There have long been rumors of a strange beast with an appetite for cats stalking the streets of Wallingford at night. One of the earliest known reports of a beast sighting is this newspaper article from 1934...
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There were no more confirmed sightings for decades until July of 2010, when one of the staff members at Archie McPhee heard some strange scratching noises behind the store. When we went to investigate this is what we found…
A few weeks later we found a mysterious pile of bones in the alley beside the store. It was then that they heard what just might be the cry of the Wallingford Beast.
Our security cameras captured what might just be the beast sticking his head into the back door store. Molly heard its unearthly scream soon afterward.
One night he was caught by our security camera again. This time scuttling past the front door. It appeared that the beast was getting bolder.
You would think that Archie McPhee would be happy to have some kind of cryptozoological creature co-existing in our space, but there have been problems.
First, it started showing up during the day when customers were around. Not that we see much of it — just a blur on the security camera, or a fleeting glance as it slides under a pile of Handerpants. Mostly, it seems to enjoy the Crazy Cat Lady Soap. Our theory is that the smell of fish reminds it of its ocean voyage to America back in the 1930s.
It was Pete that first spotted the tiny round metal cap embedded in the parking lot out back. It was hinged and not sealed shut. Pete got a flashlight and looked down into the bowels of what may have been a gas storage container for the old filling station that used to be on this location, and he saw the reflection of two tiny, unblinking eyes. Was it a rat? A raccoon? Gnomes? The only way to know for sure was to reach down and grab it.
Since it wasn't moving, Pete was pretty sure it was dead, but as a test he got some cat food scented soap and left it next to the hole. Slowly, the aged creature made its way out of the hole. At first Pete and the small crowd of employees were horrified by its appearance, but after watching the Beast snarf down a bar of soap they found themselves caring about the skull-faced, insect-bodied loner that lived under the store.
Being the people we are, we immediately imagined a better life for the Beast. Not everyone can bring themselves to touch it, but Pete seems to have made friends and can even cuddle with the Beast during lunch. We set to work building it a comfortable habitat where it lives in our store.
Now when you visit Archie McPhee, be sure to stop by and say hello to our hairy, disturbing friend. Maybe even buy an extra bar of Cat Lady Soap to feed it on the way out. Feel free to take a picture — but no flash photography, please. We've found that exposure to light causes the Beast to go into hibernation.
Oh, by the way, be careful where you step in our store. We also found two recently hatched eggs in that underground chamber. We think there may be some baby Beasts scuttling around causing trouble and eating an occasional cat. Still, baby Beasts? I bet they are cute!
© Archie McPhee