The Behemoth: A Chesapeake Horror

This is something fun I wrote as I’ve been working on my dissertation. It may or may not end up in the final version, but maybe in an article or book someday. In any case, enjoy!

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Imagine driving up the coast. It is late, and you’re just trying to get to your destination before your mind begins to slip beneath the thin film of consciousness. There is a dense fog laying over the landscape and the darkness is like a brick wall that your puny headlights cannot penetrate. Nevertheless you try to focus on the flashing lines on the pavement and watch out for the dim red-eyed taillights of cars up ahead. Perhaps you should pull over and take a rest, but it’s just a few more miles to the next town and you’d feel more comfortable stopping there than on the side of a dark highway in the middle of the night.

Presently, you round a curve and for a moment the light of the full moon breaks through the blanket of fog. In that brief flash of light, instead of the liberation of clairvoyance, you are rewarded with a vision so unsettling it leaves your mind spinning and your heart pounding in your chest. Before you, glistening in the gelatinous moonlight, is a watery behemoth reaching out across the land. It is far larger than your vision can encompass, but in this ephemeral glimpse your mind somehow grasps its full immensity. Its body, long and sinewy, rises up from a massive trunk, not toward the familiar torso and head, but bulges and stretches into a writhing mass. You can see its form churning below the surface – see the bodies of other creatures rise and fall inside of it: mollusks, fish, plants, insects, animals, even people. They seem to be part of it, subsumed wholly by the coursing beast. 

Many tentacle-like arms emerge from its frame and snake through the hills and valleys, seeping into the ground and drawing in everything that they come into contact with. Indeed, the bodies of every living thing seem to have been permeated by it. They walk around as if they are individuated beings, but really they are simply like fingers of the monstrous creature before you. Now you yourself can feel it churning inside of you, feel it coursing through your veins and seeping its way into every tissue of your body. The feeling makes you want to retch, but you sense that the bilous vomit that emerges will merely find its way back into the monster.

The fog and darkness encase you once again. Never had you wished so hard for the protective embrace of obscurity. Slowly you are able to console yourself that this vision was truly a trick of your delirious mind – a sign that you should stop as soon as possible and sleep. You focus back on the road, and shortly the fog breaks and darkness lifts as you enter the luminous streets of the town. Nervously, you look in the direction you would expect to see the behemoth and are reassured as all that greets your eyes is the surface of the Chesapeake Bay glistening in the moonlight. 

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