Pics or It Didn’t Happen

(A couple days ago, the Jersey Devil was all over my social media feed due to some blurry “sighting” photo being shared. I wrote this in response.)

My iPhone wakes me, my Twitter blowing up, dingdingdinging, like the bell at the front of Charon’s stupid boat. I always hated that bell. And that guy, with his fraying robe and his damn skeleton hands. Anyway, I spread my wings and flap over to the banquette—I swear, these Thunderbolt cords are much shorter than the USBs that came with the iPhone 4—where I see a scroll of recent tweets concerning a sighting of the Jersey Devil.

I instinctively look around my domicile. The braided foliage covering the cave mouth is undisturbed, the only prints in the dirt of the floor are cloven-hooved, and the Sigil of Concealment etched into the stone of the celling is unmarred. I swipe on the most recent tweet, one that contains a link that I assume is a picture of this sighting, then tap in my security code, 6… 6… 6…

6. Stupid four digit security codes ruining all my fun. Why can’t they offer you the option of different length security codes? Surely that would increase security, anyone trying to hack it or whatever having to know not only what digits you used but how many—

The picture pops up on the phone.

What the fuck?

What the actual fuck?

That is so obviously a stuffed llama with wings sewn on it that someone threw in the air or sailed on a wire or something.

It’s a retweet. It’s been retweeted 774, 987 times.

I look in the scratched, faded glass of the mirror above the banquette. What I see is in no way, shape, or form mistakable for a stuffed fucking llama with sewn on wings. I am a goat-headed monstrosity with a gaze that can peel the hope from a soul. I am Satan’s son, the beast that screams. I am terror incarnate.

I mean, look at these fucking wings. There are claws at the tips. I have wing claws. That’s it, I’m taking a fucking selfie. Right now. I’m not letting what happened to the Mothman happen to me. Fucking Richard Gere.

I dig through the pile of refuse next to the banquette, all the stuff I’ve accumulated from the remains of my meals. That one brunette girl, the one in the hockey jersey and black tights, she had one…

Ah, yes, here it is. I was starting to get worried I’d have to destroy another Amazon drone so I could get a selfie stick. But old Mother Leeds taught her darling boy that you never throw anything away that might end up useful. That’s why I still have her spleen. And her eyeballs. You never know.

Also, I’ve never been keen on eating eyeballs. Squishy. Yick.

I screw my iPhone to the end of the selfie stick then stand in front of the banquette, strike what I consider an ominous pose, and take the shot. It’s pretty good. My fangs are prominent, my wings horrifyingly translucent, and my eyes really pop. I mean, of course, the collection of uneaten eyeballs piled on the banquette—my eyes are startling pits of liquid black sin.

I start flipping through filters. While I’m a sucker for sepia, I think that’ll undercut the whole vibe, so I go with “hipster,” hit Share, and type “Hell is real! #JerseyDevil.” That should get ‘em.

It takes almost an hour for someone to retweet it. @OneInTheStink sends it out to his 842 followers.

@OneInTheStink: Ooooooo, spooky! What a joke! #JerseyNotvil

Hastag Jersey Notvil? Notvil? That’s not even a word! What does that even mean? Like I’m not the Jersey Devil, because I am. I’m the Jersey Devil. The terror that stalks in the night. The Demon Seed of Mother Leeds. This kid’s a d-bag.

The replies start almost immediately:

@SarahBoBarah: Look in the mirror, you can totes see the zipper! #JerseySadvil

@RedRightHand: Look at those little tyrannosaur arms! #JerseyDumbvil

@SaltyDog: Swipe left! #JerseyTindervil

@TinaSezHi: Wanna watch Hemlock Grove? #JerseyNetflixAndChillvil

@BobbyS: It’s like a goat fucked @TonyRocketCock’s mom! #JerseyMILFvil

@TonyRocketCock: At least my mom is getting laid. #JerseyNoDadvil

@BobbyS: Fuck you, @TonyRocketCock! #JerseyKickYourAssAfterGymvil

I throw my iPhone against the cave wall. It shatters into pieces and leaves a dent in the rock, I’m so superhumanly strong. I rear my head, open my throat, and let loose one of my patented shrieks. I’ve killed men just by screaming. And, like, cops and shit, not just the guys who come out here for a little rough trade.

Used to be people believed their eyes, believed the word of other people. The tales of my devilry spread far and wide with only a little evidence: a cloven hoofmark, a shock of hair whitened by my scream, the thick sibilance of wings. Now these pukes can’t even believe what they see with their own eyes!

That’s it. I’m going home. I lift the rusted iron ring in the floor, strain with all my considerable might, and the circular door begins to open. The smell of brimstone and sin rises, comforting me. The steps down are slick with the tears of the unjust. Before I descend them, I gather the spleen of Mother Leeds, her eyeballs, all the eyeballs from the banquette. As an afterthought, I grab the selfie stick—never know when it’ll come in handy, even in Hell—and I begin my winding way to a place that still makes sense to me.

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