It’s time for another article on my ongoing series of experiences and encounters with so-called whistleblowers. This one is without doubt one of the strangest of all. Now and again, I find myself on the receiving end of a conspiratorial story that is so unbelievable, so downright bizarre, and so utterly implausible that I actually wish it could be true, even though it isn’t. Well…it probably isn’t. Or is it? I still can’t be sure. In terms of the chupacabra, I was in just such a position in September 2013. That was when, on the 3rd of the month, I received the first of around twenty emails from a man I’ll call Ed. It transpires that Ed – who lived in Utah, and who claimed to work at the ultra-secret Dugway Proving Ground – had seen a 2004 episode of the SyFy Channel’s Proof Positive series on the Chupacabra of Puerto Rico. The SyFy Channel crew followed me around the island for slightly more than a week, as I sought out the truth of the so-called Goat-Sucker. Ed said he could tell me exactly what the chupacabras were. And so, I said words to the effect of: “Please tell me.” He certainly did that and much more, besides.
According to Ed, the creatures that have become known as chupacabras amount to nothing less than populations of thylacines. And, what you may well ask, are (or, rather, were) thylacines? I’ll tell you. Their correct title is Thylacinus cynocephalis, which translates as pouched dog with a wolf’s head. They were dog-sized, striped marsupials, with powerful jaws that had the ability to open to almost 180 degrees. There is, however, a problem with this theory. Actually, there are two (at least!): thylacines are believed to have become extinct back in the 1930s, and they were native to New Guinea, Australia and Tasmania, none of which are anywhere remotely near the island of Puerto Rico.
All of this brings us right back to the weird words of Ed. Let’s begin with his supposed place of work: the Dugway Proving Ground. In February 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a piece of legislation that gave what was then called the War Department complete jurisdiction over more than 120,000 acres of land in Utah. It wasn’t long before the DPG was up and running. And it’s still doing exactly that today, but, now, with the benefit of almost three-quarters of a million acres of heavily-guarded and near-inaccessible land. The best way to describe the base is as an Area 51 that, instead of allegedly researching crashed UFOs and autopsying dead aliens, focuses its top secret research on deadly viruses, chemical weapons, and exotic diseases. In other words: those pesky things that usually provoke catastrophic zombie outbreaks in the likes of The Walking Dead and Night of the Living Dead.
As our email exchange progressed, Ed opened up – and significantly so, too. He claimed that, back in the 1980s, staff at the Dugway Proving Ground got its hands on thylacine DNA and secretly decided to try and resurrect the creature from the clutches of the Grim Reaper. High-tech gene-splicing and cloning were reportedly the other of the day. According to Ed, it all worked very well. The beast, both incredibly and amazingly, walked – and hopped – yet again. Not in Australia, New Guinea, or Tasmania, but right in the heart of Mormon country. As for why the creature was resurrected, this is where it all got really controversial. According to Ed, the military wanted to create an army of savage beasts that could be unleashed on the battlefield and tear the enemy apart, rather than take them out with conventional bullets and the like. The thylacine was seen as the perfect beast – chiefly because of its immense, powerful jaws.
There was something else, however: scientists at the proving ground had created a terrible virus that plunged the infected into manic states of homicidal rage – which was very much like the scenario in the 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later movies. It was also suspiciously alike. Those same scientists weren’t using their nightmarish virus on people, however. The targets of experimentation were those resurrected thylacines, as if you couldn’t guess. But, long before the animals could be let loose in war zones, test-runs had to be undertaken to see how deadly these creatures, infected with a mind-altering virus, really could be. And which place was chosen for the tests? Yep: Puerto Rico.
A pack of frenzied, resurrected thylacines, causing mayhem and havoc on Puerto Rico, and being responsible for spawning the legend of the chupacabra: is that really what happened? Ed assured me that he was speaking one hundred percent truth. I seriously doubted that. He was even careful to comment on the fact that the thylacine had the extraordinary ability to walk like a wolf at one moment and then in a fashion akin to a bipedal hop in the next instance. This was why, Ed assured me, some people claimed the chupacabra appeared to resemble a large dog, and other said it walked on two legs. That the thylacine could indeed walk in both fashions was the clincher, he said. Admittedly, that did make a coherent degree of sense.
I have to say, though, that this story stretched credibility to its absolute max. Probably even more. I really wish I could believe in this one. But – for all the crazy shit I do believe in – even I found this one very hard to swallow, and that’s really saying something. The 28 Days Later angle was the main reason. It seemed to be a scenario practically taken right out of the heart of the movie. Ed’s scenario was – at least – well thought out and entertaining. It was highly unlikely, too. Was it anything more than that? I doubt it. But, admittedly, there is a bit of Mulder’s “I want to believe” approach to matters paranormal and conspiratorial that I can’t entirely shake off, which is not a particularly good thing.