Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Titanoboa vs T-Rex

This may be relevant to my previous post about giant snakes.

I place it here for future reference, and shall be back to write on some amazing discoveries I have made in the near future.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Monster in Lake Van

Recent news that a film about the Lake Van Monster -- Turkey's version of the creature that reportedly inhabits Loch Ness -- is currently in production has sensitised me to relevant entries in the vast library of journals recounting the experiences and thoughts of Hugo Drakenswode. I will be seeking to deal with the Loch Ness monster in due course, as its role may be pivotal. In the meantime, however, it is worth remembering that Nessie is not the only "lake monster" in the world, even if she is the celebrity of the bunch.

Lake Van in eastern Turkey is the largest lake in that country and the second largest in the Middle East, measuring 119 kilometres at its widest point, covering 3,755 square kilometres with a shore length of 410 kilometres. In depth it reaches at least 451 metres. Here is a picture of it taken from space (from the Wikipedia entry):

Current folklore and assorted tourist pamphlets claim that there is a monster in the lake. It is said that the Lake Van monster was first sighted in 1995, was supposedly photographed in 1997 and since then over 1000 people have made claim to having seen it. Most of the descriptions and the alleged photographs of the cryptozoological entity suggest a Plesiosaur-like creature similar to the one associated with Loch Ness, though horns, spinal fins and frills are sometimes reported.

To save me from repeating the history of the creature, I have embraced modern blogging technology with sufficient efficacy to embed this video of a TV program that provides most of the relevant details:

Though the earliest date ascribed to sightings of the monster is 1995, here in Drakenswode's journal for 1942, I came across this annotation:
It is my firm belief that the so-called "lake monster" phenomenon -- by which I seek to designate a large aquatic beast with an elongated, serpent-like neck and tail and a thick body -- is neither a delusion nor a jape perpetrated by larrikans or those who would profit from the mystery. Nor are these creatures, which by reputation inhabit many lakes around the world, naturalistic animals that have as yet eluded scientific scrutiny. There is an uncanny quality to them, markedly apparent in their elusive nature and in certain characteristics of the atmosphere and peripheral phenomena associated with them in eye-witness accounts of their doings.

Consider this: in the summer of 1937 I happened to be in eastern Turkey in the vicinity of Van Gölü or Lake Van, at the end lying south of Ahlat. The lake is rather large and is fully enclosed by land, having no outlet, the original outlet having been blocked by volcanic activity in the prehistoric past. I was there seeking a man named Serhan Uygur, who contacted me with claims that some sort of primeval humanoid lived in caves on the slopes of the very volcano that had affected Lake Van's outflow long ago -- Nemrut Dağı. I was unable to trace Uygur at the vague address provided, but learned that he had disappeared a week or two before, after hiking in the direction of Nemrut. From this it could be assumed that he had gone to re-acquaint himself with the domain of the reported humanoids in impatient anticipation of my coming.

As far I was able to determine, I followed his tracks and regrettably found myself lost in an area of scrubby wilderness. I slept wild overnight and on the morrow headed eastward, which I believed would take me back to the village where I had begun this abortive trip. I had once again miscalculated, however, and found myself on the rugged western shores of Lake Van. Believing that an agricultural township lay a few miles southward along the shores of the lake, I headed that way -- by chance coming upon a tribal grouping of the rare Van Kedisi cat, which was reputed to have an unusual fascination with water. This at least I can confirm. I remained to study its behaviour from afar (see annotations under "Van Kedisi" AV-679-1936), becoming so distracted that I barely noted that time had past and evening was once again upon me.

At that point, the several cats I had been watching on a rocky stretch suddenly stopped what they were doing and stared over the darkening water. Fading sunlight corrugated across the water's surface and I perceived a strange glow about 100 yards from shore -- in what was, I was later told, a particularly deep section of the lake. The cats remained motionless for perhaps two minutes. All at once my ears did hum as though from resonance remaining in the air after a loud bell had ceased to chime and the cats, clearly disturbed by this, began to howl in unison. Then as one they turned and leapt away, disappearing at lightning speed into the nooks and crannies that gave this part of the shoreline its rugged appearance.

