Becky visits the Octagon House for the last time. The happy little trees have begun to rot, along with some family relationships. Listen to the full episode below.
In this episode, our cohost Becky shares a story about returning to the family homestead after the death of her grandfather. This story is sad, funny, painful, and of course, tinged with the paranormal.
AI-generated transcript of this episode available upon request.
Episode Show Notes About The House of Octagons
What is the Octagon House?
We’ve brought up Becky’s grandparents’ octagon-shaped house a few times before. See episodes like You Know An Urban Legend Is From Florida If It Involves Beer Disappearing at Night, The One Who Still Waits For Her, and The Secrets of Octagons and Ghosts. While the Octagon House is a smorgasbord of spare parts cobbled together into a vaguely house-shaped, partially indoor/partially open-air maze of spiral staircases in the middle of nowhere, it still manages to shares some striking similarities with the sprawling urban Winchester Mystery House. Especially now that it’s builder and longtime resident has passed on. Sadly, because of some intrafamily drama surrounding the Octagon House, Becky will probably never get to finally break the rules and go in the attic to find Grandma’s misplaced darkroom. But let’s be real, she probably wouldn’t have anyway. It is a rule, after all.
Does the veil thin when we are at death’s door?
Grandma isn’t Becky’s only relative to see deceased loved ones near the end of her own life. There seem to be so many stories of people seeing dead loved ones just moments before they go. Is this a universal phenomenon? Are the dying really able to perceive the presence of the dead? Or is this just a failing meat computer’s last memory lightshow before shutting down; a version of “my life flashed before my eyes” where the beholder is not the main character? How can we ever know for sure?
Sasquatch Sounds + Stank = Skunk Ape?
Becky’s cousin Patrick heard voices giggling in those woods behind the Octagon House. Now Becky and her cousin Reagan have heard strange whooping sounds at dusk. Reagan grew up in that house, and she’s never heard that noise before. Could these be the voices of cryptids? After all, such things have been sighted nearby…at least according to the internet.
Those Florida cryptid sightings, however, were potentially something else. When the locals tell tales of a mysterious hairy manlike beast, they refer to him as a “skunk ape.” This creature, apparently told of in centuries-old lore by indigenous people who traversed the Everglades area, is similar to Big Foot of the Pacific Northwest. There are three main differences, apart from climate preference, that differentiate the skunk ape of the Florida wetlands from a sasquatch. The skunk ape is purportedly about half the size of a sasquatch, tends to be a redhead, and smells extremely foul. This last trait is a feature often noted by human witnesses who have gotten within a few feet of a skunk ape. Its odor has been described as a mixture of skunk spray and wet dog. But ask yourself honestly, if you split your outdoorsy time between a cool, misty pine forest and a dank, sweaty swamp, wouldn’t you pack more deodorant for the later trip?
The Entomology Etymology of What Bit Becky’s Butt
Not just everyone’s new favorite tongue-twister, this phrase may turn out to have actual medical significance. While rummaging through the remains of the Octagon House, Becky stood in a spiderweb in short shorts. Later that same day, her backside erupted in what she’s affectionately termed “PoxAss™.” Becky was slightly concerned that chiggers may have laid eggs under her delicate booty skin. This is actually a common point of confusion.
Chiggers, the common name for the itty bitty red biting larvae of Trombiculidae mites, sounds very similar to another insect. Jiggers (Tunga penetrans), a type of sub-Saharan sand fleas, can lay their eggs under your skin. There is plenty of sand in Florida, so one might expect to encounter sand fleas there. Which one indeed might, BUT the type of sand fleas that live in Florida are actually a species of Ceratopogonidae gnat, that are also called sandflies, no-see-ums, or biting midges; they don’t burrow into the skin, although they do bite. Strangely, in Florida, the term sand fleas also applies to a small crab (Emerita talpoida) sometimes used for fishing bait. Becky also had one of those bite her butt once while she swam in the Atlantic off the Florida coast.
What do you think about the strange unseen creatures, both large and tiny, haunting the House of Octagons?
Have you had a relative see deceased loved ones from their own death bed? Would you live out in the Everglades in a house without windows or central A/C, as long as you had a nice sturdy chain link fence for protection? Do you think sasquatch can shape-shift into a tiny gnat and lay eggs under your buttskin? Overall, this must have been a spooky day!