Monday, August 21, 2006

Animal of the Week August 21, 2006 -- The Androscoggin Beast

Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves
And the mome raths outgrabe

Headlights chase the darkness down a forest lined New England highway. No other cars on the road, only the short tunnel of light specked with drops of luminescent drizzle. Something shoots across the tarmac on the edge of the light, running so fast that the young couple in the car can barely make out that it's a raccoon. Wwwwwmmmmmmmmmffffff, Dffff
"Oh my god, what was that?" shrieked the young man in the passenger seat.
"Just a deer or something"
"Stop the car"
The young woman braked and pulled over to the side of the road and reversed back to where they had hit something else running out of the forest. Steam rises from the body, swirling in the livid glow of the taillights. The car stops and the couple get out. Cautiously they approach the lifeless heap of grey fur.
"Jeez man, that sure don't smell like any deer I've ever come across."
By morning, the small towns of Litchfield and Greene are buzzing with news, rumour, and exaggeration: "They hit it!", "They got the beast", "The car was totalled", "100 pounds with three inch fangs", "A bears hind leg in its jaws". The legendary beast of Androscoggin County—scourge of a handful of small Maine towns, savager of rottweilers, red-eyed hellmonster—was dead, killed by chance.
Over the next few days the stories became as tall as the poplars in the forest—a dingo, a hyena, part gerbil part wolf, part dog part bear, part gorilla part chicken. Few had actually been to look at the beast's body before it was picked clean by the turkey vultures and the bones dispersed by foxes. But people had seen it before—fleeting glimpses in their gardens, a head shoved through a garden hedge after a terrified cat, quickly withdrawn on sight of a human being. Its short muzzle, demonic eyes, and drool-smattered fangs were part of the collective consciousness of Androscoggin.
As news spread, the interest of local cryptozoologist (a researcher into mythical or legendary animals) Loren Coleman (in the movie, played by Jeff Goldblum—natch) was piqued. A few photographs were taken, but no other evidence of the body remains. Trying to gather as much information about the victim of the road accident, Coleman ascertained that the creature was about 40 lb (hardly a monster), charcoal-grey in colour, and in possession of short triangular ears, a bushy tail, and a short muzzle. The zany scientist recalled a previous case of a similar beast shot by a hunter elsewhere in New England, investigators had hoped to prove the existence of werewolves or at least a new species of predatory mammal, but DNA analysis had shown the mystery creature to be a wolf–dog hybrid. Bolstered by Coleman’s backing the authorities sent word out that even he, a professional chaser of non-existent chimeras, believed the animal to be nothing more than a feral mongrel, or, at most, a hybrid of a dog and coyote. Oh… what an anticlimax! Thus ends the near fact.

“And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

Of course, in the movie version, that’s just the beginning, the townspeople return to their quiet everyday lives, rather embarrassed about having got so worked up about a stray dog. Here we cut to some government bunker where a crazed scientist (Tommy Lee Jones) splices together genes from bears, wolves, chupacabras, and emus to create a mega-army of beasts with which to wage war on the just people of New England. Nothing stands between him and world domination but the determination of a seemingly mad old woman (Lilly Tomlin) who knows what is really going on, and who, with the help of eye-candy grand-daughter and her love interest (Lindsay Lohan and Jesse Metcalf), manages to reawaken the scepticism of Jeff Goldblum by supplying him with a curious sample of fur from the beast that killed her husband. And what do the babies of the monsters that Tommy is creating look like, you guessed it, the critter killed in the opening scene—it was just a pup.


At 3:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like girls that are fleet of foot and sensitive of soul.

At 1:47 PM, Blogger animaloftheweek said...

Thanks for you thoughts anonymous. I believe the Androscoggin beast would have liked girls with a limp. Easier to catch.

At 12:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey! What about the dashingly handsome news reporter who first brought the tale to the public? Whose going to play that stud?


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