Lately NC has been having warmer than usual weather. Since its stayed above 70 degrees with humid heat, everyone knows the waters around here stay about 10 - 15 degrees Fahrenheit cooler. That makes for extremely perfect weather to go wading, river mining for gold and minerals, and even kayaking in the muddy waters of the local rivers.
Lately there have been missing people along the South Fork River. With the Christmas lights now taken down, tourists have disappeared and the regular locals come out to play. The waters have been running clear with the winter deep blues. It almost feels like a siren's call.
People have been going missing in the waters of the South Fork River. I feel like I'm repeating myself, but its true. They go into the water and in a blink, they are gone. Kayak, inter tube, swim trunks, everything disappears.
Panicked people have screamed at the pedestrians to call 911 that Darrell or Samantha has suddenly disappeared. Being a multi-terrain area with mountains, lakes, waterfalls, rivers, and maybe even a hot spring, we have a pretty good response team when it comes to wilderness rescue. Having Charlotte not too far away helps as well. They send out the helicopter, the news shows up to cover everything, you think a body would be found. One never turns up.
We crossed the bridge that leads over the river tonight and on the bank leading to the walking trail, I saw a humanoid creature in setting sunlight. It stood hunched over in the tall grass. I couldn't get a good view of its face because it was hidden in shadow. I had Jason stop and pull over. We were on the opposite side of the river so what harm could that do?
You know the moment that person in a horror movie realizes their mistake? I had one of those moments. Jason parked where I told him so that the high beams would be aimed across the river. What a sight.
It's body was scaled like an alligator's except it looked smooth. It's eyes blinked twice, one with the outer lids and the second time with its third eyelid. Its eyes were huge for its head with black slits as pupils. Its face was sleek with two holes for a nose. The mouth was just a line a few inches below. Four hooked claws pointed out from webbed appendages. It raised its claws up as it dove into the water. Its hunched spine elongated into a flat tail. It really did look almost like a human mixed with an alligator. Two giant feet fanned out like duck flippers as it slid into the water. Diving judges would have proudly given this thing a 10 out of 10 for the lack of splash.
We were smart enough to stay in the car. Before the first ripple disappeared from its impact with the water, it was climbing up the bank toward us. It was a dark blue hue. As it moved in the headlights, its scales looked more like an oil slick. No wonder this thing was easily camouflaged in the water.
Jason threw the car in reverse and drove away from the bridge and the river. I rolled down the window and looked behind us. The creature was still standing at the bank. It let out a loud sound mixed between a growl and a hiss before leaping into the water again. The mouth was much larger than I realized. My whole head could probably have fit painfully in its row of carnivorous teeth.
The weather is warm tomorrow too. Maybe it will move further up stream now that it has been discovered, but then again people have always been disappearing on the South Fork River.
34 years of life below the Mason Dixon line leads to a lot of stories of old and new.