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[Intro music plays. The sound is a classical-sounding piece with a couple creepy-sounding notes thrown in. It's not very good, since he'd had to find a usable track that was available in the public domain. As much as Keith thinks he looks the part of a garage rock band musician, he's not musically-inclined enough to create his own.]

I'm Keith and this is the Keith's Cryptids podcast.

[Intro music stops.]

There have been no new cryptid sightings in the US since my last podcast, but hey, hope grows eternal. And no, I'm not counting that claim of a Bigfoot sighting a couple days ago. It was on the wrong side of the country and the report didn't even sound like Bigfoot at all.

This is the part where I'd thank my sponsors, but we aren't sponsored by anyone. I make this podcast with my iPhone and my school's default audio editing software and upload everything to my free WordPress and Tumblr blogs. But if you or anyone you know would like to sponsor me, send an email to cryptidkeith at gmail dot com. Fyi, I'm not going to meet with you. Or marry you. That's come up twice now and I guess it's my voice? Stop that shit, it's creepy.

Also, for all you people who've left five-star reviews of my podcast saying it's a great nature show to fall asleep to, you all suck. You're like, fake cryptid fans, except you're not even trying. I bet you don't even like the Mothman. And there's no reason for anyone in this world to not like the Mothman. I don't care if you're from Jersey and have your own cryptid. The Mothman is the best, is what I'm saying.

 

I'm probably going to get shit for that on Tumblr. Whatever.

 

In other news, I've bought yet another portrait of the Mothman. I know what you're thinking, Keith you're a broke college student why are you spending money on portraits, but hear me out. It was an actual painting I bought through Etsy from Mothman01, who sells these great, completely creepy portraits. Most of them are of the face with wings behind him, but there's a way too expensive full body portrait being sold, too. The detail in these is amazing—the painter has so much enthusiasm for the subject.

Anyway, on to the hike information. I've never gone down this route, but I hear there's a really beautiful waterfall about two hours in…

 

*

 

When Keith hadn't seen a waterfall after two hours, he thought he might be having a slow day. It happened sometimes, after a stressful or tiring week, or when last week's hike had been long and hard. The last hike he'd been on had been relatively easy, a path he'd walked half a dozen times already, but he'd had two midterms in the past couple days and the stress must've gotten to him.

Three hours in, he started to get nervous. He was on a trail—the trail he'd thought—but it couldn't be the right one, despite the fact that he'd researched the map before starting. And there were no trails running alongside the one he'd taken. It didn't even look like a regular trail. It was smaller, out of the way, less beaten in. Possibly one that just hadn't been in use in a very long time.

Keith ran his hand through his hair, feeling somewhat nervous but not out of his mind with it. He had his radio and worst-case-scenario backpack and a battery pack and solar panels to charge his phone, so he wasn't worried about dying in the woods. His parents hadn't raised him to be an idiot. But dammit if it wouldn't be embarrassing to need help getting back out. It was only midday, so Keith had time to find his way back, in theory. He could follow this trail back and hope that he took the same path back onto the main trail instead of being led somewhere else.

It was then that he heard music.

Rather than creepy violin music, which would've definitely been fitting with a green light and some D&D goblins or whatever, it was… Frank Sinatra? It was coming from somewhere deeper into the woods, off of even this path, but Keith was curious enough to go. It was probably another hiker who could tell him where he was.

It became clearer with each step, but the source of the music was pretty far off the trail. Keith made sure to walk in only one direction so that he didn't get even more lost. And memorize the strange symbols carved into some of the trees he passed. They resembled route markers, but weren't any kind of markers he was familiar with. But eventually, he came upon a clearing with a large log cabin in the middle and the song coming from inside.

"Approaching a creepy murder cabin," Keith said into his phone.

As far as he knew, no one was supposed to be living out here, but the cabin didn't look ramshackle. Its wooden walls were in good condition and there were blooming flowerpots on the front porch. Its inhabitant had good taste in music, too.

