My kids recently told me they feared zombies.
“There’s something even scarier than zombies,” I replied.
“What?” they asked, holding their breath.
“Mombies,” I answered, catching and hugging them.
They laughed. I told them zombies are the dullest monsters ever, slow and stupid. People, if you can just walk away from a monster, it’s not scary.
Surely our nation can do better. The United States is capable of producing freak shows like Lady Gaga and East Chicago mayoral corruption, but where is our grainy footage of horned fairies?
Why are we falling behind other nations in this crucial mystique-creation department? When I walk my dog, he only barks at other dogs, not amorphous monsters in bushes, and it makes me sad.
I’m not talking ghosts; the global market is saturated. Besides, if ghosts were real, they’d just be people who got lost, and that’s not sexy. Get a GPS, dead people.
We can commend the citizens near Area 51 in for their number of Bio Channel documentaries. But the glory days of crop circles and Bigfoot sightings are past.
Even when we do encounter a place with potential for worldwide whispers, we do shamefully little to publicize it. This summer, my family visited Serpent Mound in super-rural Adams County, Ohio.
On the little museum was a placard offhandedly remarking that Serpent Mound’s builders may have been six feet tall, in an era when neighboring peoples were far shorter.
And—get this—the mound builders had six fingers and toes.
With the astronomical significance of Serpent Mound, you could easily maintain only aliens could’ve built it. But all the museum sold were stained glass sun catchers bearing the site’s name.
I couldn’t believe it, and frankly, I was embarrassed for the people of Adams County. If you Google “serpent mound rumors,” you get no results. No government cover-ups. No conspiracy theories.
Scotland boasts a similar mound called Skelmorlie. How whimsical, yet slightly sinister, is that name? But the best name Ohioans could devise is Serpent Mound?
It’s an outrage that our country obsesses over standardized testing scores when other countries are crushing us in creation of mysteries, faux or otherwise.
The shame doesn’t stop there. If you read the Wikipedia article on the town Skelmorlie, you learn druids may have built the mound, and “a rogue creature named ‘The Skelmorlie Panther’ has been sighted in and around the area.”
I’m too upset to discuss Serpent Mound further.
Indiana has incredible potential for adventure-seekers to wet their pants, but horribly, that potential goes undeveloped. The creepiest place I’ve ever been—and I’m being very serious here—is almost impossible to find in Internet searches.
Forty-five miles from Bloomington (thrill-seeking college students, anybody?) is the teensy town of Story, Indiana, which is famous for its fabulous restaurant and Blue Lady ghost.
See, that’s a great start. You can get a good meal and warm up your excitement-seeking capabilities at Story. Then, you drive past Story on Elkinsville Road, which soon turns to gravel.
Your cell-phone service will die as you drive through the remains of Elkinsville, which was destroyed to create Monroe Reservoir. As you drive, there is complete silence.
Elkinsville Road dead-ends at a hill around which—woo hoo!—the state has placed a barbed-wire fence. The Indiana history book I’d read claimed that prehistoric people had created a Stonehenge on the hill.
As we left our car and looked at the No Trespassing sign, I truly felt I was being watched, that people were all around me, though it looked like we were alone. Other than Monks Mound in Illinois, this is the only place I’ve ever been that felt wrong.
I blame the media and our nation’s neurotic mania for “proof.” When creatures like Godzilla are committed to film, the screen divides us from the world on it, creating automatic suspension of belief. Moreover, our scientific mindset demands evidence—and lacking it, disbelief.
Finding an exciting fictional creature is tough in Northwest Indiana. Cornfields and rotting old farm houses can be creepy, but they’re in short supply here.
Besides, our state’s stereotype of farm folk is fairly stupid. I’ve been on a farm, what, five times in my entire life, counting Amish Acres, and I know I’m not alone.
I’m calling on the chambers of commerce of our respective communities to devise suitably exciting monsters that would lend themselves to merchandising and job creation in the travel and hospitality sectors.
But I’m hereby starting a grassroots effort to develop spooky, unusual, or quirky monsters to make legendary in Indiana. Leave your monster as a comment below, and maybe I’ll create the urban legend and publicize it in The Times. We could even name it after you!