Characters: Gabriel Othar
Tags: Original Male Character(s), Original Creatures, Faux Research Paper
I have devoted more than half of my life researching and hunting for these creatures, following every lead and every whispered conversation about them. Though they are incredibly difficult to find, I have spoken to numerous people who claim to have seen them. Many were false leads of people just wanting to ridicule me for my search while a few others were genuine and truly wanted to know more of these small creatures.
I've decided to name these creatures Clauditis Sodali, or Lock Hangers for the common folk, because of the peculiar way they're found hanging off any type of lock-be it a tiny diary lock or a large safe lock and everything in between. They're interestingly designed with the younger ones of the species appear to be fluffier and kinder, appearing similar to gremlins with their fur color matching their environment. The farther you get to the North or South Pole, the lighter and thicker their coat while closer to the equator their coats become much thinner with earth tones to aid in camouflage.
The further into maturity they get they shed their fur and instead begin fashioning shells and armor-like clothing out of locks they've broken using the springs and pins to create their own custom armor. This, I believe, is to cover their leather-like skin from the elements and help them to hide in their environment with the metal rusting or gathering moss and grime over time aiding in their hiding. Some of the more inventive ones I've noticed will even craft tools out of the lock scraps, some creating grappling hook-like devices to make it easier for them to scale walls.
Their size seems to correlate with the type of lock they're drawn to, though this could be because of their level of intelligence at the time. I've yet to see any grow to be larger than the size of a grapefruit; however, I have seen them be as small as a grape. The small grape-sized ones seem to favor the locks often found in mass-produced items such as diary locks or backpack locks, while the older ones nearing the end of their lives have a love for safes. Their years of learning the tricks of unlocking so many types seem to make them love the more complex things and often sneak their ways into homes or businesses to pick the locks of safes for no gain other than to succeed in solving a difficult puzzle.
Though their size gives them a level of charm, their mannerisms are severely lacking being very volatile little creatures. If you happened to interact with one while it's hanging on these locks you can expect a very nasty bite- that is, if it doesn't run away first. However, if a bite does occur immediate medical attention is advised. You can never be too sure of what the unknown might be harboring inside, so best to not risk an unknown illness just because you needed to get into your shed.
I've spent years watching them from afar and setting up various locks to try to lure them out to study their behavior. From these controlled observations I've noticed, there are a few distinct ways they try opening the locks. Locks that have been left abandoned on the ground are often pounded with rocks. Instead of learning the mechanisms they'll beat the exterior until the lock breaks open or the rock is no more. Others I've observed use small tools of found objects like sewing needles, paper clips, toothpicks or even nails. They don't appear to have any preference for what they use just anything that might be lying near them. The final most common method I've noticed the smaller ones demonstrate is just shoving their arm into the keyhole and fiddling around trying to open the lock on their own.
All of these methods have seen giving varying degrees of success though the most entertaining sight is when one does manage to unlock the lock. I've witnessed a few do this and it never ceased to amuse me because they just go still. They stare at the lock as if expecting something; some will sit and stare for as little as 10 minutes, growing frustrated and impatient before throwing the lock down and storming away grumbling in a high voice. Others I've observed sitting and staring for upwards to five days, never leaving to eat or drink, just shaking the lock twisting it one way or another trying to figure it out before slinking away as if depressed from the outcome.
Besides these are instances I've watched in control studies of set-out locks of my own and watching for afar. The interesting thing is when they're watched in organic situations such as in their own tribes or as they try and open locks in more residential areas. They appear to have a word for our kind as a signal that their lock is going to be taken away. Though hard to hear from afar, when I've approached them on my own I was able to hear them shout "jätte" very loudly to any others near so that they could escape. When they aren't biting your finger off they're capable of speech, if minimal.
The most fascinating aspect of these creatures is they're not solo- they do not work alone but instead, there are numerous tribes scattered across the world with their own style and customs. I was lucky enough to find a tribe during an important coming-of-age ceremony. I watched as young lock hangers just beginning to lose their fluff going their very own trial to be considered an adult in the tribe. Each tribe seems to follow a similar practice where the new generation is lined up and all are presented with a large and complex lock for them to figure out. I watched for days as they all worked to figure their own locks, out some going for the aforementioned methods of rocks, using small thin objects or just sticking their arms in. However, the task is not simple these are the younglings who have only worked with simple child diary locks and having to try and figure out a large combination padlock.
Sadly not all of them pass through this trial, not being allowed to eat or drink until the lock is solved. Some will die of starvation or dehydration after days of work while the ones who manage to solve their locks will use them to create their first shells. Though it's sad to watch them waste away, I cannot interact with them or risk ruining the ceremony for the others or getting upwards to 30 full-grown lock hangers angry and throwing things at me.
This is everything I've managed to learn of these creatures in my time studying them, though I would have more to show had others believed in me when I spoke of them. To those who hindered my work, I can only hope they're smart enough to read this paper and learn of their behavior so as to know they are not to be bothered. However, if they don't wish to listen to me then I'm sure the bites won't hurt them too badly. Finally, to those who helped in my research and allowed me to stay on their properties for observation, I am happy to help give them peace of mind in telling them these creatures are harmless and pose no threat and simply just wish to coexist and to learn the complexities of our locks. If you ever wish to see one for yourself all you have to do is leave a lock unattended- the more complex the longer they'll stay.