May 14, 2021

Menagerie Monstrum: Rake, Rattle, and Roll

Image credit: WVLA-TV Baton Rouge

You hear the snap and rustle of something moving through the underbrush and are immediately alert, hunkering down behind a rotting log and watching. Whatever is making those sounds doesn’t seem concerned with hiding its presence, so chances are good that it’s big and mean. You feel your muscles tense, ready for a fight. 

Finally, antlers come into view, and then a long legged, dark furred body. You relax a little. It’s just a moose. Still not a creature you’re excited to cross paths with, but if you stay out of its way, it will probably be uninterested by your presence. You watch it move between the trees, awestruck but its size and relative grace as it follows some unseen path through the forest. 

But then you see something else, a hint of movement lower to the ground. At first you think it is something small, maybe a squirrel or bird trying to get out of the path of the colossal cervid. But then, through the branches, you make out long, pale limbs moving slowly, silently. The moose is being hunted. A pale, round head comes into sight and as you meet its dark, empty eyes, a sense of dread creeps through you. 

Buckle up because you’ve just crossed paths with The Rake. 

This creature was born on the internet, a modern urban legend spawned on SomethingAwful and 4Chan, not unlike its more famous Creepypasta cousin, Slenderman. Accounts on Tumblr and Livejournal popped up dedicated to both creating and collecting stories of this modern myth, ultimately describing a long limbed creature with dark eyes and long claws. It is said to be vaguely dog or human-like, falling somewhere into that uncanny valley and looking like a warped version of something that should be familiar. Online stories ultimately made the jump into the real world, with Rake sightings reported by local news outlets in Colorado and Canada as recently as 2018. 

The Rake is said to appear at night, sometimes encountered by chance in the woods, other times lurking inside homes. Its behavior is more animal than human, described like a predator stalking and hunting prey. There are stories of people being injured and maimed by the Rake’s claws, though no stories of the Rake outright killing anyone. Some accounts also mention the Rake speaking in a shrill and frightening voice, though it does not seem to say more than a few words. Its very presence seems to be taken as a warning, instilling deep fear and usually prompting those who see it to up and move. 

Should you encounter the Rake on your travels, keep in mind that it will likely be deceptively difficult to kill. It may not look too formidable but it’s said that this creature is hundreds of years old, and it wouldn’t have an impossibly long lifespan if it was an easy foe. Couple this with the powerful sense of fear that accompanies sightings and it seems likely that there’s something supernatural to this animal-like monstrosity. The good news is that encounters tend not to be fatal so statistically your odds of survival are high, and there appears to only be one Rake in the world, so you probably don’t have to worry about a second one sneaking up on you velociraptor-style. Your best bet could actually be to make like it’s a bear and play dead, but no promises that will prove to be an effective strategy.

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