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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Friday, December 24, 2010


It has been a long and strange year. Next week I shall be writing my annual report which will go through, in soime detail, what we did, and failed to do, during 2010. There were some triumphs, some disasters and some anticlamaxes.

But that is for next week. We just want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have supported us through the last twelve months, and to wish you a Happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous 2011.

Our love to you all,

Jon and Corinna


It is nothing if not timely today to blog about the most elusive crypto-primate of all. Glimpsed on only a single night each year, when it is usually seen clambering over roof tops and disappearing down chimneys, it is famed for its distinctive red and white pelage, profuse facial hair, rotund body form, readily recognisable ‘ho ho ho’ triple cry, predilection for sherry and mince pies, and unique symbiotic relationship with reindeer.

Read on

TOP TEN RECORDS OF 2010 (Not in any real order) PART ONE (10-6)

6 Joanna Newsom: Have One on Me

She is completely nuts, but as she gets less self concious about it, her inimitably peculiar musical career gets even more worthwhile. If you were put off by the Violet Elizabeth Bottisms of her debut, and the wilfully complex stylisings of Ys a couple of years ago, this album is well worth you giving her another chance..

7 Pete Brown and Phil Ryan: Road of Cobras

If you don't know who Pete Brown is, then shame on you. His new album is magnificent, but - sadly - too obscure to have anything on YouTube. So here he is performing one of his more famous numbers..

8 Belle & Sebastian Write about Love

My other favourite album of the year. No doubt Nick Redfern will hate it. This band just gets better and better

9 Elton John/Leon Russell The Union

Once upon a time Sir Elton was known as a singer/songwriter of major reputation, rather than a Pantomime dame with a dodgy haircut. In this smashing album with his hero Leon Russell who has been absent from the spotlight for far too long, it is possible to see why. This is finely crafted piano based country soul at its best.

10 The Flaming Lips: The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs with Henry Rollins and Peaches Doing The Dark Side of the Moon

This album actually came out last year, but in the last week of December. It is such an audacious conceit that it deserves inclusion.

ROBERT SCHNECK: Weird Christmas

Hi Jon,

You might want to save this one for Christmas. There's a Christmas tree made of jellyfish, a Christmas tree lit by an electric eel, a robot Santa Claus...in short, it's Japanese.

Merry Christmas,


PS Is it my imagination or did the 2010 CFZ blog feature a lot of stories about eels?

LINDSAY SELBY: Is Santa Claus a cryptid?

You may laugh but think about the similarities between Santa and documented cryptids.

Cryptids tend to be seen in places with difficult terrain where they cannot easily be tracked or seen. -Santa lives in an icy wasteland. Santa disappears and reappears. There are stories about bigfoot disappearing before people’s eyes and many cryptids are only spotted at certain times of the year when conditions are right. Santa flies through the air on a sled with flying reindeer. There are many flying cryptids from thunderbirds to mothman.

Then there are his little helpers –the elves. They could be a descendant or offshoot of the Hobbit skeletons that were found in recent years.

He leaves gifts. There are old stories of wildmen who left food for the starving on their doorsteps.
Santa is rather hairy according to many depictions with flowing beard and locks. Ditto are many cryptids.
He has a distinctive cry-Ho Ho Ho. So do many cryptids including a species of giant bat that is said to make a similar noise.

Santa only exists in folklore stories, so do many crytids until people start to hunt for them. Nearly all cryptids from the Loch Ness Monster to the Yeti are first discovered in old stories when one looks back at the time line.
So Is Santa Claus a cryptid? Probably not as there is no eye witness testimony to back up his appearances that I am aware of (that does not include your parent in a red dressing gown and Santa hat and fake beard leaving presents at the bottom of the bed) but next time someone scoffs at your belief in cryptids, remind them they believed in Father Christmas once so don’t knock belief in the unknown.

