A few busts from a few weeks ago! The top two are designs for two of my ocs, Paris on the left (their design changed after making this) and CJ on the right. The middle sketch is Creek, and the bottom two are a scrapped design for Laurance and a grumpy Tweek Tweak.
THE UNPLEASANT SERPENT COGGIN DECLARES HE SAW AT LAKE TAHOE
[ The following is related by a well-known citizen of San Francisco, manager of the Park band. It is presented unaccompanied by affidavits, and may be accepted as truth by anybody who chooses to believe it. ] The story of a sea serpent comes from so many sources and from people of undoubted veracity that it cannot be doubted that there is living in the Atlantic Ocean a serpent of monstrous size, but it remains for California, with its remains of gigantic monsters scattered all over its surface and where animal life attained its greatest perfection, to have a serpent now living within its borders much larger than any described by so many witnesses.
It was my fortune to be one of the earliest settlers on the west shore of Lake Tahoe—from June, 1861, to 1869. I located a meadow and was engaged in cutting wild hay for the market on the Placerville road. In the fall of 1865, in the month of November, I took my gun and, accompanied by a very intelligent setter dog, started out for a hunt for grouse along the shore and in the creek bottoms emptying into the lake.
My attention was called to a very curious state of things happening around me. First, a flock of quail and other birds were flying out of the canyon, uttering cries of alarm; next came some rabbits and coyotes, and soon three deer came running at full speed; last of all, an old bear with one cub came along. All passed close to me, not seeming to notice me, and all staining at their best.
All this did not occupy much time, and I began to wonder what was up. My dog kept looking up the canyon and was evidently alarmed, and I began to feel shaky myself. All at once the dog set up a howl and started for home, eight miles away, running as fast as dog could run, and going under the cabin staid there two days and nights and no amount of coaxing could get him to come out sooner, and never after would the dog go in the direction of the lake. I began to feel that some unknown danger was near, and looking about me, saw a spruce tree with very thick limbs, standing near a very large pine. I climbed un about sixty feet from the ground and began to look up the canyon. I had not long to wait. I heard a sound as if the dead limbs of trees, willows and alders that grew in the canyon were being broken and crushed. Soon the monster appeared, slowly making his way in the direction where I was hidden in the tree-top, and passed on to the lake within fifty feet of where I was, and as his snakeship got by, and I partly recovered from my fright, I began to look him over and to estimate his immense size. After his head had passed my tree about seventy feet, he halted and reared his head in the air fifty feet or more, and I was thankful that the large pine hid me from his sight, and I dared to breathe again as he lowered his head to the ground and moved on.
His monstrous head was about fourteen feet wide, and the large eyes seemed to be about eight inches in diameter, and shining jet black, and seemed to project more than half this size from the head. The neck was about ten feet, and the body in the largest portion must have been twenty feet in diameter. I had a chance to measure his length, for when he halted his tail reached a fallen tree, and I afterward measured the distance from the tree, where I was hidden to the fallen tree and it measured 510 feet, and as seventy or eighty feet had passed me, it made his length about 600 feet. The skin was black on the back, turning to a reddish yellow on the side and belly, and must have been very hard and tough, as small trees two and three inches in diameter were crushed and broken without any effect on his tough hide. Even bowlders of 500 or 600 pounds weight lying on the surface of the ground were pushed out of the way. His snakeship slowly made his way to the lake, glided in and swam toward the foot.
This serpent has been seen by several of the old settlers at the lake since that time, but it was generally agreed that it would be useless to tell the world the story, knowing that it would not be believed. I will give a few names of the early settlers that have seen his snakeship at different times since I first saw him. Wiliam Pomin, now living in San Francisco; John McKinney, Ben McCoy and Bill McMasters, all at that time living on Sugar Pine Point; Homer Burton, now living in Sacramento; Captain Howland of the old steamer Governor Blaisdell, Tony and Burk, fishermen living near Friday’s station; Rube Saxton, now at the lake, and several others could be named.
