This week, The Revivalist gets biblical. I discovered an unusual story that sets the arrival of Armageddon in our mountain range. Written by Sheryl Monk and published in the online journal storySouth, it is called "Monsters in Appalachia."
[caption id="attachment_2107" align="alignright" width="300"] 11th century depiction of beast with seven heads[/caption]
The story gives voice to a mountain lady who is uneasy about her man hunting strange beasts. They've appeared in the woods. In spite of tentacles and horns, the creatures are easy prey. The man delights in them at mealtime and soon begins to breed them for a sideshow, unknowingly positioning the couple to be Adam and Eve for the end of days.
It's a haunting tale, no doubt. Do you like it? What does it say about the Appalachians? Does it align with the Biblical prophecy? Is that even the point? I'm excited to hear what you all think.
Monsters in Appalachia
by Cheryl Monk
She hears the dogs coming round now, bugling louder as they draw near, bawling out in unbridled rapture. Their aching bliss, laid plain, bleeds into her like a hemorrhage, and she can hear it, now, too, she thinks, calling them through the woods. Its song the furtive cry of a panther, a wailing baby. The dogs call out again, and somewhere in the quiet depths, he moans with delight as well.
Outside, it is dark as that which plagued Egypt. How the dogs manage in such blackness, she can’t say, but they have a scent on their noses and that’s how they go, she knows. Still, there are trees and all manner of things to watch out for in the night woods, though she guesses they can scent trees as well as beasts. Anse’s Plotts are of an olden breed, the keenest ever was. They can scent things never heard tell of. Trees? Why they must be simple, she guesses. She herself can scent trees, pine rosin and fruiting pawdads, though not at a full tear through the dark.
She wishes it was light out, a whitish day with the dogs scaring up quail from the hawthorn and hedge apples. Retrieving game, not stalking it. She doesn’t like the ropes of slobber that hang from their mouths after a chase such as this. Doesn’t trust how they pull against their leads so hard and lust for a thing. She can hear it there now in their voices, ringing round the woods. They’ve treed something or hemmed something in. It is over now. They’ll be home in a spell.
She goes to the stove, runs the grate back and forth, shovels out the ash, adds coal, and waits till the fire is built up good again. He’ll be froze solid when he comes back. She brings clean coveralls into the canning porch, pulls on her coat, grabs the washtubs, and goes to light a fire in the yard. She is late, and here come the headlights of the truck, dogs still baying for every ounce of life they’re worth, Anse’s old Dodge winding out hard to drag the heavy load up the steep drive.
She drops the washtubs under the hemlock and sets a match to the kindling. Anse ties the dogs and goes back to unload his catch. She comes round after him to help.
At first, she thinks it’s a bear. But it is not a bear, she knows. Too big. Unless it is a Kodiak, and she’s never heard tell of Kodiak round here. Her heart mashes chamber against chamber. “Another?” she asks.
“All that’s running,” he replies.
“Th’ey God in heaven,” she says. “Monsters. It’s the end-times.”
She hungers for something soft, the sweet, tender things of before. Now it is all hard hide and claw and horns and scales and beaks and necks and parts unheard of.