I have accepted that in this life I have a physical body and that I pushed it to extremes. I am a three-time Mr. Cascade and twice Eagle. I have dragged semi-trucks. And I have held airplanes back from flying.
But there has always been something missing.
When people tell me Bigfoot doesn’t exist, I feel ropes tied around me and cinched. I feel the airplanes bucking and no matter what I do, no matter how hard I flex and keep my muscles tight, they fly away and tear my arms apart. I have dreams about this. And this is ridiculous, I know, but I often feel like if Bigfoot doesn’t exist, I don’t exist.
I have lost friends, lost jobs. I have had to change gyms. You cannot say directly that you believe. You must say you are ‘open to the possibility.’
For me, Sasquatch is a n indisputable fact. The fact of him is as foundational to my existence as the adductors, the hamstrings, and glutes. When I hear, “Bigfoot isn’t real” or “There’s no squatch” or “You must be fucking nuts,” I feel I am turned into a shadow.
I have felt his presence definitively only once. It felt what a hammer must feel when it first strikes a nail. In a flash, I knew who I was. It happened when I was a boy scout many years ago.
Our scoutmaster drove us into the mountain. It was a test of our individual survival capabilities, not of cooperation. We were to survive alone in the wilderness for a single night.
I built my camp beneath an enormous pine. How strong it was! From where I stood, I could not see its top. How long its roots must be! I unfolded my tent from my backpack and installed the skeleton-like frame. I pounded in the stakes and stretched the tent taut.
Establishing my sleeping bag, a book, and my battery lantern inside the tent, I came back out to stare into the dark limbs of the trees and see if I could spot a star. But the night was very dark. It was like walking into a cave inside a mountain. It was so black. I clicked the flashlight on and, in the flashlight light, I saw only the ferns, illuminated in light and dark shadow.
I looked into the forest, and pretended that I was not afraid. From my throat down to my heels, I was trembling.
That night I had a dream. It was a dream of sensation only. I saw nothing, said nothing, felt nothing save the sole sensation that the entire forest was chasing me. Then the sensation erupted into an all-pervading smell of forest, of fir trees, mud, and ravenous wild animals.
When I woke up in my tent, my member was stuck to my hand. It had never happened before. It was on my arm and my sleeping bag and my stomach. It clung to me, stuck to me, I was a mess inside it. I took a spare shirt and wiped it away. I wiped at it and wiped at it but it would not leave me.
The scout master was coming this morning to check on us. He would be pulling up to the parking lot any minute.
If he came; if he shook my hand! When I put my hand into his, I would be pulled into adulthood. Only now—now my hand was covered in my own terrible mess.
I unzipped my tent and fell out like spiders were chasing me. I ran to the stream, left my clothes on the bank, and jumped in. But, in the extreme cold as I rubbed my hands together, it still stuck to my hands. I pulled them out of the stream and stared at them in the fleeing darkness. It was like they were covered in sap.
A branch cracked in the trees.
“Is– is there someone there?” I said. “Scoutmaster?”
Something moved. Something breathed.
My body trembled as if I would die. I grabbed my clothes and ran back into my tent.
Wrapped in my sleeping back, I listened intently. I heard the general racket of trees and the rare whisper of animals, but nothing as intense as what I had heard in the stream.
That morning, I shook the scoutmaster’s hand. Could he detect it? Could he feel what I had done?
It has been years since that first incident in the woods and I have since become bigger and bigger. Daily, I force my body into extreme biological violence, tearing my triceps, biceps, and lats until I finally feel myself undoubtedly deep in the world.
Still, ever after that one glimmer of hope, there has always been something missing, something I feel my very blood is in search of every night.
I have learned not to talk about Bigfoot. I have seen the recognition of friendship drift away from people’s eyes. How do I dip my fingers into the great pool of love when I believe that cryptids walk the earth?
I have a body like a Volkswagen bus, and no one onto which I can foist it.
Still, to me, there is a heart always beating, waiting for my own heart to beat alongside it. It is as if they communicate, beating through the night like a radio signal. Our two distant hearts beating to find one another’s frequency. Every night when I sleep, I drift again into the forest—heavy musk; enormous presence.
Since about a month ago, I have taken to jogging nightly in the woods behind my house. I have found little things, like little tufts of hair that cling high on the trunks of trees. A bear, or a cougar maybe? I plucked some down and rubbed it between my fingers. Still, I couldn’t be sure.
One night, I thought I saw something impossible a ways off the path. The coldness was thick, as we were on the edge of October. Small wisps of fog crept among the trees. I slowed my pace down until I came to a stop. As it was about twenty-five yards off from where I stood, I could not see it well enough from the trail, and I abandoned the trail to run between the ferns until I got to it. I ran off the trail and into the woods.
I felt the sudden sense that again I wasn’t alone.
“Is there someone out there?” I said.
Branches cracked behind the trees.
“I’m not afraid,” I said.
The same smell, that same pervasive density, the scent of fir trees, thick mud, and ravenous wild animals.
It was like deadlifting to fail, then pushing beyond. Something inside me screamed for release.
Something moved. Something breathed.
A pair of hands so enormous they could close around a tree trunk appeared from the leaves. A tender voice so inflamed it was almost human. I cannot describe my thrill at those gargantuan feet. And you know what they say about big feet.
I exhaled and could see my own breath.
The creature came forward with a moan. The moan I had heard in my dreams, my dark dreams of impression and touch. How deeply it smelled of the woods. I trailed my fingers in his fur. In every conceivable way, his body was bigger than mine.
This time, I didn’t run.
Vernon Tremor is a member of the Bremerton Writers Association and a custodian at the observatory. This is his first time publishing and he is quite happy about it. He has been writing in Maev Barba’s workshops, deep in the cold, wet woods.