There wasn't a doorbell, so Keith just knocked on the door. To himself, he could admit that it was mostly curiosity powering his decision to knock rather than being lost. What kind of person lived all the way out here? His cell phone didn't even have reception here.

When there was no answer for several long moments, Keith decided the person who lived here was probably not interested in random visitors. He sat down on a step on the porch and opened his backpack to look for his map. He was generally pretty good with directions, but this was a weird day.

Hearing the door open, Keith stood up and turned around to say hello.

Instead of speaking words, Keith screamed.

The inhabitant of the cabin wasn't a man at all, but a monster of some kind. He'd think it was some kind of Halloween prank but the beast looked too real. It had huge, dark wings that rose over its head. The parts of the beast's body that weren't covered by jeans and a paint-splattered t-shirt were either furred or feathery, Keith couldn't tell. And its face— it was completely inhuman in a way that Keith could barely describe. It was as though Keith's brain had seen a predator and decided to play dead.

Eventually, Keith ran out of screams to scream. He'd even started to feel rather weird about it, since the beast wasn't saying or doing anything, just staring at Keith with his dark eyes. Keith was frozen with fear and the morbid curiosity that had gotten him into the woods in the first place.

"Can you understand me?" Keith asked, his heart thumping wildly.

The beast held out a hand. Before Keith could get out of its reach, it took Keith's phone from his hand, unlocked the screen, and stopped the recording. Which made the whole thing infinitely weirder. He wouldn't have expected a mythical cryptid to be that good with 21st century technology. Because there was no one else this beast could be but the creature that Keith had hoped to find in these woods: the Mothman.

"You're him—you're the Mothman," Keith breathed out. His hands shook as the Mothman returned his phone to him.

"I am." The beast's voice was deep, masculine, but behind his intonations was the sound of something fluttering faintly.

"I never thought this would actually happen," Keith told him, not even trying to hide his excitement. It was as though excitement had decided to bash the fear right out of him. "Can I at least take a picture of you?"

"Why? You already have my portrait," the Mothman said.

"You… know who I am?"

"I listen to your show. I've been a fan of yours for about a year now, Keith. I was very flattered when you ordered one of my paintings."

Oh god, kill me now warred with omg the Mothman knows who I am! "Your paintings? By you? It wasn't just of you?" Although, now that Keith thought about it, the paintings were very accurate. They were stylized and shadowed, but much more accurate than the Mothman statue or other Mothman art he'd seen. "You're a great artist."

"Thank you. I was worried that it might seem, ah, egocentric to create paintings of myself."

"No, no, it's great. I love mine. It's hanging over my bed in my apartment." Maybe he shouldn't have said that. Keith hoped he wasn't coming off like a stalker. It was just that it was different when you were stalking something you didn't think was real. That was— investigation.

"I'm flattered," the Mothman said. "Would you like to see my other paintings?"

"Yes," Keith said. And then, realizing he should probably take heed of at least some stranger danger teachings, he added, "Do you eat people?"

"I promise you, I do not find human meat appealing," said the Mothman, and turned around, leaving the door open for Keith.

Keith had lost a battle with his curiosity a very long time ago, so it was only with a pause to pick up his backpack that he followed the Mothman inside.

 

*

 

"I have black, oolong, chamomile, and peppermint tea," the Mothman said after he'd showed Keith his paintings. There were many of the Mothman himself, some Keith recognized from the website and some that weren't posted, but there were also paintings of various other beings (mermaids, shadow creatures, Bigfoot) and landscape paintings of the forest and the sea.

Keith had ooh'd and ah'd and then deliberately overstayed his welcome by asking tons of questions. At least it looked like the Mothman didn't mind. He'd turned the music down for easier conversation and talked with enthusiasm about his artistic process before telling Keith to sit down and asking him if he'd like some tea.

Keith glanced around him and saw that he'd flicked on a modern electric tea kettle. "You have electricity out here!"

"I'm a cryptid, not a savage," the Mothman sniffed.

