Saturday, March 25, 2023

“The Sighting” • by KC Grifant

The teeth marks were like none Mae had ever seen.

“Finally.” Mae kept calm though she wanted to shriek in excitement. She placed her ruler against the bark. Ralph pushed a branch out of the way to watch as she measured.

“Primate-like. And wider than human.” She snapped photos and carefully scrapped out the bark around the bite. “Hopefully we can DNA-sequence any trace of saliva. I can’t believe it.”

Mae had been fascinated by the creature—Bigfoot, Sasquatch—for as long as she could remember. Once she started training as a dentist’s assistant, she poured over Bigfoot forums and blogged her ideas. After scrutinizing photos people posted of unusual bite marks on bones, she became more convinced that the creature did indeed exist. She doubled-down on her efforts, even at the cost of friends and dates. Even her parents were exasperated with her obsession.

“Why is it so important for you?” they’d plead. “What does it matter?”

“It matters,” she said. She couldn’t explain it. Ever since she was a kid she had been ignored—for being too quiet, too odd, too smart. But now she knew she was destined for something more: to prove Bigfoot existed.

Through the forum she had found Ralph, who offered tours to Bigfoot scholars around Umpqua National Forest in Southern Oregon. She would have gone on her own but reports of missing people—Bigfoot hunters who got hopelessly lost in the vast forest after wandering away from their guide—prompted her take extra precautions. She wasn’t going to make the same mistake.

When she met Ralph at the visitor’s center that afternoon, she quizzed him. He needed a shave beneath tired eyes, and his cargo pants could use an iron, but he was sharp with his responses.

“What does Bigfoot eat?”

“Simple question, not so simple an answer.” He leaned against a wildlife display and chewed a strip of jerky he pulled from a camo backpack. “Eyewitnesses suggest it isn’t fast enough to catch a deer, or strong enough to wrestle a bear. But size-wise it would need a lot of food.”

“That’s right,” she said. “Cryptozoologists believe Bigfoot hunts large game. Some think it’s smart enough to trap animals, maybe small mammals. What about vegetarian?”

Ralph shook his head. “Accounts of bone stacking, droppings and teeth marks suggests it really likes meat.”

“Right—possibly a pure carnivore, unlike other apes and humans.” Mae nodded, satisfied that he was sufficiently well versed and wasn’t just looking to rip off a “believer” like other tour guides. She was also well aware she was a solo woman going to a campsite with a man she didn’t know, but his extensive positive Yelp reviews—and the taser in her bag—reassured her.

“So why do you do it?” Mae had asked him as they climbed into his four-wheeler. “Most people say Bigfoot hunters like us are delusional.” Or worse, she added silently, trying not to think of the sidelong glances or the muffled laughs she had gotten at school, at work, when someone found her blog.

Ralph looked sheepish. “Honestly? The money’s good, and I love these woods. But I’m also in awe of the passion this community has. And…” He gave her a mischievous grin. “Think how famous I’ll be when the first real evidence is found.”

We’ll be.” She smiled back. Don’t get distracted, she told herself. But it was rare to meet a guy who didn’t completely write her off, who understood just what a big deal this could be.

His four-wheeler had jostled over rocks as they traveled north. She had been quiet, making a pact with herself. If she didn’t find something this time, maybe it was a sign that she should give up the search for good. She couldn’t spend her life chasing an invisible monster, after all. It was now or never. They parked, donned backpacks and dove into the brilliant green to a spot she had traced as the epicenter of the last three sightings, finding the telltale marks a few hours later.

“It could be a wild boar,” Ralph mused now, touching the teeth marks.

“Nope.” Mae inhaled the scent of dirt and wet leaves, feeling more alive than she had been in a long time.  “This is almost a two-inch tooth impact mark. No other known animal could do this. Not quite what I need but close.”

“What do you mean?” Ralph asked.

“It's all in the teeth. The back teeth to be exact. I believe Bigfoot has a distinct pattern of modified carnassial molars unlike any known primate—sharp back teeth, essentially, for tearing into flesh. If I can get some clear pictures of that, it would be evidence of its existence. And it would help us understand if it’s a totally new kind of ape.”

“Most people come in with vague ideas, no idea how to track.” Ralph looked more alert, excited even. “But you actually have a good theory there.”

Mae tried not to blush as their eyes met. She couldn’t remember the last time someone complimented her in real life. Ralph cleared his throat, ran a hand through his uncombed hair and glanced down at his watch.

“Getting dark,” he said. “We should find a campsite soon. I’m starving. I’ll scope for a spot while you finish looking around.”

“Sounds good. You want to—” Mae gasped and leaned down to brush leaves to glimpse a flash of white. A pile of bones, stacked in neat crisscrosses.

Large bones.

She dropped her bags and hurried closer. “Oh my God. I need to take some pictures. Do these look like deer bones?”

Ralph peered down in the dimming light. “Wider than deer, I’d say.”

“Look at how they’re stacked. There’s real intention there.” Mae blinked back tears. All the long hours alone, all the friends she hadn't made, all of her countless hours looking…finally meant something.

“Any chance it could be a coincidence?”

“It’s way too symmetrical. The stacking indicates a ritualistic observance, almost like a burial,” she said as she steadied her trembling hands to take pictures. This, together with teeth marks and saliva samples and she’d have it: the world’s first real evidence of Bigfoot. She’d give interviews, maybe even on live TV. Possibly a book deal. Funds and teams to continue to track and understand Bigfoot. She’d be the next Jane Goodall.

“This gives weight to the theory that Bigfoot is extremely intelligent, and potentially communicative,” she continued, hushed. “Ralph, I think we’re close. Like, actually close. We have to keep going.”

A branch snapped and she looked up to see Ralph, looming and shaggy in the snatches of light, his figure seeming taller by the second. “You’re definitely on its trail. But let’s eat first,” he said and yawned.

That’s when she saw his teeth.



KC Grifant is an award-winning author based in Southern California who writes internationally published horror, fantasy, science fiction and weird west tales. Dozens of her short stories have appeared in podcasts, anthologies and magazines, including: Spaceways Magazine, Unnerving Magazine, Cosmic Horror Monthly, Dark Matter Magazine, the British SF Association’s Fission Magazine, Tales to Terrify, the Lovecraft eZine; Musings of the Muse; Dancing in the Shadows—A Tribute to Anne Rice; Field Notes from a Nightmare; The One That Got Away; Six Guns Straight From Hell; Shadowy Natures; Beyond the Infinite-Tales from the Outer Reaches; the Stoker-nominated Chromophobia; the Stoker-nominated Fright Mare: Women Write Horror, and many others. She is also the author of the horror western novel, Melinda West: Monster Gunslinger (Brigids Gate Press, Feb 2023), described as a blend of Bonnie & Clyde meet The Witcher and Supernatural.

Learn more at or on social media at @kcgrifant.