Here on earth, we have grown accustomed to strange visitors, whether from beyond (aliens of this sort or that) or from within (Bigfoot striding out of the forest, Manigator slithering out of the wetlands). 

Longtime observers of the weird and wonderful may have thought that they had seen it all.

They hadn’t. 

Meet Big Mike.


Some Florida beaches have recently been reopened. But back on April 10, they were still closed. 

Charlie Retterford, a park ranger, was doing his daily rounds, making sure that no one was defying beach closure orders. “Every day, there’s someone who won’t listen,” he said. “Sometimes it’s an older woman who needs to clear her head with a long walk. Sometimes it’s a young couple sneaking out for a little hanky-panky. Sometimes it’s a fisherman.”

On April 10, it was none of those things.

“I saw something out in the water that at first I assumed was a surfer,” Retterford said. “Then I blew my whistle to get his or her attention. I was planning on going out in my little skiff to issue a warning or if necessary make an arrest. That’s when what I was seeing started to grow.”

Ranger Retterford, facing forward, as Big Mike emerges from the sea (artist’s rendering).

Retterford thought that he had been looking at a normal-sized figure fifty feet off the shore or so. But as it came closer and closer in response to his whistle, he saw that it had been more than five hundred feet away, and that it was anything but normal in size. He estimated it at ten feet tall, then twenty, then forty. When the figure finally arrived on shore, it was a man more than fifty feet tall. He had a giant black beard, a knit hat, a flannel shirt, and black rubber boots, and carried a massive trident.

Fish and lobster falling from Big Mike’s beard.

“I thought it was Poseidon, or Neptune,” Ratterford said. “I mean, pick Greek or Roman—your choice. This guy was just gigantic.”


Retterford introduced himself. The huge figure bent down and did the same. “I’m Big Mike,” he said.

“I didn’t know what to do,” Retterford said. “I asked him his last name.”

Big Mike, who insisted that he had given his last name—it was “Mike,” he explained, and “Big” was his first name—continued with his introduction. He was a member of an underwater race that lived at the lowest reaches of the Atlantic, near the Milwaukee Depth. 

The race, called Pelagians, dated back hundreds of thousands of years. “There are about two hundred of us,” the giant said. He explained that if they chose to visit the surface world they first made sure to shrink themselves so as not to alarm humans.

“But there wasn’t time this time,” Big Mike said, adding that he had been chosen to go to the shore quickly and urgently when he and the others noticed a conspicuous silence at the surface. “We’re used to hearing cruise ships, pleasure boats. In the last few weeks, it’s been spooky quiet. ‘Go,” they told me. ‘Go without shrinking.’ So I did.”

Retterford, who had been unable to speak since asking after Big Mike’s last name, pointed at the trident. 

“Oh,” Big Mike said. He laughed. “This is just for show. I thought it would freak you out. Did it?”

Retterford nodded.


Retterford eventually regained his composure and told Big Mike why the surface had been so quiet. Big Mike stroked his beard thoughtfully, dislodging roughly a dozen fish, which fell to the ground at his feet. “I wonder if we have some medicine that might be able to help,” he said. 

Pelagians, he explained, had developed a sophisticated natural medicine industry, drawing largely on the bounty of the sea—seaweeds and corals, as well as the oils and enzymes of sea creatures, many of which were virtually immortal in the absence of predators.

“I should head back and check,” he said.

And just as he had come out of the water, he went back into it, producing a huge wake with each step of his massive boots. 

“If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I never would have believed it,” said Retterford. In fact, he questioned himself until he found on the beach what he first assumed was a sand dollar. But it turned out to be a button from Big Mike’s shirt. 


Retterford held the button tightly as he walked back to his car, so distracted by what he had just seen that he did not even notice a young couple behind the lifeguard station, mid-assignation. 

The naughty couple, in the middle of getting away with it. Thanks, Big Mike!

“I saw him and froze up for a second,” said the young woman, Kelly Jenkins. “I must have gasped in a way that Howie thought was excitement, because he says ‘Yeah, baby.’ I told him to be quiet but the park ranger just went on by.” 

Neither Jenkins nor Howie saw Big Mike. “We were busy,” said Howie, smirking.

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