An odd headline out of the northeast caught my eye this morning.

‘Hybrid Mutant’ Found Dead in Maine

For 15 years citizens of the Pine Tree State have been haunted by some weird beast that lived mainly in the shadows. Locals have “reported seeing and hearing a mysterious animal with chilling monstrous cries and eyes that glow in the night.” Only a few had ever gotten more than a cursory glance at the thing. One who did said

It was evil, evil looking. And it had a horrible stench I will never forget…We locked eyes for a few seconds and then it took off. I’ve lived in Maine my whole life and I’ve never seen anything like it.

This ‘maybe monster’ was blamed for the killing of numerous animals. People speculated that it might be some bizarre offspring of a dingo dog and a wolf or coyote. But its luck ran out when it was struck by a car. Locals examined the body, which seemed to one person to be part dog, part rodent.

It was charcoal gray, weighed between 40 and 50 pounds and had a bushy tail, a short snout, short ears and curled fangs hanging over its lips…It looked like something out of a Stephen King story. It’s an evil looking thing.

So just what was out there? Hard to say. A few photos were made but by the time officials arrived on the scene vultures had picked the carcass clean.

Reading this story reminded me that what we call ‘the wilderness’ is yet wild, full of things unseen and only dimly imagined. We city folk scarcely venture out there anymore. Our ancestors simply hated the wilds, and could not wait to cut the forests and push back the shadows and unknowns of the Primeval. Now we organize our empty land into what are really comfortable and safe theme parks like Yellowstone. We visit such places and fancy that we have had a wilderness experience.

Not so fast. There is more to our world than we know, than perhaps we want to know.

In the Chaco of Paraguay in 1937 or thereabouts a wild pig, called a jabalí, was shot by a farmer. When the dead animal was inspected the man was perplexed. He had hunted and shot many kinds of things, but nothing like the creature that lay at his feet. The farmer packed the beast in salt and took it to Asunción. A biologist there stated that the pig was of a species thought extinct for millions of years.

But then South America is full of such tales. One cannot read stories of the first white men to venture into the Amazon Basin or around the Tepuys of the Venezuelan grasslands without reading of rumors of strange beasts roaming about, creatures such as Plesiosaurus. It was exactly this part of the wilds that gave Sir Arthur Conan Doyle his idea for The Lost World.

One can believe them or not, but such tales crop up so often that there must exist in the civilized subconscious some fearful and atavistic memories of rough times long ago. Of an age when fire was the only thing that kept away the dark of the wilds.

Such memories would do much to explain Western man’s desire to build roads through the wilderness, to plant cities there as if to raise flags of conquest over territories once inhabited by demons.

But sometimes those we thought vanquished remind us that they are still out there, waiting. Perhaps their days will come again, a time when the Maine Monster and that Paraguayan boar will be as close as our doors and as plentiful as our nightmares.