ALAN FRISWELL: A Christmas Ghost Story (with apologies to M.R.James)

Christmas is traditionally a time for stories to be told around the fire. One of my favourite Christmas memories is of my mother reading from the Christmas chapters of late 19th Century literature by Dickens and Louisa May Alcott, as the family sat around the fire and roasted chestnuts. It was only when I grew up that I discovered that it is ghost stories which are most linked with Christmastide; my mother (who believed that the occult was "not very nice, dear" would never have read us such things, but over the years I have indulged on many a Christmas. Wayhay for Alan Friswell who is continuing the grand tradition in his own inimitable style....

I've been a great M.R. James enthusiast since childhood, when I first encountered 'The Night of the Demon'--based on his story 'Casting the Runes'--on late-night TV, and his terrifying tales in the Ghost Stories for Christmas that were shown on the BBC. Having always admired his writing, I thought it would be a wizard wheeze to write an M.R. James-type story featuring various and sundry denizens--and indeed luminaries--from the ranks of the CFZ. James fans might feel that I have been somewhat liberal with the use of structure and prose, but this is, after all, a pastiche of James, and meant to be fun, rather than a serious attempt to copy his inimitable style. I had originally intended to send this story earlier in the year, but Rebecca Lang suggested--quite rightly--that it would be better to have it appear over the Christmas hols, in keeping with the James tradition.

One other thing of note: We were all saddened by the premature passing of Biggles recently, and you might be surprised to find him in the text. This is because the greater part of this story was written in early may, and although I had momentarily thought to write him out for fear of upsetting anyone, I realised that Biggles was a much-loved member of the CFZ, and to erase him from his rightful place in the story would be disrespectful to his memory, so here he is, and this story is hereby dedicated to him.

I hope you have fun with this, and I will take this opportunity to wish all at the CFZ, and all CFZ blog readers, the happiest of Christmases, and all the best for a safe, happy and prosperous New Year.



It was the sale at Berwicks, in the year of 18-, comprising of the greater burden of manuscripts, documents, diaries and assorted miscellaneous ephemera that had brought to light, for those who put substance and purpose to such matters, a series of incidents concerning the Downes estate in Exeter, that would serve, in whole intent, to give pause and caution to what might classify as a superstitious demeanour, or a sensitivity to the baser instincts.

For in one such record of days; a diary in the keeping of one Elizabeth Clancey, a comely young woman, placed as a cook-maid in the employ of the Downes estate, and also in the records of the butler Muirhead in good keeping, and even a Mr. N. Arnold, a lawyer from London, who attempted to make fair legality of the tragic affair, were discovered documentation and descriptive allowance of a mysterious occurrence comprising both sinister and tragic consequences.

The entries that should concern the attention of the reader, describe the terrible ice and storms that took hold with such ill temper, in the latter parts of the midwinter feasts.

Lord and Lady Downes’ philanthropist views were both in full and measured, as was Lord Downes’ widely applauded zoological project, in which both the lower, and those species considered to occupy the broadening edge of the scholar’s mental horizon, were brought forth from the obscurity of the recondite into the most efficacious light of popular discovery. Such was the success of Lord Downes’ campaign, that brought envy and most wounded from those who considered him as rival, and even unto slanderous liberalities, being the whole of libellous informality, and did seek to cause hurt to the reputation of a worthy man.

The Downes estate in large, had set fast in the grip of frost, and swaths and drifts of snow closed all reach and communication to the neighbouring villages, which fact in itself did not, in fine, pose halt nor intolerable inconvenience to the standing of the household, and it was in such, as later commentators have observed, unfortunate happenstance, that the first sign of ill humour, contrary to the security of the comfortably mundane, became present with an increasing immediacy.