 

"I'm sorry, I'm just so interested," Keith told him. When the Mothman just waved his apology away, Keith added, "Do you get cell reception out here? What about the internet? You have an Etsy page so you must have some kind of access, but we're in the middle of nowhere, and even I don't have reception and I use AT&T, which is definitely the best provider in these parts. Oh, and black, please."

"I have all the amenities due to a complicated system involving a very old magic and the technological ingenuity of one of the wood nymphs in the area."

"Magic? Wood nymphs?"

After pouring their tea into two teacups, the Mothman set them onto the table. He set out a plate of cookies, too, ones that Keith pegged as homemade the second he bit into one. "Mmm. These are delicious."

"Thank you," said the Mothman. "It may not look it from here, but there is a huge area here that houses thousands of beings. In addition to the forest, there is a large lake that eventually leads to the sea, and a mountain at the top of which is the home of our current leader.

That's impossible, Keith wanted to say, but he was talking to an impossible man. He went with, "How? How is everything hidden here from the rest of the world?"

"Did you see the sigils as you entered our part of the forest?"

"The marks on the trees?"

"Yes. They were created centuries ago by a very powerful dragon to give us a community that was ours and ours alone. A place for the outcasts and the myths to call home. Since then, humans have created settlements in the lands around our community, but have remained mostly ignorant of our existence. Now… I know you're from outside this community, but have you ever been here before? Do you know anything about us?"

"Nothing at all," Keith said. "Uh, should I?"

"It is peculiar. Only a few outsiders have been able to venture inside the sigils: those with the blood of our own running through their veins."

"You're saying I'm… something. But my parents are human."

"It is possible that your mythical relative is a few generations removed," the Mothman acknowledged. "But not all of our kind look as odd as I do. One of your kin could be one of the lizardkind, or perhaps a shifter."

There was a lot Keith could've said to that, but all he managed was, "You're not odd. You're so interesting."

"You keep saying that."

"I keep meaning it." Christ, this was so cool. The Mothman had let him into his home and made him tea. Keith was pretty sure that if his life were a cartoon, he'd have hearts coming out of his eyes. Which made him wonder, "Wait, what is your name? Or do you go by Mothman?"

The Mothman shrugged. "It is a good name as any. Your human throat is not capable of pronouncing my true name."

"Try me," Keith dared.

A sound came out of the Mothman's mouth that Keith would not have believed could have been made in nature had he not heard it right then. It was the strange sound that was always present behind the Mothman's words, a fluttering of wings despite Mothman's own not moving, but this was louder, bringing to mind thunder and flight and something very old.

"Mothman it is then," Keith said, weakly.

Mothman's face scrunched up in a way that, with his words, Keith interpreted as amusement. "Don't trouble yourself over it. Names are but a descriptor, and Mothman does fit me, though I believe Owlman might have been more suitable, though still not quite perfect."

"And you do go by Mothman online," Keith said, remembering the username he'd bought the painting from.

"Ah, yes. Mothman01. Just Mothman was taken." He sounded rather peeved about it.

Keith stifled a laugh, trying not to find it funny. "I understand you. It took me ages to decide on a podcast title that hadn't already been used. I ended up throwing my name in just to distinguish myself."

Huffing something like a laugh, the sound coming out oddly from his throat, Mothman said, "Is there anything else you'd like to know about me?"

"I want to know everything about you."

"I won't allow you to record nor make any mention of any of this on your podcast. If you break this rule, there will be consequences."

"No, I promise. This is just for me. If you don't want to share every detail of your personal life I will completely understand but maybe die a little inside. Also can I come over here next weekend. And the next. And all the weekends after that. I could hold your paintbrushes while you tell me your whole story."

"How about we start with you visiting next weekend," Mothman said, laughing. "And you'd have to tell me about yourself too, of course. I've talked to many humans over the internet, but I've never held such a long conversation with one in the real world. Your society is fascinating."

Oh my god, Mothman thinks I'm fascinating by extension, Keith thought, trying not to blush. "I'm definitely going to be back. Just watch me. But before I go…"

"Yes?"

