5 - The Cold
Who Came Down in the Rain
Woodrow Derenberger is a tall, husky man with close-cropped sandy
hair, twinkling blue-gray eyes, and an honest open face. In 1966 he
was in his early fifties but looked considerably younger. His life
had been normal to the point of being mundane—a long succession of
modest jobs, hard times, constant movement from one rented house to
another pursuing no particular ambition. Surviving. Feeding and
clothing his attractive young wife and two children. Now he was
working as a salesman for an appliance company and living in a
simple two-story farmhouse in Mineral Wells, West Virginia. It was a
good time in his life.
At 7 P.M. on November 2, 1966, he was heading home in his panel
truck after a long, hard day on the road. The weather was sour,
chill, and rainy. As he drove up a long hill outside of Parkersburg
on Interstate 77 a sudden crash sounded in the back of his truck. He
snapped on his interior lights and looked back. A sewing machine had
fallen off the top of a stereo, but there didn’t seem to be any real
A car swept up behind
him and passed him. Another vehicle seemed to be following it. He
eased his foot on the accelerator. He had been speeding slightly and
thought it might be a police car. The vehicle, a black blob in the
dark, drew alongside him, cut in front, and slowed.
Woody Derenberger gaped in amazement at the thing. It wasn’t an
automobile but was shaped like,
“an old-fashioned kerosene lamp
chimney, flaring at both ends, narrowing down to a small neck and
then enlarging in a great bulge in the center.”
It was a charcoal
gray. He slammed on his brakes as the object turned crossways,
blocking the road, stopping only eight or ten feet from it.
A door slid open on the
side of the thing and a man stepped out.
“I didn’t hear an
audible voice,” Woody said later. “I just had a feeling ...like
I knew what this man was thinking. He wanted me to roll down my
The stranger was about
five feet ten inches tall with long, dark hair combed straight back.
His skin was heavily tanned. Grinning broadly, his arms crossed and
his hands tucked under his armpits, he walked to the panel truck. He
was wearing a dark topcoat.
Underneath it Woody could see some kind
of garment made of glistening greenish material almost metallic in
"Do not be afraid."
The grinning man did not speak aloud. Woody sensed the words.
"We mean you no harm. I come from a country much less powerful
He asked for Woody’s name. Woody told him.
"My name is Cold. I sleep, breathe, and bleed even as you do."
Mr. Cold nodded toward
the lights of Parkersburg in the distance and asked what kind of
place it was. Woody tried to explain it was a center for business
and homes—a city. In his world, Cold explained, such places were
While this telepathic conversation was taking place, the
chimney-shaped object ascended and hovered some forty or fifty feet
above the road. Other cars came along the road and passed them.
Cold told Woody to report the encounter to the authorities,
promising to come forward at a later date to confirm it. After a few
minutes of aimless generalities, Cold announced he would meet Woody
again soon. The object descended, the door opened, Cold entered it,
and it rose quickly and silently into the night.
When he got home, Derenberger was in a very distraught state. His
wife urged Mm to call the Parkersburg police. They seemed to accept
his story without question and asked if he needed a doctor.
The next day he was questioned at length by the city and state
police. The story appeared in the local press and on radio and
television. People who had driven that same route the night before
came forward to confirm that they had seen a man speaking to the
driver of a panel truck stopped on the highway. Mrs. Frank
Huggins and her two children had reportedly stopped their own car
and watched the object soar low over the highway minutes after Woody
watched it depart. Another young man said the object had frightened
him out of his wits when it hovered over his car and flashed a
powerful, blinding light on him.
Woodrow Derenberger became a super-celebrity. Crowds of people
gathered at his farm every night, hoping to glimpse a spaceship. His
phone rang day and night. He switched to an unlisted number but
within a short time the calls began again. Crank calls, threatening
him if he didn’t “shut up.” Calls that consisted of nothing except
eerie electronic sounds and code-like beeps.
Mr. Cold kept his promise. He returned.
The Indians must have known something about West Virginia. They
avoided it. Before the Europeans arrived with their glass beads,
firewater, and gunpowder, the Indian nations had spread out and
divided up the North American continent. Modern anthropologists have
worked out maps of the Indian occupancy of pre-Columbian America
according to the languages spoken. (1)
American Indian Linguistic Families and Tribes, a map issued by C.S.
Hammond & Co., New York.
The Shawnee and Cherokee
occupied the areas to the south and southwest. The Monacan settled
to the east, and the Erie and Conestoga claimed the areas north of
West Virginia. Even the inhospitable deserts of the Far West were
divided and occupied. There is only one spot on the map labeled
“Uninhabited”: West Virginia.
Why? The West Virginia area is fertile, heavily wooded, rich in
game. Why did the Indians avoid it? Was it filled with hairy
monsters and frightful apparitions way back when?
Across the river in Ohio, industrious Indians—or someone—built the
great mounds and left us a rich heritage of Indian culture and lore.
The absence of an Indian tradition in West Virginia is troublesome
for the researcher. It creates an uncomfortable vacuum. There are
strange ancient ruins in the state, circular stone monuments which
prove that someone had settled the region once. Since the Indians
didn’t build such monuments, and since we don’t even have any lore
to fall back on, we have only mystery.
Chief Cornstalk and his Shawnees fought a battle there in the 1760s
and Cornstalk is supposed to have put a curse on the area before he
fell. But what happened there before? Did someone else live there?
