As a couple of you may know, I have an idea knocking around in my head, one that involves characters loosely based on us. I was having a bit of a conflict in my head about it because I wasn't sure which direction I wanted to take - whether I wanted to do something semi-autobiographical or whether I wanted to launch the characters into a world of fantasy, mystery, adventure, and mishap. Now, I'm not saying that our lives are boring (far from it), but let's face it, the completely impossible is more interesting to read and write, so I decided that if I did ever manage to flush this out, that is the direction I would take. The characters befriend each other in college, and their special abilities are spotted by a mutual professor, who then becomes their guardian and / or guide. They then travel across the U.S. or even throughout the immediate area to investigate and / or stop strange creatures and happenings.
Part of my research of these creatures is watching a show called Monsters and Mysteries in America. I listen to origin stories, behavior, and physical descriptions, and take notes. Since some of the data is a little unorganized and inconsistent, the details for the stories are still a little fuzzy.
So, what I am doing with the number 8 is listing eight of the creatures / beings that I would like to use during this series of stories, should I ever decide to fully write this.
Bigfoot. This is probably the most frequently seen and most widely rumored creature in the United States, so it would be a little dumb for me to ignore them. We all know the physical description - half human, half ape, with bulky, hairy bodies and large foreheads. Sometimes they're aggressive towards humans. Other times they're more benevolent and stay away from humankind. Tangential to the Bigfoot or Sasquatch is the Yeti or Abominable Snowman, which is either going to be a separate species altogether or a Sasquatch that has aged (causing its fur to whiten) and is retiring to the snow-capped mountains to live out the rest of their days in absolute solitude.
Pukwudgie. A legend in and near the swamps of eastern Massachusetts, the Pukwudgie behaves the same way as the Hinkypunk of Harry Potter lore. I don't know yet whether they'll carry a lantern, but the concept is the same. They try to lure travelers off their path, and only when the traveler is led astray, they are able to snap them up. People in the swampy Massachusetts area say that the Pukwudgie are under a curse which disables them from attacking their prey directly, so they've learned to entice them instead. I don't know whether they will change their shape or not to become something more alluring (i.e., a helpless kitten, a child in distress, a hot guy,...) or whether they will do something like emit a fog that will put the victim under a spell, but they will have some sort of enticing behavior.
Vampire. (Now, while I maintain that the characters I have in mind are only loosely based on us, some of the aspects stay the same. Cassie, don't worry, if a vampire is used, your character will adamantly refuse to accompany the group to hunt it down.) Apparently, New Orleans has a pretty big vampire problem, so I'm going to use them. Few people realize this, but the vampire bat is actually named after the creature, not the other way around, so I think I want to take these creatures back to their original abilities and origins. Bats are not involved. Vampires don't turn into them to fly. They can fly on their own because they're freaky and supernatural. Moreover, there are going to likely be two types of vampires. The first are the "Western Vampires," which feed on blood to survive. The second are the "Eastern Vampires" or the "Asian Vampires," which feed instead on energy or life force to survive. I think what might be cool too is to have victims of the Asian Vamps become zombies.
The Wallows. These are creatures of my own design. A Wallows is a creature made out of emotion, and they need to feed on said emotion to survive. They latch onto humans who they sense are suffering from their respective emotional state and follow them around, exasperating the human's condition and feeding off that emotion until it becomes too much and the human goes mad or dies. There are different types, and each one looks a little different depending on which emotion they represent. Irewallows, for instance, represent anger and resentment. Idlewallows represent sloth and laziness. Miseriwallows represent sadness, grief, and guilt. Ragewallows represent rage and acute anger (though I'm considering calling them Wrathwallows instead).
The Wolfman. Like Sasquatch and the Vampire, Wolfmen (or werewolves) are pretty well-known. Half human, half wolf creatures that do not have a human's reasoning powers. They walk upright, but can also run on four limbs. Usually they eat roadkill or livestock, but if they can get their hands on a human being, they will. However, I don't know whether a bite from a Wolfman will turn the victim into one as well because of the following creature.
Dogman. Unlike a Wolfman, a Dogman is much shorter, and has a fully-formed canine head with a human torso and arms. There is also a spiritual aspect to them, whereas the Werewolf is more of a physical creature. What I'm thinking is that instead of werewolves having the ability to turn humans into werewolves with a bite, it's the Dogmen that do it. Because they are so like dogs, when they bite a human, a human becomes a little of both and take on a slightly spiritual aspect. Maybe...I'm still working on it...
Shadow People. In the town of Maryville, KY, some of the locals claim that they are being stalked by tall, two-dimensional black shadows. Even when a room has all its lights off, they can still be seen against the dark because of how pitch-black they are. Their eyes glow red, they are inhumanly tall and thin, and they seem to haunt their victims over an extended period of time. One of the witnesses on the show said that he has seen the same one (one with a cowboy hat) since he was a small child. It even followed him to college! While I think playing off of this idea is pretty cool, the Shadow People don't seem to be doing anything harmful. They just kind of haunt and scare people. Honestly, though, for those of you who watch Doctor Who, all I could think of when I saw this episode was, "OMG THE VASHDA NARADA ARE REAL!!"
Rougarou / Leugarou. Yet again, we have the Louisiana Bayou. Apparently Louisiana is a kind of hot bed for paranormal activity and straight-up weird shit. The Leugarou (which the locals pronounce as Rougarou) is almost a werewolf, but there are varying descriptions of what they look like. Some say that they are cursed by some voodoo witch or shaman to endure a curse for 101 days, transforming into a half human, half beast every night. Others claim that they are transformed by the full moon, or that they can even transform at will. Some say there is a set physical appearance, while others claim that a Rougarou can take any form it wants, like a shapeshifter. What is consistent, however, is that a Rougarou can be anyone - your friend, your neighbor, your family - and you wouldn't know until that person transforms and kills you. Another rumor is that the only way to lift the curse off of a Rougarou is to shed the Rougarou's blood. Not all of it has to be shed, but if a Rougarou is cut, they are cured.
So there you have it. Eight freaky creatures for my characters to fight, figure out, heal, or help. Details are still fuzzy, of course, and I'm still brainstorming, but I do intend to keep watching Monsters and Mysteries in America for more ideas.
Also, if you guys have any suggestions for creatures, let me know! It would be cool to use those!