Familiar shapes emerge from the strange.

After much deliberation, I’ve decided to start this story with the first line. The choice was relatively easy, as I haven’t yet written the last line, and it will most likely be on another page altogether. 

I ask you, dear reader, to kindly disregard anything you haven’t yet read, and instead focus on the story at hand. I promise you it will be everything you’ve ever wanted in something that you knew nothing about. If you suspend disbelief: indeed, if you have no expectations, I promise you that I will fill every one.

It was on a warm and windy Thursday afternoon in October that the creature first made itself known to the residents of the small town. It was very much your average small town in the way that most small towns are. Entering the town from the west you were greeted by the empty motel with the no vacancy sign. It stood like an abandoned building at the side of the road, which it was. The creature’s arrival included no major catastrophe, no fire or explosions, and no crowds running and screaming in terror.  It simply crawled from the muddy depths of the Grand River, and trudged slowly across Main Street toward the downtown core.  A few people stared in amazement, then quickly looked away to avoid eye contact.  Two cars stopped to let it cross, then continued their way along Queen Street.  Eyewitnesses would say it was nondescript, and larger than you would expect a smaller one of its kind to be. Others describe it with words such as adjectives.  It had both length and height, as well as width. Its weight was estimated to be in pounds or kilograms, depending upon how much metric you knew. It’s tail, if it were to have one, would have been glorious if not for its stunted appearance. It’s jet black coat shone golden in the morning moonlight, and it’s eyes shimmered like hard boiled eggs.  It’s long hair was short in most places, except where it wasn’t. 

It tramped slowly through the half empty streets, pausing to consider it’s reflection in the freshly washed windows of an empty greasy spoon.  On and on it plodded, driven by some unknown primal instinct. It slowed by the shoe store to make a decision of where to go next. It made a hard left onto Chestnut Street and picked up its pace for a few blocks.  Reaching the towering edifice of the two story housing development, it turned once again and took the path of least resistance, which happened to be eastward through the vacant land of the old TH&B railway.  Blocked in its progress by urban development once again, it hooked left and continued down Tamarac Street.  It was last seen that day entering the local remnants of a Carolinian forest.

Things went back to normal later that week after intensive police attention. As a result of a thorough 26 minute police investigation, it was positively identified as being unknown. The correct forms were filled out, then corrected and filed under several magazines. Though there were several subsequent calls made to the Cayuga OPP, and a couple of officers had been tasked patrolling the area, there were no further sightings.  The social media posts about it persisted a bit longer, but a meme about the war on Christmas soon replaced the appearance of the strange beast in the zeitgeist of Dunnville.

With winter came the first reappearance.  This time it wasn’t in person but came in the form of several webbed footprints in the fresh snow in Wingfield Park.  They meandered among the Christmas light displays, perhaps indicating an appreciation for the LED nativity or the flying Harvard.  Four days later it left smeared hand and nose prints on the window of the candy shop in an apparent attempt to find the source of the ever present scent of Chicago Style popcorn.  Further evidence included overturned grease bins behind some of the restaurants, and a very unappetizing pile of proof of the same grease bin adventures, albeit in partially digested form.  No one actually saw the creature this time around, not even the late evening dog walkers with their little green plastic bags (which was to be expected as their focus was in coaxing their shivering charges on to victory in the snow.)

It’s final return of the year came with little more fanfare than it’s first.  The early morning delivery truck driver was the first to take notice of it.  She thought it was a person sleeping on the bench near the fountain of the little boy and the heron, but soon realized her misjudgement when it rose and spread it’s hairy arms in a stretch and yawned in the growing light of the sunrise. As an easily agitated ‘out of towner’ she was quick to call the authorities (police, fire, ambulance, SPCA, Hunters and Anglers Club, two wildlife rescue businesses, and Abel Pest Control) before fleeing the scene.  Her frantic calls had mostly met with disbelief, and frequently with disdain.  Those she had spoken to directly refused to act, and only one person returned her call.  She gave the sighting location to the local wildlife control worker (who went by the online name tyler_420), and wished them the best of luck.  By this time, the now awake and alert creature had left the core and resumed it’s wandering.  The unfortunate delivery driver crossed paths with it once again as she sipped her third coffee of the morning in a valiant attempt to calm her nerves.  With her cube van following and surveilling from a safe distance, she confirmed the location with tyler_420.  Using both vehicles they were able to box the beast in a corner of a roundabout and dart it.  It remained calm and compliant, and in it’s stupor, was easily loaded into the back seat of his S-10.  By this time, the morning had given way to the noonday sun, and a crowd was forming.  Seven inquisitive locals looked at the sleeping beast, and some attempted to poke it with sticks, but were unceremoniously ushered away by the delivery driver.  Fearing for it’s safety, the worker drove quickly away, leaving the onlookers behind.  He drove for hours trying to figure out what to do with it, as this scenario clearly wasn’t part of the community college course on pests and varmints that he passed, nor was it in the licensing test.  He stopped once to have a bite of supper at the truck stop, making sure to dart the sleeping form once again and tenderly pulled a worn Dollar Store tarp out of the cab and tucked the creature in for a nap while he considered it’s future.  After much deliberation, and a second piece of apple pie, the plan was set.  It was driven under cover of darkness out of town and released into the wilds of Sleepy Hollow, where, legend has it, it roams freely today.

I have recounted the events as clearly as I can recall them.  Most memories return to me as I attempt to drift off to a wonderful night of fitful sleep.  My subconscious thoughts are haunted by memories of happy times, and the horrid nightmares of normalcy.  My nocturnal submissions are made easier to commit to paper due to my inability to fall asleep as easily as I fall out of favour.  To compound this, I find it difficult to get to sleep with the constant ‘wang wang’ of the Mandarin speaking neighbours dog.

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