Wednesday Weirdness: The Disappearance of Tom Eggleton

pathway between large, gnarled trees with words "on the path of Wednesday Weirdness" superimposed over imageHi, Friends. Welcome to another Wednesday Weirdness. Thanks for visiting today as I roll out a post about a mysterious disappearance—and thunderbirds.

These enormous winged creatures have long been an integral part of Native American folklore, but original Thunderbird legends date back thousands of years and can be traced to Egypt and Africa. With wingspans of twelve to fifteen feet or more, the Thunderbird has been known to carry off small animals, children, and even adults. It is a formidable avian spirit, able to shoot lightning from its beak and summon the roar of thunder with a clap of its powerful wings. A storm spirit, it is a harbinger of change.

Dramatic sky with clouds backlit by fiery colors, black on the opposite side, with lightning bolts severing sky

Surprisingly, there have been numerous sightings of Thunderbirds in the 20th and 21st centuries. My home state of Pennsylvania is abundant with them. The story I’d like to share, however, dates back to the late 1800s, a bizarre tale that beings on a hot summer evening in August 1897.

On that date, nineteen-year-old Thomas Eggleton decided to hike to nearby Hammersley Fork in order to mail his mother a letter. He told his employer, a farmer, where he was headed, then set out on his evening trek. It was a walk he’d undertaken numerous times in the past without incident.

But Tom never arrived in town, nor did he return to the farm the next day. Worried by his absence and fearing he could be injured, the farmer traced Tom’s footsteps in the dirt, following the path he’d taken toward Hammersley Fork. When he lost Tom’s tracks outside of town, he enlisted the help of others. Bloodhounds were added to the effort, and the dogs tracked Tom’s scent to the middle of a bridge where it vanished.

Old Wooden Bridge through Heavy Forested Path

Fearing the worst, the people of Hammersley Fork dragged the river, but Tom’s body was never found. Spooked by the odd circumstances, murmurs of thunderbirds erupted. Several locals insisted they’d seen a massive bird in the vicinity shortly before Tom’s disappearance and grew convinced it must have carried him away. With the flames of fear stoked, schools closed for two full weeks until the panic eventually passed.

Four years later, the farmer who’d been so worried about Tom received a letter from him. Tom stated he had recently awakened in a South African hospital with no memory of his past or how he’d come to be there. All he could recall was that he had worked for a famer outside of Hamersley Fork.

Had Tom been abducted by a Thunderbird? Could he have been snatched off the bridge as many locals speculated, or had he somehow slipped through a hole in time? The mystery of Tom Eggleton has no definitive answers, but whispers and rumors of Thunderbirds remain.

This story was relayed in the book, Monsters of Pennsylvania by Patty A. Wilson. Want more weirdness? There are “Monster” books available with the strange denizens of various states on Amazon. Check them out! After all…

Who knows what creatures and beasties lurk in your neck of the woods!

Wednesday Weirdness: Black Cat, a White Hair, and a Wish

pathway between large, gnarled trees with words "on the path of Wednesday Weirdness" superimposed over imageWelcome to the first Wednesday Weirdness of December. At the mention of black cats, most people immediately think of witches, familiars, superstitions, and Halloween. But there is another legend, and because I love both cats and folklore, I couldn’t resist spinning both into a tale called Food for Poe.

A black cat sitting on red ribbon and surrounded by Christmas decorationsIs it weird? Oh, yes. It’s been compared to a cross between Night Gallery and Hallmark. For even more of a mash-up, it’s also a Christmas story.

But what about the legend? I’ll let that unfold naturally. In the scene below, Quinn Easterly, encounters a strange old woman in the grocery store, where she has stopped to pick up food for her newly adopted cat, Poe:

“There’s a legend about black cats.” The woman eyed her critically, continuing as if she hadn’t spoken. “Not the witch legend or the Halloween stuff you hear as a kid.”

What an odd discussion to be having on Christmas Eve with a snow storm brewing outside. “I’m sorry, but I don’t have time to talk.” Quinn started to withdraw, then stopped. There was something in the woman’s manner that made her hesitate. The store bustled with activity, but no one drew near. Not a single person ventured into the aisle where they stood conversing over colorful plush mice, boxes of dried meal, and sparkly ribbons adorned with bells.

