's 2016 Horror Write-off:

The Harrison Ape

Submitted by Hisham Hasan

The Harrison Ape is a large primate cryptid whose existence is known only through a series of VCR tapes.

It is unclear why the Harrison Ape has failed to capture the public attention in the same way as the yeti or the Bigfoot. It may be presumed that the latter two creatures have a certain glamour, an allure of the mysterious and wild, while certain macabre details of the former preclude it from endearing itself to public opinion.

It may also be due to the fact the first reports of the creature first surfaced at a time of heightened tensions and political unrest, in the world in general and in the US in particular, a time when most people would be preoccupied with day-to-day survival and the state of the world rather than the tantalizing fantasy of an unusual ape.

The tapes in question are currently in storage at an unspecified FBI archival unit. The tapes are not freely available for public viewing, although they are not considered "classified" material, and a formal request may be filed in order to obtain a transcript. Presumably, access to the actual footage requires further clearance, although no outside researcher has endeavored to undergo the bureaucratic hassle to procure said footage.

What is available for public perusal is a partial log of the contents of the tapes, together with a series of still captures to illustrate key points. The total number of tapes is unknown, but what is known is that there are two sets, A and B; one (set A) labelled with "Harrison" followed by a numerical code, while the other (set B) is labelled with a different code. The log compiled by FBI investigators provides a reconstructed timeline of events. However, while it is possible to infer the chronological order of the tapes within a set by their numeric coding, the labelling does not provide a means to determine the relation of tapes from one set to another, i.e. it cannot be certain that a specific tape from set A comes after a specific tape from set B, or vice-versa. It should also be noted that the footage has suffered from degradation, and the audio is completely absent. Many sections of film (indeed, whole tapes) were corrupted and unviewable

Thus, a certain amount of deduction and guesswork were required to reconstruct the timeline. The producers of the videos, plus the locations and humans shown in them, are as of this time still unknown.

It is beyond the scope of this article to provide an exhaustive description of the films, or to simply reproduce the partial log in its entirety, or even debate the authenticity of the material itself. What will be done is an overall summation of the information provided in the transcript, which, as noted before, is based on fragmented and incomplete material.

The videos labelled "Harrison" are mostly of footage of the creature, hence the name of the cryptid. It shows the creature being housed in a large, indoor water-filled enclosure, with a land section to one side.

The creature itself is clearly a primate, but is of an unknown species. In terms of overall body structure it most closely resembles a mature male Bornean orangutan, i.e. long arms with a massive, bulky torso. Its facial structure, however, is similar to a macaque, the Japanese macaque in particular. In addition, certain shots show the presence of a stubby tail, indicating the creature is a monkey rather than a true ape.

This colossal monkey is at least as large as a human, and is likely larger. It is covered with thick, luxurious silky fur of a pale color, with patches of warm brown and russet that become large lengthwise stripes on the fur of the head and arms. The hands in particular are bright red, disproportionately large, with thick, powerful fingers and a reduced thumb. The face is also bright red.

Unusually for a primate, it is highly aquatic. While in its enclosure, it was never observed to venture onto the land portion, preferring to remain mostly submerged, with only the head above water. In order to sleep, it would select a spot shallow enough so that its head remain above the surface while in a sitting position. Even when food was left on the land portion, it would reach out to grab as much as it can without leaving the water. Food beyond reach was eventually ignored.

Feeding, defecation and urination are done in water. Footage shows a researcher periodically netting up the large masses of feces floating in the water. Other footage show it eating sweet potatoes, carrots and the ever-classic banana, but these are followed by a clip of it vomiting profusely into the water. Later footage showed it being fed on alfalfa hay and leafy browse from trees and shrubs. It can be inferred that the creature requires a high-fiber, low calorie diet, and that a diet of starchy or sugary foods is detrimental.

