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When a West Virginia coal mining town begins experiencing mysterious visits from strange men and coinciding incidents of horror, apprehension grips the community. The strangers arrive on foot via the same mountain each time, only entering the community for round trips between mountains in this valley town. Among other questions, venturesome Eugene Harlow, 13, ponders their seemingly unnatural mode of arrival and departure in the vast terrain. The horrors, a possible association between them and the strangers, pique his curiosity. Seeing a shot at bringing his hero-fantasy to fruition, he decides to investigate. An officer assigned to evaluate the teen's "bizarre findings" is at first unimpressed. Ultimately stunned at one's indications-felony offense-and with the teen assisting, he opens an official state case. But the teen's disclosures lead to astonishing realities: hence, the biggest, and strangest, case ever pursued by the state.