“Every pure black cat has a single white hair.” The woman’s voice was low as if she dispensed a timeless secret. “Remove the hair without being scratched and you’re permitted a wish—health or wealth, but you can’t have both. And you must make the wish before midnight on Christmas Eve. Health or wealth. Do you understand?”

Quinn felt caught in a twisted dream. “I—”

The woman pulled her closer. “Beware, girl. Healing often attracts one of the Dark Things. Changelings. Creatures that pattern themselves from the thoughts of others. They live in cesspools, drainpipes, and hollow logs. Anywhere that’s dark.”

The hair prickled on the nape of Quinn’s neck. She glanced over her shoulder hoping to find someone else in the aisle, but it remained eerily deserted as though she stood in a corridor severed from the rest of the store.  What she needed was an escape route.

“I’m sorry, but I have to leave.”

“So go already,” a disgruntled male voice chided.

Quinn blinked, startled to find the old woman gone, the aisle behind her suddenly overflowing with people and shopping carts. A mother and two children shuffled past, the youngest trailing a caramel-colored stuffed bear by the arm.

“Look, lady, either pick something or get out of the way.” The grating voice acted like a chisel on the edge of Quinn’s thoughts. The speaker was squat and barrel-chested, pushing a cart loaded with ten-pound bags of dog food.

Quinn smiled politely and shuffled aside.


I admit to twining three separate legends together to suit my own purposes, but the folklore about black cats, a white hair, and a wish for health or wealth is from an old wive’s tale. There’s nothing involving Christmas Eve or midnight, but both seemed like a good fit.

As one reviewer said:

“It is a tale of love, hope, compassion, faith, superstition, and suspense with a touch of horror… I was hooked from the start. If it was up to me, I’d make it into a Christmas movie and watch it every year.”

Cover of FOOD FOR POE with cute young couple and a black cat.And here’s the blurb:
When a blizzard strands Quinn Easterly at a handsome stranger’s house on Christmas Eve, she doesn’t realize her newly adopted cat, Poe, is the catalyst responsible for bringing them together.

Breck Lansing gave up on relationships after his wife, unable to cope with their daughter’s illness, left him. But the pretty blonde he rescues from a snowstorm has him rethinking his stance—especially when Quinn’s arrival coincides with a dramatic change in Sophie’s health.

Unfortunately, that change also attracts something only whispered about in folklore. Together, Quinn and Breck must defeat a sinister creature intent on claiming the ultimate payment.

Warning: A clever black cat, Christmas magic, and paranormal trouble


I rarely promote this little Christmas novella, but can’t resist splashing it around a bit in December. If you’re interested, you can grab it from Amazon for .99c through this LINK.

Are you familiar with the folklore I used in this story? It’s also been said the reverse is true—every pure white cat has a single black hair, although I don’t know what wish is granted should the hair be removed. If you like Hallmark Christmas stories and cats, along with a bit of the bizarre, I hope you’ll give Poe a try.

Creature Feature

If you’re a regular follower of my blog, it’s no secret I have a love affair with creatures—a passion I developed early, thanks in part to my older brother. He had a Creepy Crawler maker when we were kids. Remember those? You poured colored goop into a metal mold, then heated it up in a toy oven. After the mold baked, you ended up with rubbery scorpions, spiders, and snakes. My parents eventually got me a Flower Power maker, and although it was fun, I was partial to the slithery things (this from someone who detests bugs).

When I was seven, I remember my mom taking me to the opening of a new mall. Something on that scale was a big deal back in those days. There were kiddie rides in the parking lot and cotton candy machines, but what I treasured most was going home with a plastic blue brontosaurus. I still remember that thing. I was so smitten with my toy creature.

