The Doubter

Seeing them on the television screen brings it all back to me, the stout little green legs dangling from the sides of the dark furred bats; reptilian tails trailing behind in the air as the wings of the bats beat fast enough to keep rider and mount flying smoothly through the air. The five of them on the screen are even carrying the bows and arrows that my dad used to tell me about when I was a kid.

How is it possible that those bedtime stories from when I was a child are showing up on some kid’s cartoon now, fourteen years later? What is this show, Tale something? It has some giant talking bear that flies a yellow plane, I don’t remember that from the stories. Maybe the creatures from my childhood have nothing to do with the bear, I’m not sure. All I know is that there they are, there are the Knot People.

I remember the stories as perfectly as if he is sitting here next to me telling them to me now; stories that I haven’t even thought about for well over a decade are suddenly as fresh in my mind as what I had for dinner last night. The images on the screen are a perfect match for what I have always imagined, as if I described them to the artist myself. Even their Bargs are exactly as I always imagined them to be, the bats they rode are perfectly proportioned, and wear the hoods my dad made sure to mention when he told me about the flying mount’s eyes being sensitive to sunlight.

How is it I am sitting here flipping through the channels, mindlessly looking for something to catch my eye, and this is what I find? Out of nowhere, a story that I thought was just between me and my dad is on the screen in front of me.

I pause the show as the image of a single Knot Person riding atop a Barg fills the screen. There it is, frozen in flight; the seemingly giant, dark brown bat. With a saddle strapped to its back and a dark leather hood covering its face a trained Barg was the perfect mount for the Knot People, bred and trained to serve as the perfect companions for adventures into our world.

Strapped into the saddle on this Barg’s back was a single Knot Person warrior.

His form similar to an alligator, if alligators walked on their hind legs, were half a foot tall and wore grass skirts. His dark green, scaled skin seems poorly drawn with the image so large on the screen, the image in my head has each scale in delicate yet pronounced detail, the dark green suddenly changing to a pale yellow as the soft underbelly of the pygmy alligator comes into view. He wears a grass skirt around his waist, but all other clothing is absent. The only other thing on his body is the bow held in one hand and the quiver of arrows slung across his back.

Sharp teeth reflect the sunlight, mirroring the glint from the arrowhead that occupies the center of the screen, nocked and drawn back in the bow. I can see the fine details of the arrow, details you wouldn’t notice unless you knew the stories but it was clearly a toothpick repurposed as an arrow. The plain, almost too geometrical, triangle was fit onto one tapered end while tiny feathers were drawn as if to appear embedded in the opposite tapered end. To most viewers it would seem as if it was just another cartoon arrow but I could tell it had been a toothpick, before it was an arrow.

A toothpick just like the ones my dad and I used to leave out for the Knot People, carefully hidden under my bed to keep me safe.

There is no mistaking this, this creature is just like the tales my dad use to tell me, that means that someone else knows the stories of the Knot People. I wonder if whoever drew this cartoon had visits from them like I did, I wonder if the artist ever had to go out and collect acorns and blades of grass to leave out for the Knot People as gifts, hoping that they would be content enough to leave without molesting a young child’s hair.

Is it possible that it wasn’t my dad that would occasionally mess my hair up as I slept? I always thought that he did it to reinforce the stories that he told, but then I thought I was the only one that knew about the strange creatures visiting bad little boys and girls in the middle of the night and wreaking mischievous havoc on their hair as punishment.

Maybe I am not alone, maybe the stories are more than just stories.

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