A gathering year for the improbables (April Fool’s story 2024)

by Mary Grow

Few humans understand that a year in which two digits in our current Gregorian calendar add up to a third digit – like 2024, because 2 +2 = 4 — is a Gathering Year for the Improbables.

The last such year was 2013 (2 + 1 = 3). The next will be 2035 (2 + 3 = 5).

No human understands what criteria the Improbables use to choose their gathering place. There have been many theories and surmises over the centuries; none has had predictive value.

It is clear, however, that this year the small town of China, Maine, has been honored.

The earliest sighting, in late January, was of a pair of unicorns just off Maple Ridge Road, near the Winslow town line. The person who saw them did not report the sighting until this week.

“I’d had a couple beers, and I thought I was seeing things, like white horses with branches somehow stuck on their heads,” he confessed. “Couple beers don’t usually bother me. Couple unicorns, now, that’s a different story.”

A strange Yeti-like creature captured by a game camera near China Lake with China Baptist Church in the background.

The first Himalayan Yeti (also called the Abominable Snowman) was photographed by a game camera at a home on the northeast side of China Lake, apparently sampling suet from a bird-feeder. Two nights later, he or she returned with two other adults and a youngster. The homeowners took down the feeders and the camera.

In Thurston Park in February, cameras put up to deter vandals spotted 11 Bigfeet (Sasquatches), probably Canadian, and 11 Yowies from Australia playing a game that seemed to be similar to cricket. A park volunteer who studied the film said the Yowies won by a substantial margin, despite being less accustomed to winter weather in Maine.

A Deer Hill resident swears the animal who loped across Deer Hill Road in front of her car late one night was a werewolf. “I watch lotsa horror movies; I know one of them things when I see it,” she explained.

The werewolf was heading west, she said – “probably going down to the river hopin’ to find runnin’ water so’s he could get a drink.”

As word of unusual appearances began to spread, more people came forward to tell their tales. They include:

The bird-watcher who is convinced he saw a roc over Three Mile Pond – “No, it was definitely not a big eagle. Not even big eagles come that big.”
The Weeks Mills woman who did not dial 911 when a dozen centaurs filed down her driveway. “I’m a part-time 911 dispatcher myself, and I know what I’d be thinkin’ if I got a call like that,” she explained.
The South China resident who watched a troop of elves hold an archery contest in his yard. “Man, those little guys can shoot – right into the bulls-eye every time, and so fast you couldn’t hardly believe it,” he said admiringly.
Two China Village residents who interrupted their morning jog to see why the ducks in the open water by the causeway were agitated: they watched Poco, the 50-foot-long water snake from Pocomoonshine Lake, in Washington County, welcoming Champ from Lake Champlain, in Vermont, and Nessie from Loch Ness, in Scotland.

If past Gatherings are a guide, the Improbables will meet and greet in China until April 1. That evening, they will return to their homes until April Fools Day 2035.


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