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Title: The Monster of Lake Lametrie
Author: Wardon Allan Curtis
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Language: English
Date first posted: August 2006
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The Monster of Lake Lametrie
Being the narration of James McLennegan, M.D., Ph.D.
Wardon Allan Curtis

Prof. Wilhelm G. Breyfogle.
University of Taychobera.

DEAR FRIEND,--Inclosed you will find some portions of the diary it has
been my life-long custom to keep, arranged in such a manner as to
narrate connectedly the history of some remarkable occurrences that
have taken place here during the last three years. Years and years
ago, I heard vague accounts of a strange lake high up in an almost
inaccessible part of the mountains of Wyoming. Various incredible
tales were related of it, such as that it was inhabited by creatures
which elsewhere on the globe are found only as fossils of a long
vanished time.

The lake and its surroundings are of volcanic origin, and not the
least strange thing about the lake is that it is subject to periodic
disturbances, which take the form of a mighty boiling in the centre,
as if a tremendous artesian well were rushing up there from the bowels
of the earth. The lake rises for a time, almost filling the basin of
black rocks in which it rests, and then recedes, leaving on the shores
mollusks and trunks of strange trees and bits of strange ferns which
no longer grow--on the earth, at least--and are to be seen elsewhere
only in coal measures and beds of stone. And he who casts hook and
line into the dusky waters, may haul forth, ganoid fishes completely
covered with bony plates.

All of this is described in the account written by Father LaMetrie
years ago, and he there advances the theory that the earth is hollow,
and that its interior is inhabited by the forms of plant and animal
life which disappeared from its surface ages ago, and that the lake
connects with this interior region. Symmes' theory of polar orifices
is well known to you. It is amply corroborated. I know that it is true
now. Through the great holes at the poles, the sun sends light and
heat into the interior.

Three years ago this month, I found my way through the mountains here
to Lake LaMetrie accompanied by a single companion, our friend, young
Edward Framingham. He was led to go with me not so much by scientific
fervor, as by a faint hope that his health might be improved by a
sojourn in the mountains, for he suffered from an acute form of
dyspepsia that at times drove him frantic.

Beneath an overhanging scarp of the wall of rock surrounding the lake,
we found a rudely-built stone-house left by the old cliff dwellers.
Though somewhat draughty, it would keep out the infrequent rains of
the region, and serve well enough as a shelter for the short time
which we intended to stay.

The extracts from my diary follow: APRIL 29TH, 1896.

I have been occupied during the past few days in gathering specimens
of the various plants which are cast upon the shore by the waves of
this remarkable lake. Framingham does nothing but fish, and claims
that he has discovered the place where the lake communicates with the
interior of the earth, if, indeed, it does, and there seems to be
little doubt of that. While fishing at a point near the centre of the
lake, he let down three pickerel lines tied together, in all nearly
three hundred feet, without finding bottom. Coming ashore, he
collected every bit of line, string, strap, and rope in our
possession, and made a line five hundred feet long, and still he was
unable to find the bottom. MAY 2ND, EVENING.

The past three days have been profitably spent in securing specimens,
and mounting and pickling them for preservation. Framingham has had a
bad attack of dyspepsia this morning and is not very well. Change of
climate had a brief effect for the better upon his malady, but seems
to have exhausted its force much sooner than one would have expected,
and he lies on his couch of dry water-weeds, moaning piteously. I
shall take him back to civilisation as soon as he is able to be moved.

It is very annoying to have to leave when I have scarcely begun to
probe the mysteries of the place. I wish Framingham had not come with
me. The lake is roaring wildly without, which is strange, as it has
been perfectly calm hitherto, and still more strange because I can
neither feel nor hear the rushing of the wind, though perhaps that is
because it is blowing from the south, and we are protected from it by
the cliff. But in that case there ought to be no waves on this shore.
The roaring seems to grow louder momentarily. Framingham----MAY 3RD,

Such a night of terror we have been through. Last evening, as I sat
writing in my diary, I heard a sudden hiss, and, looking down, saw
wriggling across the earthen floor what I at first took to be a
serpent of some kind, and then discovered was a stream of water which,
coming in contact with the fire, had caused the startling hiss. In a
moment, other streams had darted in, and before I had collected my
senses enough to move, the water was two inches deep everywhere and
steadily rising.