The Cherokees have a tradition, according to Benjamin Smith Barton’s
New Views of the Origins of the Tribes and Nations of America
(1798), that when they migrated to Tennessee they found the region
inhabited by a weird race of white people who lived in houses and
were apparently quite civilized. They had one problem: their eyes
were very large and sensitive to light. They could only see at
night. The fierce Indians ran these “mooneyed people” out. Did they
move to West Virginia to escape their tormentors? There are still
rumors of an oddball group of albino people in the back hills of
Kentucky and Tennessee.
But there are also myths
and rumors of mysterious people living in the hills of New Jersey
forty miles from Manhattan.
before Woodrow Derenberger’s unexpected meeting with Mr. Cold in the
rain, a national guardsman was working outside the national guard
armory on the edge of Point Pleasant when he saw a figure perched on
the limb of a tree beyond the high fence. At first he thought it
looked like a man, but after he studied it for awhile he decided it
was some kind of bird. The biggest bird he had ever seen.
He went to call some
friends and when they came the bird was gone.
On November 4, Derenberger was riding with a co-worker on Route, 7
outside Parkersburg when he felt a tingling sensation in his
forehead. Then thoughts from Mr. Cold began to spring full-blown
into his mind. Cold explained that he was from the planet of Lanulos
which was in the “galaxy of Ganymede.” Lanulos, he said, was very
like the earth, with flora, fauna, and seasons. He was married to a
lady named Kimi and had two sons. Folks on Lanulos had a life
expectancy of 125-175 earth years.
Naturally there was no
war, poverty, hunger, or misery on Lanulos.
When the transmission was completed, Cold urged Woody to brace
himself because withdrawal would be painful. Woody felt a sharp pain
in his temple and nearly passed out.
Two weeks later, though Woody wasn’t aware of it at the time, two
salesmen visited Mineral Wells and went from house to house with
their wares. They weren’t very interested in making sales. At one
house they offered Bibles. At another, hardware. At a third they
were “Mormon missionaries from Salem Oregon” (a UFO wave was taking
place in Salem at that time). One man was tall, blond, and looked
like a Scandinavian. His partner was short and slight, with pointed
features and a dark olive complexion.
They asked questions about
Woody and were particularly interested in opinions on the validity
of his alleged contact.
“Old Bandit’s gone,”
the six-year-old boy said sadly. “Mister, do you think you can
bring him back?“
Gray Barker shifted his
large frame uneasily. The boy’s father, Newell Partridge, ordered
the child off to bed.
“It’s all so weird,”
Partridge complained. “I just can’t figure it out.“
understandingly. Ever since he had investigated the Flatwoods
monster back in 1952, he had been listening to weird stories. A
pioneer ufologist, Gray had made many outstanding contributions to
the subject. He had also managed to make himself a somewhat
controversial character in a field riddled with controversies and
characters. The diehard fanatics who dominated sauceriana during the
early years were a humorless lot and Gray’s mischievous wit baffled
and enraged them. At times it baffled me, too.
This towering bear of a
man was very hard to “read.” But his investigations were always
thorough and uncompromising.
Now he was sitting in the home of Newell Partridge near Salem, West
Virginia, talking about an errant television set and a missing dog.
On the evening of November 14 1966, Bandit, a big, muscular German
shepherd, had dashed into the darkness and vanished.
“It was about 10:30
that night, and suddenly the TV blanked out,” Partridge said. “A
real fine herringbone pat-ten appeared on the tube, and at the
same time the set started a loud whining noise, winding up to a
high pitch, peaking and breaking off, as if you were on a
musical scale and you went as high as you could and came back
down and repeated it. ... It sounded like a generator winding
up. It reminded me of a hand field generator that one might use
for portable radio transmission in an emergency.“
Outside on the porch,
Bandit began wailing. Partridge picked up a flashlight and went
outside to investigate.
“The dog was sitting
on the end of the porch, howling down toward the hay barn in the
bottom,” Partridge continued. “I shined the light in that
direction, and it picked up two red circles, or eyes, which
looked like bicycle reflections.
Still there was something about those eyes that is difficult to
explain. When I was a kid I night-hunted all the time, and I
certainly know what animal eyes look like-such as coon, dog and
cat eyes in the dark. These were much larger for one thing. It’s
a good length of a football field to that hay barn. Probably
about 150 yards; still those eyes showed up huge, for that
As soon as the
flashlight picked out the “eyes” Bandit snarled and ran toward them.
A “cold chill” swept over the man and he felt a wave of fear which
kept him from following the dog.
That night he slept with a loaded gun beside his bed.
The next day he went looking for the dog.
“I walked out to the
barn, looking for tracks. Here and there I could see Bandit’s
paw prints. These were rather easy to find, for he was a heavy
dog, and the area was muddy.“
At the approximate
position of the “eyes” he found a large number of dog tracks.
“Those tracks were
going in a circle, as if the dog had been chasing his tail,“
Partridge explained, “though he never did that. And that was
that. I couldn’t see them go off anywhere, though I did see a
series of fresh tracks which apparently led from the porch to
the spot where he ran in circles. There were no other tracks of
Bandit simply vanished
into thin air.
“I think that the
hardest thing to explain is the feeling involved ... except to
say it was an eerie feeling. I have never had this sort of
feeling before. It was as if you knew something was wrong, but
couldn’t place just what it was.“
Sudden fear. Eerie
feelings. Something unnatural was stalking the hills of West
Virginia that November. The fear would become contagious.
Those frightening red
eyes would settle in Point Pleasant, while Mr. Cold and his crew of
cosmic zanies would spread their propaganda in Mineral Wells,
forsaking their flying lantern chimney for a black Volkswagen.