Amy Langdon, a 30-year-old hospital administrative assistant in Halifax, Nova Scotia, was browsing Facebook on Sunday when she noticed in her feed that two friends were interested in attending a local oyster festival.
When she clicked on the event to learn more, nothing could prepare her for what she saw.
"My first thought was just, Wow, that's scary," Langdon told BuzzFeed News.
Langdon's eyes were the latest victims of the indescribable horror show that is the mascot for the Halifax Oyster Festival, aka Pearl. She then shared the image on Twitter, and well, see for yourself:
Pearl is the size of a human being and has at least 13 eyes and inexplicably luscious lips. She seems to be in a cheery mood, using her (again, inexplicably) human arms to give a double thumbs-up to express her happiness at haunting your dreams.
And yet, her expression is vacant. She appears lost in thought, as if wondering why her creator made her and her alone. "I ought to be thy Adam," you can almost hear her thinking, "but I am rather the fallen angel..."
People online compared Pearl to a Doctor Who villain...
A monster from The Addams Family...
Or a biblically accurate angel. (Google it.)
Threads on Reddit even popped up where people photoshopped Pearl into a scene from Power Rangers and Edvard Munch's 1893 painting "The Scream."
There was a lot of confusion as to why this Canadian festival would defy God by creating such a beast. After all, an oyster festival in Hiroshima, Japan, was able to come up with something a lot more traditionally cute.
Christine Oreskovich, the publisher of Halifax's alt-weekly newspaper the Coast, has now come out of the shadows to claim ownership of the monster. The paper has been putting on the oyster festival since 2017 (albeit with a two-year pandemic hiatus).
In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Oreskovich explained that when she and colleagues first devised the idea for an event to honor the area's delicious seafood, they wanted a mascot they could put on merchandise.
Colleague and artist Aziza Asat mocked up a sketch they used in 2017 for T-shirts and flags, then local artist Helah Cooper was tasked with constructing it for the 2018 festival out of papier-mâché.
And thus, a new hell was born.
Warning: extremely disturbing photo of a creature entering our dimension like something from Stranger Things.
The costume has proved a hit at festivals over the years, according to Oreskovich. In between sampling oysters from across Canada, participating in shucking competitions, and enjoying cooking demonstrations and live music, patrons love to spit in Mother Nature's face by taking photos with Pearl.
"She is often seen dancing at the festival. Obviously, she's staring longingly back at the ocean, which is because we're right on the waterfront when we do it," Oreskovich said. "There's a lot of photos of her at the ocean. She's just a great character."
Pearl became so popular with gawkers that a companion for her named Earl debuted the following year. But Oreskovich noted firmly that Earl is not Pearl's husband: "They're not, like, hetero people — like, hetero oysters."
Earl looks a lot like Pearl — which actually makes sense once you learn that oysters can switch genders easily — except his lips are less voluptuous and he sports a long mustache that looks like a barnacle (to make it easier for him to pierce your skin and eat your flesh???).
After her first viral tweet on Sunday, Langdon followed up with another upon learning of Earl's existence.
"THERE IS ANOTHER," she wrote, presumably to the sounds of high-pitched orchestral strings meant to signify immediate terror.
Oreskovich was pretty stunned when her Sunday was interrupted by friends alerting her to Pearl's sudden viral fame, but she wasn't surprised by the reactions.
"The person and I who came up with that five years ago, we were just laughing out loud. Like, Oh my god," Oreskovich said. "We have loved this thing for so long and no one's really appreciated how cool and weird and messed up it is, until now. We're five years ahead of ourselves!"
Traffic to the oyster festival website has increased since the tweets, as have ticket sales for the Sept. 23–24 event, according to Oreskovich. (Note: Early bird tickets are on sale until Aug. 7.)
Langdon, whose viral tweets first alerted the general public to Pearl's existence like some kind of online air raid siren, will be attending after being gifted two free tickets in order to confront the creature of her nightmares.
"I actually don't like seafood at all, but I will be going because I absolutely have to meet her," Langdon said.
As for BuzzFeed News, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to play demon slayer and actually interview Pearl ourselves (via email because — and I can't believe these words as I'm typing them — she's lost her voice since getting COVID recently).
BFN: Hi, Pearl. I guess my first question is do you come in peace?
PEARL: Mostly, yes.
BFN: What exactly are you? Are you sentient? Do you feel pain?
PEARL: First off, I'm a hard-working oyster. I'm filtering the damn ocean all day, and I drink salty dogs and Blue Lobster on the side of the wharf all night. Every night. Pain is relative.
BFN: What's with all the eyes? What are you on the lookout for?
PEARL: Hot shuckers.
BFN: Many people on the internet are saying they're terrified of you. How does that make you feel? Sad? Angry? Vengeful to the point you might destroy the human race?
PEARL: I have no beef with the human race, I just wish they would stop using single-use plastics. Also fresh-water pearls, what's up with that?
BFN: What's the deal with your relationship with Earl? Is he single?
PEARL: Earl and I are on a break, he did me dirty on a vacay to Meat Cove, Cape Breton — I'm waiting for cooler waters.
BFN: I've read that oysters are gender-switching, sex-hungry creatures. Is that how you identify? Are you queer?!
PEARL: If sex-hungry means single-handedly repopulating the Atlantic Ocean with nearly 6 billion babies each and every year, then yes, I'm sex-hungry. But I'm pro-choice. Gender is fluid. I'm bi(valve).
BFN: Lastly, are you upset that you're being used as a mascot for an event where people are eating your siblings? Do you intend to hold some sort of Halifax Human-Eating Festival?
PEARL: I try to make it every year to the Oyster Festival — it's a family reunion. Some make it and some don't. But no, I don't eat humans — gross. I'm a phytoplanktarian.