First of all, I apologise for being a bit erratic with the blog updates over the last couple of weeks – there’s a couple of hundred American readers every time I update, so if I can just explain myself to you, I’m writing this blog in England and for the last ten days or so it’s been hot, clear skies and sunny outside. This hasn’t happened here since about 1834, and I’ve been making the most of it. I apologise for my tardiness in updating, but not for spelling ‘apologise’ with an S. That’s just the way it’s supposed to be, you pricks.
Oh, and if you’re the guy in Indonesia who found the blog by googling “Scott and Virgil Thunderbirds Fucking”, I don’t apologise to you either. You need to have a cold bath and calm down and think about what the holy hell your mother would make of what you’re doing with your life.
With that bit of horrifying admin out of the way, let’s get back to the good stuff.
Bladenboro, North Carolina is the sort of sleepy little American town that could give Steven King an erection capable of cracking granite. It has a water tower, an old cotton gin and a small population of around 2000, all of whom I assume are pleasant folk who chew wheat and wear diesel-stained overalls as they go around their wholesome cinnamon-and-apple-pie lives. It’s the perfect setting for one of King’s typical middle-America romps with the paranormal – or at least it would be, if real life hadn’t already beaten him to the punch.
The winter of 1953-1954 saw a very unwelcome visitor come to Bladenboro. It started a few miles away from the town on December 29, 1953, when eyewitnesses saw a creature that was ‘sleek, black and about five feet long’ killing a local dog. The canine murders soon spread into the town itself, with Johnny Vause losing two of his pets on December 31st to an attack that left them ‘crushed and torn to ribbons’, with the top of one dog’s head torn clean off.
Each night for several consecutive nights, one or two more local animals would die in horribly violent attacks. On January 1st, Woodie Storm lost two dogs, and was presumably comforted in his grief by his brothers Boner Tornado and Lob-On Typhoon. The next night on January 2nd the much more sanely named farmer Gary Callaghan also lost one of his barking chums. On the 3rd, two more were killed, and this time local police chief Roy Fores wanted to know what the living piss was going on and decided to have one of the carcasses autopsied. The autopsy found the dog almost entirely drained of blood, with the bottom lip broken open and the jawbone smashed back. On top of that, of all the bodies found so far, one had an ear gnawed off and two were missing their tongues. Rabbits, goats and even cows soon added to the list of mangled animals, often found with heads ‘as flat as a fritter’, which is a genuine quote from a man nicknamed ‘Tater’ whose sobriety I’m sure is entirely beyond question.
It wasn’t long before witnesses came forward claiming to have seen the beast. It was described as generally catlike, but often bushy haired with some bear-like qualities and weighing anything up to 150 pounds. Some claimed to have seen it with one of its young following it around, while others noticed catlike tracks with distinct inch-long claws. On January 5th, Chief Fores himself and others saw the creature attack a dog from 100 feet away; later that afternoon, a local woman named C. E. Kinlaw claimed to have frightened away ‘a big mountain lion’ by screaming after she went out to investigate her own whimpering pets. Her quote after the encounter is a superb slice of hyperbole:
“After we first saw it, and my husband [scared it away], it circled back and came running toward the porch where I was standing. I screamed and it stopped on all fours, turned and ran off. […] You know, the Bible speaks of sights and wonders before the end of time. This could be one of them. The Bible’s coming true, day by day.”
I’ve looked, but thus far I’ve been unable to find the passage in the Bible that claims the Apocalypse starts with a lion chowing down on a few redneck labradoodles. I thought that quote was probably the most darn-tootin’ly Amurrrkan one I’d find when reading about the Beast, and it probably is, but this one from another eyewitness is equally hilarious and all kinds of wrong:
“I got two dogs, Niggy, the little black one, and Peewee, a brown one, that’s bigger. Me and my wife were sitting here in the living room. We heard the dogs get awful restless. My front light was on and Larry Moore […] had his back light on. I glanced out the window and saw this thing. It had me plumb spellbound. It was bout 20 inches high. It had a long tail, about 14 inches. The color of it was dark. It had a face exactly like a cat. Only I ain’t ever seen a cat that big.”
If you missed it, just read that first sentence again.
HIS LITTLE BLACK DOG IS CALLED ‘NIGGY’.
All of a sudden it seems Bladenboro is a little too small-town America.
Moving on, hysteria over the Beast soon reached fever pitch. It got to the point that anything up to a thousand hunters, trappers and amateurs from as far away as Arizona had descended on the little town to make their name by killing the creature – the panic and the kills themselves ended with the death of a large bobcat at the hands of a steel trap and a bullet to the head.
Sceptics argue that the bobcat simply wasn’t big enough to take down some of the larger animals killed, particularly in the gruesomely powerful way it apparently did. The mountain lion theory also seems outlandish, given that cougars aren’t indigenous to anywhere near the area. Oh, and one dead bobcat doesn’t explain the fact that the Beast apparently resurfaced briefly in 2007, and again started mangling heads faster than some bad acid at an Aphex Twin gig.