Jul 09, 2010 I Micah Hanks

Attack of the Amorphous Monster: When Things Aren’t What They Seem

It looked like something right out of a 1950's horror flick, only this little booger was real; and in this instance, when I say "booger" I don't mean a ghost or hobgoblin. I mean an actual booger... as in mucus.

The video went viral right after a sewage company captured the strange "creature" using a small remote camera, sent down into a pipe network beneath a small shopping center near Raleigh, North Carolina. What they filmed startled them; a strange, brain-like, quivering thing which retracted with haste every time the camera drew near. The web was in an uproar over the North Carolina "blob", with excited talk about "a new species" popping up in various locales. What was the strange "sewer monster" they had filmed?

As it turns out, the monster was actually dozens--if not hundreds--of smaller creatures, working in co-habitation. “They are clumps of annelid worms," one individual wrote after the cluster's identity was revealed. "Almost certainly tubificids. Normally these occur in soil and sediment, especially at the bottom and edges of polluted streams. In the photo they have apparently entered a pipeline somehow, and in the absence of soil they are coiling around each other." Even with this new understanding, the "sewer booger" was no less disgusting (if you've read this far, you might as well claim your reward and view the creature by clicking here).

Having overcome our disgust at this strange subterranean cluster of critters, we might stand to learn something from it in retrospect. After all, at a glance, this circumstance presented even the most well-trained cryptozoologists and Fortean experts with a potential "unknown." One must therefore consider whether there might be other instances where reports of "strange creatures" result from misidentification.

One of my favorite stories of what sounds, at a glance, very much like a Yeti waving down cars right by the side of the road came from no place else than that of the great Gonzon poet himself, Hunter S. Thompson. In his seminal book Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72, Thompson described speeding along the Pennsylvania Turnpike on his way to Washington D.C. when "suddenly out of the darkness in the corner of my right eye I glimpsed what appeared to be a white gorilla running towards the road." Somewhat shaken by the beast he'd seen darting toward him, Thompson lurched his car off to the shoulder and, armed with a flashlight and his trademark .357 Magnum, headed back up the road. "My instincts were purely humanitarian--but what about that Thing I was going back to look for?" As luck would have it, the "gorilla" had been one of two slightly inebriated young men with a blown out tire; fortunately for them, Thompson hadn't finished his entire bottle of Wild Turkey yet either, and decided to help them and join them for coffee afterward.

No less, many reports of Bigfoot transpire in much the same way: someone is driving alone late at night when a strange apparition, hair covered and enormous, lunges toward their moving vehicle as the speed down the road. Traveling at any speed over 30 miles per hour (let alone the drunken 70 or better Thomspon had been traveling), trying to decipher the identity of any massive creature--Bigfoot, bear, or otherwise--might become a sudden challenge.

Unless, of course, you're Rick Fisher, an independent tour guide and paranormal researcher living in Pennsylvania today, perhaps only miles from where "Thompson's Gorilla" was seen by the Great Gonzo back in early '72. Years ago, while investigating reports of a "Wookie" that was causing a stir in his hometown, Fisher had been called to examine a strange set of footprints of extraordinary stature traveling through the soft mud in a drained lake bed. It was winter, and Fisher was amazed to discover that the trail led right down to the deepest part of the lake which, in its drained state, still held close to seven feet of water in a deep pool near its center. The culprit has continued right into the water, stomping along through the pool and continuing along on the other side as though there had been no water there at all!

Hearing this story as Fisher told it at a Bigfoot conference in Ohio years ago, I found it damn near unbelievable, and hurried over to chat with him afterward. "Well, it gets even weirder," he assured me, only after expressing that the end of the story was so bizarre that he preferred not to even include it with his presentation. "Weeks after the incident at the drained lake, I had been driving along next to a corn field when, suddenly there in the road just in front of me was Chewbacca the Wookie." Fisher described a gigantic, hair-covered humanoid, so thin that it looked malnourished, strolling down the highway in front of him.

"I wanted to pinch myself. I couldn't believe what I was seeing," Fisher told me. "And at that very moment, just as it was dawning on me what I was actually seeing, the thing vanished."

"What?" I asked him, confused.

"It didn't leap off to the side of the road, and I never took my eyes off of it. Right there in front of me it just vanished. Poof, and it was gone." Fisher seemed just as troubled by his explanation, or lack thereof, a I did. "See," he added, "that's why I just don't tell people anymore, especially at conferences like this."

Indeed, there are certain instances where normal things are mistaken for abnormalities, as in the case of Hunter Thompson's white gorilla or the "booger monster" of Raleigh. And yet, however strange and anomalous something like Bigfoot might be accepted to be outright when taking into consideration the possibility that it exists, stories like Rick Fisher's leave us questioning whether or not even the tangible aspects of Earth's mysteries are what they seem to be. What if certain cryptids weren't even terrestrial as we know life on Earth to be, but were instead strange entities capable of lapsing between dimensions? If nothing else, it provides a little food for hungry minds... but the answers we seek will inevitably remain elusive.

Micah Hanks

Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.

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