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Spooky Figure
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Swiss "Gasmask Man" Frightens Residents

By James Donahue

Imagine hiking through the forests near Sales, Switzerland, and encountering the silent figure of a man dressed in military clothes, a long cloak, and his face hidden behind an ancient World War I style gas mask.

People who have encountered this guy say he is pretty frightening to run into, even though he has never said or done anything to suggest that he might be dangerous.

He doesn’t speak. He just walks through the forest and disappears into the trees. He has been known to sometimes be carrying wild flowers in one hand. They say he appears to walk the same route through the forest every day, always wearing the same strange garb.

He is not a large man. In fact, nobody can say for sure that he is a man at all. He stands an estimated six feet tall, which is not imposing. What is scary is that he is entirely hidden behind his military clothing and that weird gas mask that covers his face.

This has become the strange legend among the natives of the Sales area, many of whom say they have caught glimpses of this strange character. A photographer for the Swiss website Le Matin managed to capture a grainy photograph of the character they are calling "Le Loyon." It shows the back of a man hidden behind a long cloak as he retreats from view of the camera.

Since the website photograph appeared, proving that the native legend of a strange gasmask man prowling the forest is true, local authorities are now searching for him. They worry that he may be mentally ill or simply a hermit that just wants to be left alone.

Some say he is Switzerland’s answer to the Loch Ness monster.

Guy Savary, a municipal official in charge of the forests, said the situation with Le Loyon is "delicate because we basically have nothing against this person. But since he arouses these fears, we are going to hold a meeting to see if we can find a way of locating him and discouraging him from behaving as he does."

It seems as if nonconformity evokes a public effort to force conformity.