A hidebehind is a nocturnal fearsome critter from American folklore that preys upon humans that wander the woods, and was credited for the disappearances of early colonial loggers when they failed to return to camp. As its name suggests, the hidebehind is noted for its ability to conceal itself. When an observer attempts to look directly at it, the creature hides again behind an object or the observer and therefore can't be directly seen: a feat it accomplishes by sucking in its stomach to a point where it is so slender that it can easily cover itself behind the trunk of any tree. The hidebehind uses this ability to stalk human prey without being observed and to attack without warning. Their victims, including lumberjacks who frequent the forests, are dragged back to the creature's lair to be devoured. The creature subsists chiefly upon the intestines of its victim, and has a severe aversion to alcohol, which is considered a sufficient repellent. Tales of the hidebehind may have helped explain strange noises in the forest at night. Early accounts describe hidebehinds as large, powerful animals, despite the fact that no one was able to see them.
In popular culture
The hidebehind has appeared in a number of novels and stories. Some of these stories have revolved around other characters in American folklore and fakelore. For example, in Pecos Bill Catches a Hidebehind, the creature is captured and donated to a zoo by the cowboy Pecos Bill. Diane Duane's Young Wizards series mentions hidebehinds, and in her wiki that describes the fictional universe they are set in, different species of hidebehind have even been assigned mock scientific names. For example, one of the carnivorous species is referred to as Cryptopsthenis nondescriptis. In her other fictional descriptions suggest that most types of hidebehind are small creatures and that the fear they engender in those they stalk is a defense mechanism. The 2006 suspense novel The Hidebehind featured one of the creatures stalking rafters on the Snake River in Idaho. In the Silver John story "The Desrick on Yandro", author Manly Wade Wellman included a variant called the Behinder. In 2013, the show Gravity Falls featured a hidebehind which appeared in Dipper's Guide to the Unexplained Week, appearing as a pure black humanoid with a skeletal figure and yellow eyes. The Slender Man, who supposedly also has a dark, humanoid body, hides in the woods, and preys on humans, may have been influenced by the hidebehind.
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- Botkin, B.A. The American People: Stories, Legends, Tales, Traditions and Songs. (New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 1977) ISBN 1-56000-984-5
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- Tryon, Henry Harrington. Fearsome Critters. (Cornwall, NY: Idlewild Press, 1939)
- Rose, Carol (2001). Giants, Monsters, and Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Legend, Folklore, and Myth. W.W. Norton and Company. p. 172. ISBN 0-393-32211-4.
- Blassingame, Wyatt and Vestal, Herman (1977). Pecos Bill Catches a Hidebehind. Gerard Publishing Company. ISBN 0-8116-4045-0.
- Duane, Diane. "The Errantry Concordance: The Online Encyclopedia of the Young Wizards Universe". Retrieved 2009-10-08.
- Snellings, Charles H. (2006). The Hidebehind. lulu.com. ISBN 1-84728-782-4.
- Wellman, Manly Wade (2003). Owls Hoot in the Daytime and Other Omens. Night Shade Books.