Friday, October 29, 2010

Monster Dreams

Something woke me. I lay there for a moment, confused, disoriented. What had I heard? My dad making tea to deal with insomnia? My sister, tossing and turning in the next room? One of the cats padding across the driveway in search of mice?

When whatever had happened didn't happen again, I tried convincing myself I'd woken from a bad dream, that it had been a one-time noise, that I could go back to sleep without worrying. But everything that should've calmed me only got me more worried. There was something out there I needed to be concerned about. I just didn't know what.

I pulled back my covers and walked to the window. I pulled the Venetian blinds up carefully, scared of waking my family, and looked down on the back yard. I was just tall enough to look out without having to stand on tiptoe. Moonlight lit up the driveway, the vegetable gardens, Dad's car, the neighbours' yard. It must've been two or three in the morning. There was nothing out there that could've woken me. 

Okay, I thought. It's okay. Back to bed. It was nothing. Probably the cat.

And then came the distinctive sound of someone stepping on gravel. Crunch, crunch. Someone was at the top of the driveway, where the trees blocked my view! I had to see who before running down the hall to my parents. If it was the guy across the street and I cried burglar…

So I waited, hearing footfall after footfall until the figure came into view. Tall, shadowy, male. I couldn't see more than that. I waited some more, as my heart started pounding in my chest. Every step the figure took raised my anxiety. Should I get my parents now? Now?

Finally the figure reached the widest part of the driveway, the part we used to turn the cars around or park guests. It looked up at my window, straight at me, with a face covered in hair, barely human, and a body too tall and naked and hairy. My heart stopped beating. 


It lowered its head again, purposefully, and walked straight to the boot room door. It was coming inside! It was going to find me! Kill me, then my sister, then my parents! It was—

I was ten or eleven, and yes, this was just a dream. Cliché, I know, to end a story that way.

The story properly begins with a cliché too—"But Mom! I'm nearly done this story! Can't I stay up a few minutes later?" I'd been reading a book of real-life Sasquatch encounters, signed out from the town library. The story in question was about a group of Sasquatch in Oregon, who'd taken offense at a group of hunters and had started rock-bombing their cabin in the middle of the night.

In hindsight, it's not really surprising that I had a nightmare.

I spent much of my pre-teen years reading books from the paranormal/unexplained section. The Cottingley fairies. Hauntings. Unsolved mysteries. Mummies of all shapes and sizes. Roswell and other close encounters. Loch Ness. Monsters and fairies from around the world. Verified hoaxes. Urban legends. I couldn't get enough of the stuff. My parents took it more or less in stride, bless them.

I drifted out of the phase once I hit high school, but I'm starting to get back into those stories thanks to urban fantasy. I love seeing folklore, myths, legends, and fantasy creatures transplanted into the modern world, even if it tends to be the same root stories again and again — vampires, werewolves, demons, witches, the odd ghost or fairy. There's a lot more out there to play with, though, and I hope we'll get to see books about them as the trend continues.
  • human vs. an angry brownie
  • human vs. god
  • a detective who takes Nessie or Bigfoot on as a client
  • a PR rep who's contacted by (insert folkloric creature here)
  • mummies (as hero or villain or sidekick) and not just the Egyptian ones either
  • human vs. haunted house
  • the phantom hitchhiker
  • any other urban legend re-enacted
  • stories based on documented cases of possession, haunting, etc.
I know there are probably stories like this out there already. If you're reading this and know of any, let me know.

But to bring things back to Sasquatch, because they're one of my all-time favourite monsters—why haven't they shown up in a big way? They're primarily a Pacific Northwest monster, but have been sighted through much of North America. (The Pacific Northwest of course being known for its rainy, foggy atmosphere and collection of urban fantasy authors.) Sasquatch lurk at the edges of our world, in the forests, like so many other monsters. The Native legends are often of boogiemen—don't go into the forest or they'll carry you off. Like the Oregon hunter story that set off my nightmare, there are documented cases of Sasquatch aggression, though generally they seem shy and peaceful. It's not an Old World monster like vampires and werewolves, though there are wildmen stories there, too. 

For one possible take on the modern-day Bigfoot story:

For another: someone's publishing his memoirs.

With such a host of legend and evidence, and such a range of possible settings, I'm surprised no one has taken Sasquatch on as a topic, yet. For that matter, I'm surprised no one's tackled cryptids or other legendary creatures in a big way yet. But today, I want Sasquatch! Give me Sasquatch! I'm not going to have to write this myself, am I?


Cordria said...

Unfortunately, I've found most of the stuff you want to read you have to write for yourself. ;)

I call the Chupacabra. :D


Anassa said...

Yeah, I know. I'm just an optimist with other books she wants to write too.

Totally go for the Chupacabra!