Stranger Than Fiction
How much do you know about the chupacabra? Did you know that it might actually just be the alien from the 1995 movie Species? It seems that Madelyne Tolentino, the first eye witness to describe the chupacabra, had recently seen the film and may have just been describing the alien that she saw on the screen.*
It’s not even the first time something like that has happened, either. In 1972, two teenage boys in Victoria, British Columbia claimed to have seen a monster come up out of nearby Thetis Lake. The story was reported in newspapers, though the two teens eventually admitted to making it up, basing their monster description on the creature from The Beach Girls and the Monster (1965), which had recently shown on TV.
As a freelance writer, I write a lot of stuff. From corporate marketing and social media updates to true crime reporting to movie reviews and beyond. In that capacity, I often get hired to write about oddities of various kinds, from UFO sightings to cryptids to creepypastas and so on. In so doing, I learn frequently weird stuff, some of it true and some of it not. Some of it pretending to be true when it isn’t, some of it pretending not to be true when it is.
Some of what I stumble across makes it into whatever work I’m doing that day. Some of it is quickly forgotten. Some gets stored in the back of my brain and trotted out for something later, or repurposed into something like this blog post. Frankly, the world is filled with fascinating factoids and perhaps even more filled still with things that we believe even though they aren’t true.
Then again, many things are mixture of true and false. Take Project Sanguine, for instance. A real (and obviously extremely practical) government project originating during the Cold War, Project Sanguine would have turned literally 40% of Wisconsin into a giant radio antenna by embedding cables into the bedrock. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was never carried out. But I learned about Project Sanguine while researching Doveland, Wisconsin, an urban legend or creepypasta about a town that supposedly disappeared – and whose disappearance some people blamed on Project Sanguine.
Of course, for every Project Sanguine that turns out to be legit, there’s something that has been accepted as legit even though it’s just emphatically made-up. Take, for example, the story of the Brazilian village of Hoer Verde, which allegedly disappeared back in the 1920s. The story caught on enough to make its way into the 2019 video game Control – but its origin was almost certainly the 1983 Dean Koontz novel Phantoms.
(The Russian newspaper article that originally spread the Hoer Verde story also, and I am getting this secondhand via translation, so grain of salt, blames the Roanoke disappearance on “protoplasm coming from deep in the ocean and eating people,” which it does every thousand years. So maybe we should have been skeptical from the start, is all I’m saying.)
None of this is intended to make fun of the credulity of anyone, though. While we should all be careful about believing what we read on the internet, this is far from a phenomenon that is unique to our modern age. Take H. L. Mencken’s notorious fake history of the bathtub from 1917, which was circulated as true for decades.
Rather, I’m just posting this here because my work occasionally fills my head with lots of weird information, and I don’t always have the luxury of sharing it. (Such as the phenomenon of invisible fire and the low-tech solution NASA worked out to deal with it, or Taku-He, a South Dakota cryptid who is basically Bigfoot but wearing a fancy coat and top hat.) Today, things like Project Sanguine and that information about the chupacabra were buzzing around in my brain, and I thought my readers might also enjoy them. That’s all.
* Of course, reports of similar phenomena go back as far as 1975, where they were simply attributed to Satanic cults or to “the vampire of Moca,” named for the place they were first reported. But both the name and the general description of the chupacabra as we know it today date from 1995, the latter from Tolentino’s eye witness testimony, the former coined by comedian and radio DJ Silverio Perez.
Oddly enough, I was sorting through some of my old drawings last night and found a pastel pencil sketch of the Chupacabra. It’s not dated, but it’s old (maybe late 1980s or 90s). I am also reading a book by Chris Aubeck: Alien Artifacts From Antiquity to 1880, which is filled with fragments and ephemeral reports.I still believe truth can be stranger than fiction.