Dancing Red Light

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The small parking area off of Route 2 in the Templeton / Gardner area is a familiar spot to me – my son lives, during the week, with his mother in Vermont and I find myself using Route 2 often in order to get from Central Massachusetts to I-91 North. It’s about a two-hour drive, and by the time I’ve gotten to Gardner I’m most of the way through the journey home. The little non-descript parking lot with no lights or amenities of any kind became a regular place to pull off, get out of the car, and stretch while having a cigarette before travelling that last leg of the journey home.

One night I was feeling particularly drowsy, during a very cold Sunday night in February. Driving in excess of four hours on poorly lit highways can be quite bad enough, but when it’s cold out and you run the car heater for that long your eyelids really begin to droop. I got out for my normal stretch and smoke, at my normal spot, for what turned out to be a very abnormal break in my trip.

It’s a “live parking” area, which I always took to mean you leave your car running when you’re there. The podcast I had been listening to was over, and the outro music was playing as I looked up into the sky. Route 2 out that way has little-to-no light pollution – you’re surrounding by wooded areas and small towns, and lighting on the highway itself is even sparse. Sometimes this means a better look at the stars than I’m used to closer to the city, and since my phone was still plugged in on the car dash and the distraction of social media and text was thus out of reach, I looked to the sky in the hope of seeing a good light show from the constellations.

A small red light came into view, going roughly from west to east. Very small, and seemingly very distant, I wondered what it could be. Nothing about it blinked, or showed a color other than red; I thought perhaps a satellite of some kind. Of course, being a flying saucer nut, I thought to myself “perhaps it’s a UFO!” but discounted it almost immediately. After all, I thought… it’s not as though it made a 90 degree turn without slowly down! And then, to my surprise, it did that very thing. It went from its eastward course to north – and then proceeded to zig-zag and perform figure of eight maneuvers in the sky. At that moment also, the podcast changed from the outro of the now ended episode I had been listening to to an old episode of “Welcome to Night Vale” that I had cued up. The episode is called “The Sandstorm”, and opens with the line “Red light blinking in the sky… the future is changing, but it’s hard to tell…”

As an aside here, at no point did the light I saw blink. There is, however, a tower somewhat close to the rest area with a blinking red light on it. It has occurred to me that this unidentified light could be an effect of reflection of the blinking light on the clouds – but I’m not sure how that would work. Like I said, it never blinked – what it did do, for quite a while, was dance around in the sky apparently for my amusement. Of course at this point I was excited. Of course I tried to take a video of it, but it couldn’t be captured on my phone’s camera. At some points, the tiny red dot just stayed still, or moved back and forth. It was a really strange thing to see, and I struggled to remain objective. At the same time, I felt the need to share it with someone…

And weirdly enough, I also got kind of bored with it. I mean, what do you do with a red sky dot after a few minutes, particularly when it’s 10 degrees Fahrenheit and there’s 10-15 mph wind making it seem even colder? So I left.

The following week I told my son about what I saw on the way back from picking him up for the weekend. We stopped there again… and the light was there again! In fact, for several weeks in a row, the tiny red light would be there waiting for us. I even saw it in Marlboro, Vermont, upon picking him up at a friend’s house… In that case, I had to show his friend’s mom, just so I wouldn’t feel like I was crazy. She agreed that it was weird, but otherwise brushed it off. And, over time, the light became less active. We’d still see it there, but it would sit still in the sky or wiggle slightly, as if to say “You’ve SEEN me do plenty of tricks. What else do you need?”

It hadn’t really occurred to me at the time, but this rest stop is in fairly close proximity to Leominster State Forest – known by some as “Monsterland” because of the Bigfoot sightings that have been reported there over the years. Ronnie LeBlanc of “Expedition Bigfoot” has a book about it – called “Monsterland” – and in it he recounts stories of red orbs he believes are connected to the Bigfoot phenomena somehow. So was it a Bigfoot related Red Sky Dot? Or was it someone who likes to spend their Sunday and Friday nights pointing a laser pointer at the sky in sub-freezing temperatures? Perhaps a red lit drone of some kind? A light effect from the nearby tower?

Really, who knows? It seems too mundane to be a great UFO tale, but too weird to dismiss. I have been back to that spot more recently, and they have added big street lights to the parking area, obliterating any hope of stargazing or appreciating sentient Sky Dots. I’d like to believe it’s still out there, somewhere between Gardner, Massachusetts and Marlboro, Vermont, whether I get to see it or not. I mean, I’ve already seen it do tons of tricks. What else could I want?

Submitted by A.P. Strange, Liminal Ambassador