The Thing in the Pond

The Thing in the Pond

(A Chronicle of My Expedition Into The Old Curwen Mansion. )

                       

Part One

Wherein Ambrose is Called Upon To Solve a Problem Most Dire

There was thunder in the air on the night I went to the old Curwen mansion to find the Thing in the Pond.

Large and rambling, with a Victorian facade surrounded by a few rank sedges (fresh sedges being unavailable at that time of year) the building had for many decades been abandoned to the elements, and only recently had it been re-occupied by a Prof. Howard Phillips, an academic renowned for his deep and comprehensive knowledge of 12th century haberdashery. The professor had recently retired and decided to open a guest house, for which purpose he purchased the aforementioned property. Not long after opening his doors things began to go badly, and knowing of my reputation as an investigator of such matters he had chosen to consult me in hopes of gaining aid.

My host awaited at the end of the mansion’s driveway. This was a bookish character with a slight stoop and a demeanor at once friendly and nervous – I speak here of the man, not of his driveway.

“Mr. Mugwump,” he said cheerfully, giving me his hand, “So glad to see you!”

I took his hand and replied…

“Glad to be here, professor. And looking forward to ridding you of your problem, whatever it may be.”

The social pleasantries over, I gave the professor back his hand and we moved inside, and as we did so I noticed a garland of garlic garnishing the front door. I turned to Prof. Phillips.

“You are aware that garlic is considered a remedy only for vampires?”

“Yes,” he responded, “but it wasn’t my idea. It was the doing of my elderly house keeper, and as it seems to give her some peace of mind I have decided to leave it in place. Also, I find it a great aid in keeping away those darned Scientologists.”

After a supper during which I gleefully devoured two chicken carcasses, a ham, and several napkins, we sat around the fire, it being my intention to gather as much data as I could about my host’s current predicament.

“Well, Mr. Mugwump, it’s the damnedest thing,” the professor began in a tone suggesting that he had begun. “During the renovations one of my workmen disappeared. Well, the man had a reputation as a drifter, so we thought nothing of it and proceeded with the work. Then, shortly after opening the establishment to the public, my guests started to vanish. Thirty six so far, and needless to say, business has suffered to the point that a once promising enterprise is now reduced to only two guests, both of them quite mad, I’m afraid.”

“Poor chaps, I can see how the disappearance of so many of their fellow lodgers, combined with the oppressive, gothic atmosphere of this place would drive one mad,” I added sympathetically.

“Actually, they were already mad when they arrived. Too many magazine articles about Kim Kardashian, I’m afraid.”

 

PART TWO

Wherein Ambrose Is Rudely Awakened By A Beeping In The Night

 

Not one to waste time, as soon as the professor and his two resident loonies had retired I set up my equipment in the living room. This consisted of my patented Inter-Dimensional Energy Detector, a portable and complex doohickey designed to measure inter-dimensional energies of the kind often generated by paranormal phenomena such as ghosts, poltergeists, and Scotsmen who pick up the bill. After positioning the device on the coffee table, I settled into a large and comfortable armchair by the fireplace, adjusted the firewood with a nearby poker, and started to read the latest issue of Haberdasher’s Monthly while keeping one alert eye on my clumsily named gizmo. As I started to nod off, somewhere around 3.17 am, I became aware of a faint beeping emanating from the Inter-Dimensional Energy Detector. Forcing myself to rise, I grabbed a poker from the fireplace, lest I need to defend myself against whatever unholy abomination stalked these halls. Almost immediately I screamed out in pain, as I had inadvertently picked up a rather hot poker which some fool had carelessly left lying in the fire. As my scream abated, I realized that it had been matched by other sounds, the first being a wet, shambling sound – as of a large and cumbersome cephalopod trying to learn how to do the Charleston while wearing ballet shoes – and the second being that of a sepulchral yet high pitched voice – as of a zombified operatic soprano – crying out the lone word “Yikes!” from outside the French windows that opened out onto the hotel’s rear yard. By now the ruckus had roused the sleeping professor from his sleep and he had come down the stairs doing his best impression of an angry, middle class Englishman.