My line of sight was oriented inland at that moment, tracing the escape routes of the felines, when something large moved in the corner of my eye. I turned quickly, in time to perceive a huge black shape, like a gigantic serpent rearing up out of the water. It was silhouetted against the sky, so I could make out little detail. However, what I could make out was obviously a vast reptilian beast of prehistoric demeanour. Perhaps it had detected the presence of the cats, which must have numbered some five and twenty -- or perhaps it was I that had enticed it to rise. Perhaps it was neither, but mere coincidence. Either way, it saw me now, standing enraptured a mere stretch of the neck away. I did not wait upon its pleasure, but stumbled back, regained my footing and took the lead of the Van Kedisi. After perhaps twenty paces, I could hear nothing behind me, so took the chance to stop and glance back. Nothing was visible, not even ripples upon the water... though I fancied that I caught the last glimmer of a purple glow deep within the waters of the lake.

Though during that trip I found out little concerning the creature I had seen -- the locals showing typical retinence to speak on the matter -- and nor did it subsequently re-emerge, even when, over the following few evenings, I stood in the same spot to tempt it with my presence. During my ramblings, however, I did come upon the mangled corpse of a large man, dead some week or so, by my estimation. Markings on the ground caused me to deduce that his body, dead and bloodied, had been dragged some ten feet from the point of death to where he then lay, half in the water of Lake Van. He had clearly been eaten. Locals, drawn by my calls, identified the deceased as Serhan Uygur, on the basis of a few shreds of garment that remained.

Soon after I was forced to leave the area when a local tribal leader, annoyed by my persistant questions regarding the monster I had seen, somewhat impertinantly accused me of murdering Uygur. Suspicion came easily to the townsfolk and at that time their laws were based more on immediate impressions than on burden of proof. Wisdom dictated a speedy departure and though I am often described as less than wise, in this case there seemed little to be gained by staying to risk a silent knifing in the dark.

In the heat of subsequent adventures I never found time to return to investigate the strange creature that had appeared in Lake Van, though I wondered what the light in the depths had meant and how the beast had contrived to come and go so rapidly. Soon though, my curiosity turned elsewhere.

Just last week, however, I was in Nevada County, California, investigating yet another humanoid sighting -- this one of the so-called Bigfoot variety. My queries led me to the shores of a lake, a lake called Lake Van Norden. The "Lake" is more like a valley that boasts swampland rather than an actual lake, though I am told that when the rains are frequent it easily fills up in an eager attempt to justify its name.

In a nearby hotel I fell into conversation with a travelling salesman who, when he heard what I did with my time, decided to recount several curious tales he'd heard -- not of Bigfoot, but of a huge serpent that is prone to appear on the Lake Van Norden valley floor, amidst the grasslands, if no water is present. Its appearance coincides with storms that fill the valley with an obnoxious buzzing sound and a dull, "funny-coloured" light, as he described it. "I've seen it myself," he said. "A sort of purple glow?" I asked. "Why, yes," he said, "Purple... yes. I was heading westward along the roadway there..." He pointed. "... when the sky beyond the hills darkened and began to reflect a purple light from below. My ears were ringing, too."

"Did you investigate?" I asked.

He looked at me as though he could see now just what sort of fool I was. "I was pressed for time," he added.

Soon afterward he left, though by then several locals who had been drinking in close enough proximity to overhear our conversation confirmed his story, adding more to the description of a serpentine apparition with a bulbous body that had been spied from a distance squirming through the grasslands, heading for the parts of the lake that had not sunk into the earth. One directed me to an exact location and the next day I went there. Nothing eventuated and I could find nothing of interest, though I did not have my camera with me and so when I happened upon a professional photographer there -- a charming bearded man by the name of Edward Weston, who was taking pictures of the lake -- I begged that he might send me one for my records. It came today in the mail in accordance with his word and I include it here.

Notice the broken tree stump in the foreground. A more skeptical man might point out that such landmarks could, during periods of inclement weather, appear to a befuddled observer as a serpent rising from the ground or the water.

Yet I remain less skeptical than I perhaps should be. I am not one who readily dismisses synchronicities as random coincidence. There is much in these two stories that suggests a weirdness of the kind that is my very lifeblood. I may not understand what it means right now -- the two vastly separated Lake Vans, the serpentine sightings, the buzzzing, the purple light, even the reports of humanoid creatures in the same vicinity -- but it is such that I must needs return to these places and these tales to seek truth from them.
Return to them he did, and least in regards to other lake monster sightings.

Note that the photograph that Drakenswode refers to was missing from the file, though I found one that fits the description elsewhere as I sorted through his vast collections of notes and must assume that it is the one. It was torn, stained and creased, with the words "Lake ... West..." still visible in faded pen on the back:

More on Lake Monsters later as I compile Drakeswode's notes.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Persistance of Dinosaurs

My promises are clearly not to be taken as gospel. I have had every intention of establishing a regular program of updates to this site, and to tell my story through it, but so far have been unable to make any significant progress. Yes, it is true that internet archiving must be of a lower priority than some more pressing activities, yet it behoves me to achieve some sort of credibility and such irregularity is clearly not the way to do it.