"Can I touch your wings?"

Mothman stared at him for a long moment. "You truly are a strange and interesting human. Yes, you may touch them, gently."

"Of course," Keith said, scrambling up off his chair. With him standing and Mothman sitting, it was easier to reach the tops of his wings. Slowly, carefully, he reached for Mothman's wings, shivering as the pads of his fingers first touched the feathers.

"I give you permission to be slightly less gentle," said Mothman, taking Keith's hand in one of his. The little feathers that covered his hands tickled Keith's hand, but Keith didn't have time to laugh before Mothman moved Keith's hand along the wing.

"Wow," Keith breathed.

Mothman's wings felt more like an owl's than a moth's, lacking that powdery stuff you'd get all over your fingers when you touched a moth. They were soft and so very real. Staring into Mothman's strange eyes, Keith felt giddy with the knowledge that this was real.

Too soon, he had to leave, with Mothman's directions on how to get out of the forest and back to Mothman's cabin written on top of his map. He glanced back every couple of feet until the cabin was completely out of his view, and then he looked down at the map to reassure himself that it hadn't been just a weird dream.

He turned his phone back on, lingering on the still-open recording app. The podcast was more than a little silly and not exactly professional or anything, but he was proud of it.

He'd started the podcast as a hobby after his parents started urging him to get out more. Afterwards, his mom had listened to the first episode and said maybe he should stay in more instead, and Keith had continued it out of spite.

Sure, it was weird. But it wasn't any weirder than podcasts about broccoli. Traipsing around the wilderness was probably more suited for YouTube videos than audio, but the one time Keith had tried, he'd gotten a headache trying to edit all the shaky footage. And he doubted people were that interested in videos that didn't include actual people; if he had a second person to act as a cameraman, that would be one thing, but he didn't. So instead, each weekend Keith went for a long hike and talked. Later, he'd come back and edit it into an episode about an hour long. It was surprisingly easy to talk for so long. He was getting good at identifying various plants and animals, and he was always happy to talk about cryptids. Especially Mothman.

He had about 200 subscribers. A quarter thought he had a soothing voice, liked the nature sounds, and used his podcast to fall asleep to. Half were actual cryptid enthusiasts. Another quarter were the miscellaneous: ghost hunters, people who just liked podcasts and didn't care about the content, his ex, weirdos, weirdos who wanted to fuck Bigfoot, and so on. It wasn't a bad bunch; the diversity kept his blog's comments section interesting, at least.

It would suck to have to go on hiatus, but Keith wasn't going to betray Mothman's trust. He could probably do one day of hiking and then go to Mothman's cabin, but Keith could admit to himself that his attention had been completely captured by Mothman. The podcast would have to wait.

As soon as he got back into range, Keith hit the call button for his parents' home phone.

"Hello?" his mom absently answered.

"Hi, Mom. I have a weird question… Do we have any non-human beings in our family tree that you know of?"

"Sweetheart, have you ingested any narcotics today?"

"I found a weird area in the woods today," Keith said, carefully. But he also thought back to the couple times during his childhood that his mom had acted a bit strange. He'd been a kid, so he'd thought nothing of it, but later he'd wondered. His mom wasn't foreign or anything, but there had sometimes been something strange in her customs. Also, she had a necklace that really resembled one of the sigils, a necklace that she'd said was a family heirloom.

"Oh, Keith," his mom sighed. "How did you possibly—? Never mind. I'll put you on speakerphone so that your father and I can explain this better. The short story is that I'm a selkie. I fell in love with your father years ago and just decided to stay out here. I never thought this would be relevant; you were born a perfectly normal human, without a selkie skin."

It apparently was a day for revelations, Keith thought. "So, uh, have you met Mothman too? Because I have and he's great…"

 

*

 

As he returned to the cabin the weekend after their first meeting, Keith half thought the whole thing was still a dream. Even after a long conversation with his parents, it all felt so sudden. He didn't exactly blame his parents for keeping the truth from him, but it felt like he'd missed out on a big family secret for all of his life, and that hurt. He'd get over it, though, Keith decided. There was no point in being angry at his parents when there was a whole new world out there that he could explore.