“What in tarnation is going on down here? I say, old chap, you had best explain this commotion!” he huffed, stroking a moustache which I could swear had not been there earlier in the evening.

“ It’s the Thing, professor! That noise was the doing of the unholy monstrosity that’s been eating your guests! And at this very moment that very same Thing lurks right outside these windows,” I half whispered, half shouted at the befuddled academic, then I grabbed a nearby baseball bat and motioned towards the door. The professor was already armed with a plastic spatula which he keeps on his bedside table in case of burglars, and we both leapt through the French windows to be confronted with…nothing. While we had dallied, the Thing had made good its escape. And then I spotted something…

“Wait, what’s that glinting in the moonlight? It’s a trail, a trail of shiny, malodorous slime, like the kind exuded by members of congress, leading off into the darkness.”

Cautiously we followed the pungent tracks, arriving eventually at the large pond at the bottom of the garden. This, then, was the abode of the creature, the lair of that unholy monstrosity which had risen from the depths of some archaic hell to dine ravenously on the professor’s guests.

 

PART THREE

Wherein The Mystery is Revealed At Last

 

As I stood there at the edge of that accursed puddle, my mind reeling from the horror and sheer foulness of the situation, it dawned on me that there was only one way to lure the monster out of its lair. Accordingly, I  raced back into the house, and soon emerged with a stout rope. This I then proceeded to tie around the professor’s waist just before shoving him into the dark waters of the pond. The professor huffed and puffed for a moment, his indignant moustache riding the ripples of the chilly night waters, then suddenly he was pulled under! Here I seized the opportunity and pulled as hard as I could on the rope, resulting in a massive heaving of the waters and a “Blech!” sound that sent the professor hurtling through the air and into a nearby chestnut tree. Immediately following the airborne egghead was a thing the likes of which I hope to never see again.

 

How shall I describe the loathsomeness, the very personification of antediluvian evil which arose from that demon-haunted bog? It was as if all the horror of the universe had been cast into an amorphous form, a walking putrescence, a glimmering, golden monstrosity with dozens of tentacles sprouting from its massive body, a body studded with eyes and mouths where there should be no eyes or mouths. It was a being from the lowest depths of Tartarus, the kind of unholy abomination no sane mind could conceive of, much less invite to a dinner party. The colossal behemoth ascended into the ether, its golden tentacles glinting in the moonlight, each one tipped with a mouth that slavered, its teeth sheathing and unsheathing. Twenty feet above us it towered, one gigantic eye glittering green in the middle of its veined and amorphous head. The thing slavered, it drooled, it dribbled, and then — horrible to tell — it blathered!

Being neither fools nor lunatics, the professor and I turned and ran, while behind us we heard the Thing, its tremendous bulk lumbering after us like a gigantic, lumbering thing. “Glug, glug,” it gluggingly glugged, as I wondered why I hadn’t followed my father’s advice and become an accountant. Then I remembered the baseball bat in my hand and courage returned, for what antediluvian monstrosity from the abysses beyond time and space could fail to be intimidated by a relatively small stick? I stopped dead in my tracks, spun around and stared down the creature.

“Not so tough now, are you, hey?” I said while brandishing the bat. “Come on, you overgrown baseball! I’ll belt you right over the bleachers and out of the park!”

The Thing stopped, its quivering bulk blotting out the moon, and then it opened the largest of its many mouths, a cavernous maw lined with row upon row of razor sharp teeth, and as I started to reconsider my bravado it let out a sepulchral sound, as of an undertaker drowning in a vat of warm molasses.

“Baseball…baseball…” it intoned into the cold night air.

Was I wrong, or was there a tone of excited anticipation about the Thing’s utterance?

“Er, yeah, baseball. You like baseball? Never quite understood it myself, but to each his own,” I responded somewhat lamely.

“Throw, throw,” the Thing replied excitedly.

At last the true nature of this uncanny situation dawned on me! I looked up at the monstrosity and did my impression of a village idiot trying to hold a conversation with a month old babe. “Who’s a good abomination, then? Who’s a good abomination? You are! Yes, you are! You wanna play fetch?”

