i made a list of cryptids (and other folklore creatures) in preperation of inktober since i’ve decided to participate this year! some are well known, while others are the silliest things ive ever heard of. (the weirdest ones are my favorites honestly. i’m very excited to draw a squonk) feel free to use this if you want to!!!
1. The man on the country road selling Jersey tomatoes and corn has piercing blue eyes that never blink and a wide toothy grin that doesn’t flinch. He never speaks. You always leave with more in your bag than you remember picking up. If you do not eat them by the stroke of midnight in three days, they putrefy, stinking of rotting flesh.
2. “What exit?” is not just an inside joke. Those who do not know their exit are trapped in a crack between dimensions, driving eternally on a Turnpike that never ends. They are never seen or heard from again.
3. There are diners everywhere. You see one on every highway, in every sleepy town, every bustling city center. It is the same diner. The customers sit in booths and at the counters, moaning as they pour scalding coffee down their throats with trembling hands. Enter, and the waitress at the front, with her sunken eyes and hollow cheeks, will say: “Room for one more, honey.”
4. On Memorial Day, people across the state load into their cars and head down the shore. They drive in a trance, as if guided by an unseen force. The highways are bumper to bumper for miles. Something is pulling them there. They flock to Wildwood, Seaside Heights boardwalk, Asbury Park. When they reach the sea, they abandon their cars and walk hand in hand into the ocean, toward the humming black orb that hangs in the sky.
5. Look outside your house in the winter and you’ll see a million glowing eyes staring back at you - hundreds of whitetail deer. Their jaws are moving, as if they’re chewing something. You think they might be speaking to you, but you are too afraid to open the door.
6. On the eve of their 18th birthday, every New Jerseyan is given: a copy of Weird NJ; a map of the state; a flashlight; and a crucifix. “Your journey begins at sundown,” their parents say, smiling with pride and worry as tears spill down their cheeks. “Godspeed, my child.”
7. On the Garden State Parkway, the radio plays only one song, no matter which station you flip to: “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen. He is telling you to run, get out while you can. But once you can hear it, it is too late.
8. New Jerseyans are blisteringly proud, defiant in their love of their home state. The best pizza, best bagels, honest and tolerant people, especially compared to their neighbors in Pennsylvania. But there’s nothing to be proud of in crime, corruption, pollution, bigotry, ignorance - the things that make us change the channel when they come up on News 12. Scarier still than looking outside is looking within ourselves.
9. Everyone claims to know someone who knows someone who’s seen the Jersey Devil. The legend is laughed off as campfire talk. But when they remember the bright red eyes from beyond the trees, the inhuman screech coming from somewhere deep in the woods, the laughter turns to anxious silence.
The geese never stop. You expect them to fly south for the winter, or north to Canada for the summer. Instead, they remain, unfazed. Your lawn is geese. Your playground is geese. You soccer field is geese. All is geese, and you are afraid.
In 1883, an Atlantic City shop owner’s taffy store was flooded by the ocean. He jokingly offered he ruined candy to a young girl, who old everyone she knew about this “salt water taffy”. The story serves as the origin of one of New Jersey’s best foods, and also as a testament of why you should ALWAYS take candy from strangers.
Wawa is not a convenience store. Wawa is not a Native American word for goose. Wawa is a lifestyle. Do not reject Wawa. If you do, the geese will know, and they will find you. The geese always find you.
Things happen in the Pine Barrens. You are not sure what. When asked by outsiders to explain why you fear the forest, you cannot elaborate, only describe the creeping panic you feel as you lose your way in the woods.
No one sees when you sneak out to the cranberry bogs on your camping trip to drink with your friends. Except the Jersey Devil. The Jersey Devil sees all, and will soon spirit you away in his great leathery wings if you don’t leave his grounds.
You go to college out of state, and whenever you come home, you feel that vague, polluted something creep back into your system. Your throat becomes dry, and your skin begins to break out in acne. You are convinced it is a curse from the Jersey Devil, or possibly the result of living near highway fumes.
People complain that New Jersey has too many roads, but you don’t understand. On those roads are businesses, and those businesses contain things you need. Everything you need is within 15 minutes of your home. You never have to leave. Ever.
When you do leave, you tell people where you came from. They give you a look of pity, and you wonder if they know something about your home that you don’t.
Your blood is tied to the sea. A summer without visiting the shore is a summer wasted, just like your body, wasting away as the call of overpriced gelato and brown ocean waves saps at your lifeblood. You cannot bear it anymore, you drive to Seaside Heights and dip in the same questionable tidepools as your forefathers: Pauly D and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino. You pay them homage with a new bacterial infection.
Your home is trapped between D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City. No national news covers New Jersey. No job posting sites give you New Jersey jobs when you put in your zip code. Nothing happens within the border of the Delaware River. New Jersey does not exist. It is not a place, but a void, an afterlife where your life’s savings are reborn as income tax.
Bernard Hinault wins the 1981 Paris-Roubaix ahead of Roger de Vlaeminck and Francesco Moser, after several falls on the cobbles. After winning the race Hinault famously said “Paris-Roubaix est une connerie” (Paris–Roubaix is bullshit).