Not long after that came telescopes and fanciful tales of space creatures. I fell in love with the Gothic soap opera Dark shadows, thanks to my older sisters, and learned about werewolves and ghosts. When I hit my teen years, I discovered folklore, fantasy novels, and reruns of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. There’s nothing like giant squids, lobster men, or mutant plants for creature nirvana!

silhouette of creature in the woods at night, full moon in backgroundMy love for creatures eventually found its way into my writing. To date, I’ve told tales involving a werewolf, a sea monster, a changeling, and a notorious cryptid—the Mothman. With my upcoming release, Cusp of Night, I have a new monster to foist on readers, a Spring-Heeled Jack like being known as The Fiend. If that isn’t enough, I’ve tossed in a few ghosts for good measure. 😊

Cusp of Night releases on June 12th, and I’m doing everything I can to launch this one successfully. Several friends have already volunteered to host me on their blog. I’ve pre-written posts in preparation of book touring and have more posts simmering on the back burner. I rarely if ever reblog, but this time I’m going all out. You’re likely to see multiple posts and reblogs in this space over the next several weeks as I push Cusp into the world.

If you’d like to help spread the word, I’m looking for blog hosts with availability in June and July (or heck, even later). Please email me at maeclair (at) maeclair (dot) com if you’re interested. And no worries if you can’t help out—we all have crazy juggling acts of family, writing, and jobs. I get that there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

As for Cusp of Night, the story goes something like this:

book cover for Cusp of Night, a mystery/suspense novel by Mae ClairBLURB

Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house–a woman whose ghost may still linger.

Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to unearthing the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .

Cusp of Night is already available from all booksellers for pre-order through this link:  PURCHASE HERE

If you’re thinking of grabbing a copy, pre-ordering is a huge help for a successful book launch. I know we all have gargantuan TBRs but there’s no harm in padding them a little more, right? 😊

Thanks for considering, and thank you if you’re able to help with my book launch.

Exciting times!

I’m starting a new series *gulp*

I’ve got a new creature *gulp*

I’ve got dual timelines and dual mysteries *gulp, gulp*

Now if I could just find a plastic blue brontosaurus as a good luck charm! 😊

Mythical Monday: Pennsylvania’s Tearful Squonk by Mae Clair

It’s always fascinating when I stumble upon a new creature in my ongoing searches for all things odd, mythical, or cryptozoological. Even more rewarding when I discover a beastie from my native state of Pennsylvania.  Today, I’d like to introduce the Squonk.

Doesn’t the name sound like something out of Dr. Seuss or Jabberwocky? I love saying it. Give it a try… “Squonk.” It makes me want to cuddle the poor thing.

As it turns out, the squonk could probably use a good cuddle— assuming you could get past its ghastly appearance.  A mid-sized animal that goes about on four legs, the squonk will never win a beauty contest. Its skin, which sags and flops on its frame, is covered in a mish-mash of warts, boils, and moles.

Illustration of the mythical Squonk, a creature rumored to haunt the hemlock forests of northern Pennsylvania

Illustration from “Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods” illustrated by Coert Du Bois and by William T. Cox, 1910 PUBLIC DOMAIN . By Coert Du Bois and by William T. Cox;Tripodero at en.wikipedia [Public domain or Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Said to favor the dense Hemlock forests of Northern Pennsylvania, this pitiful creature spends most of its time hiding and weeping, ashamed of its grotesque appearance. Bashful and retiring, it usually ventures out at dusk when it is less likely to be seen. On nights illuminated by a full moon it prefers to stay completely hidden, fearing it might otherwise catch a glimpse of its reflection in a pond.

Numerous hunters have attempted to capture a squonk, tracking the animal by the trail of its tears. All have failed. If cornered, or even frightened, the squonk will quickly dissolve into a puddle of tears.

How terribly sad is that?

Legend tells of a particularly clever hunter who was able to lure one of the creatures into a sack. He quickly tied the bag and hefted the beast over his shoulder for the stroll home. Halfway there he realized his burden had grown incredibly light. When he looked inside the sack he discovered nothing but liquid—all that remained of the woefully despondent squonk.

Although it’s not entirely clear from the research I’ve done, I tend to think the squonk reverts back to its physical form when the threat has passed—and most assuredly begins weeping again.

Given its pitiful existence, I hereby nominate this Mythical Monday as “Hug a Squonk Day.” Assuming, of course, you can catch one long enough to brighten the poor thing’s dismal existence!