THE MONSTER OF LAKE LA METRIE (1899): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

Monster of Lake La MetrieTHE MONSTER OF LAKE LA METRIE (1899) – This short story was written by Wardon Allan Curtis and was first published in the August of 1899 issue of Pearson’s Magazine.

Dr James McLennegan and his deeply depressed friend Edward Framingham travel to Wyoming to investigate oddities surrounding Lake La Metrie. Soundings make the lake seem to be bottomless and periodically fossils and extinct plant life show up in its waters.

Monster of Lake La Metrie 3The pair of researchers begin to theorize that the lake reaches down to the Earth’s “hollow interior.” (Yes, it’s one of THOSE notions again.) They suspect that plant and animal species long extinct on the surface are still alive deep within the planet and occasionally wash up in the lake’s waters.

One day during McLennegan and Framingham’s stay a full-grown elasmosaurus dinosaur emerges from the depths of Lake La Metrie.

Monster of Lake La Metrie 4Dr McLennegan survives his encounter with the creature by using a machete to slice off much of the elasmosaurus’ head, including its brain. (This made me want to read an entire series of adventures featuring a machete-wielding scientist in the 1890s. But I’m kind of weird.)

Meanwhile, Edward Framingham’s depression has deepened to the point where he tries to take his own life by slashing his throat. He fails, and McLennegan is able to keep him alive for the moment.

The doctor continues studying the dinosaur and his dying colleague and notices that the elasmosaurus’ brain shows signs of regrowing, just like limbs of various lizards will grow back if severed.

Framingham can’t speak due to his sliced vocal chords but Dr McLennegan manages to set up a means of non-verbal communication with his still-despondent friend. Edward gives permission for McLennegan to transplant his (Framingham’s) brain into the elasmosaurus’ skull before its own brain can further regenerate.

Monster of Lake La Metrie 5This transplantation is successful and after two weeks the dinosaur’s body is being intelligently controlled by Framingham’s brain. You can insert your own Tammy and the T-Rex joke here.

After a month, the creature can even speak in an inhuman voice and Framingham expresses his fear to Dr McLennegan that he will be abandoned or wind up in a circus, especially after a passerby witnesses the beast singing in Greek.

James promises he won’t let that happen but ultimately things are out of his hands. Framingham’s brain shows signs of regression and soon the elasmosaurus begins behaving more and more bestial. Edward’s conversation – through the dinosaur’s mouth, of course – becomes crude and primitive.

In the end no more humanity remains in the creature, which turns on McLennegan, eats him and goes berserk. The United States Army is forced to intervene, Kaiju Movie-style and ultimately kills the Monster of Lake La Metrie.

This story has a fun B-Movie or Creature Feature feel and would make a great experimental short for a film student somewhere. The novelty of an army in the age of horses, cannon-fire and Gatling Guns taking on a giant monster is reminiscent of Pulgasari or the Majin movies.  

FOR WASHINGTON IRVING’S 1809 depiction of an invasion from the moon click here:     https://glitternight.com/2014/05/05/ancient-science-fiction-the-men-of-the-moon-1809-by-washington-irving/

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Filed under Ancient Science Fiction

2 responses to “THE MONSTER OF LAKE LA METRIE (1899): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

  1. Pingback: THE MONSTER OF LAKE LA METRIE (1899): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION — Balladeer’s Blog – Experimental Film & Music Video Festival

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