There was something in the air that morning. I could not place what it was, but I knew for sure it wasn’t the fog that was lingering in the valley I had camped in the night before. It was thick, to say the least, nearly clinging to tree branches at it’s thickest. It wasn’t that though.
I sniffed the air.
Yeah, there was something different about this morning. Maybe this would the day, I thought to myself. It had been just over a year since I had heard about the beast. I had heard the rants from a distance, seen the scrawlings of a mad monster. I had even seen pictures of the beast. Fleeting moments of him in his surroundings.
There was a sudden twig snap to my left. I threw my squinted gaze in that direction.
The sun had just barely made it’s way up over the valley mountains and shadows still plied long through trees and brush. Those shadows also played tricks on eyes as they tried to adjust. Fortunately, I had been up since well before day break, letting my eyes adjust well in advance. A squirrel chittered out from under a fallen pine branch. I let air out slowly. False alarm.
So, at this point you may be asking yourself, just what was I doing deep in woods of West Virginia so early in the morning? Well, today was the day I felt I had the best opportunity to see him in person. When I say him I mean the beast. I had heard this thing could wolf down an entire bucket of KFC chicken, leaving nothing but grease stains and a few bones, in under 2 minutes. The baying of the beast was legendary in this small city of Hurricane, WV and I wanted the opportunity to see it for myself.
I wanted to see the Great White Shart.
As I said, it all started just over a year ago. The Great White Shart story came across my desk on a rather lazy day. At first I got a chuckle out of it. A story of a manipulative beast with the ability to rant and rave for no reason at all. A slightly crazed demon that could eat an entire KFC out of business. Or run a Taco Bell actually South of the Border. His scrawlings were legendary, only in the fact that they were all baseless and out right lies. This only fueled the fire that this creature did not exist. But I asked myself, as others have, how can it not? How can this creature not exist and cause this much furor. It existed alright and that something in the air I felt? That was the feeling of being in the right place at the right time…or wrong, depending on how you looked at it.
Then it happened.
First there was the stench. I had been slowly creeping along to where I was told I may run across the Great White Shart. I figured I’d see evidence first. Strewn garbage laying haphazardly about. Mostly crumpled up legal documents with the letters “AEP” on them. Empty buckets of chicken. Things of that nature. Yet, no. It was the stench. It was a mix of Crisco, beef jerky and Diet Dr, Pepper, topped off with an odor of salty back and ass crack sweat. I mad a face. I couldn’t help it. My gut wrenched for a moment but before anything could project from my esophagus, I gnashed my teeth and fought off the feeling. I pressed on in the direction of the stench.
There was a loud roar.
My heart suddenly leapt into my throat, nearly choking me. A slight bit of fear made my knees lock up. A hand went to the smooth, cool bark of a tree to steady myself. I knew I was getting close. At this point there was no doubt about it. I had found the creature and was very close to his lair. The noise it made was incessant. Nearly non stop. How could ANYONE live near this, much less with this, was beyond me. Once I got my wits back, I pressed on and soon came to the edge of the woods. I lowered a branch and peered out.
“Dave? Will I dream?”
I have no idea why that HAL 9000 line just popped into my head at that very moment, but it did. The mind plays funny tricks that way. Maybe it was because my gaze had fallen on something … Gods … something that was nearly indescribable. I was speechless. Frozen in a combination of disbelief and fear. After waiting for 12 long months, the planning, the preparation, the near non belief and the near cancellation of this very trip as being a waste of time. There it was.
By the looks, I had caught him in his natural habitat. Worse yet, it was during feeding time. No wonder it stunk. My hands trembled with the Nikon camera I was holding but I knew I had to get a second shot. The first, no doubt, would have been blurry and out of focus. I snapped off a couple of more and was going to change positions when it suddenly looked up in my direction.
Had it seen me?! It stood, belly hanging low over a pair of black JC Penny shorts and what in Gods name was protruding from it’s belly!? Was that…no….his belly button!? Or some misshapen offspring that never made it to the uterus of it’s mate? I had to gather the latter. I nearly heaved.
It was at this point that my story gets a little hazy. Indeed, in my effort to keep from hurling up last nights frank and beans, I had attracted the attention of the creature. It came rumbling towards me in a slow stutter step. I knew I could outrun the beast easily but the fear of it’s breath being unleashed in my face while spittle from it’s lips landed on the bridge of my nose and my own lips, was more than enough to send me in a head down sprint.
The low hanging tree branch was my undoing.
I woke up several hours later, having been saved by two fellow Trash Bloggers. They had relayed the story to me of what had happened. It was a close call, but the creature was distracted just long enough by a Walmart truck driver making a mistake and hitting the grates in front of it’s domicile too hard.
“That distraction probably saved your life”, said Mike. He then plopped my busted up camera on the bed I now propped myself up in. It was a mess. I looked up at Mike with a sad expression on my face. He smiled.
“Pictures are a little blurry, but they came out.”
“Whew.” I let out a sigh. My trip had not been in vain and I had survived my encounter…with the Great White Shart.