September 24, 2020 • Landers, Calif.
There’s an aphorism among paranormal researchers that if you look at a weird phenomenon for very long, it’s going to look back. Recently I’ve been plotting out the next Mason Braithwaite blunt, a time-travel adventure where he spends time in the Mojave Desert near Landers. A few weeks ago I was there myself, and had an experience that borders on paranormal.
It was just after 4 p.m., and I was driving fast on a dirt road, intent on getting to a car-repair shop before it closed. I slowed down when a coyote appeared on the road about thirty yards ahead, crossing from left to right. Several things stand out as unusual about this event; one is that these critters are usually active at sunrise and sunset, not strolling around in the heat of a summer afternoon (it was in the high nineties). But what was truly weird was its appearance.
The critter was three times the size of a normal coyote. At first I thought it was somebody’s dog, the size of an Afghan hound. But its form was definitely coyotesque, identical to the normal-sized version in most respects, except size and color—it was dark gray, I’d call it gunmetal gray, whereas most coyotes I see are medium or dark brown. I asked one of my neighbors, who works with wildlife, whether the coyotes in the Mojave are a different species, and maybe larger than the urban version I’m familiar with, but she was certain they’re essentially the same.
I was still hell-bent on getting my car fixed that day, so once the critter had loped across the road, I gunned it and drove into town. Only later, lounging on the concrete outside the repair shop, did it strike me as weird. Like lots of paranormal experiences, a simple dismissive explanation is always right within reach. The critter was closer than I thought and so looked larger, and the light at that time of day made it look gray when it was really brown. Or it was actually a wandering dog. Personally I’m not sure what to make of it, except that it was pretty damn weird. Watch for Mason’s next paranormal mystery, informed by this coyote sighting, coming your way early next year.