Now I knew the cause of the roaring, and, rousing Framingham, I half
dragged him, half carried him to the door, and digging our feet into
the chinks of the wall of the house, we climbed up to its top. There
was nothing else to do, for above us and behind us was the unscalable
cliff, and on each side the ground sloped away rapidly, and it would
have been impossible to reach the high ground at the entrance to the

After a time we lighted matches, for with all this commotion there was
little air stirring, and we could see the water, now half-way up the
side of the house, rushing to the west with the force and velocity of
the current of a mighty river, and every little while it hurled tree-
trunks against the house-walls with a terrific shock that threatened
to batter them down. After an hour or so, the roaring began to
decrease, and finally there was an absolute silence. The water, which
reached to within a foot of where we sat, was at rest, neither rising
nor falling.

Presently a faint whispering began and became a stertorous breathing,
and then a rushing like that of the wind and a roaring rapidly
increasing in volume, and the lake was in motion again, but this time
the water and its swirling freight of tree-trunks flowed by the house
toward the east, and was constantly falling, and out in the centre of
the lake the beams of the moon were darkly reflected by the sides of a
huge whirlpool, streaking the surface of polished blackness down,
down, down the vortex into the beginning of whose terrible depths we
looked from our high perch.

This morning the lake is back at its usual level. Our mules are
drowned, our boat destroyed, our food damaged, my specimens and some
of my instruments injured, and Framingham is very ill. We shall have
to depart soon, although I dislike exceedingly to do so, as the
disturbance of last night, which is clearly like the one described by
Father LaMetrie, has undoubtedly brought up from the bowels of the
earth some strange and interesting things. Indeed, out in the middle
of the lake where the whirlpool subsided, I can see a large quantity
of floating things; logs and branches, most of them probably, but who
knows what else?

Through my glass I can see a tree-trunk, or rather stump, of enormous
dimensions. From its width I judge that the whole tree must have been
as large as some of the Californian big trees. The main part of it
appears to be about ten feet wide and thirty feet long. Projecting
from it and lying prone on the water is a limb, or root, some fifteen
feet long, and perhaps two or three feet thick. Before we leave, which
will be as soon as Framingham is able to go, I shall make a raft and
visit the mass of driftwood, unless the wind providentially sends it
ashore. MAY 4TH, EVENING.

A day of most remarkable and wonderful occurrences. When I arose this
morning and looked through my glass, I saw that the mass of driftwood
still lay in the middle of the lake, motionless on the glassy surface,
but the great black stump had disappeared. I was sure it was not
hidden by the rest of the driftwood, for yesterday it lay some
distance from the other logs, and there had been no disturbance of
wind or water to change its position. I therefore concluded that it
was some heavy wood that needed to become but slightly waterlogged to
cause it to sink.

Framingham having fallen asleep at about ten, I sallied forth to look
along the shores for specimens, carrying with me a botanical can, and
a South American machete, which I have possessed since a visit to
Brazil three years ago, where I learned the usefulness of this sabre-
like thing. The shore was strewn with bits of strange plants and
shells, and I was stooping to pick one up, when suddenly I felt my
clothes plucked, and heard a snap behind me, and turning about I saw--
but I won't describe it until I tell what I did, for I did not fairly
see the terrible creature until I had swung my machete round and
sliced off the top of its head, and then tumbled down into the shallow
water where I lay almost fainting.

Here was the black log I had seen in the middle of the lake, a
monstrous elasmosaurus, and high above me on the heap of rocks lay the
thing's head with its long jaws crowded with sabre-like teeth, and its
enormous eyes as big as saucers. I wondered that it did not move, for
I expected a series of convulsions, but no sound of a commotion was
heard from the creature's body, which lay out of my sight on the other
side of the rocks. I decided that my sudden cut had acted like a
stunning blow and produced a sort of coma, and fearing lest the beast
should recover the use of its muscles before death fully took place,
and in its agony roll away into the deep water where I could not
secure it, I hastily removed the brain entirely, performing the
operation neatly, though with some trepidation, and restoring to the
head the detached segment cut off by my machete, I proceeded to
examine my prize.

In length of body, it is exactly twenty-eight feet. In the widest part
it is eight feet through laterally, and is some six feet through from
back to belly. Four great flippers, rudimentary arms and feet, and an
immensely long, sinuous, swan-like neck, complete the creature's body.
Its head is very small for the size of the body and is very round and
a pair of long jaws project in front much like a duck's bill. Its skin
is a leathery integument of a lustrous black, and its eyes are
enormous hazel optics with a soft, melancholy stare in their liquid
depths. It is an elasmosaurus, one of the largest of antediluvian
animals. Whether of the same species as those whose bones have been
discovered, I cannot say.

