Where Moth and Rust Doth Corrupt… (inspired by the legend of the Mothman) – Vintage wooden explosives crate; genuine 1967 West Virginia license plate; rusted construction screws, bolts, and nuts; rusted metal pieces and spring; shard of shattered safety glass; rusted screws; genuine desiccated moth; genuine gray and black bird feather; pair of red LED lights; hand-stained newspaper clippings
Oh, hello, kiddies, didn’t see you there.
No need to hide in the shadows—you never know what’s lurking around in there with you!
So, come closer round the fire. It’s that time of year again, and I know you’re all just dying to hear what I’ve chosen to regale you with tonight.
Last Halloween I introduced you to the Jersey Devil, Mother Leed’s thirteenth child—and what a bouncing bundle of joy he turned out to be, hmmm?
After thumbing through my encyclopedia of cryptozoology and its denizens there in—you know, such frightening “figments of the imagination” as the Loch Ness Monster, the yeti, and the Chupacabra. Not all of them are make-believe, kiddies—example, the okapi, the bondegezou, the koolakamba (no, I’m not making them up – go check your dictionary); they were once thought to be imaginary, too, but the skeptics were proved wrong. Then there’s those things thought long dead, completely vanished, that one day turn up very much alive—take the coelacanth, a fish from the time of the dinosaurs, deceased, so it was said, for sixty-five million years. Then one was caught off the coast of South Africa—guess nobody told him he was extinct. Next there’s those truly terrifying creatures one wishes was imaginary, but aren’t, like the IRS man…go ask your parents…
Seems I’ve strayed off subject…
Where’s that can of Raid?
Anyway, tonight I want you to make the acquaintance of—
He’s seven-feet tall with huge wings and great big, glowing red eyes—at least, that’s what those who saw him said.
The Mothman hails from the backwoods of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. He was first spotted in the fall of 1966 by two young couples out pitching a little woo by an old ammunitions plant—sounds like a dynamite evening, huh? Probably out way past ma and pa’s curfew, the youngins were racing home only to find that something real strange was keeping up with their car, a car that was speeding at almost one-hundred miles per hour! The scaredy cats darted straight off to the police, describing their pursuer as a “flying man with ten foot wings” whose eyes “glowed red” when the car’s headlights hit them.
The sheriff most likely had a good chuckle that night, shaking his head, wishing he was getting some backseat action, and putting it all down to too much moonshine, when the whole town went nuts. Over the next few days, the “Mothman” as he came to be known, was spotted everywhere. Two volunteer firemen saw it, claiming it was a “large bird with red eyes”. A Point Pleasant contractor alleged that when he aimed a flashlight at the thing its eyes shone “like bicycle reflectors”, and he went on to accuse it for the weird buzzing noises coming from his TV set as well as for the disappearance of the family dog. A woman saw it lurking on her front porch, peering in at the windows. Five gravediggers in an area cemetery said that something that looked like a “brown human being” lifted off from the trees and flew over their heads, adding that they were dang sure that it was no bird, but more like some guy with wings. Another woman maintained that she saw it rise up right in front of her car, calling it, “A big gray thing. Bigger than a man with terrible glowing eyes.”
Over one-hundred people claimed sightings of the Mothman from November 1966 to November 1967. Gossip was rife—UFOs were blamed, so was an eighteenth-century Indian curse. Some said that it was nothing but a big bird—possibly a sandhill crane lost on its migration route to or from Canada; they stood tall and had massive wingspans. Those with more active imaginations came up with the theory that it was not just a big bird, but that it was a big mutant bird, transformed into a monster by the fount of unknown chemicals leaching out of that old TNT plant, professed to be the creature’s lair. It racked up quite a rap sheet of disturbing the peace violations—screeching at hunters, and hovering and humming over the heads of fishermen, and it had a fondness for jumping on the car roofs of teenagers parked in the local lovers’ lane. Investigations were made, all clues scrutinized, but nothing was found, no concrete evidence ever turned up one way or the other to tell anybody just what in tarnation was going on.
A sense of unease gripped, good folk whispering that maybe, just maybe, the thing was a harbinger of doom.
And maybe, just maybe, they were right.
On December 15, 1967, during the height of the holiday evening rush hour, the suspension bridge linking Point Pleasant, West Virginia, with Gallipolis, Ohio, over the Ohio River, collapsed, taking forty-six people to a watery grave.
Cryptid, alien, sandhill crane, or harbinger of doom notwithstanding, you just can’t keep a good Mothman down. Like Nessie and Bigfoot, he’s become part of everyday lore. He’s the topic of a plethora of books—both fiction and non—the most famous being, 1975’s The Mothman Prophecies, by John Keel, which was the basis for the 2002 film of the same name, starring Richard Gere and Alan Bates. He’s also flitted across the screen in the 2010 movie, Mothman, and in episodes of the television series, The X-Files and Lost Tapes, and he’s the focus of two documentaries, Eyes of the Mothman and Mothman Country. “Mothman” is even the alias for a gravity-defying superhero in Alan Moore’s celebrated graphic novel, Watchmen.
Then there’s Point Pleasant’s Mothman Museum and Research Center, and the annual Mothman Festival, held every third weekend in September in Point Pleasant, which celebrated its tenth anniversary this year. There you can satisfy your Mothman cravings with Christmas ornaments, t-shirts, bumper stickers, Frisbees, and cuddly Mothmen of every size, shape, and material. You can chow down on Mothman burgers, Mothman pizza, and Mothman pancakes; drink coffee out of your Mothman mug, swig beer from your Mothman stein. The town’s actually dedicated a statue to their main money-maker, a twelve-foot, gleaming stainless steel tribute, at the corner of 4th and Main. It has football-sized clear, red eyes, which were supposed to light up at night, but funds ran a bit short.
Where else in America could you see such a monument to a monster?
He sure beats the World’s Biggest Washboard and the Pencil Sharpener Museum located not too far away.
There you have it, kiddies…
Well, don’t worry—just keep your wool sweaters in a closed drawer and put a box of mothballs under your bed tonight.
(Point) Pleasant dreams…