Mothman let Keith inside with the same easiness as the first time, and Keith still couldn't get over  the fact that Mothman was real. "I still can't believe I'm meeting you. Mothman. The Mothman. This is— this is amazing."

"I wouldn't have thought a human would be so interested in meeting me," Mothman said, and Keith was getting better at reading the expressions on his strange face. Here, he thought Mothman looked pleased, and the tiny feathers on the side of his face had fluffed upwards with enjoyment.

Keith wasn't much of an artist, but he itched to paint every detail of Mothman, to learn every part of him. "Actually I think anyone who attends the yearly Mothman festival would love you."

Mothman's wings twitched. "I've always found that festival to be somewhat embarrassing. Even if it's not really me they're celebrating, just a representation of me in popular culture."

"You've never swooped down from above and kidnapped a human?" Keith teased.

"I have better things to do with my time. I have on occasion ventured outside of this sanctuary, which is where the rumors must come from, but what would I even do with a human?"

"Let him come over to your home and eat cookies and tell him everything you know," Keith immediately said, and was rewarded with Mothman's laugh.

 

*

 

Keith would be the first to say that he was the tiniest bit obsessed with Mothman. He blamed it as a quirk of growing up in an area steeped with the folklore and a healthy abundance of curiosity about the world. He'd always wanted there to be more than he saw, and now that he'd found out there was, he was exuberant. Mothman was his gateway, his guide into this world, but if he'd been an asshole, Keith would've just left him to his cabin and learned about the sanctuary himself. Instead, Mothman was easy to talk to, strange in the best possible way, funny. He would've been great company as a human; him being a cryptid was just a bonus.

Still, Keith didn't spend all his time with Mothman in the coming weeks. He took to arriving at Mothman's cabin first, chatting with him for a while, and then spending long hours exploring the rest of the sanctuary. He met the leader of the sanctuary first, climbing up to the dragon's lair up at the top of the mountain. Although, by lair he found that Mothman had actually meant "towering Ancient Greek-style temple with huge columns buttressing a roof high enough for many fully grown dragons to lounge under." The leader in question was a dragon taller than two of Keith stacked on top of each other, her scales glinting with shades of blue and pink and white.

"You are welcome here in the sanctuary, Keith," Allura's voice boomed throughout the hall. "For as long as you need it."

"I don't need to be here, exactly, but I really want to be here," Keith admitted. Unlike the rest of the beings who lived here, he could fit into the human world easily. But when there was this whole hidden world out here, why would he want to go back? (Except for class, his parents would kill him if he started skipped class. His college roommate, on the other hand, who had a girlfriend, was delighted that Keith had taken to spending most of his weekends away from their dorm.)

"Even better," Allura replied, and sent him off with her blessings.

Keith couldn't even begin to imagine how large the sanctuary was. Every time he turned around, he seemed to be seeing new facets of it. He'd met Shiro, whose appearance met all the qualities of Bigfoot, as he made his way down the mountain. Keith only noticed a black cat on Shiro's large shoulder after a couple minutes, craning his neck completely to just catch a glimpse of it.

"Noir," Shiro said, and gently patted the cat's head with a finger bigger than the entire cat. "He's a good cat, but he's betrayed me for Zarkon multiple times this month. I think he's bribing him with catnip."

"Zarkon?" Keith asked.

Shiro had a lot to say about Zarkon, and so did a wood nymph by the name of Pidge. They both warned him to steer clear of the northeastern side of the area, where lived Zarkon's group of lizard people.

"They think they're so much better than us because they can conceal themselves as humans," Pidge huffed. "They're just overlarge chameleons with barely two braincells to rub together. And Zarkon's the worst. He keeps going on and on about his mission to take over the world like anyone cares. The only good one of their kind is Thace and the rest of the Blade of Marmora splinter group. They moved out westward ages ago towards our group's land and are far better off with us. They're practically honorary nymphs."