My examination finished, I hastened after Framingham, for I was
certain that this waif from a long past age would arouse almost any
invalid. I found him somewhat recovered from his attack of the
morning, and he eagerly accompanied me to the elasmosaurus. In
examining the animal afresh, I was astonished to find that its heart
was still beating and that all the functions of the body except
thought were being performed one hour after the thing had received its
death blow, but I knew that the hearts of sharks, have been known to
beat hours after being removed from the body, and that decapitated
frogs live, and have all the powers of motion, for weeks after their
heads have been cut off.

I removed the top of the head to look into it and here another
surprise awaited me, for the edges of the wound were granulating and
preparing to heal. The colour of the interior of the skull was
perfectly healthy and natural, there was no undue flow of blood, and
there was every evidence that the animal intended to get well and live
without a brain. Looking at the interior of the skull, I was struck by
its resemblance to a human skull; in fact, it is, as nearly as I can
judge, the size and shape of the brain-pan of an ordinary man who
wears a seven and an eighth hat. Examining the brain itself, I found
it to be the size of an ordinary human brain, and singularly like it
in general contour, though it is very inferior in fibre and has few
convolutions. MAY 5TH, MORNING.

Framingham is exceedingly ill and talks of dying, declaring that if a
natural death does not put an end to his sufferings, he will commit
suicide. I do not know what to do. All my attempts to encourage him
are of no avail, and the few medicines I have no longer fit his case
at all. MAY 5TH, EVENING.

I have just buried Framingham's body in the sand of the lake shore. I
performed no ceremonies over the grave, for perhaps the real
Framingham is not dead, though such speculation seems utterly wild.
To-morrow I shall erect a cairn upon the mound, unless indeed there
are signs that my experiment is successful, though it is foolish to
hope that it will be.

At ten this morning, Framingham's qualms left him, and he set forth
with me to see the elasmosaurus. The creature lay in the place where
we left it yesterday, its position unaltered, still breathing, all the
bodily functions performing themselves. The wound in its head had
healed a great deal during the night, and I daresay will be completely
healed within a week or so, such is the rapidity with which these
reptilian organisms repair damages to themselves. Collecting three or
four bushels of mussels, I shelled them and poured them down the
elasmosaurus's throat. With a convulsive gasp, they passed down and
the great mouth slowly closed.

"How long do you expect to keep the reptile alive?" asked Framingham.

"Until I have gotten word to a number of scientific friends, and they
have come here to examine it. I shall take you to the nearest
settlement and write letters from there. Returning, I shall feed the
elasmosaurus regularly until my friends come, and we decide what final
disposition to make of it. We shall probably stuff it."

"But you will have trouble in killing it, unless you hack it to
pieces, and that won't do. Oh, if I only had the vitality of that
animal. There is a monster whose vitality is so splendid that the
removal of its brain does not disturb it. I should feel very happy if
someone would remove my body. If I only had some of that beast's
useless strength."

"In your case, the possession of a too active brain has injured the
body," said I. "Too much brain exercise and too little bodily exercise
are the causes of your trouble. It would be a pleasant thing if you
had the robust health of the elasmosaurus, but what a wonderful thing
it would be if that mighty engine had your intelligence."

I turned away to examine the reptile's wounds, for I had brought my
surgical instruments with me, and intended to dress them. I was
interrupted by a burst of groans from Framingham and turning, beheld
him rolling on the sand in an agony. I hastened to him, but before I
could reach him, he seized my case of instruments, and taking the
largest and sharpest knife, cut his throat from ear to ear.

"Framingham, Framingham," I shouted and, to my astonishment, he looked
at me intelligently. I recalled the case of the French doctor who, for
some minutes after being guillotined, answered his friends by winking.

"If you hear me, wink," I cried. The right eye closed and opened with
a snap. Ah, here the body was dead and the brain lived. I glanced at
the elasmosaurus. Its mouth, half closed over its gleaming teeth,
seemed to smile an invitation. The intelligence of the man and the
strength of the brain. The living body and the living brain. The
curious resemblance of the reptile's brain-pan to that of a man
flashed across my mind.

"Are you still alive, Framingham?"

The right eye winked. I seized my machete, for there was no time for
delicate instruments. I might destroy all by haste and roughness, I
was sure to destroy all by delay. I opened the skull and disclosed the
brain. I had not injured it, and breaking the wound of the
elasmosaurus's head, placed the brain within. I dressed the wound and,
hurrying to the house, brought all my store of stimulants and
administered them.

For years the medical fraternity has been predicting that brain-
grafting will some time be successfully accomplished. Why has it never
been successfully accomplished? Because it has not been tried.
Obviously, a brain from a dead body cannot be used and what living man
would submit to the horrible process of having his head opened, and
portions of his brain taken for the use of others?

