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Lair of the Beasts: Lovecraft Comes to Life
A Monster below the Surface
By Nick Redfern
August 09, 2013
Imagine, if you dare, a real-life equivalent of H.P. Lovecraft’s most famous and legendary creation: the great Cthulhu. In the dark and disturbing pages of The Call of Cthulhu, Lovecraft gave a hideous description of the ominous nightmare.
Cthulhu was, said Lovecraft, “A monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind.”
Of course, Cthulhu was just a creation of the undeniably gifted and imaginative mind of Lovecraft and nothing else. Or was it? Some students of the man’s fine body of work take the view that Lovecraft told, in fictional form, horror-filled stories based upon terrible truths that he, Lovecraft, had been secretly exposed to.
With that said, could there really be a genuine version of Cthulhu? Most would say, “No, of course not!” But, I say: let’s take a look at one particular story in question. It originates in the heart of Oklahoma. Notably, Lovecraft was, to a degree, familiar with the state, as he had ghost-written a story set in Oklahoma’s town of Binger, in Caddo County. Its title: The Mound.
It so happens that, for decades, there have been sightings of hideous, octopus-like creatures in a number of lakes and rivers in Oklahoma. Certainly, the most famous of them all has become known, unsurprisingly, as the “Oklahoma Octopus.”
The beast allegedly dwells within the waters of Lake Thunderbird, which is a man-made reservoir in the town of Norman. The name of the reservoir is intriguing, since it is taken directly from Native American legends concerning giant, monstrous eagle-like birds known as (what else?) thunderbirds.
On top of that, in the summer of 2010, I traveled to Norman with a Fox News crew to film a news segment on the sighting of a supposed Chupacabras in the woods around town. In other words, Norman is a place steeped in monstrous weirdness.
As for the Oklahoma Octopus, well, its legend is just about as big as its size. It’s a mystifying beast, too. For example, Lake Thunderbird is wholly comprised of fresh-water. Octopuses, however, live in salt-water. On top of that, construction of the lake did not begin until 1962 and it is not connected to any other bodies of water.
So, if the tales of a coiling, tentacle-waving monster living in the depths of Lake Thunderbird are true, then what is the true nature of the beast, and how did it get into a fully enclosed lake that’s barely half a century old? These are issues upon which I have pondered a great deal on my various, personal treks to seek out the monster for myself.
Particularly interesting is the fact that the aforementioned Native Americans of the area had their own legends of octopus-style monstrosities inhabiting other bodies of water in Oklahoma - albeit centuries ago.
Those locales included the Illinois River (which passes through the mountains of eastern Oklahoma) and the Verdigris River. And these were not small critters either. Rather, they were said to be around the size of a large stallion.
Witnesses to the Oklahoma Octopus are not entirely sure what it is they have seen; however, references to large, powerful-looking tentacles surface time and again – just like the monster itself. Could it be the case that, against all the odds, Oklahoma is home to real, and very large, octopuses that have managed to adapt to fresh-water environments?
Maybe, on the other hand, we are looking at something else, something unknown, something monstrous, and something distinctly Cthulhu-like. One day, perhaps, we will see the rise of a beast that rivals, and even surpasses, the legend surrounding H.P. Lovecraft’s most famously hideous beast of all.
Nick Redfern is the author of many books, including Monster Diary, Monster Files, and There’s something in the Woods.