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Patty Leon: The legend of the Sunbury Swamp Ape
Patty Leon new

The fog swept across the marsh waters at Sunbury making visibility nearly impossible. Yet, we forged ahead in our search. Described as something between Bigfoot, the Mothman and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, this newly discovered Cryptid has been terrorizing the residents on the East end of the County. Neighbors reported their dogs missing or worse!

Flashlights in hand, we searched for the beast. It is said that when it roams the land all becomes eerily quiet. Not a bird or animal to be heard. It knows how to linger in the shadows, remaining primarily elusive.

We used our thermal camera to scan the woods.

We got some hits, but we could tell it was a dog, then a raccoon and later a small deer.

What the locals have dubbed the Sunbury Swamp Ape is said the be eight feet tall, with piercing red eyes, and long fangs.

It’s half hairy, half fishlike in appearance. It thrives in this environment. On land it walks upright, its long legs allowing it to cover a vast area of land in seconds. In the water, it can move like a Dolphin, swiftly and quietly and stay underwater for a long time.

My partner, Ashley, spotted something on the ground. It was a massive webbed footprint. We spotted a few more. The beast had been here, but how long ago? We made a plaster cast of the print.

Afterwards we got our equipment and followed the footprints which led to the Historic Sunbury Cemetery.

One section of the wrought iron fence was bent inward. The Swamp Ape must be massive to cause this much destruction. Headstones had been toppled over and destroyed. We found the skeletal remains of a deer.

The beast had eaten, but was it still hungry? The crickets were still chirping as we scanned the area for any clues. We found a few strands of hair and collected the sample to have it analyzed.

A loud CRASHING sound alerted us to something behind the Sunbury Crab Company We went to check it out. Something had smashed a section of the floating dock. Ashley spotted what appeared to be air bubbles in the water. The bubbles and a slight ripple led us to believe the beast was swimming toward the new public dock. We gathered our equipment and headed to the dock where our van was. My brother had stayed in the van, motor running in case we needed a quick getaway. He was also taking care of my dog, Johnny Crash (aka Little Man).

Little Man is an American Rat Terrier mix and one heck of a guard dog.

He can hear sounds from miles away and is usually the first to growl or bark letting us know trouble is headed our way.

“Frank, turn on the headlights,” I said as we approached the van.

“Why?” Frank asked.

“Because we think the beast is in the water and headed this way!”

We sat still, our hearts pounding. Suddenly we realized everything was QUIET!

The birds were silent, the crickets stopped chirping, there was not a sound to be heard, except for Little Man. His ears were perked up and he let out a small bark. He looked out the front window and let out a low and long growl.

“Do you guys see this?”

I asked.

It slowly emerged from the waters; eyes focused on the van with us inside.

Even with the windows closed you could smell it, a foul musty smell. Little Man bared his teeth and growled at the beast.

“Oh man,” I said.

“There it is the Sunbury Swamp Ape.”

It stood there for a bit, his body half in, half out of the water. It started sniffing the air, nostrils flaring and his blood red eyes focused on us. It let out a scream, a sound unlike anything I’ve ever heard. It rattled our nerves and we all ducked down.

Suddenly the van shook violently. The Swamp Ape had a grip on the van and ripped open the back doors. We scrambled our way out, running in every direction. We hid and could hear the beast howling and pounding on the van. I could hear Little Man barking and growling. After some time, things returned to normal. We could hear the birds and the crickets again.

“Is everyone okay,” I yelled.

My brother and Ashley emerged from hiding. The van was destroyed and our equipment was scattered all about.

“Where is Johnny Crash?” Frank asked.

“He isn’t with you?”

Frank shook his head no, and Ashley said she had not seen him.

“Oh My Gosh,” I yelled. “The Swamp Ape has my Little Man. We have to find him and save him!”

Read part two of the Halloween, Dia de los Muertos short-story special in the 11/03/2021 Coastal Courier.

Patty Leon is senior editor of the Courier.

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