Now I’m a believer

Another holiday falls upon us today, but don’t ask me how to celebrate it because I’m not exactly sure. Regardless, today is Skunk Ape Day, and if I had, like, more than three readers, I could hazard that a percentage is wondering what a skunk ape is, while those that know are wondering why I would even announce this holiday. There’s a story here, and though storytime was last year, that didn’t mean they were all told then.

A skunk ape is one of those cryptids, like bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster and Tom Cruise’s acting ability, that has never had any solid evidence presented for their existence yet the accounts and anecdotes remain. It is reported to be a hairy humanoid, an upright biped whose most notable trait is its horrendous odor, thus the name. Its habitat is considered swamplands of the southeastern US, mostly Florida (imagine that.) No one has ever produced a decent photo, much less a carcass or a discarded skunk ape water bottle, and sightings tend to be very fleeting and without corroborating witnesses.

Normally, I would consider this more than adequate to dismiss all such accounts as hyperactive imagination and suggestibility, as any good skeptic would do. Except for one thing: I have direct experience with one. Possibly. I never saw anything, mind you, but while on a photographic outing with Mr Bugg yesterday, we encountered the pungent and nauseating odor of one several times. Seriously, I’ve never encountered a stench like this before, and I’ve dealt with vulture vomit. But the worst bit was, it seemed to be following us.

We weren’t exactly in swampland, just on the banks of the Neuse River, yet there were plenty of thickets that could conceal something sizable. I’ve had experience with most of the animals in the region, and nothing produces a smell even remotely as horrifying, nor would it consider stalking two adult humans. I’d suspect a chemical fire, but it wasn’t everywhere, just in distinct patches, often encountered as we backtracked up our previous paths. At times I thought I might have heard a low growl, but it was fleeting, and never occurred when I faced in that direction.

It was disconcerting, to say the least, and I told Mr Bugg to be on his toes and ready to run for cover. He assured me that he’d had plenty of calories the night before, having polished off three bowls of homemade chili, so he had the energy reserves. I was in doubt about my own abilities, since I wasn’t sure I could take in enough clean oxygen, but we made it through the day unscathed. Pretty harrowing.

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