Tag Archives: felids

#20 – The Beast of Bladenboro

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

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.

I'd get that insurance policy updated if I were you.

I’d get that insurance policy updated if I were you.

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’.

Say what?

Say what?

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.

beastbladenboro

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#19 – The Queensland Tiger

Mystery cats often create more buzz than other cryptid sightings, because everyone loves cats. Cats that want burgers, ceiling cats, basement cats, box cats, nyan cats, cats that cat, cats cat cats – the fucking Internet can take any picture of a cat and make it so ball-twistingly omnipresent that you can barely search for porn these days without stumbling upon a video that you have no interest in seeing of some cooing Japanese bellend trying to coax his cat into a shoebox with a piece of ham. Then some other bellend will take that video, cut it with another video of another cat playing the ukelele, dub some obscene electronica music over the top of it and impose the words CAN HAZ HAM UKELELELE over every other frame and for no other reason than they hate you, every awful and tedious bore that you’ve ever worked in an office with will send it to you via every medium ever invented with the subject line “LOL CATS!” until you are so fucking surrounded by cats that you choke to death on all the airborne hair and are eaten by cats. This, the Internet has proven, is the evolutionary path that we have chosen for ourselves, and it’s a more terrifying prospect than Skynet.

FUCK YOU.

FUCK YOU.

Owing to hundreds of sightings of creatures like the Beast of Bodmin Moor, mystery cat scares are quite a British phenomenon – no other country in the world has had a police helicopter scrambled over a spaz-panic caused by a giant toy tiger – but local legends about mystery felids aren’t unique to our green and pleasant shores. Australia also has its own furball-hawking cryptid, and it’s a more intriguing prospect than an out-of-place big cat from a recognised species.

The Queensland Tiger has been known to the Aborigines for centuries as an animal the size of a German shepherd with a distinct striped back, prominent teeth in its catlike head and mean claws on its front paws with which it disembowels its victims. Of course, this being Australia, where animals are generally insane Picasso explosions of misplaced body parts (all of which are generally poisonous, pointy, racist or confusing), the Queensland Tiger probably isn’t a tiger at all. Or even a cat. Are you confused yet?

We're going to need a bigger litterbox.

We’re going to need a bigger litterbox.

Just because everything that breeds and lives in Australia is apparently a big fan of dungarees with a front pocket, the tiger is believed to be a still-living descendant of the Thylaceo, marsupial predators that were once the biggest carnivores in Australia. Thylaceo Carnifex was the size of a small lion and was terrifyingly specialised in killing the shit out of things, with the most powerful pound-for-pound bite of any mammal to have ever lived and a tail it could anchor as a tripod to free up the cat-like claws on its front legs. Just because the most powerful bite in mammal history isn’t enough when you could also be shredding stuff with greater haste and ferocity than an executive at Enron in its final days.

Although presumed extinct now, there’s at least one ancient example of Aboriginal cave art depicting a standoff between a Thylaceo and a hunter that would put it in much more modern times than the fossil record suggests. The picture features details like a tufted tail and striped back – details that the artist couldn’t have known from anything other than a real-life encounter with the animal.

A flurry of sightings around the tropical Queensland forests in the 1950s and 60s led to several expeditions being led in search of the elusive beast. No solid evidence has been found to prove its existence. However there’s one possible photo of the animal, taken by a woman named Rilla Martin in 1964. She was driving her car in Ozenkadnook (bless you) when she spotted a strange animal by the side of the road, which she managed to get a snap of just as it turned to move away:

Jesus, iPhones were shit in the sixties.

Jesus, iPhones were shit in the sixties.

Hardly conclusive, but it was enough to cause a bit of a stir at the time. Some have claimed it as a hoax, while others claim it’s more likely to be a Thylacine, more commonly known as the famous Tasmanian tiger – if that were the case, it’d be just as important a crytozoological find, as the last Thylacine is supposed to have died in a zoo in 1936.

What do you mean 'their natural habitat isn't a fucking stable?'

What do you mean ‘their natural habitat isn’t a fucking stable?’ They’ll be fine.

In summary – well done Australia. As if you didn’t have enough terrifying animals in the first place.

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