By the end of their trek down the mountain, the trio had split up, but Keith had gotten invitations from both of them for a visit that he definitely planned to take them up on.

 

*

 

"You don't have to visit me if you don't wish to," Mothman said, once, a couple weeks after they'd met. His words came out awkwardly for the first time since Keith had met him.

"Do you not want me to?" Keith quickly asked. It didn't seem like that was the case, but maybe he was getting the signals wrong. It was sometimes hard to read the body language of the beings who lived here. And that was when they even had a body at all.

"No, of course not, I only mean that you don't have to feel an obligation to. It may not seem like it, since you met me first, but I am not generally the most social of our society. I converse with the birdpeople occasionally on my flights, but often I am content to stay on the fringes of society."

"A true cryptid," Keith said, nodding, but let the humor fade before saying, "If you don't want me here, that's one thing, but I want to stay. You're my friend; there's only one Mothman out here for me."

"I'd like you to stay, too," Mothman told him. Quietly, he added, "Very much so."

 

*

 

The selkies, he visited two weekends in a row. It had been a while since he'd seen his grandparents and he figured he was due for getting his cheeks pinched and being cooed at. It now made a lot of sense that throughout his childhood, it had always been his grandparents coming to visit and stay with his parents than the other way around. The rest of the selkies seemed nice too, but Keith didn't stay too long with his mother's people, continuing on to the other water species. He met Nessie, who telepathically spoke into his mind that he preferred to be called Hunk, and that he'd be happy to give Keith a ride from one side of the lake to the other anytime he wished. All Keith needed to do was dip a finger into the water and think of Hunk, and he'd be there.

If you hear the words safe and warm, you should probably swim in the other direction, Hunk told him. There's a very… strange group of mers in this lake.

Lance, a merman who was apparently Hunk's best friend, put the warning as, "They like to hypnotize people. I'm still not sure if it's in a kinky way or not, but they're all really enthusiastic about it. Better not risk it."

 

*

 

Classes had become a lot less interesting now that Keith was studying a whole different society, but he still forced himself to go. Friday afternoon through Sunday evening, he'd be at the sanctuary, but on the weekdays he'd remind himself that he did actually want to get a degree. At least he wasn't completely cut off from the cryptid world; he and Mothman were mutuals on Tumblr.

And, one evening when his roommate was out, Keith heard a tapping sound on his window. He ignored it, assuming it was the wind or the rain, but when the sound continued he walked over and looked outside. It was dark outside and he didn't hear thunder or anything. When he opened the window, he didn't feel rain. What he did see was a small dark moth fly into his room.

Keith was ready to start shooing it back outside—he didn't think he'd ever be able to kill a moth ever again—when he noticed it carried a small scrap of paper. It deposited the scrap of paper in Keith's hand and fluttered over to Keith's desk.

Favorite Mothman movie for movie night? Keith read, already grinning. He had both a disc and a download of his favorite Mothman documentary, so it was a go. He turned the piece of paper over and wrote, I'll bring the Mothman beer, too.

As soon as his pen left the paper, the moth plucked it up and carried it back out through the window, off to Mothman.

Shaking his head, completely amused, Keith fired off a text message to his favorite Mothman.

 

*

 

Outside of Mothman, Lance quickly became the closest friend Keith had in the sanctuary. But despite all the knowledge he gained and all the beings he met, Keith could admit to himself that it was Mothman whose company he enjoyed the most. It was Mothman whom he visited time after time, Mothman whose door was always open for him, Mothman who sounded so pleased every time Keith came by.

And it was Mothman who offered to fly him around the sanctuary. Keith jumped on the offer immediately. He only realized it may have been a bad idea when, right outside the cabin, Mothman wrapped his strong arms around Keith and took flight, his body warm and soft against Keith's back. Not for a second did Keith believe that Mothman would drop him, but as they flew into the sky, his heart beat quickly only half because of the flight, and half because of the being who held him tight.