At that magical word the massive, golden bulk started jumping up and down, its tentacles swaying in the air above its head, its giant green eye twinkling in the moonlight, and its tongue hanging from its main mouth! I waved the bat in front of the creature, threw it across the garden, and the glimmering creature ran after it, grabbed it in its mouth, bounded back to me and dropped the bat at my feet. As I picked it up and threw it again, the professor and I realized what we had here was not so much a monstrosity as some sort of inter-dimensional doggy. A rather large and ugly doggy with a terrible drooling problem, true, but a basically harmless creature nonetheless. This, then, was The Devourer Of Men, The Stalker In The Night, The Lurker In The Darkness, The Watcher At The Threshold, The Shadow From Outside  –  the Thing what ate all the guests.

 

PART FOUR

Wherein The Unholy Abomination Finds A New Home, And I Run Out Of Excuses To Use The Word “Wherein.”

 

Yet now we could see that the creature was docile enough, and probably had eaten all those folks only because it was ravenously hungry after untold eons spent sleeping in the pond’s stygian depths, for if anything will make one hungry it’s a long nap in the stygian depths. Watching the creature bound happily after the baseball bat, neither I nor the professor felt inclined to have it shot by the army or gassed to death by the Humane Society. But what to do with such a large and cumbersome eater of men? After we had all grown bored with the fetching game, we left the creature to play with the professor’s car and went inside to formulate a solution to this unexpected conundrum. And so it was decided, over many a glass of fermented yak’s milk, that the professor would take the creature in as sort of pet, and also exhibit it to tourists. This would solve both the problem of what to do with our Doggy From Beyond Time And Space, and the poor financial state of the professor’s business. As for what to feed the creature – tourists and mailmen were, of course, utterly out of the question – it was all a simple matter of taking down the garlic on the front door and letting the scientologists roll in.

 

And so it was that I solved yet another of the universe’s great mysteries, found a poor and misunderstood creature a good home, helped the professor to get rid of a few more weirdoes, and proved once again that the old proverb is correct – a bat in the hand is worth two midgets in the bush.

 

 

 

 

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Sorority Row — Skye and Lexy Meet a Cow

SKYE AND LEXY MEET A COW 17 MAY 2015 FINAL

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Heart of Duckness

HEART OF DUCKNESS DONALD DUCK 3 MAY 2015 FINALFor some inexplicable reason, I have always assumed Donald Duck to be not unlike most of what we get from the Walt Disney Company – a sickly sweet offering that, other than its nauseating excess of sucrose, carries neither flavor nor nutrition. But recently I have discovered otherwise. Donald is, in fact, a rather cantankerous and sinister character, at least if the cartoons I have been watching are anything to go by. Early on in my research, it became obvious that Donald is suffering not only from a terrible speech impediment but also from some sort of mental illness. He seems to spend a lot of time talking to himself, has a temper so volatile as to make Russell Crowe look like Shirley Temple, and seems forever to be at war with the entire world.

Nothing in the known universe is safe when this bowtie-wearing ruffian is around. Even inanimate objects know the felonious fowl’s fury. In “Cured Duck,” the feathered fiend virtually destroys his girlfriend’s house after failing to open a window. First goes the window, then down he pulls the curtains, and before you know it, furniture and plates are flying through the air, and there’s a hole in the wall the size of a telephone pole. I believe these days such actions are what is known as “intimate partner violence,” but let’s not go nuts. This is also the short in which, much to his credit, Donald tries to cure his dreadful temper. Unfortunately, he attempts to do this with the aid of an insult machine which, by the end of the day, has him up on a tower with a scope and a rifle.

One common target for the feathered thug’s fury is a pair of chipmunks who live in a nearby tree. These chipmunks, who are presumably gay as they are co-habiting males, have squeaky voices, and are some times portrayed as wearing hot pants, seem to be a constant source of irritation for Donald, partly because they make a habit of raiding his pantry and partly because all that dance music keeps him up at night. This, however, is no excuse for his destroying their home and turning it into firewood, as he does in the rather prosaically named short “Chip ‘n’ Dale,” nor stealing their popcorn as he does in “Corn Chips,” firing peanuts at them as in “Working for Peanuts,” or trying to run them over with a locomotive as he does in “Mr. Duck’s Railway of Death.” At one point in “Corn Chips,” the feathered felon even tricks the poor creatures into shoveling the snow off his sidewalk, something which must surely break the labor laws of whichever state this dastardly mallard resides in.

