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Coyote In Desert

Back in college, my botany class took a field trip out to the desert to look at plants and stuff, and long story short it was really boring except for the campfire we had that night. People were telling random stories (not necessarily ghost stories), when the professor himself busts out with this one:

He was out in the middle of nowhere in the Arizona desert, collecting plant samples like any good botany geek would. He was making a multi-day backpacking trip out of it, so he brought his dog with him for companionship. He’d finished up for the day and was making camp, getting ready to cook dinner, when his dog suddenly springs to life and starts off into the brush. The dog clearly wanted him to follow, so he did. The dog led him straight to this cabin in the middle of the desert. Being a friendly guy, my prof knocked on the door and said that a kindly old man with a German accent opened the door. He introduced himself, said that was out collecting plant samples and came across the cabin, and just wanted to say hello. The old man cheerily invited him and introduced himself (I can’t remember what he’d said his name was, but I believe it was something like Dr. Hermann. I’ll just call him that to make things easy).

So inside the cabin my prof sees all kinds of reference books, notes, and an excellently kept insect collection. Dr. Hermann offers him some dinner, which he gladly accepts. The two of them have dinner together and talk about science and such, because clearly they’re both interested in the field. Well as the night wears on, Dr. Hermann suddenly decides to tell him about something very strange that he’s seen out in the desert. For those who don’t know, wildflower blooms in the desert are an incredible sight to behold. From seemingly dead earth once a year come more flowers than you’ve ever seen in your life. Dr. Hermann claims that the wildflowers of the desert aren’t all pollinated by insects and hummingbirds as everyone thinks. He claims that coyotes are responsible for the great blooms, and they do it after a bizarre ritual that he says he’s seen. He says that the coyotes gather in a valley and do some sort of dance, then go forth in all directions and stick their noses in every flower they can find, thus pollinating the entire desert.

My prof hears this story and concludes that maybe Dr. Hermann isn’t entirely all there. Saying that coyotes are responsible for wildflower blooms is like saying the moon is made of green cheese. Deciding that maybe now’s the time to say goodnight to Dr. Hermann and go back to his camp for the night, he thanks him for dinner and leaves with his dog.

The next morning, before he leaves the area , he figures that the old man was very hospitable and so he ought to go and say goodbye. So he gets to the cabin and knocks on the door, but no one answers. He opens the door to see if Dr. Hermann’s there, but inside he finds that the place looks completely barren. It looks like no one’s been in this place for decades because of the incredibly thick layer of dust that coats everything. Perplexed by this, he looks around and eventually walks out the back door of the cabin. While he’s looking out across the desert, he sees something staring down at him from a not-too-distant ridge. A coyote, in fact.

Now I want to note something which I find a little interesting about this story. It’s a fairly common kind of outdoors/camping ghost story that you hear from people, isn’t it? But here it featured an old German guy who knew a lot about botany. My professor definitely knew his poo poo about botany, and was in fact first generation German himself (his first name was Dieter, and as far as I know he was born in the US). So here’s a ghost experience that seems almost custom tailored to the individual to which it happened. I’m not saying that I doubt my professor’s sincerity, but it seems a little odd that a botanist from a German background got haunted by a German botanist. I haven’t had any ghostly experiences myself but I wonder, if I ever do, will I be haunted by a coyote?

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