Keith laughed, light and breathless, as Mothman flew them in a loop over the lake. "Wow. This is— wow."

He'd been skydiving a couple months after he'd turned eighteen. Gone up into the air in a rickety plane and threw himself off of it with a handsome, experienced skydiver strapped to his back. But here, there was no parachute, just Mothman's strong wings lifting them up through the air, sending them through loops in the sky. Keith yelled various things into the sky, from fuck yeah to fuck youuuuuu when Mothman flew them so close to a tree that Keith had to lift his feet to make sure he didn't get caught on it. Mothman chuckled into his ear, his voice warm compared to the chilly air.

Eventually, they settled onto a strong branch of a tall tree. Keith sat close to Mothman, holding onto him in a way that he could probably excuse as just wanting to make sure he didn't fall off. Mothman's wings were wrapped around them, and his right arm was on his shoulders, holding Keith close. The air must've been making him lightheaded, because Keith finally just gave into the thoughts that had been swirling through his head for a while now. It was probably not the greatest idea to do this at the top of a tree that Keith wouldn't be able to get down from on his own, but he trusted Mothman to help him back to civilization even if he was wildly offended by Keith's words.

"These past few months, they've been amazing," Keith said, staring out at the beautiful scene before them. He could see Lance and Hunk's lake, Allura and Shiro's mountain. Just beyond his vision was Pidge's favorite area of the forest. And at the far edge of the sanctuary, way past Keith's eyesight, was Mothman's cabin. "I grew up in a town that wasn't bad, but this place has become home to me in a way that I can barely explain. And a big part of that is you." He turned toward Mothman and found him already looking at Keith with his deep, dark eyes. Mothman's face was still inhuman, but it wasn't strange. It wasn't surprising. It was just— part of his life. Mothman had become as much a part of his life as this place, and Keith couldn't imagine being here without him. It would be a poorer place. "I know it's only been a couple months, but… I care about you. A lot. I know you might not be interested in humans, but…" He trailed off. But fuck it, there was more to gain than to lose. "I'd like to to date you."

Mothman stared at him with surprise for a moment, long enough for Keith to worry. But he needn't have, because Mothman took Keith's hands in his own and said, "I feel the same. I never realized my life was missing something before I met you. But now that you're here… Keith, you make me the happiest cryptid alive."

Keith's heart felt like it was still soaring through the air.

 

*

 

[Intro music plays.]

I'm Keith and this is the Keith's Cryptids podcast.

[Intro music stops.]

I know what you're thinking; it's been a really long time since I've last updated! My blog is still going strong, though the focus has changed more towards writing. I'm working on my original novel; it's still in the first draft stage, but fingers crossed that it turns out well. But that's not the only reason I've stopped doing the podcast. It's, well.

I think it's normal for my age, but when I created this podcast, I was trying to find myself as much as I was trying to find a cryptid. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with the rest of my year, never mind the rest of my life. And now I'm slightly older, much handsomer—seriously I gained so much muscle in the two years I spent nearly every weekend hiking—and not all that much wiser. But I am happier. I found a bunch of great friends in the past couple months—they're all total weirdos and actually understand my interest in cryptozoology—and, uh, I have a boyfriend. He's—

[Muffled sound, laughter.]

—the best, except when he's not letting me get my work done. Have to remember to cut that out of the file later. Anyway, I think I found what I needed in this podcast, and now I'm ready for another stage of my life: chilling with my boyfriend. And the novel, of course. It's a historical one that's not even about the Mothman. There's an excerpt coming next week to a blog near you.

I know this feels like an end, but it's not. It's a beginning. The best beginning, for me. I've just graduated and moved in with my boyfriend. My dad still think he's weird, but he'll get over it. Especially since my mom was actually a part of my boyfriend's community way back in the day. Small world, right?

And it's your beginning, too. Go check out some other podcasts, or set up a cryptid watch podcast yourself to fill the—probably very small, I mean I don't have that many subscribers—void I've left.

I'm Keith, and this is the last episode of the Keith's Cryptids podcast.