The first entry of interest, and some might say, subsequent significance, is marked at Wed, 29th Dec, and it is, perhaps to be appreciated that Elizabeth Clancey had achieved such literary proficiency, as to disseminate said events with a lucidity to belie preconceived expectations of the serving classes. The entry is as follows:

“It was being the company of Mr Inglis, a reliable woodsman, previously of being an itinerant forester and woodcutter, and of late prominent in the office of gardener to the Downes estate, that had made sensible of the fact of reality of certain strange tracks, cast as pattern all around the house, from the yard to the field beyond the stables. This experience had summarily afforded much puzzlement and consternation in Mr Inglis, being conscious to sore vexation as to settlement or solution to the phenomena. For such tracks, as there were, followed in single-file, as laid by a solitary creature, even discovered to be over the roofs and walls of the estate, found to be most wondrous by all observers. Mr Inglis, a redoubtable practitioner of logic and utility, had endeavoured, in most steadfast manner to replace with elucidation through the rationality of his calling, the excesses of the imaginative and the unenlightened.

So the tracks led him in good temper to an overgrown hedge, thick and weighty with snow. At the very origin of the track, a most curious wedge of stone was to be seen. Mr Inglis took it up, and in his ascertainment did notice it’s form to be that of a chalky-white substance, as to be typical of the Southern seashores. Mr Inglis took this stone with all dispatch and laid it before the auspices and deliberation of Lord Downes, who, while a personage of predominantly ebullient and generous mood--this outlook final to his mind following his betrothal and marriage to Lady Corinna several summers past, took pause before Mr Inglis’ revelation, and was seen to adopt an uncharacteristically reserved countenance.”

The butler Muirhead was held to have observed much of private talk, and that denied to lower staff, having made copy of this exchange; describing thus:

“In the dark of the study, long after the household had retired, Lord Downes was heard to pass, in conservation, this passage to Mr O. Lewis, a faithful retainer, and confidant of long standing: “So here it is, Mr Lewis. I thought never to have this pass before my eyes; I had wished it buried these long years, but such ill provenance has brought it before me”.

“See here,” whispered Mr Lewis, turning the piece over in his hands, “the words upon the stone your Grandfather spoke of.”

Lord Downes took his eye to a spyglass, and read the inscription. “It seems to be a Latin cipher--it should read--paro mihi ut negotium ego vadum falter. Nutritor mihi scelero ego vadum imbibo.’ Can you make play of this, Mr Lewis?”

“ I believe so. It is surely--”‘Set me to a task I shall not falter. Feed me blood, I will drink“, or some such, at least”

Lord Downes fell back, visibly drawn by this motto, and with shaking hands made free licence with the whiskey cabinet. “I had thought this to be the province of memory. Is there no sanctity in time--another sacrifice, is that it?”

“What was your Grandfather’s claim in this?” Asked Mr Lewis, now becoming immoderately disquieted at Lord Downes’ performance.

“Why the old dear set a security in place for the protective promotion of the estate. You remember that he was by way of being a queer old bird, always digging into secrets and graves? Well this time his habits gave issue--the year before he died, had claimed to have invited something with due tenancy to stay. He always said something about being sure to be inside the circle--whatever that means, but it hungers--needs blood I think.”

At this, Mr Lewis swiftly arrived at the conclusion that he too would make fair play with the whiskey cabinet.”

Elizabeth Clancey’s next entry of relevance, is dated 30th Dec, and describes:

“A goodly part of the night is laid out to concerns in the home. Lord Downes is fairly given over to a surfeit of mannerisms most readily acquainted with those burdened with some oppression of spirit, and in both speech and demeanour does express--and I lay that it ill becomes me to afford such substance to it--as one who is haunted, as the word might be forgiven. Lord Downes keeps close council with Mr Lewis who, through whispers and glances seems as much in amaze as his Lordship.”

