On Jimplicutes

If one were to look up the topic of jimplicutes today, all that would be found are intriguing but inaccurate descriptions of "ghostly dinosaurs" that sneak up behind unsuspecting travelers and suck their blood. These Ozark legends are believed to have been concocted by ex-confederates for reasons of racial prejudice - that is, to manipulate by fear and intimidation the behavior of uneducated former slaves - but this modern dismissal is ignorant of a more profound and less discriminating reality. The inspiration for such watered down folklore emanated from the deepest, most unsettled parts of the high hills. It therefore was based on actual but formerly unrecorded experience, and real jimplicutes would readily devour anyone regardless of color or creed.

Jimplicutes are not dinosaurs, ghostly or otherwise, but they are reptilian after a sort. They do not suck blood but rather swallow their prey whole whenever possible. They are at once more impressive and more terrible to behold than the obscure legends they have generated. If one can see them at all, they are nearly indistinguishable from their forested habitat. Their scales, loose and irregular, resemble leaves, and their underlying skin is like tree bark in both toughness and texture. Were it thicker, a jimplicute's hide would be nigh impenetrable. So adapted are jimplicutes to their environment that their scales change color with the seasons, and their teeth are reminiscent of long thorns. Upon seeing a jimplicute, one might reasonably, albeit mistakenly, assume that it had arisen spontaneously from earth and twig, the vile offspring of nature itself.

Jimplicutes are beautiful owing to their resemblance to fair forest and ugly due to that variation of form which is regarded as comely in tree and vine but misshapen in higher animals. It is only when one is forced to recognize them as distinctly animal that they become so repugnant to the eye. Aside from a general anatomy which includes a head and long neck, four legs, and a tail, there is little in the way of symmetry or grace to their general architecture. Their legs do not match lest such uniformity should make them stand out against the inconsistency of their natural background, and their right and left sides complement each other but poorly. Assorted bumps and protuberances add further to this uneven distortion of bodily shape.

Quite literally, jimplicutes stink. Their vulgar ruminations produce an aroma which at a distance blends with the smell of rotting logs and damp humus, but at close quarters, they exhale the withering odor of mold and ruinous decay. As foul as their breath may be, however, their breathing can be one of the most deceptively soothing sounds ever to fall on human ears. Loud as the most forceful tempest when angered, jimplicutes breathe inaudibly above the slightest breeze when stalking or at rest. They mimic the rustling of leaves in the wind, and many a victim has been overcome by drowsiness prior to the onset of an attack.

There is no duplicity to the nature of jimplicutes, no contradiction of good mixed with bad. They are the physical manifestation of unabashed evil, drawing strength from the imperfections of their human victims and killing more for pleasure than survival. Theirs is a world of stone, wood, and moistened soil, of lying in wait and devouring all that comes within striking distance. Like alligators or venomous snakes, they can be blindingly quick, but in spite of their size and prowess, they are possessed of certain physical limitations.

They are cold-blooded and as such can move rapidly over only limited distances. Just as importantly, they must hibernate. Were it not for the annual respite of winter, their presence in Jacob's part of the Ozarks might have compelled many a stout heart to seek lodging in more hospitable regions. Most significantly of all, jimplicutes can be killed, but not by the rifles and shotguns available to the hillfolk of Jacob's day. The bullets of these guns lacked sufficient explosive power on impact and simply left holes too small to do any good when it came to killing such large, tough-skinned predators. Even a direct hit to a vital organ would bleed too slowly. This was why Jacob hunted with his harpoon...

-Excerpt from Jacob Leviathan: The Dogwood Legacy Part I, published 2015.

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© Robert Lambert Jones III