Honey Island Swamp Monster —Excerpt from Portents, by Shanyn Hosier
When they were deep into what felt like a lost world, Toby killed the outboard motor, and they drifted against a fortress of cypress knees. He fished two high-powered rifles from the duffle, affixed with telescopic sights, and Amanda's pulse stuttered with excitement. She'd only shot this kind once before on the range. He handed one to her, and they proceeded to load the clips.
"Shift to infrared," Toby whispered when both were loaded and ready, "and watch the trees."
Amanda obeyed, craning her neck to scan the branches ahead. The shift out of visual wavelengths didn't help much at first: everything around her teemed with life and warmth. As Toby oared their way through the thick green muck, the hiss of grassy leaves against the hull, it was easy to imagine the swamp was watching them… and closing in.
"When I say, you shoot first," he added, barely loud enough to be heard. "Heart's okay, but head's better. Don't miss."
Amanda nodded once, adjusting her sweat-slippery grip on the rifle. Adrenaline shot through her system, and her body searched for an outlet to dispel the energy. Every muscle tensed. Her mouth went dry.
For as long as there have been humans sharing stories, there have been tales of monsters. Many of these creatures still reside in myths: dragons, unicorns, centaurs. Others once believed imaginary were later proven to be real, like the gorilla, which wasn't recognized by Western science until the mid 1800s, or the Komodo dragon even later, in 1910.
Cryptozoology—the study of these "hidden" animals—is regarded as a pseudoscience by mainstream researchers. But plenty of adherents think creatures like the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot are destined to become the next coelacanth, the "living fossil" fish discovered off the African coast in 1938. Cryptozoologists search for evidence of these legendary cryptids—animals science believes are extinct or mythical.
One such cryptid is the Honey Island Swamp Monster, first sighted by Harlan Ford in the Honey Island/Pearl River Swamp area of Louisiana in 1963. Ford's granddaughter purportedly possesses proof—in the form of a Super-8 film and plaster footprint casts—that a 7-foot, bipedal, ape-like creature lives in the swamp.
Personally, I'm a skeptic. But working on the theory that persistent myths like these are sometimes founded on grains of truth, I searched for an extinct primate that might fit the bill. I found one in Oreopithecus bambolii, an ape-like hominid that lived in isolated swampy areas of Italy about 9 million years ago. Hairy, likely smelly, with long arms and occasionally bipedal gait, Oreopithecus became Amanda's swamp monster.
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When all signs point to trouble ahead,
can Amanda steer clear of disaster?
# # #
Harlan Ford's granddaughter, Dana Holyfield-Evans, maintains a website and wrote a book about the Honey Island Swamp Monster at http://swampmonster.weebly.com/
Introduction to Cryptozoology at livescience.com http://www.livescience.com/11328-rumor-reality-creatures-cryptozoology.html
Info about Oreopithecus at SmithsonianMag.com http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/hominids/2011/12/human-evolutions-cookie-monster-oreopithecus/
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Amanda Ryder V.I.
When all signs point to trouble, can Amanda steer clear of disaster?
Amanda Ryder's determined never to fail her coven again. Next time, she won't hesitate to pull the trigger to defend her friends. If only they'd trust her enough to let her set foot outside the Academy…
Frustrated and itching to prove herself, Amanda snags her first Academy mission: she and Toby Laboyteaux, fellow teen witch who "kinda sorta sees the future," must work together to track down a local swamp monster stirring up trouble in the sticks. But overturned suburban garbage cans and blurry tabloid pictures aren't the only problems—strained relationships with her new colleagues, a growing guilt-complex, and the waxing moon all add to Amanda's stress. Add to that the pressure of being hunted by a psychic psychopath, and Amanda's got plenty on her mind.
Meanwhile, Hamilton Nash swears Marian Dupree and her Academy of bumbling do-gooders have thwarted his plans for the last time. Convinced Amanda's the subject of his mother's recent prophecy and the key to his future success, he redoubles his efforts to obtain the mystery girl. But when Amanda proves too slippery a quarry, Nash sets his sights on the next best thing. When a valuable member of the Academy coven is kidnapped, Amanda and her friends are in a race against time. Is a tragic future destined to come to pass?
About the Author:
Born and raised in small-town, rural Indiana, I now live in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona with an intimidatingly smart and devastatingly handsome husband and two hyperactively cute and talented sons who will one day be Earth's Overlords (never underestimate the power of Legos). I enjoy cooking, traveling, gardening, sewing, quilting, and embroidery but only when I'm in the right mood and seldom concurrently (I'm kind of streaky when it comes to hobbies). I adore reading and writing in the same way that I love breathing and eating, gaining a similar nourishment from each.
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