The Shadow Over Who-Ville

As an avid student of folklore, I had long heard the references to a mysterious tree spirit that haunted certain forests in the state of Washington. I hope that this record finds its way to the proper authorities, and I hope that my reputation as a strict skeptic and sober scholar will keep them from discarding my findings as mere delusional ramblings. For I know what I have seen in these ancient woods, and I know now the truth behind the Lorax.

In preparation for Halloween, I bring you the zombie of an ancient thread I started three years ago on the Straight Dope Message Board.

I had been reading an H.P. Lovecraft collection (The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Tales, edited by S. T. Joshi, from Penguin books.) And for some reason it occurred to me that many Dr. Seuss books could be redone in Lovecraft’s style and lose nothing in the translation (many Seuss books I found somewhat disturbing as a child.) So I decided to test my hypothesis. Enjoy!

At once I knew that these eldritch beings were the dread Sneetches referred to in certain unspeakable texts…

—*—

I could hear them in the swamp, though I dared not look. From my position behind the hollow log I could hear their unholy chanting as they worshipped their eldritch gods – Great Cthulhu, Dagon, and Thidwick. Clearly their leader wished to aspire to their lofty heights. “I shall be as they,” croaked his inhuman voice. “Powerful as they! I shall ascend the throne and achieve the grandeur of Hastur, the King in Yellow, the Fox in Socks. More turtles!”

With that utterance I dared to peer out from behind the log and saw their unspeakable ritual. A great Cyclopean throne, built of their own bodies, rising above the swamp. Turtle upon turtle, with one being, the damnable Yertle, perched at the top. “More turtles!” he demanded.

At that point my sanity quitted my mind and I ran, to no specified place, but merely in an attempt to retreat from this blasphemous sight. I awoke in my room at the inn, though I have no recollection of how I got there.

And now, four years later and across two continents, I still feel his yellowed eyes upon me. I have done research and know how many turtles inhabit that dismal bog. The throne completed, Yertle the Turtle would be king of all he could see…and he could see me!

—*—

I scanned the dusty bookshelves and noted the arcane and unhallowed books thereupon. There was a copy of the Latin translation of The Necronomicon of the Mad Arab Abdul Alhazred, De Vermis Mysteriis, and The Book of Eibon, as well as other profane texts. I pulled a tome off of the dust-caked shelf and began to peruse it.

My mind reeled in disgust at the horrors within. Upon the yellowed pages (which may or may not have been composed of actual paper) were artistic renderings and descriptions of beasts whose existence was protested by any rational person.

As I turned from page to page, I was informed, in cryptic verse, of such entities as the Yink (and its hellish diet); the Thing Found in The Park; the violent Gox and the attire to be worn when dealing with it; the Zans, the Ying, and the dread Wump. The book implied that these things walk among us, presumably unseen, and have gradually integrated themselves into our everyday lives.

When I came across the description of the foul Yop, I could take no more, and slammed the diabolical tome shut, knowing full well that I would never remove its images from my mind. There are things one cannot know and remain sane, and I now was aware of them.

I have not been the same since that day. I walk in shadow, always glancing about furtively, for I know the undeniable Truth, as recounted in that dark text: From there to here, from here to there / Funny things are everywhere.

—*—

June 4, 1907 – I heard the queerest thing today. As I made my way through the jungle, I swore I heard a faint sound of drums. Or, more accurately, a single drum. I know it is not the drumming of the superstitious natives, as they will not go near the supposed temple. The only occupants of this remote area are my small team and the monkeys that inhabit this jungle. And yet, there was a drum. I must not let my brain trick me. I am probably just disquieted because I am nearing the location where Sir Arthur Corwin disappeared.

June 5, 1907 – More drums. The sound is unmistakable, and it echoes all around me. Could there be another tribe in this primeval jungle? If this is the case, they have kept well hidden, as I have seen nothing more human than the apes leaping from tree to tree. My companions seem unnerved by this. Once we reach the hidden temple, they will be suitably distracted and won’t give these drums a moment’s thought.

June 6, 1907 – The drumming is incessant now. In the camp last evening I tried to stuff strips of cloth in my ear to drown it out, but it was to no avail. Two of my men have gone mad, and ran off into the forest with the supplies they were carrying. Even a warning shot from my pistol did not stop them. After I fired my warning shot towards the departing men, I glanced around and noticed a figure beyond a tree past the clearing. I saw it but a moment, and yet its features were unmistakably simian. It was, without a doubt, one of the many monkeys that have been constantly around us, and it wore about its neck a wooden drum. I saw it pounding on the drum, moving its hand, hand, fingers, and thumb in time with the staccato rhythm pounding all around us. Have I gone mad as well?

June 7, 1907 – There are thousands of monkeys and thousands of drums. I am alone now, as my final companion has fled into the jungle, driven insane by the unending pounding of the drums. I am trying to turn back to the base camp, but I have no supplies and the drums are getting louder…

June, 1907 – I do not know what day it is; my only time is measured through the drums. I fear if they stopped now they would continue forever in my brain, though I know they haven’t stopped. There are millions of monkeys and millions of drums. I have made it back to the base camp but the boat is gone. As I write these last words I am keeping my revolver near, but I know the bullets would be better spent on myself than wasted on the simian drummers. I must make it stop. I must put an end to the constant dum-diddy-dum-diddy-dum-dum-dum

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3 Responses to The Shadow Over Who-Ville

  1. Lanf says:

    I’m thinking “Ten Apples Up On Top” deserves a rewrite…

  2. David Thiel says:

    Thanks for resurrecting these, Dave. They were spot-on parody, and in all seriousness, the last paragraph of your Yertle story still creeps me out a bit.

  3. rone says:

    My inner child is screaming with laughter and terror.