The animal is remarkably placid, and has a somewhat sedate level of activity. Most of its time is spent either grooming or resting. It allows it caretakers to approach or even touch it, but dislike prolonged contact. It does not engage socially with humans, choosing to ignore all attempts at interaction. Similarly, despite all efforts to provide enrichment in the form of toys, ropes,  perches and other climbing aids, it continues to maintain its same level of activity, displaying none of the inquisitiveness or natural curiosity so typical of primates, and ignoring all objects it does not immediately recognize as food.

The majority of the videos show the day-to the-day husbandry of the animal, with little variation. The most interesting of these videos are the ones concerning reproduction. The same individual shown in the previous videos is revealed to be female when it goes into labor. It makes no attempt to go on land, and gives birth in the water. The infant is shown clinging to its mother's belly in the same manner as most newborn monkeys and apes. Tragically, the infant is unable overcome its instincts, and continues to cling tightly to its mother even as it shows signs of distress and struggles, not relinquishing its hold until it eventually drowns.

The mother did not attempt to hold up or detach the infant or otherwise assist it anyway, nor did she restrain or prevent it from climbing up her body and surfacing if it so wished. It should also be noted that the enclosure included a large shallow area adjacent to the land portion that would have been conductive to the infant's survival.

The mother continues  grooming and cradling her dead infant for a while (of note is that it never attempted to consume or detach the umbilical cord or placenta). Caretakers are shown entering the enclosure and expressing surprise. It is likely that she gave birth during a period when she was not under direct observation

The film then shows a detailed close-up shot of infant on a metal table (how the infant was acquired from its mother is presumed to among the corrupted parts). The infant is revealed to be a male, and otherwise shows no outer malformations. What is unusual is that the infant has cerulean-blue fur, an unusual pigment for a mammal. It then cuts to an autopsy, but degrading quality eventually makes it unviewable.

To this point, the individual shown in the videos was assumed to the only specimen being held captive. So it came as a surprise to the FBI investigators when they found a second clip of the same female again giving birth, suggesting the presence of a yet unseen male. The male, and the act of copulation, are again assumed to be on the unviewable segments of the tapes.

The second birth occurs at night (lights are dimmed), and ends with the infant drowning in the same manner, again with the mother failing to provide any assistance. The infant is shown to be female, and had the same unusual blue fur.

The next tape then shows caretakers lowering the water level so that the entire pool is knee-deep (relative to the monkey), which distresses the female greatly. Later we are shown a sparsely furred fetus and placenta floating in the shallow water, the female apparently miscarrying due to the stress.

Another attempt is made. The water level is raised to its usual level. When the female enters labor, the water is quickly drained, again greatly distressing the female. Her repeated attempts to submerge herself in the shallow water results in her infant's skull being crushed during birth.

The next few tapes reveal no further breeding attempts, but instead show events of an unsettling nature.

Again, the female is shown in her enclosure, and the light are dimmed, indicating nighttime. Then, the female does something unprecedented; with much effort, she heaves herself onto the land portion, and faces a section of the same wall the camera is located on. Although out of view, it can be determined from previous footage that she is staring at the entrance to the enclosure.

After remaining motionless for 40 minutes, the female then approaches the entrance, and shuffles out of the view of the camera. Four hours and 30 minutes elapse before she reappears and drags herself into the pool.

It is here where the investigators, for reasons that will be revealed shortly, determined that the next video in the sequence is the following one from set B.

These tapes differ from the Harrison videos in that, although the overall picture quality is worse, they have suffered from much less degradation and are much more viewable. They also differ in that they have timestamps.

The film in the set B videos is comprised solely of security footage of a single floor residence, location unknown. Video is split four ways in a grid and footage from only four cameras is shown; three show the exterior of the house, with one showing a view of the front door, and two others are each focused on the window of a different bedroom. The last view is the only interior shot, that of a hallway connecting the living room with the bedrooms. Bedrooms are designated B1 and B2 and can easily be differentiated by the different curtains and the presence of a sparse flowerbed beneath the windowsill of B1. Front view is designated F1, and the indoor view A1. Views of the exterior are in black and white, while A1 is of somewhat higher quality and is in color.

