Starting with a bit of backstory, I’m a born and raised Long Islander. So are my parents. They met out east, which in Islander talk means the east end of the Island. To any NYC rich kids (and most of the world), that means the Hampton’s. But for the rest of us (the ones who are coincidentally NOT millionaires) it means the North Fork.
Not to get to geographically confusing, but Long Island is a (accurately named) long island that forks off about a 3/4 of the way down the 90 miles it stretches. It kind of looks like a fish with its mouth open, with the North Fork being where the eyes are and the Hampton’s being the jaw. (Do fish even have jaws?) Shelter Island is somewhere in the middle. Like, a smaller fish about to be eaten.
Honestly, just save yourself a lot of contemplating and google it.
SO. My mom’s family had a summer house on the North Fork (The eyes); My dad’s had a house on Shelter Island (The little fish). My parents met working at a summer job, and the rest is (clearly) history. But SUPER long explanation short, I grew up getting to pretend to be bougie, because I had not one, but TWO summer houses. I know, right?
Shelter Island is my favorite place. In a lot of ways, just the island itself feels magical. The only access is by ferry, and while traveling across it, you feel like your being transported into a different world. But the picture of Shelter Island in the summer is very different than the winter. In the summer, the population rises to around 20,000 people. But in the winter? Not more than 2,000. There are something like 14 students in a graduating class. The people there literally DRESS UP LIKE EACH OTHER for Halloween. This doesn’t necessarily pertain to my encounter, but it’s for real creepy, and makes me wonder just how involved my encounter could be with the locals.
So I was around 12 or 13. I had invited my best friend Lauren to come out with my family that weekend. I was so excited, as it was one of the first time’s Lauren was able to. I remember our bathroom was being renovated, and so the only other bathroom we could use was in the dank, dark basement. The only connection to the house was by going outside onto the deck and down the stairs and then down another set of stairs into the basement. So it had to have been around 10 o clock, and we went together to the bathroom to brush our teeth. The moon was almost full, so bright it provided some lights on an island that street lamps were few and far between. If it wasn’t for the light of the moon, we probably would have passed the creature all together without realizing, because out there you can hardly see two feet in front of you when it’s dark. As we were coming back up the stairs, laughing about something menial; that’s when we saw it.
It was about 10 feet away, with it’s back to us, lurking near my shed. We both froze, and did that thing where you take a quick breath and hold it, involuntarily. That made the creature notice us. It’s head whipped around, and his eyes were glowing, a kind of blood red. It didn’t look angry per say, but rather like a feral dog, not knowing how to react to these two little girls observing it. Almost as if not to scare us, he slowly rose up to full size, which I would guess was around 7 feet. The whole time, it never broke eye contact. I felt I could fall into the pits of blood that it’s eyes were. It was covered in long shaggy black hair and had the legs like that of a beast. After standing there, frozen in horror, for at least a full minute, all the while still in this staring contest, we both regained control of our feet and ran up the stairs screaming for my parents. “We saw a werewolf, we saw a werewolf!” My dad went out first, and we followed. My dad quickly dismissed it and went back inside, a bit disgruntled. I could have sworn I saw a bush where it was near move.
Over the years, I’ve had many theories. One of which is that the Natives who lived on the Island before the white man are responsible, as shape shifting legends are prevalent in Indigenous peoples cultures. However, skin walkers in Native legend usually choose to be so, very unlike the werewolf curse we so know and love. Maybe, it’s the descendants of the people who stole this land, cursed to turn under the full moon, choosing isolation to protect their secret. For nine months out of the twelve, anyway.
If you want to listen to the narration, spoken by the great Jeffrey Nadolny, you can listen here. To get more backstory and listen to a riveting discussion on the topic, you can listen to the Dogman Encounter’s Radio episode that RK is featured on!