I’m from a little town in CT that no one’s ever heard of called Higganum, and our local cryptid is the Higganum Mucket.
The Higganum Mucket
By Arthur Wiknik, Jr.
In Candlewood Hill Brook that runs through Higganum Center, there lives a strange and elusive fish known as the mucket and it is the only place on earth that this creature can be found.
Few people have actually seen a mucket and none have ever been photographed because like vampires, their image cannot be captured on film. However, based on descriptions from several local eye-witnesses, the mucket is a gruesome beast, about 18 inches long, with the body shape of a catfish and the head of a lizard. They have broad fish lips, sharp scales and a forked tail. Muckets also have an impressive set of sharp teeth, much like a piranha, for devouring their prey or to inject enemies with toxic venom.
The male, or bull mucket, has a lumpy skull where two skinny horns grow about one-inch long. If a third horn appears beneath the lower jaw, it is considered a trophy and has been known to fetch a handsome price whenever the carnival is in town.
The female, or cow mucket, does not have the horns but instead has hundreds of tiny warts in the middle of her head that she can quickly arrange into various forms to confuse predators. The most common shape is a third eye but she has been known to also display an exact replica a black widow spider.
Young muckets, known as calves, do not acquire these defense mechanisms until they are teenagers, which is about ten months in dog years. Until they mature, the young teens are fiercely guarded by the adults, who force them to swim with the herd. Unfortunately, some of the teenagers rebel and swim off in gangs where they end up getting caught by fishermen.
No one knows for sure where the muckets came from but life-long Higganum residents, also known as townies, believe that ancient space travelers brought the creatures to Earth to establish a food source for future visits. To keep the muckets in Candlewood Hill Brook, the aliens left behind a galactic sphere that releases cosmic elements into the water to make the fish think they are on their home planet.
The mucket sustains itself by eating large quantities of hellgrammite larva because it is easy to find under rocks in the brook bed. However, its favorite food is the grey squirrel, also known as the tree rat. The squirrels are difficult to catch but not impossible. Like a chameleon, the mucket is able to blend in with its surroundings by changing colors as it waits along the brook edge for a squirrel to get a drink. To draw the squirrel close, the mucket re-arranges its head warts into the shape of a tasty-looking acorn. When the curious squirrel goes for the acorn, the mucket grabs it and has a quick meal.
The mucket’s only known enemy is the male human being and the creature will become wildly aggressive when men are nearby because it can sense testosterone. Trout fishermen who have gotten too close to the herd have been viciously attacked with painful bites around the ankles. However, the mucket keeps its distance from female humans because estrogen acts as a repellent.
When a man is bitten by a mucket, toxic venom is injected into his blood stream and causes alopecia, a condition more commonly known as receding hair, or male pattern baldness. It is bad enough for men to lose their hair naturally but when it is caused by an alien fish – then it means war! As a result, bite victims have been trying to exterminate the mucket for years. But these crafty devils cannot be fished, they have to be hunted or stalked, and only at night when they are most active. The necessary hunting tools are a powerful flashlight and a baseball bat, somewhat primitive but effective. The hunters protect their ankles from mucket bites by wearing shin guards but they protect themselves from each other by wearing a helmet.
As the hunters silently wade into the brook, muckets are attracted to the light beam. When a voice cries out, “I see one!” a mad flurry of baseball bats beat the water relentlessly until several muckets have been taken. This bizarre activity continues late into the night or until someone is accidentally clubbed by a friend.
Mucket hunting has become a popular pastime but most people agree that the fish is just too cunning to ever be exterminated. The only thing the hunt accomplishes is to keep the herd at a manageable level, which is probably a good thing because if the aliens ever came back and found there were no more muckets, there is no telling what our punishment would be. However, some townies believe that extraterrestrials already live among us and watch over the muckets. That is probably the reason why so many Higganum residents have been accused of being from out of this world.