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 damage.


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 window.“

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 appearance.

"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 than yours."

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 called “gatherings.“

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
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.

The day 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.“

Barker smiled 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 distance.“

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 any kind.“

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.

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