30th Dec

“And so as the old year comes to its close, the greater part of the day’s fearful acts must be put down. Last night, a thin curtain of snow fell upon the already frozen soil. Strange cries were to be heard around the house, which, despite all directions to the origin of foxes, cats or other night creatures, did not carry a familiar tune, nor did in fact impart any appreciable degree of resonance to either comfort or reassure. The loyal sheephound Biggles, in ordinary a beast of temperance, and docility of spirit, let forth with most piteous and distressingly pained howls and cries, much disturbed by the unnatural sounds. In the morning, the day’s activities continued inasmuch as the charity of unavoidable tasks would allow, and on the hour of ten, Shoshannah, a young village maid employed in the stables, gathered charcoal from one of the many braziers that furnished the house with what meager warmth they offered, for her horse sketches, a pastime for which she possessed no mean skill. She had found her way into the hedgerows to secure such twigs and small branches as would char most suitably, when she screamed at the very top of her voice, and stumbled, half-falling, into the main yard. She was indeed, in thrall of such a containment of fright, that it gave fair passing to young Master Blake, the stable groom, who ran forth from his labour, his own blood coursing with the perfection of that terrible scream. Shoshannah led Master Blake to the source of the injury, and in the very deep of the hedgerow, there was to be seen, what--but the grisly remnant of a sheep, late of neighbour Hallowell’s herd, formed into a husk, the desiccated skin drawn to the bone in a grotesque effigy of life! Lord Downes was immediately summoned to view the ghastly spectacle, and was heard to mutter under his breath: “ ‘Tis come, ‘tis come--what recompense in full must I make, for so long has it stood.” Master Blake was duly charged with negotiating a way through the deep snows to the village of Woolfardisworthy, and there to secure the service and council of Squire Richard; a freeman of this parish, whose name had long been associated with the ways and varied complexions of local legend and country folklore. And so young Master Blake in full, and in issue of saviour returned with not one, but three personages; prominent among which, was that being in the very shape and substance of none other, than Squire Richard, most recently delivered of his treatise of ‘Theoretical Principle for Varying Descriptives of Psychological Abberation to Replace Logic for Ignorance.’ Accompanying the Squire were certain other august members of a most select coterie, dedicated to the establishment of enlightenment, and there recently arrived in Woolfardisworthy as guests of the Squire. These gentlemen were summarily introduced as Dr Shuker, a worthy fellow in good standing of the Zoological Society, late of the West Midlands and an inveterate collector of specimens and curios, with which he appointed his laboratory fastidiously, and with most decorous approach; and a Mr. Redfern, temporarily returned from his recent posting in the American colonies, whereforth he had laboured in singular, and with determined speed in establishing culture and civilization among the barbaric heathen most unhappily prevalent in the ungodly region of Texas. Lord Downes was much relived in his mind by the appearance of such formidable allies, and was roundly said, by all witnesses, to exhibit a most signal lightening of spirit.”

A later account from Lord Downes’ butler Muirhead would seem to, at least as far as recollection will allow, corroborate this scene in the proceedings, and went on to say:

“Oh! Gentlemen!”, Lord Downes was held to exclaim, in a sort of rapture. “You are most welcome!” Arrangements for quarters, and attendant hospitality were made with some alacrity, with provisions made for comfort as seen to by myself and Olivia, one of Lord and Lady Downes’ chambermaids.”

A continuation of Elizabeth Clancy’s diary entry for 30th Dec follows:

“And the last cold workings of the afternoon gave way to the frozen still of the night, but contrary to the inclemency without, a cheered table is hosted by Lord Downes, and with pheasant and grouse from his Lordship’s own shoot, and a charge of fruit beer and mulled wine all round, a greatly relieved Lord Downes felt assurance enough to give full disclosure and balance of receipt; but, notwithstanding, with some hesitancy to speak of matters in such contradictory terms to the ideals of rationality. Lord Downes set a generous glass of brandy before him, and began the tale: “Know then, Squire Richard, that my late Grandfather, who held this estate in fullness and good keeping, was oftimes beleaguered and badly served by the varied and unwanted appearances of robbers and poachers, who would make sport of his game and livestock with the frequency of a liberal hand. My Grandfather was greatly taken to no small distraction, and angered in reasonable degree. He had the attention of country ways, and was by no means unfamiliar with what might be described as the more pastoral faith. He had made knowledgeable his sympathies to old S. Jones, a reputed witch master and follower of the Old Path, being a wise and cunning soul, confidant to ills and maladies suffered both in fact and suggestion. My Grandfather had consulted old Jones on the matter of intruders, considered by him to be of debilitative value worthy of physical disorder. There followed long periods wherein my Grandfather and old Jones would correspond and plot in secret and--we were but children at the time--make strange noises and cast all manner of odd shadows on the walls of the study, from which we were forbidden passage, tolerance or liberty. One evening--Candlemass Eve I’m sure--the most rending cries came from the study, bringing the servants in force to compel the door, to find my Grandfather prone on the floor, trembling uncontrollably. A brazier of coals had been dashed to the floorboards, and a small resulting fire had to be extinguished. A low cedar table had been used for some makeshift altar, crowded with candles, and strangely-shaped jars of honey, blood and salt. The tang of incense was thick in the air. Old Jones had vanished, and no trace or rumour ever came to light. There were those who said that he had “gone into the dark”, and that he was “back where he belonged”, and much hearsay and conjecture of the most sinister implication. When my grandfather had been returned to some semblance of cognisant humour, he was found to be clutching a piece of chalkstone, upon which were inscribed a line of Latin characters. Yes gentlemen, the very artefact that Mr Inglis discovered in the garden, and that you now see before you. I have no doubt that it was the very object of some curse or spell; old Jones had put his hand to it--and was the actual Method in Principle through which agency the spell could work it’s malice in its most Artful Design. All through that night, terrible cries could be heard around the house, and although much attempt and goodly endeavour was made to attribute this to the full temper of winter at its worst, no earthly wind could attest to the very depth of despair, or lonely hunger of whatever was calling from the dark; and in truth, none slept well or could rest in plain absence of burden. The next morning, our faithful butler Muirhead did report of most passing uncommon tracks in the deep snow. All around the house they fell, as if by some small, but many-legged creature, to the curiosity of all. Naturally, being children, we made to dash out into the morning frost, to make greater scrutiny of the mystery, but my Grandfather, although still debilitated and caused to sicken, Held forth feebly: “Stay inside the circle! By your lives! By your lives! To our childish temper this last was so unnerving, that we dared not venture outside for fear of some invisible thing that, although unspoken, was enough to hold us. And so it was, for my Grandfather had Muirhead follow the track, being of great care to pertain to it’s very edge, and he did indeed, though dreadful to relate, find it’s end in the frozen depths of an overgrown rhododendron thicket; and there, Muirhead’s human resolve was tested most awfully, by the fact--a most gruesome remnant--of the mortal shell--for in truth, it was no more--of one C. Packham--in long standing a poacher and lately seen in pursuit and possession of the estate’s domestic fowl and Livestock in Keeping and with malice aforethought. Death had, to all intents, come upon him by the most savage and unwarrantable agency. The butler Muirhead could not look nor discern, for only bones you understand--not flesh, but only bones lay fast in the thicket, but with enough of the face still remaining as to proclaim to all, the identity of the principal player in the tragedy. I can now see what my Grandfather and old Jones had brought forth; some dark thing--call it spirit or what you will, that would afford the estate security through its malign will when invoked by any trespasser. It would leave it’s track around the house--to remain inside should ensure protection--the circle my Grandfather so warned. The very words and receipt of invitation--there upon the chalk stone. And there, gentleman, is the whole working and intention of this most hideous plan!” Lord Downes sat back in his chair, and the gravity of his address had painted a grey pall into his usually bacchinalian visage of festive glow. Squire Richard jumped to his feet: “I am for an immediate investigation!”, whereupon he sprang from the dining room in full vigor of his ambition, closely followed by his fellows. An extensive examination of the estate grounds revealed none but the very dearth of solution or all that might point to it. In fast, it was admitted to the truth of retirement to bed for the remainder of the already late night, in favour of more comprehensive exertions in the confidence of daylight that was seen by these most logical of men, to hold fair.

31st Dec

And as if it were some ghastly act, laid out for but fiendish amusement, the final performance did seem to find some place and standing with the New Year impending, for the hand of the midnight hour came with much weight and ponderousness, and although greetings for all and good wishes had indeed proliferated--not least from Lord Downes, whose manner and bearing--it behoves me to clarify--had most surely been precipitated in majority by concert--and readily affirmed by all fellows--that the Downes wine cellar should not suffer to remain unvisited, or indeed, unappreciated. In consequence, there was at least some degree of alleviation of mood as the Old Year reached it’s point of demise.”

