Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Monday, May 25, 2009

THE CATS OF UPPER MINSTER: Episode 3 - "The General's in Country"

Last week, as an amusing one-off Tim Matthews, wrote a silly short story spoofing some of the more ridiculous exploits of various self-styled big cat researchers over the years.
It was so popular that he wrote another one, and now - by public demand - it has become a serial. Starting this evening, every other day will see an episode of Timmo's new Fortean soap opera The Cats of Upper Minster. And having read the first few episodes I can confirm that it is bloody smashing and highly amusing. "I'll carry on until it stops being funny" says Tim, and you can't say fairer than that!

The General forced himself into one of Marj’s vintage armchairs and, without asking for permission, plonked a tape recorder on the coffee table that divided Marj from her visitor. (She hardly considered him a guest.)

“So,” said the General in his dulcet East London tones. “I have report form here. It took many months to perfect and the colour scheme of brown background with white writing seems to be quite appropriate,” he insisted. “I need to ask you a number of questions and it might take half an hour. I should point out that ours is a scientific organisation. Big Cats Research and the associated ABC Team is backed by notable individuals the length and the breadth of the land!”
“Oh yes,” exclaimed Marj. “You don’t seem scientific to me and my son Nigel is actually a PhD at Imperial College, London. I wonder what he’d make of all this. Hardly a big deal, just a dog barking at something he’d seen.”
“Come on now, we’re not talking those kind of dry as dust scientists,” countered The General. “I’m talking Discovery Science, Borderlands, stuff we don’t understand, the boundary between what is real and accepted and the Other Side!”
“Other side,” said Marj, somewhat taken aback. “What other side?”
“Well, one of things I was going to ask you, dear lady, was whether you have had any bedroom visitors, psychic encounters or felt a presence at any time over the last few weeks. This is crucial!”
“Crucial to what?” asked Marj. “This is getting odder and odder. I thought you were interested in the dog and whatever it was he saw.”
“Only partially,” replied The General. “You see, we have the experience and we know we’re not alone. These creatures are much cleverer than you might think, and they are indeed, our experts tell us, shapeshifters!”
“Whaaaat?” said Marj, horrified. “What aaaare you talking about young man?”
“Well, years of tracking these things down tells me they can’t simply be a big cat living in the wild. There is so much more to this. I mean, my sources tell me about sightings in the graveyard by the Upper Minster Church.”
“Well, I have heard similar stories but they came to me via drunken schoolchildren who were so high after a night in the pub that they could have seen anything. I’ve never heard of anything especially credible.”
“What we are dealing with here can take any form and affect people in ways we hardly understand,” The General insisted. “So what we are going to do is stake out various locations with cameras, infrared, a range of other scientific equipment and wait for IT to return.”
“I am not sure that will be particularly popular,”
Marj exclaimed.
“It’s as if we’re under siege!”
“Once we’re satisfied we’ll be on our way. As I speak, groups of My People are making their way here and one of them is setting up in the back room of the pub. He has maps, books, walkie talkies, the whole shebang.”
“Heavens,” added Marj, wondering whether she’d made a big mistake allowing this slob into her nicely kept cottage. She was a very polite, very English lady not given to excesses. The General, in contrast, seemed to have excesses in all the wrong place, particularly in what he said.....
Meanwhile, back in the village, a large white truck with a satellite dish was pulling up outside the Minster Pub. The landlord, Rob, was seething in anger as regulars would have trouble getting in to his pub through the front door and some prat of a TV director appeared to think he owned the pub, the village and probably everything within ten square miles.
“What the hell are they doing here,” boomed Rob. “This is becoming a circus and not something I like. I mean, if anything was really going on with mystery animals don’t you think the sentient beings in Upper Minster might have noticed?”
“Well,” said Adam Barton, a well-known local farmer, “I reckon foxes have a lot to answer for...and they’re not very mysterious.”

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