I know many will doubt this story, but sooner or later his snakeship will be seen by so many that all doubt will be removed. I was induced to write this description by reading an article in THE CALL of last Sunday, stating that there was a living mastodon in Alaska and that it had been seen by the natives. Believing that I have seen a more wonderful sight and, as in time my story is sure to be verified, venture to give this to the public. I. C. COGGIN.
From— The San Francisco call. (San Francisco (Calif.]). 21 Nov. 1897. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
Unimpressed as always, Maki flicks one of Rin’s bruises, purposely aiming for one that looks particularly purple and fresh. Not too hard, but still hard enough.
“So what really happened?”
Rin pouts. She’s still got twigs and bits of grass in her hair, like a half-assed bird nest left in the early stages of construction. As much as Maki would like to pick them out, she keeps her arms folded for now.
“Me and Honoka-chan were racing down this big hill! Then we fell. Hard!”
“What else…? Nope, that’s it.” Ridiculous. But plausible, considering the two morons involved. Rin swings one bruised arm to point at Honoka, who’s sniffling and dripping water everywhere in the corner with a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. “Honoka-chan even rolled right into the creek at the bottom of the hill!”
“You crashed into a tree, Rin-chan!”
“I know! It was really cool, right?!”
“Yeah, the coolest!!”
Maki whacks Rin’s shoulder and shoots a glare at Honoka. “Stop enabling each other!”
“O-owww, Maki-chan, it really hurts! Really!”
She keeps her hand on Rin, absentmindedly squeezing as she looks over her scuffs and scratches and bruises. Rin continues to squirm and pointlessly whine about how it hurts in between boasting with Honoka about how awesome they looked, and how fast they were going, and arguing over who really won the race. Honoka sneezes. Rin meows. Maki sighs and roughly turns Rin around to face her, eyeing the damage done to her face. As much as Rin’s whining came off as excessive, the scuffs and bruises do look like they hurt.
“You’re lucky you didn’t break anything.”
“That’s okay! Maki-chan’s gonna be a doctor, so she’ll take care of me!”
“I’m not your personal insurance, idiot.” Nonetheless, Maki leans in to carefully, gently kiss a particularly nasty bruise above Rin’s eyebrow. She flinches but giggles, squeezing her eyes shut. It’s always a good day when Maki doesn’t mind being affectionate when they aren’t alone together.
“Heeeey, what about me?” Honoka finally pipes up after an unnecessarily long stretch of silence.
The Battle of the Little Bighorn, known to Lakota as the Battle of the Greasy Grass, and commonly referred to as Custer’s Last Stand, was an armed engagement between combined forces of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes, against the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army. The battle, which occurred June 25–26, 1876, near the Little Bighorn River in eastern Montana Territory, was the most prominent action of the Great Sioux War of 1876.
The fight was an overwhelming victory for the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho, led by several major war leaders, including Crazy Horse and Chief Gall, inspired by the visions of Sitting Bull (Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake). The U.S. 7th Cavalry, including the Custer Battalion, a force of 700 men led by George Armstrong Custer, suffered a severe defeat. Five of the 7th Cavalry’s twelve companies were annihilated; Custer was killed, as were two of his brothers, a nephew, and a brother-in-law. The total U.S. casualty count, including scouts, was 268 dead and 55 injured.
Public response to the Great Sioux War varied at the time. The battle, and Custer’s actions in particular, have been studied extensively by historians.
In late 1875, Sioux and Cheyenne Indians defiantly left their reservations, outraged over the continued intrusions of whites into their sacred lands in the Black Hills. They gathered in Montana with the great warrior Sitting Bull to fight for their lands. The following spring, two victories over the US Cavalry emboldened them to fight on in the summer of 1876.