The brains of men are frequently examined when injured and parts of
the brain removed, but parts of the brains of other men have never
been substituted for the parts removed. No uninjured man has ever been
found who would give any portion of his brain for the use of another.
Until criminals under sentence of death are handed over to science for
experimentation, we shall not know what can be done in the way of
brain-grafting. But public opinion would never allow it.

Conditions are favourable for a fair and thorough trial of my
experiment. The weather is cool and even, and the wound in the head of
the elasmosaurus has every chance for healing. The animal possesses a
vitality superior to any of our later day animals, and if any organism
can successfully become the host of a foreign brain, nourishing and
cherishing it, the elasmosaurus with its abundant vital forces can do
it. It may be that a new era in the history of the world will begin
here. MAY 6TH, NOON.

I think I will allow my experiment a little more time. MAY 7TH, NOON.

It cannot be imagination. I am sure that as I looked into the
elasmosaurus's eyes this morning there was expression in them. Dim, it
is true, a sort of mistiness that floats over them like the reflection
of passing clouds. MAY 8TH, NOON.

I am more sure than yesterday that there is expression in the eyes, a
look of troubled fear, such as is seen in the eyes of those who dream
nightmares with unclosed lids. MAY 11TH, EVENING.

I have been ill, and have not seen the elasmosaurus for three days,
but I shall be better able to judge the progress of the experiment by
remaining away a period of some duration. MAY 12TH, NOON.

I am overcome with awe as I realise the success that has so far
crowned my experiment. As I approached the elasmosaurus this morning,
I noticed a faint disturbance in the water near its flippers. I
cautiously investigated, expecting to discover some fishes nibbling at
the helpless monster, and saw that the commotion was not due to
fishes, but to the flippers themselves, which were feebly moving.

"Framingham, Framingham," I bawled at the top of my voice. The vast
bulk stirred a little, a very little, but enough to notice. Is the
brain, or Framingham, it would perhaps be better to say, asleep, or
has he failed to establish connection with the body? Undoubtedly he
has not yet established connection with the body, and this of itself
would be equivalent to sleep, to unconsciousness. As a man born with
none of the senses would be unconscious of himself, so Framingham,
just beginning to establish connections with his new body, is only
dimly conscious of himself and sleeps. I fed him, or it--which is the
proper designation will be decided in a few days--with the usual
allowance. MAY 17TH, EVENING.

I have been ill for the past three days, and have not been out of
doors until this morning. The elasmosaurus was still motionless when I
arrived at the cove this morning. Dead, I thought; but I soon detected
signs of breathing, and I began to prepare some mussels for it, and
was intent upon my task, when I heard a slight, gasping sound, and
looked up. A feeling of terror seized me. It was as if in response to
some doubting incantations there had appeared the half-desired, yet
wholly-feared and unexpected apparition of a fiend. I shrieked, I
screamed, and the amphitheatre of rocks echoed and re-echoed my cries,
and all the time the head of the elasmosaurus raised aloft to the full
height of its neck, swayed about unsteadily, and its mouth silently
struggled and twisted, as if in an attempt to form words, while its
eyes looked at me now with wild fear and now with piteous intreaty.

"Framingham," I said.

The monster's mouth closed instantly, and it looked at me attentively,
pathetically so, as a dog might look.

"Do you understand me?"

The mouth began struggling again, and little gasps and moans issued

"If you understand me, lay your head on the rock."

Down came the head. He understood me. My experiment was a success. I
sat for a moment in silence, meditating upon the wonderful affair,
striving to realise that I was awake and sane, and then began in a
calm manner to relate to my friend what had taken place since his
attempted suicide.

"You are at present something in the condition of a partial paralytic,
I should judge," said I, as I concluded my account. "Your mind has not
yet learned to command your new body. I see you can move your head and
neck, though with difficulty. Move your body if you can. Ah, you
cannot, as I thought. But it will all come in time. Whether you will
ever be able to talk or not, I cannot say, but I think so, however.
And now if you cannot, we will arrange some means of communication.
Anyhow, you are rid of your human body and possessed of the powerful
vital apparatus you so much envied its former owner. When you gain
control of yourself, I wish you to find the communication between this
lake and the under-world, and conduct some explorations. Just think of
the additions to geological knowledge you can make. I will write an
account of your discovery, and the names of Framingham and McLennegan
will be among those of the greatest geologists."

I waved my hands in my enthusiasm, and the great eyes of my friend
glowed with a kindred fire. JUNE 2ND, NIGHT.