The first of these videos (as determined by numbering) shows nothing remarkable until 11:23 PM, when a shape approaches the window of B1. As it shuffles into view, it is revealed to be the female Harrison Ape, dragging itself on all fours in a manner quite unlike a primate, but more akin to a sloth on the ground.

As it reaches the window, it pushes itself up into a sitting or squatting position, and appears to peer inside the window. It remains in this position for 45 minutes before turning around and shuffling out of view.

15 minutes later it can be seen approaching the window to B2, and again peers into it, but for 25 minutes. It then shuffles out of view again.

Roughly 64 minutes pass, and the female again approaches B1 and peers into it. This time, it reaches up and gently traces a pattern on the glass for 5 minutes, before letting its hand fall. After remaining for a further 20 minutes, it then leaves. A1 and F1 show no changes.

The next clip in the sequence is from the Harrison videos. It show a pair of researchers, visibly agitated, in the enclosure examining the entrance, while a security guard keeps a watch on the monkey, which behaves as usual and ignores the humans in its enclosure.

Another clip shows a worker adjusting the enclosure's camera so that it now points towards the entrance. The investigators note that the female appears to be watching with some interest, in contrast to its normal apathy.

The next few tapes feature nothing out of the ordinary. It is possible that the creature was kept under 24 hour surveillance for a time, since the lights, after being dimmed for a few hours, sometimes brightened for a minute or so, as if someone was checking the enclosure. The monkey continued to sleep undisturbed.

But eventually, the normal rhythms and cycles were restored. The lights no longer turned on suddenly in the middle of the night.

Until one day, when browse from a ficus tree was provided as dinner. The monkey proceeded to strip the leaves at a glacial pace, well after the lights went out.

After two hours, the female stopped feeding, and selected a particularly long and stout branch. She made her way to a point beneath the camera. Moments later, the camera shook, and a branch jutted into view, indicating that the creature was prodding the camera with the branch.

After almost an hour of prodding, it managed to point the now skewed camera away from the entrance. And as before, it dragged itself onto land, stared at the entrance (for only 12 minutes this time), before shuffling forward and seemingly exiting the enclosure. She is absent for a total of five hours before reentering the enclosure, this time carrying something.

The creature is carrying a human child of indeterminate gender, dressed in yellow pajamas, around 5-8 years old. The child appears to be asleep, and remarkably does not awaken as the creature submerges with the child.

The female takes up her usual position, with only her head above the water, while holding the child to her belly. She picks and pulls at the pajamas, as if to remove them, but soon gives up and instead resorts to grooming the child, occasionally lifting it up to her chest, possibly in an attempt to breastfeed. She remains in this position for three hours, during which the child shows no distress, except to stir occasionally.

After 4 hours, the lights brighten, and a group of caretakers and researchers burst into the enclosure, including a particularly irate, pajama-clad man brandishing a length of what appears to be hosing, who in previous videos was shown to be one of the researchers.

The female immediately rushes into deeper water, with child still in tow. The father is the first to reach the animal and beats it viciously with the hose, while trying to extract his child. Other researchers restrain him as the caretakers wrestle with the monkey, who refuses to give up the child.

Eventually, a caretaker finally wrenches the child free. Remarkably, once removed from the water the child immediately awakens, startled but completely alert and otherwise seemingly healthy. The caretaker rushes the child out of the enclosure as the female calms down.

The father suddenly breaks free and punches the primate in the face, drawing blood. The man is again restrained and escorted out of the enclosure, while the remaining caretakers attend to the creature, who appears to have suffered a concussion.

This clip is linked to another tape in set B, the surveillance tapes. As before, at around 11 PM, the female monkey can be seen shuffling towards B1 and peering inside for 45 minutes, before shuffling away.

However, this time two hours elapse before it approaches B2. This time, it appears to fiddle with the window, as if trying to open it. It persists for 10 minutes before giving up and leaving.

After 20 minutes, it once again approaches B1. This time, it presses up close against the glass while trampling some of the flowers beneath the windowsill. It remains in this position for nearly 50 minutes before again shuffling off.

