SARASOTA, FL — Authorities are investigating an animal attraction located outside of Sarasota today after an unfortunate mauling incident. Carl Jackson, owner of Big Carl’s Cryptids, spoke to the media about the allegations. “That Sasquatch didn’t do nothing wrong,” he said angrily. “If that little boy’s mama had been paying attention instead of taking selfies by the mermaid tank, that poor fella would still have his arm. It ain’t Sassy’s fault. It’s just her nature. Somebody dangles a steak in front of me, I’m gonna eat it.”

The cryptid in question, an eight-foot-tall Sasquatch, has been sedated on the premises due to her tragic encounter with a local toddler, who climbed into the exhibit while his mother was distracted. Mr. Jackson, who shot the creature with a double-barreled tranquilizer gun, has been credited with saving the child’s life. Still, the community is outraged that he was allowed to operate the attraction in the first place.

Blood, goats, and tears

While Mr. Jackson claims the safeguards for the exhibit were “good enough,” others in the community argue that the cryptid zoo has caused problems ever since it opened. A rival attraction, the Animal Palace Petting Zoo, has suffered alleged property damage and loss of animals due to the cryptid exhibits. “We had the cutest little goats,” said Tammy Peters, owner of the Animal Palace. “Not long after that redneck showed up, I came in one morning and all of them were dead! Looked like something had sucked their blood right out.”  Ms. Peters, visibly upset, continued, “He swore up and down he didn’t know anything about it, but I know his damn chupacabra got out.”

Mr. Jackson denies that his chupacabra was responsible for the goats’ demise, and suggested that a coyote was at fault. “She’s just jealous,” he alleged in reference to Ms. Peters’ allegations. “Who wants to feed ducks when you can see a real live mermaid?”

He gestured behind him to an algae-covered tank, where a mermaid was watching YouTube on an iPhone in a waterproof case. “I got her that to keep her happy,” Mr. Jackson explained. “She was starting to get an attitude with the customers. I think she’s lonely since her friend ran off.”

Though he declined to comment further on the situation, Ms. Peters offered her own opinion of the incident. “I heard that other mermaid went off with a circus that came to town,” she explained. “Rumor was he was creeping on her and she had enough. He better watch it, though, because that other one has a phone. She could call a lawyer.”

Mr. Jackson denies all allegations of sexual harassment, and says that he plans to improve working conditions for his cryptids if authorities allow the zoo to remain in operation. “I told that mermaid, soon as I get my tax refund I’m gonna get her a pet,” he said. “I got my eye on a baby Kraken I seen on Craigslist.”

Though he hopes to continue running the attraction, Mr. Jackson realizes that authorities may have other plans. “If they try to take Sassy, me and her’ll just run off,” he said. “They’ll never find us. She’s real good at hiding.”

About the Author

Kristin Cleaves writes horror and dark fiction. Her work has been published by Quill and Crow Publishing House, Ghost Orchid Press, Black Telephone Magazine, and more.

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