George Armstrong CusterTo force the large Indian army back to the reservations, the Army dispatched three columns to attack in coordinated fashion, one of which contained Lt. Colonel George Custer and the Seventh Cavalry. Spotting the Sioux village about fifteen miles away along the Rosebud River on June 25, Custer also found a nearby group of about forty warriors. Ignoring orders to wait, he decided to attack before they could alert the main party. He did not realize that the number of warriors in the village numbered three times his strength. Dividing his forces in three, Custer sent troops under Captain Frederick Benteen to prevent their escape through the upper valley of the Little Bighorn River. Major Marcus Reno was to pursue the group, cross the river, and charge the Indian village in a coordinated effort with the remaining troops under his command. He hoped to strike the Indian encampment at the northern and southern ends simultaneously, but made this decision without knowing what kind of terrain he would have to cross before making his assault. He belatedly discovered that he would have to negotiate a maze of bluffs and ravines to attack.
Reno’s squadron of 175 soldiers attacked the southern end. Quickly finding themselves in a desperate battle with little hope of any relief, Reno halted his charging men before they could be trapped, fought for ten minutes in dismounted formation, and then withdrew into the timber and brush along the river. When that position proved indefensible, they retreated uphill to the bluffs east of the river, pursued hotly by a mix of Cheyenne and Sioux.
Just as they finished driving the soldiers out, the Indians found roughly 210 of Custer’s men coming towards the other end of the village, taking the pressure off of Reno’s men. Cheyenne and Hunkpapa Sioux together crossed the river and slammed into the advancing soldiers, forcing them back to a long high ridge to the north. Meanwhile, another force, largely Oglala Sioux under Crazy Horse’s command, swiftly moved downstream and then doubled back in a sweeping arc, enveloping Custer and his men in a pincer move. They began pouring in gunfire and arrows.
As the Indians closed in, Custer ordered his men to shoot their horses and stack the carcasses to form a wall, but they provided little protection against bullets. In less than an hour, Custer and his men were killed in the worst American military disaster ever. After another day’s fighting, Reno and Benteen’s now united forces escaped when the Indians broke off the fight. They had learned that the other two columns of soldiers were coming towards them, so they fled.
After the battle, the Indians came through and stripped the bodies and mutilated all the uniformed soldiers, believing that the soul of a mutilated body would be forced to walk the earth for all eternity and could not ascend to heaven. Inexplicably, they stripped Custer’s body and cleaned it, but did not scalp or mutilate it. He had been wearing buckskins instead of a blue uniform, and some believe that the Indians thought he was not a soldier and so, thinking he was an innocent, left him alone. Because his hair was cut short for battle, others think that he did not have enough hair to allow for a very good scalping. Immediately after the battle, the myth emerged that they left him alone out of respect for his fighting ability, but few participating Indians knew who he was to have been so respectful. To this day, no one knows the real reason.
Sitting Bull 1878Little Bighorn was the pinnacle of the Indians’ power. They had achieved their greatest victory yet, but soon their tenuous union fell apart in the face of the white onslaught. Outraged over the death of a popular Civil War hero on the eve of the Centennial, the nation demanded and received harsh retribution. The Black Hills dispute was quickly settled by redrawing the boundary lines, placing the Black Hills outside the reservation and open to white settlement. Within a year, the Sioux nation was defeated and broken. “Custer’s Last Stand” was their last stand as well.
Reno took a steady gallop down the creek bottom three miles where it emptied into the Little Horn, and found a natural ford across the Little Horn River. He started to cross, when the scouts came back and called out to him to hold on, that the Sioux were coming in large numbers to meet him. He crossed over, however, formed his companies on the prairie in line of battle, and moved forward at a trot but soon took a gallop.
Map of the Battle"The Valley was about three fourth of a mile wide, on the left a line of low, round hills, and on the right the river bottom covered with a growth of cottonwood trees and bushes. After scattering shots were fired from the hills and a few from the river bottom and Reno’s skirmishers returned the shots.
“He advanced about a mile from the ford to a line of timber on the right and dismounted his men to fight on foot. The horses were sent into the timber, and the men forward on the prairie and advanced toward the Indians. The Indians, mounted on ponies, came across the prairie and opened a heavy fire on the soldiers. After skirmishing for a few minutes Reno fell back to his horses in the timber. The Indians moved to his left and rear, evidently with the intention of cutting him off from the ford.
