Authentic Avalon: The White Beast of Avalon
by Abby Connors
If you've lived in New Avalon long enough, you've heard the local folklore. I'm not talking about historic figure in Avalon's history or the secret menu at Lazy Mary's. I'm talking about the stories we trade back and forth, the things that may not be true that we simply like talking about. Things like the Will O' Wisps in the Husks, the Legend of Gallows Hill, the Tall Man, or even the Ghost Greaser. Much has been said of the things that go bump in the night in the Avalon area, but all of those are minor figures. If you're a hardcore cryptozoologist, you'd know that Avalon has one very notable creature. While other places might have Bigfoot, Chupacabra, or even the Jersey Devil, locally we have something else: The White Beast of Avalon.
There are those who dismiss the White Beast of Avalon as simply the low rent local version of the Loch Ness Monster, finding both of them unreal and unlikely. Aside from the disbelief, the comparison isn't entirely unfair - both are believed to be serpents or reptiles and both have been glimpsed in or around bodies of water. And like Scotland's favorite creature, reports of the White Beast go back a long time.
"People think the White Beast is something new, as if it were some fad," said David Forsythe, member of the New Avalon Cryptoozological Society. "But it's not. The White Beast has been with us for a while. Ellis Husker, the founder of Huskerville, saw it. One day he saw a big white serpent, and it scared him so much that he swore he would never step foot above water again - not on a boat or a bridge."
Naysayers point out that while there is an entry in Husker's memoir about a white "snake", that entry was late in his life, when it was widely believed that dementia had taken him. Even the greatest believers will admit that Husker's handwriting is more wild in animated in the section of the memoirs where he mentions the snake - not that handwriting is any admission of insanity.
"The White Beast is a common claim for why people won't enter the lake or river," said Wilson Davis, author of Lake Avalon, Lake Fear, a book about people who suffer a particular phobia of our local lake. "Of those that fear the lake, there are many reasons. The so-called White Beast is not always the most common reason, but it surges in popularity, particularly when there is a stretch of lake-based disappearances - a phenomenon which is unfortunately periodic in Avalon's history."
Disappearances, you say? That's correct, according to both Davis and Forsythe, there is a pattern of people vanishing that extends back decades. Every few years people disappear, their last known location near the lake or river. These aren't just cases where people went out on the lake and didn't come back, some are people vanishing when their friends were away for just minutes.
"These disappearances do tend to give those with a preexisting phobia of the lake a rationale for their feelings," said Davis. "It doesn't make it true. Even if people have been disappearing, their fears are still irrational, as nearly everyone who suffers from the phobia had it before they learned of the missing people. It's merely a coinciding fact that plays into their malady."
But even believers don't say the disappearances prove the existence of the creature. "I can't say for sure it's the Beast causing people to vanish," said Forsythe. "In the NACS, we acknowledge the existence of various creatures in the New Avalon Basin that defy conventional classification. To see a pattern of deaths and simply assign it to the Beast because water was involved seems sloppy. We need evidence."
"Sometimes people just drown," said Davis. "Unfortunately, it sometimes is as ugly and unsatisfying answer as that."
Very recently, there have been sightings of a white serpent that would fit the description of the White Beast. Both of these sightings were in Riverside - in one case, witnesses claim it destroyed one of the docks. In the other incident, the beast broke through a city street, leaving a hole for city services to deal with. Unfortunately, even in our day of phones and cameras, nobody was lucky enough to catch it on film - something I write with great disappointment.
"Unfortunately, no one in NACS was around these incidents," said Davis. "I'd love it to be the beast, but these days we always show up after the black suited government guys, and there's nothing left to see. Just gas leaks. This city really needs to move away from natural gas."
Ultimately, we have no way to verify that the White Beast of Avalon exists. No matter our personal beliefs on the matter, we have no proof - no film, no pictures worth anything. Even the recent reports do nothing to confirm its existence. We are left simply wondering what the Beast is, and if it exists, what does it want? We may never have the answers to those questions. But know that should it exist, by reports it is currently active, so be careful near the river and the lake. I also have a tip that says to avoid the underground waterways, such as overflow tunnels and the sewers.
As a final question, we asked both Davis and Forsythe if they were planning to go swimming or take a boat on the lake this season.
Davis looked uncomfortable for a moment, then gave a muted headshake. "No," he said finally, his tone low.
"Absolutely not," said Forsythe with a smile. "Who'd be dumb enough to do that?"
This is Abby Connors signing off.
Want to know more about the White Beast of Avalon? Check out Jabberwock Jack or the upcoming Burning Monday!