In this departure from the narrative of Elizabeth Clancy, it is pertinent to refer to the accounting of the butler Muirhead, who was seen as most closely witness and participant:

“As the hour approached midnight, there was indeed, much merriment, and, could be said, a warmth of atmosphere quite unlike the mood of late. This had no doubt, been sped by the presence of Lord Downes’ worthy guests who, to my not inconsiderable relief, had apparently succeeded in rousing him to a restoration of his former vessel and carriage, and did indeed, call for the hand of twelve to be the marker of celebration. Candles had been placed in fashion by Olivia and Shoshannah, to bring better light to the great grandfather clock that commands the passageway before the front door. Silence fell in the house as the ticking of the hour drew all with anticipation; and then--oh! most hastened of ill providence!--at the very moment of the turning year, a most dreadful scream, that took all of us to chill to the plain depths of our souls, was heard from the darkness of the estate grounds. Squire Richard and his august assembly were galvanized most readily by the awful sound; Lord Downes threw back his chair, his exclamation being: “Let Master Blake set to with lanterns!” The group passed through the front door into the icy cold of the new year, but the cry was not repeated, with only the frozen stillness of the night air bearing the weight of a hidden threat, as if of a terrible forboding waiting beyond. Young Master Blake came up from the stables with pitch torches, their spitting flame only serving to illuminate the apprehension on the faces of the party. “The track! The track! It is here!” Mr Redfern had found his way in the dark to the very edge of the yard, and there, in the snow were more of the strange tracks; fresh, and transcribing a perfect circle round the house. Lord Downes ran over the frozen ground. ”Keep to within the ring, for it is your lives!” Young Master Blake had made fast in hand with the lights, and now Squire Richard in company of Dr Shuker and Lord Downes passed beyond the blackness of the house, casting their own strange shadows as they ran to meet Mr Redfern. “What is it Redfern?” shouted Squire Richard as they came to his side. “The source of that cry is here, Squire Richard, on my oath be it!” As if conjured by his words, another scream came from the darkness, an unmistakeable human cry; a wrenching, despairing sound that twisted our hearts with fear. Another, lower sound was to be heard under this, but for its subtlety, yet came no comfort, for as all ascertained, and would subsequently testify, a sound that found its origin in no human throat, as was, even unto the like sensibilities of the gentlemen present, a cry of such unearthliness to give just question to their calling. “There!” exclaimed Squire Richard; “It’s in the trees! Do you hold firm your light Master Blake!” Squire Richard and Lord Downes ran towards the small copse of bitter elm, it’s bare branches now thin, snow-encrusted fingers, with Master Blake’s lantern casting a pale, wan glow of illumination, as all from the house drew close. A dark anticipation of some finality of deed, a dreadful resolving of issue was marked by all in full part. The lantern had indeed, disclosed some movement amongst the bushes, that could initially only be discerned as a pattern of obscured shapes, jumping and scampering in a discordant rhythm, with an attitude of such stealthy threat, that gave charge to the resolve of the assembly, who yet were repulsed but compelled to give it measure, to identify the horror, such as it was most hatefully standing forth, without the protective circle of tracks. “Stand back!” cried Lord Downes. Squire Richard had now reached the perimeter of safety. “Do not extend the tolerance, Squire Richard, for of such consequence, is bitter promise!” “Beyond!” Cried Squire Richard, “There is it’s going! Let us beard it in it’s very den!” As he turned to reach into the thicket while yet remaining within the circle, a thin, white face arose from the darkness to meet him. Ostensibly a man, but with all humanity void from its blank features. Its form twisted and shuffled from the snow-covered undergrowth like a shrivelled, charred potato-skin. Squire Richard recoiled with an involuntary cry of disgust and fear, as the creature reached for him with black fingers, and as it dragged itself towards the circle, Master Blake held high his lantern, and cried: “I know him! For this is the Highland Tiger--late of the Northern hills. Lord Downes sir, do you remember? He was in fast sore your enemy!” Lord Downes, drawn back with loathing, said: “Yes, yes, it is he--but what does he do here? By what standing has he come to this? As if somehow exorcised by his very words, the black shape seemed to collapse in upon itself, as a dead flower cast into a bonfire, with what but the dust of memory and the scent of some secret corruption to stand in receipt of passing. For as Lord Downes fell in witness, he could not but invince within his soul some measure of sympathy for the wretched figure that yet lay prone before him; for whom but the most unfeeling of heart could have failed to have stood with empathy? “Enough!” cried Lord Downes. “What is to be done? Gentleman, what is to be done? Dr Shuker came to his side. “Destroy this hated stone! Send it and its cursed spell to fragments!” Said Squire Richard: “It is the agency through which this stain be made fast!” Lord Downes turned to me: “Muirhead! Let us repair immediately!” And thus, we made for the house at top speed.