"Reno ordered his men to mount and move through the timber, but as his men got into the saddle the Sioux, who had advanced in the timber, fired at close range and killed one soldier. Colonel Reno then commanded the men to dismount, and they did so, but he soon ordered them to mount again, and moved out on to the open prairie.”
General Custer on horseback with his U. S. Army troops in battle with Native American Lakota Sioux, Crow, Northern, and Cheyenne, Little Bighorn Battlefield, June 25, 1876, Little Bighorn River, Montana.
The Custer Fight" by Charles Marion Russell. Lithograph. Shows the Battle of Little Bighorn, from the Indian side.
The command headed for the ford, pressed closely by Indians in large numbers, and at every moment the rate of speed was increased, until it became a dead run for the ford. The Sioux, mounted on their swift ponies, dashed up by the side of the soldiers and fired at them, killing both men and horses. Little resistance was offered, and it was complete rout to the ford. I did not see the men at the ford, and do not know what took place further than a good many were killed when the command left the timber.
“Just as I got out, my horse stumbled and fell and I was dismounted, the horse running away after Reno’s command. I saw several soldiers who were dismounted, their horses having been killed or run away. There were also some soldiers mounted who had remained behind, I should think in all as many as thirteen soldiers, and seeing no chance of getting away, I called on them to come into the timber and we would stand off the Indians.
Custer (3rd from left), his officers and their wives pose before the begining of the campaign. Many did not return. "Three of the soldiers were wounded, and two of them so badly they could not use their arms. The soldiers wanted to go out, but I said no, we can’t get to the ford, and besides, we have wounded men and must stand by them. The soldiers still wanted to go, but I told them I was an old frontiers- man, understood the Indians, and if they would do as I said I would get them out of the scrape which was no worse than scrapes I had been in before. About half of the men were mounted, and they wanted to keep their horses with them, but I told them to let the horses go and fight on foot.
"We stayed in the bush about three hours, and I could hear heavy firing below in the river, apparently about two miles distant. I did not know who it was, but knew the Indians were fighting some of our men, and learned afterward it was Custer’s command. Nearly all the Indians in the upper part of the valley drew off down the river, and the fight with Custer lasted about one hour, when the heavy firing ceased. When the shooting below began to die away I said to the boys ‘come, now is the time to get out.’ Most of them did not go, but waited for night. I told them the Indians would come back and we had better be off at once. Eleven of the thirteen said they would go, but two stayed behind.
"I deployed the men as skirmishers and we moved forward on foot toward the river. When we had got nearly to the river we met five Indians on ponies, and they fired on us. I returned the fire and the Indians broke and we then forded the river, the water being heart deep. We finally got over, wounded men and all, and headed for Reno’s command which I could see drawn up on the bluffs along the river about a mile off. We reached Reno in safety.
"We had not been with Reno more than fifteen minutes when I saw the Indians coming up the valley from Custer’s fight. Reno was then moving his whole command down the ridge toward Custer. The Indians crossed the river below Reno and swarmed up the bluff on all sides. After skirmishing with them Reno went back to his old position which was on one of the highest fronts along the bluffs. It was now about five o'clock, and the fight lasted until it was too dark to see to shoot.
"As soon as it was dark Reno took the packs and saddles off the mules and horses and made breast works of them. He also dragged the dead horses and mules on the line and sheltered the men behind them. Some of the men dug rifle pits with their butcher knives and all slept on their arms.
The aftermath of the battle"At the peep of day the Indians opened a heavy fire and a desperate fight ensued, lasting until 10 o'clock. The Indians charged our position three or four times, coming up close enough to hit our men with stones, which they threw by hand. Captain Benteen saw a large mass of Indians gathered on his front to charge, and ordered his men to charge on foot and scatter them.
"Benteen led the charge and was upon the Indians before they knew what they were about and killed a great many. They were evidently much surprised at this offensive movement, and I think in desperate fighting Benteen is one of the bravest men I ever saw in a fight. All the time he was going about through the bullets, encouraging the soldiers to stand up to their work and not let the Indians whip them; he went among the horses and pack mules and drove out the men who were skulking there, compelling them to go into the line and do their duty. He never sheltered his own person once during the battle, and I do not see how he escaped being killed. The desperate charging and fighting was over at about one o'clock, but firing was kept up on both sides until late in the afternoon.