And his animosity is not reserved for mere outsiders, as even his family seem to be targets. In “Donald’s Crime,” the only one of these shorts in which the true nature of this down-covered gangster’s activities is admitted to, the Dillinger of Ducks breaks open his little nephews’ piggy bank and steals their meager savings! All so he can take his gal Daisy out for a night of jazz-fuelled, cannabis-stoked debauchery! How that one got past the Catholic Legion of Decency I don’t know. In “Donald’s Snow Fight,” he commits several acts of gross child abuse, such as destroying his nephews’ snowman, treating them like bowling pins, and forcing them to listen to Chopin, yet seems to manage to evade a visit from Protective Services. But that’s stardom for you, it lets you get away with all sorts of shit – just ask Joan Crawford. Some of these actions could, of course, be merely revenge for all the mean tricks the boys – themselves obviously deranged delinquents who, I am sure, will one day enlist with ISIS or the US Army – play on him in “Donald’s Nephews,” the first cartoon to star Donald’s nephews. The problem with that theory is, he has a way of going after more innocent victims as well…

This is no better exemplified than in “Polar Trappers” in which the feathered little bastard repeatedly tries to kill, cook, and eat a penguin! Shocking behavior in any context, but coming from a fellow fowl it is hard to see it as anything less than attempted cannibalism. He uses as an excuse for this infamy the claim that a diet of nothing but beans is starting to drive him batty, but that excuse didn’t work for Armin Meiwes and I don’t see why it should work for Donald Duck. Further showcasing his inexplicable hatred for the penguin race is “Donald’s Penguin,” in which our hero not only spanks but attempts to shoot with a shotgun a baby penguin that some idiot has sent him in the mail! In “Dumb Bell of the Yukon,” this avian abomination takes his malice even further by trying to slaughter a baby bear so he can make a fur coat for his vain and consumerist girlfriend Daisy Duck! Incidentally, this Daisy is a character who, I suspect, is also Donald’s sister. Why else would they have the same surname when they aren’t even married? That’s Donald Duck for you – Disney’s answer to Jaime Lannister! But back to the bear. First, Donald kidnaps the poor creature right out of his sleeping mother’s arms, then tries to hang him by his neck! After this fails, the villainous fowl proceeds to dress himself up as the cub in an attempt to cheat him out of his inheritance. Has this duck no shame? And where the hell is PETA when you actually need them? And in “Contrary Condor” he goes about stealing eggs from the critically endangered Condor! What he plans to do with these eggs one can only guess at – make an omelet, probably. Again with the cannibalism!

His friends aren’t safe either. In “No Sail,” Donald and Goofy find themselves stranded at sea and while the latter is asleep Donald barbecues and eats his left leg! Then there’s “Mickey’s Madcap Nightcap,” in which, jealous of his rival’s skill at egg and spoon races, this escapee from a naval academy inserts rat poison in Mickey’s bedtime drink. Luckily for Mickey, his life is saved when he spills his drink after being startled by a spider singing “Sweet Adeline.”

It should be noted that the above cavalcade of atrocities is composed merely of the more notable incidents, and does not include the foul fowl’s constant refusal to wear pants, his impersonating a chicken, his growing of a half-assed beard, his donkey-abuse, his gopher-harassing, his bull-baiting, the racist views he expresses in “Donald Duck vs. The Nation of Islam,” and his spying on Goofy on behalf of the NSA! Clearly, this Donald Duck person is a maniacal menace to society and should be taken off the streets as soon as possible. Though I am no psychiatrist, in my opinion Mr. Duck probably belongs in a cage in Arkham Asylum right next to other notable cartoon villains such as The Joker and Herbert Mullin. What it would take to get a duck committed, especially a famous one, is beyond my legal knowledge, but the sooner this comes about the sooner I can go to sleep at night without checking that all the doors and windows have been locked and that my penguin is safe in his igloo.

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