Note: the true name of Wally has been changed for his own protection.
I first met Wally in the summer of 2008. It was after a midnight screening of The Dark Knight. Thousands of college students wandered the empty 3:00 am streets demanding to know “Why so serious?” from no one in particular. It was a different time. Wally was huddled in a dark corner of the Public Garden, sucking the innards out of rats he had caught like spaghetti. If my friends and I hadn’t been recreating fight scenes from the movie (doing Batman voice and then tripping and falling off the sidewalk) we never would have noticed the poor, desperate creature in his hiding spot.
The others were scared into running off instantly by the sight of the green, blood-soaked beast, crouched over a pile of rat bones, but I had grown up in the WestMass woods; meeting, befriending, and going on adventures with cryptids was old hat for me. After spending the rest of the night getting up to hilarious and heartwarming hijinks together, we were fast friends. At sunrise we parted ways. He went down into an abandoned Green Line tunnel to hide from the public and sleep, I went back to my dorm room to hide from the public and sleep; but not before promising to meet again the next night.
A few months into our friendship, he took me down to where he’d been sleeping in the derelict tunnel, which he insisted had clearly been deserted for decades. I quickly realized that this was the Boylston Street station, which simply looks that way. I promised I’d help him find better accommodations, which meant first he needed a job. I was able to act as his human-faced proxy to the world for most things, but there were only so many Mrs. Doubtfire-esque identity-hiding tricks we were able to pull off successfully. We needed to find him a job where he could appear as himself, and we both knew there was only one of those in town.
The new Red Sox “Wally” mascot was first introduced in 1997, a very strange coincidence indeed if you asked Wally himself. That was only months after he’d found himself stranded here on Earth and initially attempted to make contact with the first human he encountered. The experience left him convinced that hiding until he found a way to escape was the only safe way to proceed, as the man had demanded that Wally hand over his furry flesh immediately because, “the kids are gonna love this!”. It seems that man had later found a way to create some kind of horrible artificial facsimile of Wally that could be worn by humans to dance and entertain the crowds. It was a deeply traumatic experience for Wally, but now it had become an opportunity. Using my human face as the “applicant” and Wally’s own natural body and talents, we were able to secure a contract as the full time Red Sox mascot for the next fifteen years.
Wally now had a salary, and that meant an apartment and access to tools and supplies. He was well along the way to building a functional distress call that could reach his people when we were met with the toughest challenge yet: Mayor Marty Walsh. The new administration was making changes left and right, but most importantly to us, they had enacted an aggressive anti-cryptid policy. The crackdown was fierce and immediate. Wally had gained some amount of freedom with his role as the Red Sox mascot, but that can only prevent so much skepticism. Wally looks perfectly natural walking down the street, stopping to high-five children, but less so bringing his iPhone into the Apple Store to replace a cracked screen. He quickly found himself trapped in his apartment, all but back to the bad old days of hiding out and waiting. We watched in horror as other cryptids were captured and hauled off to places only God and Marty Walsh knew. The Charles River Banshee, the Somerville Yeti, Paul Revere’s For Some Reason Headless Ghost, and even Keytar Bear were taken, though Keytar Bear has suspiciously been freed since; we suspect he turned informant.
It didn’t take long for them to track us down. Luckily, the isolation time had given Wally all the opportunity he’d needed to finish his communication device. It would require a clear sky with no obstructions to send the signal, so we loaded the apparatus into an unlabeled box truck and started the drive to Franklin Park. We were barely out of the parking garage when the lights and sirens appeared behind us.
Wally told me to pull over and give in, that they’d go easy on me if I handed him over. I told him we were getting him home. I knew exactly what I needed to do. The chains on the clearance warning sign clanged against the roof as I turned onto Storrow Drive. Wally clambered into the back of the truck, understanding. I sped up, flooring our rented truck to its maximum possible speed while I heard the sirens behind us grow even louder as they easily chased us down. First one and then another State Police SUV sped past us on both sides. They started cutting ahead of us in order to surround us and force us into stopping, but they were too late. We hit the footbridge at nearly 60 miles per hour. It tore through the roof of the truck like paper, instantly exposing Wally’s device to the perfect, clear sky above. The truck skidded to a halt while shards of wood and metal showered down behind it. I looked back at Wally, who gave me one last weird-ass muppet smile and thumbs up before he vanished in a flash of lightning.
The Sox have a new mascot now, same as the old one. Most people don’t seem to know the difference, but I always will.