In Defense of a Water-Bound Adventure, My Dearest Fran

A letter from Dr. Stephen Mackle, as provided by Carrie Cuinn
Art by Leigh Legler

January 2, 1934

My Dearest Fran,

Though previous events have both established the validity of my research and garnered me long-due acclaim, for personal reasons I have declined an opportunity to replace my lab assistants (may they rest in peace) and instead made arrangements to investigate alone a mystery much less human in appearance than the last. On the shores of Lake Cayuga, sponsored by faculty members from the nearby University, I took possession of a modest home and had scarcely begun to unpack before the local people set upon me with a great number of baked goods and all manner of questions about the beast. I had not set eyes upon it yet myself, but throughout the neighborhood, word had spread that I was a man of great scientific knowledge, and so I attempted to answer their queries as best I could around a mouthful or two of pie.

The apples they grow here are a wonder, Fran. I must have some boxed up and sent to you by rail.

As to why I traveled all this way … Within the pages of the town’s newspaper, The Journal, has been recorded, for almost one hundred years, the annual appearance of an enormous sea-serpent! This fearsome creature has long kept both seasoned fishermen and otherwise-curious scholars away from the lake’s shore during the early months of the year; the newspaper staff have refused assignments which might require them to venture too close and put their lives at risk. (I am enclosing a copy of a story printed nigh on forty years ago, and never refuted, which was sent to me by post most anonymously, and is the impetus for my journey.)

This article, which spans several column inches, details a then sixty-nine-year history of the animal’s redivivus, and charmingly affixes to it the moniker “old greeny.” The sea-serpent is reported to avoid the summer sun, waiting instead for “the cold north winds to blow their chilly selves across the placid lake and ruffle its composure.” Because of its size and unusual countenance, the timid locals refrain from even driving along the shore road during this season, unless accompanied by reputable companions who can swear to the events they later recall.

Art for "In Defense of a Water-Bound Adventure, My Dearest Fran"

Within those words rests a mighty claim: that the beast has mated with another like itself, and now two sea-serpents, each 15 feet long and glistening green, frolic along Cayuga’s winter shore.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2018 collection.

Dr. Stephen Mackle holds a Doctor of Science degree in Aquatic Biology from Cleveland College, and a Doctor of Agronomy degree from the Yerevan Veterinary Zootechnical Institute. He briefly taught at Huron Street Hospital College before leaving to pursue other research opportunities. He considers the study of aquatic cryptids to be his life’s work.

Carrie Cuinn is a writer, editor, historian, and geek. In her spare time, she researches local history, enjoys music and art house cinema, cooks everything, reads voraciously, and tries to find time for sleep. Find her online at @CarrieCuinn or at

Leigh’s professional title is “illustrator,” but that’s just a nice word for “monster-maker,” in this case. More information about them can be found at

“In Defense of a Water-Bound Adventure, My Dearest Fran” is © 2018 Carrie Cuinn
Art accompanying story is © 2018 Leigh Legler

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