Never mind. I was hoping that by making a start and committing myself in this way, it would facilitate my revelatory ambitions and if that is not to be the case, I must be content merely to do what I can.

I came across this image the other day, which is supposed to have been taken in the Ta Prohm Temple, located deep in the Cambodia jungle.

The temple was apparently built in 1186 and this relief sculpture of what appears to be a Stegosaurus is being touted by some within the web community (not to mention creationist believers) as "proof" that dinosaur survival into modern times -- some 155 million years after the species supposedly became extinct -- is a definite possibility and a blow to evolutionary science.

Even abandoning the application of Occam's Razor, which would suggest any number of more likely explanations for this image -- not least of which is sheer unadulterated digital fakery -- the idea that prehistoric species have continued to live for all that time without undergoing any change whatsoever, evolutionary or otherwise -- merely to adapt to climactic differences, if for no other reason -- seems ridiculous.

Now, no doubt you are waiting for me to quote some incident from my great grandfather Hugo Drakenswode's diaries to indicate otherwise. But no! In fact I have come across few references that bear on the issue of direct prehistoric survival, and though I am far from having comprehensively scoured his records, I do not expect to. Why not, you ask?

Well, he does have this to say:

I read Mr Conan Doyle's tale of prehistoric survivors existing in the then modern world [he's referring to The Lost World, of course -- DO] with some amusement, being particularly curious in regards to the naturalistic air he attempts to give to what would be, if true, a vastly unnatural phenomenon. I do not here refer to the mere existence of dinosaurs in modern times, but how all evolutionary trends appear to be suspended in his land of antediluvian throwbacks, as different species from different periods seem to exist therein with very little evidence of genetic change having taken place in the creatures there despite the passage of many millenia, in which time survival would have dictated, in the natural course of things, much necessary adaptation. Still, this is fiction and though anti-evolutionary movements in the modern world would no doubt hail such a discovery as proof of their misguided belief that the natural world is not driven by evolutionary forces, I must state that in all my years seeking the hidden species of the world, I have never come upon evidence of such a survival. Oh, I have seen reptilian monsters of vast size. I have seen creatures apparently out of their time and place. But none of them could be considered to be natural creatures -- whether Dinosaurian or some other long extinct species -- at a genetic level. They are all patently unnatural, born not of the natural course of things. Just what they are, what their genesis entailed is the subject of my life-long work. Anyone reading my notes and other records seeking evidence of dinosaurs as such will, I fear, be greatly disappointed.

Despite this declaration -- which is, I must add, of great significance for understanding not only Drakenswode's work but the nature of reality itself -- he also wrote the following memorandum, some two decades after having penned the first.

I have found what appears to be a dinosaur and analysis of its cellular structure offers no indication that it is not a genuine member of that ancient family. I was able to have it forensically examined because I brought it down... I hesitate to say that I killed the beast as I suspect that it was never alive, not here in our time, not as we understand the term alive at any rate. I believe what I have here is not evidence of a prehistoric continuity, but of a profound discontinuity, and it is this which means that my long-developed theories regarding the nature of the majority of cryptobiological finds need not be abandoned. I contend that in this "prehistoric survival" I was not dealing with a natural survival, but with an unnatural phenomenon.

I was particularly drawn to this statement of Drakenswode's in the aftermath of the attack upon Cryptonbury, as accounted here.

But more on that at a later time.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Another Day

Having created this blog last week, and looking at it now as the cultural artifact that it will undoubtedly become, I'm conscious of its pomposity, the almost ludicrous pretension that underlies my words. Everything I said was true enough, but the way I said it seems to turn Doug Ormsham into a fictional construct -- a sort of noirish loner burdened by opposition and by doubt and now making a vain attempt to bully himself into a state of conviction and self-justified ambition.

Well, damn it, that's what the truth is like. Or rather that's what any attempt to record truth inevitable requires: a fictionalisation of the chaos of reality that allows our limited minds to grasp the complex and imponderable depths that inform it.

On Saturday, I sat in my makeshift study, surrounded by books and files, sound tapes and film reels, old fading photographs and newspaper cuttings -- all marked with the coded symbols of the esoteric filing system that Hugo Drakenswode assigned to them. To coordinate these is a daunting task and for a long time I found myself unable to see the possibility of coherence anywhere in the random scraps of absurdity that they represent.