As the butler Muirhead was no longer in such standing as an observer, it is now expedient to resume the narrative of Elizabeth Clancy, in the commission of her record:

“Lord Downes had returned to the house with Muirhead, both in some degree of agitation, for which state, none could condemn, while Squire Richard, placed still fast within the circle of tracks, made attempts to attend, as ably as would be sound, the grisly remnant of the doomed poacher. But as he reached out to touch the still-living form, his arm passed over the line--oh hateful provenance!--and to our ears came the most dreadful, low thick rustling from the undergrowth, as of a spider descending upon its prey, and then most loathsome--a thin black confusion of movement emerged from behind the unfortunate Highland Tiger and appeared to be at first a solid shape; a shell or some like covering--like unto the carapace of some horrible insect. With appalling speed, it passed over the body of the poacher with what appeared in the shadows to be many legs, moving with dreadful rapidity. It was no mean, or unsteadfast endeavour to make count of these limbs--call them what you will, for at once there was the truth of few, then many, more like that of a foul illusion than a palpable phenomena, but of its reality, there was not doubt; as it reached for Squire Richard, one of its vile legs or tentacles taking firm on his lower arm. Cold to his very heart from the apparition, Squire Richard yet found his courage, kicking with the whole of his intention into the creature’s transient body. Master Blake ran forward, and dashed his lantern full into the fiend’s shell, or casing, and as the flames threw ghastly illumination over the scene of the tragedy, the true horror of the thing was revealed; some kind of hideous mouth, or at least a cavity with teeth, and as was witnessed most fearfully by all, the phantom parted back what lips it had in a sinister and deadly smile. Mr Redfern and Dr Shuker, unmindful of the peril, in fear for their friend, had crossed the line of tracks and had launched into full attack upon the fiend, but all attempts to procure any promise of damage were met with confoundment, as the spirit--as much it was--had attended to their blows as but hard as iron yet in no receipt of true substance, the whole being the act of futility, in its dealings with Squire Richard; in such there was the fact of no small immediacy, as the Squire had been dragged completely across the line, and indeed, may have succumbed in full, if not for the council of Master Blake, who had the goodly measure of Squire Richard by both ankles, and was pulling most enthusiastically in deficit of the creature’s overtures.. But horrifying to relate, these fine efforts had come to naught, for Squire Richard had arrived at the very apogee of balance, and was in no liberty of allowance, at the sad point of destruction. It was at the utmost resort of deliverance--for Master Blake had at this very moment failed in his grip upon Squire Richard and had fallen back into the snow--that torchlight attended by Muirhead flooded the frozen ground, heralding the return--oh, most timely intervention!--of Lord Downes, his face in such full flush as precipitated by much exertion. In one hand was tight yet another of master Blake’s pitch torches. In the other: what but--the very object of singularity--the cursed stone--most unhappily inscribed! In the event, Lord Downes’ arrival could hard be seen as more precipitous or of the very hour--as Squire Richard was at the final end of his strength. “Stand fast!” cried Lord Downes. “Set release upon that man! He has free passage here, and you have no claim to him!” With that, Lord Downes threw the stone with a mighty heave to the icy ground. It struck with a strange ringing sound, as if from some ancient bell, and shattered like crystal. The apparition shrank back in a shiver of dark movement, its form shimmering like a flickering candle-light. It’s grip upon Squire Richard dissolved into a watery void, and Mr Redfern and Dr Shuker fell back, turning their attention to Squire Richard, who had finally succumbed to the extreme of jeopardy, and lay yet unconscious in the snow. In procuring the form of Squire Richard--in no doubt of the very fact of extrication from the teeth of calamity--his rescuers were made in no small acuty the corpse of the Highland Tiger being now removed in whole, and part of no earthly stain or trace to be seen or mourned. “So!” cried Lord Downes: “The fiend has secured its final victim! Be swift! Let us repair to the house, for Squire Richard is fast in need of brandy!” All conclusion was made in fine to the house, and Squire Richard’s needs were attended to with due haste.

