Well it's snowing here in Britain. And as such the entire country has gone mad. Like crazy mad. Like the news bulletin lasting a third of the entire programme (Gee Note: “There's been up to SIX INCHES of snow in some places!” screeches the anchor. To which my response was “Dude. That's, like, only half a foot”), cars crawling along the roads at 3 miles per hour, and everyone updating their Facebook status to include the word “snow” type of mad.
And it's really not that special an event. I mean every other year or so the exact same thing happens. February turns up, bringing with it a bag load of the white stuff (Gee Note: By that I mean snow and not cocaine. February doesn't touch hard drugs any more, and if you say any different he'll cut you), and every time it does elderly women stand on their doorsteps gossiping about how they 'aint never seen it so bad, while barely prepubescent children go nuts all around them. Then around midday the sun will come out from behind the clouds, start to melt the snow, and by four in the afternoon it's all over.
Problem is by that point Britain has firmly established itself in snow day mode, and everything just grinds to a halt. Public transport stops running, and businesses close early. So as everything is shut and everyone is holed up in doors, I have nothing to do and as such I am sitting here bored out of my mind, watching Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Gee Note: By the way what the hell is Christopher Lloyd doing in this movie? I mean who in their right mind thinks “Hmmm we need a bad guy. The character's a Klingon so they'll need to be vicious, powerful,and ruthless. But who would fit that bill? Great Scott! How about that guy who played Emmett Brown in Back to the Future? He'd be perfect!”? Seriously, if I ever make it to Hollywood the first thing I'm going to do is hook up with whoever cast this film. I mean you just know they're going to wanna party). I've honestly hit the point of tedium where I'm even tempted to put on my novelty bigfoot slippers and stamp about in the snow, then pretend that I'm Josh Gates looking for proof of the Yeti. “My gosh”, I'll say, “Could these be actual Yeti footprints? By the time I made it back to the city of something-or-other word had already got out about the prints and I was an unwitting superstar”. Then I'll hire a bunch of midgets to take photos of me as I point at the foot prints with my chin held high. Wooo look at me. I'm Josh Gates.
You know, the problem I have with the footprints of as yet undiscovered animals is that they're pretty easy to fake. That and most of them don't really look like footprints, more oblong shapes that have something vaguely resembling toes on the end of them. For example.
Now for those of you wondering why I've posted a picture of a pair of fossilized pears with some scribblings on them, this is supposedly the casting of some footprints made by everyone's favourite curious creature Bigfoot. Yeah, I don't see it either.
Footprint castings are extremely popular amongst cryptozoologists however, and have been employed liberally since serious study of cryptids began. There are occasions however when castings are next to useless.
Like if, for example, the critter in question has no feet. Or if it never touches the ground.
Allow me to explain. On September 12 1952 Edward May, Fred May, and Tommy Hyer, aged 13, 11 and 10, where larking about in Flatwoods, West Virginia when they saw a bright object in the sky at approximately 7.15 pm (Gee Note: Some folks call that thing “The Moon”. Nah I'm just messing with ya, I'm sure it was a spaceship or something). The object flew overhead and then appeared to come down in a local farmers field.
The boys ran home and somehow rounded up a regular ol' Scooby gang with the May's mother Kathleen and Eugene Lemon, a 17 year old National Guardsman, leading the pack. They all went to G. Bailey Fisher's farm where the boys had reported the light had landed earlier that evening. Lemon brought his dog with him, who ran ahead barking loudly. 10 minutes later to the dog shuffled back, it's tail between it's legs (Gee Note: Probably after he had revealed that the ghost was actually the old caretaker Mr. Johnson. Rooby Rooby Roo!!!). And then about a quarter of a mile further the group hit the top of a hill. They were all aware of a repugnant smell when one of the group spotted it. About 50 ft away from them was what they would all later describe as a large, pulsating, ball of fire (Gee Note: Some folks call that thing “The Sun”. Nah I'm just messing with ya, I'm sure it was a... umm...er... actually I haven't a clue what the hell that could be. Big ball of fire you say? Yeah, good luck with that one).
Lemon, being a National Guardsman and all, noticed two lights next to said great ball of fire (Gee Note: Goodness gracious! Yes! A Jerry Lee Lewis reference. I'm throwing rocks tonight. By the way, Jerry Lee Lewis married his 13 year old cousin. R Kelly, ahem, allegedly married Aaliyah when she was 15. Both are still active in the music business. Remember that next time you have a chance to illegally download their records). He shone his torch light on it to reveal this:
How freaky is that?
See even for a cryptid, the category that gave us the biologically impossible Trunko and the blatantly insane Goat Man of Lake Worth, the Flatwoods Monster is special. It was 10 ft tall, had a red face that glowed from within a green body, short stubby arms, no feet, was wearing a long dark plaid skirt, and appeared to be floating above ground. (Gee Note: My initial theory. A Scottish diamagnetic levitation expert. Think about it). Upon being discovered the, er, thing let out a shrill hissing sound and started gliding towards the group before moving away. The Scooby gang calmly and collectively ran for their lives, all the way back to the May's residence.
Kathleen May called Sheriff Robert Carr to advise him of what they had just experienced. Carr rushed to the scene, and although he found the terrible odour still remained he found no other evidence of an encounter. After that no more official reports were filed with the police in regards to the monster. Other reports trickled in from ufologists interviewing locals, potentially with leading questions such as “Hey, you believe in aliens right?” or “So what crazy stuff have you seen in your life?”. Very few ufologists have professional training in questioning techniques it turns out.
So with only one bona fide occurrence to go off can we say for sure that this scenario was anything other than a regular animal, misidentified by a bunch of people wigging out expecting to see an alien? It's a theory put forward by many sceptics. The light in the sky was nothing more than a meteor they say. And the floaty, short armed, witchy thing? According to the naysayers it was one of these:
Yep. A Barn owl. Hanging on to a branch, creating the visual of short stumpy arms, with foliage underneath making the optical illusion of a skirt. And the ball of fire? A hazard beacon.
Yeah that's where it all falls down for me as well. Because a light in the sky is just that, a light in the sky. And as such could conceivably be anything. Heck even on the excellent Naveed's Realm, Naveed recently debunked his own claim of a UFO sighting based on that very same thing. And even though a barn owl looks nothing like the reports of the Flatwood monster I'm willing to except that under heightened situations human senses may fail occasionally. But a hazard beacon being mistaken for a large flaming ball? Nah that's just a supposition too far from me.
So what was the Flatwoods Monster if not an owl? Well who the hell knows. It's so blindingly bizarre that even if we rule out the conventional explanation, the unconventional one doesn't make a whole lot of sense either.
But then I guess that's the whole point about the Flatwoods Monster. You'll never get footprints from it. You'll never be able to tie up all the loose ends properly. And it will probably never be seen again. Once again we have a brilliant little mystery. And the thing about mysteries is that they're far less interesting once they are solved. So I hope this one continues to be baffling for a long time.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to put on my novelty bigfoot slippers.