Outside my window I could see cars in the distance, a young boy riding a skateboard, one of my neighbours -- Mrs Meštrović, I believe is her name, a Croatian immigrant fully integrated into a society that was, 20 years ago, alien to her -- standing, tea in hand, staring at her roses. All these are evidence of a life that simply does not embrace the realities that Drakenswode persistently uncovered. It is world to which I used to belong, but one I have been forced to abandon. In that world people are part of a communal society that offers them support, both monetary and emotional. Once no longer connected to such a supportive network one easily feels as though one is drifting inexorably toward an abyss, doomed in fact to plunge into it and be lost forever.

I came upon a photographic image that has apparently been doing the rounds of the internet of late, showing a gigantic snake in the Baleh river in Borneo.

Reportedly this photograph was taken from a helicopter by an unnamed member of a team monitoring flood conditions in Borneo. In this age of digital fakery, it is, of course, easily dismissed -- in this case with good reason. To connect the giant serpent in the picture with a local legend -- the Nabau, "a dragon-like, shape-shifting sea serpent" -- seems in the "real" world to be a somewhat fatuous attempt to give resonance and legitimacy to what is unlikely to be more than a smirking hoax. As such it serves not to enlighten but to obscure the realities of what does, in fact, lurk in the hidden corners of the world.

And yet...

I found this brief entry in one of my great-grandfather Hugo Drakenswode's archives:

Nabau, giant snake -- Dennison told me he caught such a creature some decade ago and when I showed appropriate skepticism took me down into his cellars, where he uncovered the most enormous snake skin I have ever seen. Perhaps 50 feet in length and yet only a partial item. Extrapolating from it to a full creature I would guess its owner must have been some 200 feet long. Dennison insisted it was not a fully grown specimen. It shimmered, even then, so long after life had been taken from it. I asked Dennison about its origins. He was evasive as to why he had been in Borneo and could not adequately explain how he came to have only a quarter of the full thing. I left thinking that the Baleh river might be a place I should visit.

The photograph may be fake, but need the reality be a falsification as well?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Another Beginning

My name is Douglas Oudemans Ormsham. I am alone in the world, pursued by a society of evil men determined to gain access to my maternal great-grandfather's vast archive of historical writings. As the leading field cryptozoologist of his day, forced into obscurity by an active and dangerous conspiracy instigated by jealous opponents, Dr Hugo Drakenswode hunted and chronicled vast realities and dark truths that would have broken the minds of lesser men. His legacy holds secrets that some would kill to keep hidden.

Upon his death Drakenswode bequeathed his priceless Library to me -- but I have inadvertently lost much of it and now must strive to recover what I can. For several years I have been fighting a desperate battle against man and monster. Twice I have begun to recount those battles -- and to offer details of Drakenswode's exploits to the world -- and twice have been thwarted. About a year ago, on an online forum, I wrote the following -- but had to abandon that venue almost at its inception due to private difficulties and attacks upon my person. This, however, is what I wrote then, and it still stands in this new endeavour:

This is new for me. Up until now the only web presence I have had has been through the kind ministrations of Robert Hood, who, as co-editor of the giant monster anthology Daikaiju! Giant Monster Tales, set aside a section of his own website to publicise my correspondence with him. This arrangement lasted for some time, but unfortunately in July of 2005 circumstances of a dark and sinister nature conspired to force me into exile, and I have been out of contact ever since. At the time, taking any alternative course may have proven fatal.

Now, however, I can see my way clear to pursuing my original goal of making public the correspondence of the eminent Hugo Drakenswode, my great-grandfather. However, I intend to be cautious. I feel that I should keep the ongoing history and exploration of these matters of profound cryptobiological research separate from the fictional emphasis of Mr Hood's site. That good man should not be inconvenienced (or perchance put in the way of danger) by having direct dealings with me. There is too much at stake. So I am now experimenting with this [deleted] technology as a convenient way of continuing my efforts. It will, I believe, prove to have considerable advantage over previous methods.

However, on this new site I do not plan to recount the history previously explicated in the emails of early 2005. Those missives, as fragmentary and flawed as they are, remain available on Mr Hood's website -- and anyone who would like to get up to speed on the matter should seek for information there. In my next posting I will begin to explain what occurred after the destruction of the Drakenswode family estate of "Cryptonbury" in Hampshire that drove me to take refuge in utter, and bleakly unwelcome, obscurity.

This time I plan to be less timid and less intimidated than circumstances and my own cowardice made me then.

This time I have different resources that my enemies may come to fear.

This time they will not silence me.