The process by which Framingham has passed from his first
powerlessness to his present ability to speak, and command the use of
his corporeal frame, has been so gradual that there has been nothing
to note down from day to day. He seems to have all the command over
his vast bulk that its former owner had, and in addition speaks and
sings. He is singing now. The north wind has risen with the fall of
night, and out there in the darkness I hear the mighty organ pipe-
tones of his tremendous, magnificent voice, chanting the solemn notes
of the Gregorian, the full throated Latin words mingling with the
roaring of the wind in a wild and weird harmony.

To-day he attempted to find the connection between the lake and the
interior of the earth, but the great well that sinks down in the
centre of the lake is choked with rocks and he has discovered nothing.
He is tormented by the fear that I will leave him, and that he will
perish of loneliness. But I shall not leave him. I feel too much pity
for the loneliness he would endure, and besides, I wish to be on the
spot should another of those mysterious convulsions open the
connection between the lake and the lower world.

He is beset with the idea that should other men discover him, he may
be captured and exhibited in a circus or museum, and declares that he
will fight for his liberty even to the extent of taking the lives of
those attempting to capture him. As a wild animal, he is the property
of whomsoever captures him, though perhaps I can set up a title to him
on the ground of having tamed him. JULY 6TH.

One of Framingham's fears has been realised. I was at the pass leading
into the basin, watching the clouds grow heavy and pendulous net
appear over a knoll in the pass, followed by its bearer, a small man,
unmistakably a scientist, but I did not note him well, for as he
looked down into the valley, suddenly there burst forth with all the
power and volume of a steam calliope, the tremendous voice of
Framingham, singing a Greek song of Anacreon to the tune of "Where did
you get that hat?" and the singer appeared in a little cove, the black
column of his great neck raised aloft, his jagged jaws wide open.

That poor little scientist. He stood transfixed, his butterfly net
dropped from his hand, and as Framingham ceased his singing, curvetted
and leaped from the water and came down with a splash that set the
whole cove swashing, and laughed a guffaw that echoed among the cliffs
like the laughing of a dozen demons, he turned and sped through the
pass at all speed.

I skip all entries for nearly a year. They are unimportant.

JUNE 30TH, 1897.

A change is certainly coming over my friend. I began to see it some
time ago, but refused to believe it and set it down to imagination. A
catastrophe threatens, the absorption of the human intellect by the
brute body. There are precedents for believing it possible. The human
body has more influence over the mind than the mind has over the body.
The invalid, delicate Framingham with refined mind, is no more. In his
stead is a roistering monster, whose boisterous and commonplace
conversation betrays a constantly growing coarseness of mind.

No longer is he interested in my scientific investigations, but
pronounces them all bosh. No longer is his conversation such as an
educated man can enjoy, but slangy and diffuse iterations concerning
the trivial happenings of our uneventful life. Where will it end? In
the absorption of the human mind by the brute body? In the final
triumph of matter over mind and the degradation of the most mundane
force and the extinction of the celestial spark? Then, indeed, will
Edward Framingham be dead, and over the grave of his human body can I
fittingly erect a headstone, and then will my vigil in this valley be

APRIL 15TH, 1899.

Prof. William G. Breyfogle.

DEAR SIR,--the inclosed intact manuscript and the fragments which
accompany it, came into my possession in the manner I am about to
relate and I inclose them to you, for whom they were intended by their
late author. Two weeks ago, I was dispatched into the mountains after
some Indians who had left their reservation, having under my command a
company of infantry and two squads of cavalrymen with mountain
howitzers. On the seventh day of our pursuit, which led us into a wild
and unknown part of the mountains, we were startled at hearing from
somewhere in front us a succession of bellowings of a very unusual
nature, mingled with the cries of a human being apparently in the last
extremity, and rushing over a rise before us, we looked down upon a
lake and saw a colossal, indescribable thing engaged in rending the
body of a man.

Observing us, it stretched its jaws and laughed, and in saying this, I
wish to be taken literally. Part of my command cried out that it was
the devil, and turned and ran. But I rallied them, and thoroughly
enraged at what we had witnessed, we marched down to the shore, and I
ordered the howitzers to be trained upon the murderous creature. While
we were doing this, the thing kept up a constant blabbing that bore a
distinct resemblance to human speech, sounding very much like the
jabbering of an imbecile, or a drunk trying to talk. I gave the
command to fire and to fire again, and the beast tore out into the
lake in its death-agony, and sank.

With the remains of Dr. McLennegan, I found the foregoing manuscript
intact, and the torn fragments of the diary from which it was
compiled, together with other papers on scientific subjects, all of
which I forward. I think some attempt should be made to secure the
body of the elasmosaurus. It would be a priceless addition to any

Arthur W. Fairchild.
Captain U.S.A.


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