Broadly speaking, reports of strange creatures that are said to secretly live among us – in the mountains, the forests and the waters of our world – fall into several categories. There is the classic giant hairy-man, of course: Bigfoot. Long-necked lake-monsters abound: from Scotland’s Loch Ness to Lake Okanagan, Canada, and within the dark depths of countless other bodies of water around the world, too. Then, there are those bizarre flying monsters, such as the Mothman of West Virginia that was thrust into the spotlight in 2002 with the release of the movie version of John Keel's 1975 book, The Mothman Prophecies. And, numerous reports of mysterious big-cats on the loose can be found in the files of monster-hunters everywhere.
Just occasionally, however, reports surface that are so weird it’s practically impossible to even begin to try and categorize them. But I guess that’s what makes the subject of cryptozoology so fascinating for those of us who study it: there’s never a dull moment. Take, for example, the story of Jim “Jug” Lloyd. Elderly and living in New Mexico, Jug told me back in 2002 of an encounter that his brother, William (who committed suicide in 1978) had with a very strange creature back in the late-1960s. The location, Jug revealed, was Lake Tahoe, in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
William, an artist, was sitting near the water’s edge on a warm and bright Sunday morning: he was getting ready to capture on canvas the spectacular lake and the surrounding mountains, when a sudden and furious bubbling in the water a couple of hundred feet away caught his attention. “Brother Bill thought it was salmon." At first. It soon became apparent, however, that whatever was causing all the commotion, it certainly wasn’t a school of salmon. As William continued to watch, he was astonished, and horrified too, to see what looked like a huge “pink jellyfish,” possibly twelve feet across, break the surface and, somewhat ominously, move slowly towards the shore.
For a few moments, William could only stare; but when the strange jelly-like mass got within about fifty feet of land, he knew it was time, as Jug put it, “to shift gears and move.” Having scooped up his oils, easel and lunchbox, William slowly retreated until he was around seventy or eighty feet from the shoreline, and, crouching behind a tree, continued to watch. Jug said that his brother had “felt sick when he seen it come [sic] out of the water.” And, as the story progressed, I was hardly surprised. William could finally see, as the beast struggled to haul itself out of the water and onto the sand-bar where he has been blissfully sitting only minutes before, that this was most definitely not the type of creature that one associates with Lake Tahoe – or, indeed, anywhere.
It was, he confided in Jug, “like an upside-down pink bowl with legs - or tentacles I suppose – coming out of it; too many to count.The thing he said to me [that] was worst, was it made a noise, like it was struggling to breathe: loud wheezing,” added Jug. Indeed, the sound of the heavy-breathing, coupled with the sight of the mass of tentacles that seemed to writhe and twitch on the shore, “made [William] sick to his gut.”
“Did he mention eyes, a mouth, or anything like that?” I asked Jug.
“Nope; never anything like that: just a big lump of blubber, and these arms or legs, and the noise.”
For perhaps twenty minutes, the beast merely lay there, and William debated whether to move in for a closer look, given that, explained Jug, “he thought it was there dying.” Or was it? As William continued to wonder if he should edge forward, the shiny mass began to move, and its snake-like tentacles “started to push it back into the water.” Two minutes later, the beast was fully in the lake, with only a foot or so of its top section visible. And barely a minute after that, it had sunk beneath the waters, never to return. And that, in essence, was it.
It has to be said that this all sounds like someone had overdosed on far too much of H.P. Lovecraft's output. And maybe that's all it ever was. I lost touch with Jug back in 2010, when he no longer answered his emails. And, while there are certainly tales of strange creatures in Lake Tahoe (they go by the collective name of Tessie), I have never heard a story like this one before. And, I haven't heard such a story since. A tall tale? It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest. Is there a chance that Jug was speaking truthfully? I guess so. But, I'm hardly holding my breath.