THE mysterious cattle mutilation phenomenon has been taking place in a number of countries – predominantly the US – for decades.
Hundreds of cows, horses and other animals have been found with holes cut into their sides.
Organs have been removed, and often their bodies have been bled to death or drained of blood.
In one case, a huge, mutilated bull was found inside a barn and lying upon a table.
How the perpetrators achieved this has still not been worked out. In all cases, there is a complete lack of footprints at the scene.
To carry out these mutilations on such a vast scale without detection dictates that the perpetrators must have access to highly-trained personnel and state-of-the-art technology.
The cattle mutilation phenomenon is of the classic 'Russian doll' type – a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
Much of the evidence suggests all-too-human culprits, the presence of mysterious, unmarked helicopters at mutilation sites, advanced but analysable surgical techniques and – in one case – a plastic bag left near the scene containing an unidentifiable gel-like substance.
However, there is also a considerable body of evidence to suggest the involvement of creatures which are not, to put it bluntly, card-carrying members of the human species.
Strange aircraft, including the entire melange of flying discs, triangles, spheres, tubes and mysterious lights, are also often seen at mutilation sites.
This, coupled with the fact that the mutilators seem able to perform feats beyond our technological capabilities, has drawn some to the conclusion that alien intelligence is at work, and that their agenda is extremely sinister indeed.
The problem with the "government conspiracy" theory is that it is hard to work out what motive the authorities might have to carry out the mutilations.
Personally, I have a foot in both camps. I'm convinced that our governments have a pretty good idea who or what is behind the phenomenon, and that they are connected with it in some way.
However, I also believe that alien intelligences are the main perpetrators.
Perhaps those other-worldly creatures behind the attacks are carrying out some form of genetic experimentation on humans.
The fact that their agenda is hidden would seem to indicate that, if we knew what it was, we may not like it one little bit.
As we near the second decade of the new Millennium, the cattle mutilation phenomenon has become an international scandal.
I spoke to one US journalist who has written about the mystery, and he told me that he has had nightmares about it.
"I'm frightened," he admitted. "Whoever they are, they're doing it for a reason, and they're prepared to invest a fortune into it.
"The pay-off must be really big. I have an awful feeling that whatever it is, we won't find out until it's too late."
Well, let's hope not. There is some evidence that the phenomenon may be tailing off, and that mutilations are not occurring as frequently as they once did.
I think a lot of ranchers in the US and elsewhere will only be happy when they stop all together.
* Got a creepy tale? Send it to email@example.com