The last diary entry by Elizabeth Clancy follows as denouement or epigram in final, in description of the last chapter.

1st Jan

This day has been spent in quiet reflection, in both ascertainment and ostensible deliberation of the night’s events. Lord Downes has displayed evidence of profound relief for what has been confirmed by all as a deliverance of singular import. Squire Richard is to be found in full and good spirits, his experiences tempered by rigorous analysis with his fellows as to the possible metaphysical ramifications involved in the affair, to be tested in contrast with--however undesirable--and to the detriment of the enlightened dissemination of the abstruse--the possibility alas!--of the assignment of and unexplainable temper to the proceedings. The fate of the unfortunate Highland Tiger was in good finding the cause and precipitation of much speculation held in debate through the auspices of Squire Richard and Lord Downes. And to such an end, this dialogue would stand as testimony in truth:

“Who was this Highland Tiger? Asked Squire Richard; “no ordinary poacher, for such fair of plain identity is most evident, and final to my mind”.

“Yes in truth,” said Lord Downes, “ The Highland Tiger was in keeping worthy as foe and adversary, for was he not a fellow of those who sought to discredit my zoological ambition? Although as through most injustice as to test compassion and extension of empathy, I have no doubt that he meant mischief, but he has now been taken forth, in no small denial of his ambition or wish.”

Extract from the journal of R. Lang, late of the Antipodes, in recording of Strange Words and Curiosities of West Devon:

“Of late this afternoon, My manservant Williams noted the truth and substance of what could only be described by him as most peculiar markings in the snow; this being ascribed as the workings or action of some animal species. As being plainly aware of the wholly superstitious complexion assigned to the Downes affair, this last will surely conclude in a more steadfast and conciliatory perspective; the burden falling in the greater part for the rational and comprehensive analysis of fact. The reporting by Williams of sounds of distress--as some unfortunate creature in the woods which thus far have proved somewhat frustratingly difficult to identify, should not raise cause or belief in that which may be not; Mr Williams casting the opinion that--and it does find favour in my mind--if a poacher finds himself caught in his own trap, or that of some more willful agency, can he blame but his own motives and consequence therein? There ends the matter.”

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


Merry Christmas everyone.
On this day in 1968 Apollo 8 re-entered the Earth’s gravitational field and set a trajectory back to earth. This is also the day that, in 2003, contact was lost with Britain’s Beagle 2 probe, a project that had been built almost entirely on money acquired from non-governmental sources and hoped to establish the presence of life on Mars. Had the project worked it would have probably ushered in a new era of space exploration and experimentation not funded by nation states and at much lower costs.
And now, the news:

Dog's close squeak after swallowing rubber duck
Carsten Höller: deer of perception
Mummified forest discovered in Arctic Circle
Dog in Germany gives birth to 17 puppies
Newly Discovered Tree Looks Like Darth Vader
Blood vessel looks like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Rein...

OK, just because it's Christmas I hunted out the Max Fleischer Rudolph the red nosed reindeer cartoon for you all to watch, hope you all have a good Christmas: