The Pharaoh and the Librarian is a work of fiction. Alternative fiction. “What if” fiction. Most of the places Alex and Cleo visit are real – or what they might have been if I’d been there to do feet-on-the-ground research. Therefore, settings are as real as my imagination can make them. And the creatures they encounter are cryptids, as real as they may have been.
Writers are told that their creatures must be realistic or at least plausible. Even fantasy writers can’t just throw monsters into a story willy-nilly. So, what about cryptids, a class of monsters balanced between the real and imaginary, like the famous trio: Bigfoot, Yeti, and Nessie.
Most cryptids are ancient, yet the Chupacabra is claimed to be a recent crypto-creature. In 1995 Madelyne Tolentino, who lived in a suburb of San Juan, Puerto Rico, spotted an alien-like figure in her yard. Two days later other Puerto Ricans discovered eight dead sheep drained of blood each with three puncture wounds in the chest. Later, as many as 150 dead farm animals and pets were reported. Some claimed American exploitation, secret US scientific experiments near the rainforest. Resulted in the chupacabra.
Most sightings have been in Mexico, the US Southwest, and China. In 2006 Russia reported 32 turkeys and 30 sheep killed and drained. At least twice a mysterious kangaroo-like creature with a crocodile head attacked humans but caused no serious damage. Most U.S. reports turned out to be dogs and coyotes with demodectic or sarcoptic mange. So far DNA tests of bodies have revealed animals to be coyotes, dogs, or raccoons, one fish and a gray fox.
Reptile, Kangaroo, or Mangy Dog?
The most common description is that of a reptile-like creature with leathery or scaly greenish-gray skin and sharp spines or quills running down its back that stands 3-4 feet high and hops like a kangaroo. Other descriptions liken it to a strange breed of wild dog, mostly hairless, with a spinal ridge, pronounced eye sockets, fangs, and claws. Some say it has basilisk-like eyes capable of paralyzing its prey. Others report bat-like wings, red eyes, and a forked tongue. It’s said to drain all of an animal’s blood (and sometimes its organs) through three holes in the shape of an upside-down triangle.
With little fur, thickened skin, and a rank odor, perhaps these sickened predators attacked easy livestock prey. One report claimed the creature left a vanishing line of footprints as if it took off like a bird. Another that it occasionally assorted its victim’s bodies aesthetically my color and size, or built pyramids of bodies. Anther purposed that stray Less exotic, was a claim that Mexican hairless dogs were mistaken for chupacabras.
The First Internet Monster
One investigator claimed the chupacabra is the first “internet monster” because the first sighting went viral. Others speculated that the creature had similarities to a beast in the 1995 movie “Species” partly filmed in Puerto Rico.
Chupacabra may be related to Central American aboriginal myths of a mosquito-man who sucks blood from animals through his long nose. In “The Pharaoh and the Librarian,” I made my chupacabra more like that of the Central American folktale creature that may have (and still may) inhabit the jungles of the Yucatan.