The White Thing

In the Himalayans they have the Yeti, also known as the Abominable Snowman. In the mid-western United States they have the Sasquatch, also known as Bigfoot. Down south of the border they have El Chupacabra.  And up north there are tales of the Jersey Devil. The world is full of monsters, even though you never see them. You hear the stories of the people that say that they have. And while it’s easy to write them off as the ramblings of a crazy person there is always a part of you that believes it and is a little bit frightened by it.

All over the world there are different versions of the same tale. In the south we have a monster, too. It’s called the White Thing.

You can ask people that live in the country portions of central Alabama if they’ve ever heard of the White Thing. Most of them will tell you “yes”. It’s a story that we’ve all been told. It’s an easy way to scare children around a campfire and a villainous way to get them to go to sleep at night or to be home before dark.

Legend says that deep in the woods of Jefferson and Shelby Counties, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, there is a creature that is at least seven feet tall. It is covered with thick,  white fur. It can walk on its back legs like a man or move like lightening when it gets on all fours. The noise that it makes when it screeches sounds like a woman’s scream. Most people say that they can hear it screaming at night and that it sounds a lot like a panther.

The White Thing can run like a cheetah, jump ten feet in the air from a flat-footed stance, and rub its belly and pat its head at the same time.

Everybody and their brother has a story to tell about it. Some people just claim that they hear it all the time. Some will tell you that they’ve seen it running like a blur through the woods. Others will say that they saw it take their dog or their cat. Then the stories get a little more elaborate.

One woman says that the White Thing chased her as she was walking home from a relative’s house. She took a shortcut through the woods and it started to follow her. She ran and it ran, too. She started taking off clothes to throw at the beast in an effort to slow him down. By the time she made in into her house she was almost naked and she heard a body slam against the door behind her.
Let me just go on record as saying that I don’t believe that particular one.

Then there is the story of George Norris who went out in to the town graveyard and sat down next to a tree. He fell asleep. When he woke up the White Thing was lying on the ground next to him. He said that it looked like a cross between a dog and a lion and that it just looked at him and never attempted to hurt him.

Old George was probably one to take a drink every now and then.

Then there is the story of my own brush with the White Thing. It was when I was still living at home over on good old McBrayer Drive in Vincent. My cousin, Mike and my friend, Tommy were spending the night at my house. We had decided to go for a walk late one evening and it started to get dark before we got home. We cut through the woods to get to my house. The whole time we were walking we kept hearing something walking quickly behind us. When we stopped it would stop. Then it would start again when we did. This got us moving quicker and we finally got back in one piece.
Then, Mike and Tommy had the brilliant idea to go back in and see what they could find out. I told them that they shouldn’t. They told me I was being a baby. I stayed behind while they went on an adventure. They came back thirty minutes later. They looked like they had seen a ghost.
…Or a White Thing.

They had seen it. It was everything that we had heard about. It was huge…like ten feet tall! It had white fur covering every inch of its body. It’s face was concealed in the dark. They watched it walk over to Mrs. Harlow’s back fence and jump over it like it was jumping over a tiny hurdle. They heard the Harlows’ dog barking away and then heard that bark cut off suddenly.

It was true! All of it! And it had been following us through the woods? It was right on our tail? It could have gotten us?

We were all lucky to be alive…

And then I figured out that Mike had made the whole thing up and the thing following us in the woods was my dog.

Good times.

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