, somehow. Their body language was off kilter, not natural.”
Despite his fear, Duke called out to the men. Hearing the shout, the three shadowy figures jerked, turned and stood rigidly. Then, according to Duke, something bizarre happened:
“The light they were standing around transformed instantly into a campfire … I mean, I didn’t see it directly, but one minute it was a steady, glowing light and the next it was a flickering, cracking, smoking campfire!”
Not sure what to think, and without options, Duke approached the men, squeezing his pistol hard in his sweaty palm, hiding it behind his back. When he got closer the weirdness got weirder.
“They were ordinary looking men, I suppose, but the way they were dressed was very odd,” Duke said. “I mean, one of the guys was wearing a cape! How often do you see anyone in northern Minnesota wearing a cape out in the woods!”
The man with the cape also sported a thick purple shirt with no buttons, and matching purple pants. He was wearing tall leather boots. His face and hair seemed normal. His cape was clasped at the shoulder with a magnificent gold ornament which glinted in the firelight.
The second man was wearing pants that were “like knickers” Duke said, and were “bunched up like riding pants.” The man in the riding pants had a shiny bald head, and he wore a loose black sweater tucked into his knickers, which were tight around the waist. He was wearing what Duke called “thin street shoes.”
The third man wore a long gray cloak that covered most of his body, hut he could also see that he wore purple pants and high leather boots. He had long brown hair and a heavy mustache.
They had no vehicle that he could see, and no camping equipment, no tents, not even anything to make a fire with, like an axe — nothing.
At first, the three men stared at Duke as if he were some kind of circus freak, but then they seemed to quickly recover and tried to act normal.
“They TRIED to act normal.” Duke said, “But it didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that these guys weren’t from around here. Either that, or they were playing some kind of weird game … I just don’t know.”
Duke stepped up to the fire and said hello, and started to explain that his pick-up had broken down on the road.
The man with the bald head stepped up to him, smiled broadly and said in stiff English: “You have lathed your feet and joined us here to be happy! All three!”
“I just didn’t know what to think about what he said,” Duke said. “It was a weird statement. I thought maybe these guys were Russians, or some kind of foreigners or something that were trying to enter the United States illegally through Canada and the woods of The Angle, or something. I don’t know. It just didn’t make much sense.”
Then the guy with the cape moved forward and pushed the bald guy aside. He asked: “The Aeon? Is it of, Sir?”
Duke said: “I’m not sure what you mean. What do you mean by Aeon?”
The three strangers all gave each other inside looks, as if they were all part of some kind of conspiracy. Then the caped man said: “You more to say. We hear more to say!”
At this point, Duke was more certain he was talking to some kind of foreign smugglers, although he could not fathom their accents. They didn’t sound Russian or like any other foreign accents he was familiar with. They sounded like people speaking a strange form of true English.
Duke said: “I talked to them some more, but it was extremely awkward. I mean, they were nice, and everything, but nothing they said made any sense. They were speaking English, but it was all mixed up, like they were putting together words from a dictionary without really knowing what each word meant in proper context.”
There was nothing to do but take his leave. Duke said good bye to the three strangers and the man in the cape said: “For positive yes!”
So Duke made his way back through the woods and found the road again. He spent the next two hours tramping along in the dark, walking he figures at least 10 or 12 miles, finally gaining Angle Inlet without getting eaten by a bear.
“After I showed up I told my buddies about the strange guys in the woods and the teased the hell out of me, saying I was drunk or high or loony or something. I eventually just stopped talking about it — I don’t like to even bring the subject up anymore because nobody really takes me seriously. But it’s one of those things you just don’t forget about. It’s like an experience that was on the edge of being paranormal, yet there could be a logical explanation for it.”
One last thing: After a week of fishing, Duke repaired his pick-up repaired and he returned to Esther, Iowa. One of the words the bald man had said was “Aeon,” and it kept running through his mind. He looked it up one day in the dictionary and discovered that aeon was another form of the word “eon,” which means: “an indefinitely long period of time; an age.”
Duke said: “Why would he be asking me what eon it was? Were they time travelers? Lost time travelers? They were certainly dressed like nobody I had seen before. Sometimes I think they were from another time. Maybe they were wizards. But then I think: Nah, they must have been smugglers, maybe from some obscure place like Transylvania or something. I just don’t know, but I’ll always wonder about it.”