June 16th, 1965
Robert Cockrell, a young reporter for the Grafton Sentinel, was heading down Riverside Drive late one summer night. Wanting to get home quickly and sleep, he sped down the curvy, dark roads a bit carelessly.
Around a bend, his headlights illuminated a huge, stark white creature; it was standing on the right side of the road, lumbering towards the car. It was much larger than a man—over seven ft tall and four ft wide— appeared to be headless, had a hide with a sheen to it, and displayed no concern— continuing its trek as he drove by.
Fearing what he saw, Robert drove faster but tried to calm down. He returned to the spot less than an hour later with two friends to investigate. After much searching, they found nothing but trampled vegetation in the area. While they were there, though, they heard a low, eerie whistling sound that seemed to follow them down the riverbank; they never discovered its origin but suspected it came from the creature.
When Robert returned to work the next day, he was reluctant to share his story but decided to tell his editor anyway. An article was published on June 18th, sparking a monster hunt. Over a hundred citizens scoured the woods armed with flashlights, bats, and crowbars in hopes of meeting the “headless horror”; more than twenty people claimed to have seen it that night. After so many panicked calls, the local police department searched the area but found nothing. Pressured by local authorities, the newspapers played down the incident, though word of mouth had already generated an intense interest, clogging Riverside Drive with bumper to bumper traffic every evening.
On June 19th, the Grafton Sentinel dismissed the creature as a wildly imaginative story caused by a lack of recreational facilities, spring fever, and tired eye-witnesses. Yet, reports of the beast continued to pop up around the Tygart River, even as far north as Morgantown. Eventually, the monster hunts died down, though no one forgot about the strange beast by the river; some even insist that they have seen it in modern times.
THE HAIRLESS, HULKING BIGFOOT
Appearing as a cross between a bigfoot and troll, the Grafton Monster is a hairless, aggressive bigfoot that fears loud noises and consumes mostly meat; it is named after and most well known for its appearances near Grafton, West Virginia.
Although this species is concentrated near the small town of Grafton (a little over 500 people), its population has spread to other nearby, dense woodlands that encompass the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and the Tygart Valley River. The Grafton can live in any densely wooded, temperate habitat; they have been spotted as far north as Michigan and as far southeast as Virginia.
Fully grown Grafton Monsters have hulking, muscular bodies that are lean in the spring and grow pudgier into early winter; males will fluctuate between 600 to 800 lbs and females between 700 and 900. They can be anywhere between seven to nine ft tall and maintain an odd posture with their head tucked close to their chest—even while sleeping. This stance may be due to the neck’s vulnerability, as their hide is thick and rough except around the neck, where it is thin, stretchy, and smooth (this is where offspring hang onto their mothers). Graftons have a hairless, bright white hide that begins to darken to a chestnut brown mid- summer, paling again after mating season in early fall. Their epidermis is comparable to that of a seal because of its slick appearance, which is caused by a thin layer of sweat and musk.
Determining a Grafton’s sex is important to note, as females have a more violent nature. Aside from nests, males are known to have only four toes, whereas females have a fifth, large thumb-like appendage on the inner foot that is used both offensive and defensively; it is tipped with a thicker, sharper nail that can easily tear into flesh. The length of this appendage varies from female to female, some being shorter and located near the heel, while others are longer, causing the foot to appear more human-like.
DIET AND FEEDING
Unlike other bigfeet, the Grafton Monster hunts alone. While hunting, the Grafton Monster emits a low, rumbling whistle that could be mistaken for distant thunder. This sound alerts other Graftons of their presence, warning them to keep away. The creature hunts more often at night after dusk than during the day; it avoids noisy areas and is seemingly scared of particularly loud sounds.
Grafton Monsters predominantly hunt larger prey, such as deer or coyote, but will not pass up on an easy catch of snakes, squirrels, birds, lizards, or turtles. During the winter, this bigfoot survives mostly on fish like Walleye or Trout, non-migratory birds, Whitetail Deer, and unattended pets. The creatures eat less during the cold season, consuming a large meal only once a month; however, their hefty fat storage provides it with much-needed energy and insulation from the cold.
All Graftons live in comfortably large pits, which are dug after the winter thaw or recycled from the previous year. These large pits are supported by beam-like branches; females’ dens are also lined with stones and colorful objects.