27 minutes pass before it approaches B2 again, pressing its face up close against the window. After 6 minutes, it start fiddling with the window, and after 18 minutes appears to break the latch accidently through brute strength, which startles the monkey. It recovers from its surprise and clumsily, almost comically enters partially through the window with great effort, a difficult task due to its immense bulk.

The monkey eventually retracts it upper body, and gingerly, delicately with surprising gentleness pulls out the pajama-clad child seen in the above video, who stirs fitfully but does not awaken.

Cradling the child beneath her close to her belly, like how a macaque would carry a newborn, she leaves the view of B2 and after 17 minutes ends up at B1, but maintains her distance. She stares at the window for a further 42 minutes before shuffling away.

Later, as morning approaches, view from A1 show the parents discovering the disappearance and the father making a phone call before rushing out the door.

Given how the father enters the enclosure along with the rest of staff, it appears there was no staff monitoring the enclosure on that particular night.

The next three tapes in the Harrison set are heavily corrupted, save for one clip where a researcher offers a large chimp doll to the female, who completely ignores it.

The last of the set B tapes show the following: at 12:05 PM, a small, unknown monkey cautiously approaches B1. This is clearly not the female, as it is much smaller and much more nimble, but has silky luxuriant fur. The arms are disproportionately long, giving the impression of a gibbon, but the overall build and facial structure again suggests a very shaggy Japanese macaque.  Its height appears to be 2-3 feet.

This new interloper is much more cautious and alert than the female ever was, constantly looking around and seemingly listening for disturbances. It also approaches B1, and peers into the window for 52 minutes before leaving.

 14 minutes pass, and it approaches B2. Once again, it peers into the bedroom, but at 23 minutes something off-camera startles it and it dashes off.

33 minutes pass. Investigators then note that, although it doesn't appear on-camera, its reflection can be seen on the window next to the front door, showing it standing erect and staring intensely. It does so for 20 minutes before moving on.

It immediately moves to B2, but again seems to be startled by something and hides beneath the windowsill, emerging after 5 minutes pass to peer cautiously into the window.

After 12 minutes, it begins to fiddle with the window. It gives up and leaves after 10 minutes.

Three  minutes later, it approaches B1 again. It presses its face up against the glass for 28 minutes, before turning its attention to the flowers beneath the window. It begins plucking several flower stalks, removing the blooms and stripping the leaves.

One by one, it tries to insert each stalk underneath the glass in a seeming attempt to undo the latch, but the stalks are frail and crumple. After 10 minutes of fruitless effort, it discards the stalks and simply stares into the window, this time for 44 minutes.

It leaves, then comes back after 5 minutes, holding what appears to be a strip of bark or carton, and heads over to the window, where after a few minutes it succeeds in sliding up the window and entering.

A1 shows the monkey entering the dimly-lit hallway, which reveals the intruder's long, silky fur is cerulean blue. It remains motionless in the hallway for 16 minutes, before moving along and systematically checking the doors.

It locates the door of B2, and gently pushes the door open, stares for 5 minutes, then enters but emerges hurriedly after only a few moments. It goes down the hallway and enters the living room and out of sight of the camera. On F1, it can be seen momentarily as it looks out the front window.

17 minutes elapse before it reenters the hallways. It pauses at the door to B2 before moving on and entering the B1 bedroom, where it remains for 12 minutes.

On the B1 camera, as the interloper emerges from the window, a momentary flash of a small bundle can be seen, being held closely to the monkey's chest. This object appears to be clinging to the monkey's fur, although it is impossible make out what it is.

The last of the Harrison tapes is mostly damaged, but towards the end there is a clip where the female, at night, can be seen hunched over, with her back towards the camera, seemingly engrossed with something in her lap. The lights brighten, and a caretaker and a researcher both cautiously enter the enclosure, the former with a tranquilizer gun.

The female ignores them as usual, even when they enter the water. At this point the footage suddenly devolves to static. The last thing seen is a flash of blue.

The only thing left to add is, that while the investigators came to the conclusion that the second monkey was a juvenile individual of the Harrison Ape, our own opinion is that, based on its facial structure, the second monkey is in fact the mature male.