The Cryptid Club Files: The Jubsquatch
"A … a Jubsquatch?"
Katy the white Shoyru stared incredulously at her best friend.
Maud, unfazed by Katy’s apparent disbelief, beamed back at her. "Oh yes, I’m quite sure of it. There’s no other logical explanation. I even have proof!"
It was Maud and Katy’s first official Cryptid Club meeting. Because the principal had not approved their club form, however, they were forced to squeeze club time into their study hall block. Ever since they were little, Maud had always been a conspiracy enthusiast. From investigating a society of Grundos living in the sewers under their quiet neighborhood, to suspecting the flower shop attendant was involved in a Tigersquash-themed cult, Katy had heard it all. This was the first time, however, that Maud had claimed to have some sort of tangible proof other than a gut feeling.
The plushie Cybunny rifled through her backpack and produced a large, white envelope. Inside, there was a thick stack of developed pictures, held together by an old crisp bag clip. Maud set them down on Katy’s desk with a flourish. "Feast your eyes!"
Tentatively, Katy picked up the incriminating evidence and removed the crisp clip. The pictures in question were snapshots of a muddy field, though the shattered gnomes and ceramic Slorg statues suggested that they were, in fact, pictures of a former vegetable garden. The plot had been decimated of all edible greenery, save a few wilting potato plants. Among the holes and fallen plants, a large imprint could be seen. If you squinted at it, it could maybe look like a foot print. Katy looked back at Maud.
"You think a JubJub did this?" Katy asked, carefully placing the pictures back in the envelope. Maud frowned and shook her head furiously.
"Please! Like any ordinary JubJub could be capable of such monstrosities." A JubJub classmate from two desks over glared, but Maud took no notice. Katy mouthed ‘sorry!’ and turned back to her friend.
"No," Maud continued, taking out the footprint picture again and reexamining it, "what we have here is a rogue Jubsquatch roaming Aisha Avenue."
"Uh… Maud, what exactly is a Jubsquatch?" Katy asked. Maud’s face took on a serious expression.
"It’s a JubJub… With huge feet." Katy frowned.
"Maud, all JubJubs have huge feet."
"Well, yeah," Maud said, "but the Jubsquatch has, like, even BIGGER feet." She paused. "And it’s ten feet tall." She paused again, probably for dramatic effect. "And it howls like this." Maud let out an ear-piercing ‘awooooooooo’ that solicited a few strange looks and a severe hush from the study hall monitor.
Katy sighed and rubbed her temples. "You’re sure this wasn’t the work of Old Lady Manchester’s Dogglefox? Instead of, you know, a ten-foot tall JubJub?"
Maud nodded enthusiastically. "I am one hundred percent sure."
Katy figured that no matter who or what rifled through the garden, she would get pulled into this scheme regardless. Ultimately, she decided to go along with it. What’s the worst that could happen?
"Okay, fine. So what now?"
Several hours later, Katy found herself laying under a damp pile of leaves in Maud’s backyard. They were both dressed in tactical gear emblazoned with the words ‘CRYPTID CLUB’. When Katy asked where Maud got the stuff, she only said "from my sources abroad".
"Maud… Don’t you think this is a little much?" Katy said as her helmet drooped over her eyes. She struggled to adjust it. "This stuff is really heavy."
"The Jubsquatch is a tricky beast," Maud replied as she smeared black eye makeup under each of her eyes. "We have to be ready for anything. That’s why I have devised this clever trap."
The "clever trap" was simply a modified refrigerator box, swiped from the Neopia Central recycling center, placed in a make-shift garden plot. Tied to the box was a bit of string, which Maud clutched in her paw. Beneath the box lay a tempting potato plant. The backyard gate was wide open to allow any passing Jubsquatch easy access.
"I’m a genius, "Maud proclaimed. Katy groaned into her helmet.
"So when can we expect the Jubsquatch to show up?" Katy asked.
"We can’t be sure," Maud said, "but I am prepared to stay here for days if need be!"
A sudden quake in the ground made both girls freeze. Reverberating footsteps approached the gate. A bone-chilling howl filled the air. Maud’s eyes were manic with excitement, and she clutched the twine in anticipation. Katy’s gaze was transfixed on the gate. If Maud was right, she thought, I will never live this down.
A brown blur stumbled through the gate, wailing like a banshee. He flew towards the box and Maud pulled the twine. The box came down quickly and Maud sprang forward. Katy, in a panic, tried to get up, but the tactical gear was weighing her down.
"IDENTIFY YOURSELF, JUBSQUATCH" she screamed as she threw her full body weight onto the irate refrigerator box.
"Please," a voiced wailed from beneath Maud, "please let me out!!"
"Blessed Fyora, Katy, it can speak!!!" Maud cackled. "Wait ‘til the guys on the cryptid forum hear about this!"
"Oh man, we’re gonna be so famous. I can see the headlines now…"
"Maud, he’s not-"
"… Maybe we can become scientists or something. Millionaire scientists! Or maybe—"
"MAUD!" Katy, having finally pulled herself up, managed to grab Maud by the shoulder and give her a good shake. "That’s not a Jubsquatch."
Maud froze. "Huh?"
Katy sighed and lifted the corner of the trap box. Underneath sat a rather upset, normal-sized Tyrannian JubJub.
"It’s Old Man Hollyhock, from three blocks down," Katy explained. Maud’s jaw dropped.
"Old Man Hollyhock?? Why didn’t you tell me you were a secret Jubsquatch?"
"A what now?" the old man said, squinting up at the girls. "Where am I?"
Katy helped Old Man Hollyhock up and dusted him off. "Why don’t you come inside for a cup of tea and we can sort this whole thing out."
"I lost my glasses three weeks ago," Old Man Hollyhock explained as he sipped his tea. "Ever since then, I’ve been wandering through town like whirling dervish."
Katy nodded. "So that was your footprint in the garden."
"Oh yeah? Well, explain this, old man," Maud said, slamming her fists onto the table and making him jump. "Why was your footprint so big?!"
Old Man Hollyhock lifted his feet to reveal large white sneakers. "I wear orthopedic shoes," he replied. "I like a little room in the toes." Maud sat back in her chair, eyeing him suspiciously.
"Well… While I’m still not convinced that you’re not a secret Jubsquatch, I’ll let you go free today," she said with a tinge of disappointment in her voice.
"I would love some squash," Old Man Hollyhock said, having misheard her.
After helping him walk back to his house and informing the police of the lost glasses, the girls sat in Maud’s living room and deliberated.
"You’re lucky he was too senile to press charges," Katy said, but Maud wasn’t listening.
"We may have failed today, buddy, but don’t worry," Maud said, draping her arm around her friend’s shoulders. "I’m sure The Cryptid Club has many more mysteries ahead."
"I hope not," Katy replied.
Somewhere in the night, a howl echoed down Aisha Avenue.