Social Interactions, Daily Lives, and Development
Infant Grafton Monsters are born blind, deaf, and unable to walk; mothers remain with offspring for three months, only briefly leaving the nest to discard of refuse. After this time, the mother departs, placing a large boulder at the entrance of the pit and leaving the infantile creatures alone; she returns 3 - 4 times a day to care for them. Uneasy without the presence of their caretaker, the immature offspring crawl around the dark tunnel and yelp; the thoughtfully placed boulder blocks their escape and keeps them from harm. Sensory organs concerning sight and sound are fully developed in the creatures by five months of age. At six months, mothers begin carrying offspring on their neck while hunting; at eight months, a fledgling can stand on its own two legs. Meat is introduced into their diet at about one year (when all 43 teeth have grown in place), though their mother’s milk is still the prevailing source of nourishment. At fourteen months, Grafton Monsters learn to hunt and are allowed out of the nest without supervision, marking the beginning of their youth; however, the creatures seldom venture outside of their mother’s marked territory until their second summer. Once they leave the safety of her territory, they never return.
At the age of two, Grafton Monsters are considered juveniles. Males wander the woodlands hunting for food and a mate (that is, if an acceptable candidate is happened upon). Females begin looking for a suitable nesting location, but are not fully mature until they are three; their juvenile period is mostly comprised of wandering around and hunting. Grafton Monsters gather in pairs once every summer to mate; this is one of few non-violent meetings between the beasts. When a female has reached maturity, she will claim a secluded section of land near water that is concealed by trees and other foliage. Due to the small population, there are rarely fights over breeding territory; disputes that do occur are settled by displays of strength that may include rock-throwing, terrain destruction, or physical violence—which sometimes results in death.
Once a nest has been secured, females will mark their boundaries with their scent and gashes on trees; they will live here for life unless challenged or evicted by other creatures or disasters. After Graftons feel their territory is secure, they will begin digging a deep pit at an angle (up to ten ft deep and four ft wide). Thick stumps and branches are placed inside the tunnel for support; these areas are often wider for the creature to maneuver around without hindrance. The pit’s entrance is lined with riverbed stones and camouflaged with dried bushes, dead leaves, and branches. Additionally, brightly colored flowers and objects (like toys or soda cans) are collected and arranged in and around the nest. Females decorate their residences with these items and stones to attract the attention of males. Pairs will bond if males find the nest and the arrangement pleasing, signaling their answer by placing a colorful item they have found into the nest. If they are not impressed with the dwelling, they will take one of the arranged items and leave.
Males will return to an expecting nest three times a week with gifts of meat for the female. The food is left at the tunnel’s entrance; otherwise, the two creatures do not interact. During this time, the female will give birth to 1 - 3 offspring in the tunnel, leaving them untouched for a day or two. Once the young are six months old, the male will cease to visit the nest, unless the female has died; in this event, her rotting corpse alerts the male to her passing, triggering a response that causes him to take on the role of mother for the remainder of his offspring’s childhood.
Grafton Monsters do not reach old age. Instead, every Grafton that reaches year seven leaves its home and heads towards the river. Once this process begins, the creature has three days to find water and follow their instincts, otherwise, its brain begins to deteriorate, causing the beast to lose its way and become unable to die without grievous pain.
When a spot is found, a deep pit is dug about one ft away from the water’s edge; then, the creature lays face-down in the hole, covering itself in dirt and thick mud. The beast will then remain still while breathing in the debris, suffocating. This is the natural, more pleasant end of a Grafton’s life.
While going to their deathbeds, the beasts respond to no outer stimuli as if in a trance— only trudging along with a blank stare. In special cases where water cannot be found, or in instances of capture or being harmed during this process, the Grafton experiences a more traumatic death. Chemicals in the body that signal impending death begin affecting the creature, effects worsening with time and accumulation; this influx of hormones makes it less aggressive and decreases its motor abilities, and thought processes, beginning a strange, rapid form of decomposition. With agony, the Grafton’s body liquefies into a pool of corrosive acid that dissolves other living things in its wake. Grafton’s die when their major organs dissolve— usually after day six of its death walk—and they are completely disintegrated by day seven or eight, depending on their size. Due to their volatile after-death, it is believed that the creatures leave their homes and family to protect them from their acidic corpses. It is believed that these creatures may enter this process early if they experience a large amount of physical or psychological stress. Copious amounts of water appear to neutralize the substance to a safe degree.
Seeking out the Grafton Monster is not recommended; it is a very aggressive, strong, and territorial bigfoot that will always attempt to kill trespassers. However, if the beast is encountered, an individual should seek out rocky terrain to flee to, as they cannot quickly navigate in this environment; if possible, as much noise as possible should be made as loudly as possible. If trackers wish to investigate Grafton territory, it should be done in the fall, when they are at their slowest. During this season, they have decreased reactions and speed, as preparation for hibernation is their primary focus and the beasts are at their heaviest.