A dark shape moved almost silent through the night sky, the only sound it made was the sharp click of its teeth. Long tentacles hung out from its mouth like tongues, grasping and wiggling for food in the beast’s hunger. It’s singular, giant eye scanned the earth below for any sign of movement. The Snallygaster was on the hunt.
As far back as the 1920s, the creature has been seen primarily in Maryland. Newspapers from all over posted the sensational stories about the creature’s form. All across the Appalachian range, readers were treated to the ever-changing description of the monster. Sometimes it was seen as a cross between a snake and a bird, others claimed it looked like a bobcat mixed with a hawk. All of the attention allegedly attracted the likes of Teddy Roosevelt himself.
Those are the most well-known depictions and tales of the Snallygaster. However, the legend goes back a lot further than the 1920s. All the way to the 1700s in fact, to a group of Pennsylvania Dutch who were supposedly terrorized by the creature. The people named the monster Schneller Geist, a rough German for “Quick Spirit”. They feared it so much that they painted their barn doors with a hex sign to ward the cryptid off. Later the signs became known as “Barn Stars”.
The old myth stated that the Snallygaster’s hide was nigh impervious and its bloodlust knew no bounds. Those poor souls who it stalked had one bit of good fortune, however, because the Snallygaster had an enemy. It was hunted by the beastly Dewayo, another monster that fights the Snallygaster much like a mongoose would a snake.
My take on the whole thing is more in line with the idea of an over-embellished story. Someone in the 1920s remembered hearing stories about the creature that terrorized those Dutch way back in the day. The name mutated into Snallygaster and the legend was born anew.
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