After the birthing of bombs of forks and fear, the frantic automatic weapons unleashed, the spray of bullets into a crowd holding hands, that brute sky opening in a slate metal maw that swallows only the unsayable in each of us, what’s left? Even the hidden nowhere river is poisoned orange and acidic by a coal mine. How can you not fear humanity, want to lick the creek bottom dry to suck the deadly water up into your own lungs, like venom? Reader, I want to say, Don’t die. Even when silvery fish after fish comes back belly up, and the country plummets into a crepitating crater of hatred, isn’t there still something singing? The truth is: I don’t know. But sometimes, I swear I hear it, the wound closing like a rusted-over garage door, and I can still move my living limbs into the world without too much pain, can still marvel at how the dog runs straight toward the pickup trucks break-necking down the road, because she thinks she loves them, because she’s sure, without a doubt, that the loud roaring things will love her back, her soft small self alive with desire to share her goddamn enthusiasm, until I yank the leash back to save her because I want her to survive forever. Don’t die, I say, and we decide to walk for a bit longer, starlings high and fevered above us, winter coming to lay her cold corpse down upon this little plot of earth. Perhaps, we are always hurtling our body towards the thing that will obliterate us, begging for love from the speeding passage of time, and so maybe like the dog obedient at my heels, we can walk together peacefully, at least until the next truck comes.
I’m writing this because my family won’t talk about it anymore. I’m the only one who can’t seem to forget.
I was raised on the outskirts of Preston, a small town in southern Idaho with a population of around 5,000. My more immediate community was an isolated, dead-end dirt road called Bear Creek. Less than twenty families lived on the Bear Creek. I didn’t mind being so isolated. I grew up in the comfort of wide fields and close neighbors that only rural people know.
We were a Mormon community. Very church centered. Very community centered. All the young girls, myself included, were part of the Young Women’s group. And all of the boys were members of the local Boy Scout troop (which doubled as a church group in our area). We had 4th of July parties at the local ballpark and swam in the nearby reservoir. It was a good, quiet community.
My house, a 92 year old farmhouse built by my great-great-grandfather, was situated on a small hill surrounded by a wide grass field on one side, and a snaking dirt road on the other. Across the road was the creek bottoms. Southern Idaho is categorized in a desert climate, so not much grows outside of the irrigated fields besides sage brush and burrs. The creek bottoms were the exception. The creek fed the growth of a thick tangle of pussy-willow bushes. In the late fall we used to go down into the bottoms and pick the white, cottony pussy-willow seeds to decorate the fences of our driveway.
Being so isolated, it wasn’t uncommon for animals to come down from the mountains. We had a female moose who brought her calf down and lived in our orchard every winter. And the occasional lion wasn’t unheard of either.
The summer when I turned eight (I remember because it was the same year as my baptism), a smaller mountain lion was spotted several times in our area. We weren’t worried. The big cats stayed away from the farms and usually moved on when the area didn’t yield enough food.
The same summer my neighbor, Payton, was working on his Eagle Scout project. He loved National Geographic, and thought it would be pretty cool to try putting together a National Geographic submission on our little creek bottoms. The young lion that happened to be in our area at the same time made him especially excited. He decided he wanted to try and get pictures of the lion and e-mailed the National Geographic team for advice.
They recommended setting up an automatic camera that takes shots every couple of seconds in an area the lion was known to visit. They also recommended setting some kind of bait so the lion was more likely to come by. No one in the creek liked the idea of live bait or carrion, so we came up with a different kind of bait.
We decided to set up an audio recording of a dying rabbit and play it on a loop through a set of speakers hidden in the willows. I remember when everyone was down in the bottoms testing the speakers, and I heard the noise for the first time. The sound of a dying rabbit is horrible. It’s been described as being almost identical to the sound of a screaming child. If you’ve never heard it yourself, there’s plenty of recordings available online. It’s worth a listen.