SEASON 1/EPISODE 3: Made of Stone
Content Warnings: Animal death, animal eating habits, animal mating habits, animal violence, animal injury, homelessness, mental illness, death of a sentient creature, being underground
INT. DAY. SUBWAY TUNNEL.
Adventurous music plays.
Sound of dripping water and the tunnel.
SEBASTIAN: I don’t know why people have such a problem with rats. I mean, sure,
they carry diseases because of the fleas on them, but I think they’re
pretty cute. Don’t you? The ones down here in the subway are for sure.
I kind of like seeing them dip under the tracks. I even had one hitch a
ride on the subway once. I was in a train car and all of these people just started screaming and I had no idea why. This poor guy was just sprinting across the train car trying to find a place to hide. He settled down in a corner and hid very well, his fur acting as a great camouflage with the six train’s metallic walls and the shadow underneath the seat. I was carrying some gloves in my
bag, so I put them on and picked him up.I dropped him off in a place close by and just let him be.He squeaked when I came near him. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a rat squeak before. Movies make it sound like it happens all of the time, but maybe not? Or maybe I just don’t work with them enough to notice? I do know that a lot of the noises rats do make are above the range of human hearing. Like, if you tickle them, they actually laugh.
Sebastian lets out a chuckle.
SEBASTIAN: But don’t worry. I’m not here for the rats. I’m here for something else entirely.
A train approaches
SEBASTIAN: Hold on. It’s about to get loud in here.
You hear clicking noises.
SEBASTIAN: Do you hear that? That’s them. That’s what I’m here for.
The train barrels past. The clicking dwindles.
SEBASTIAN: I have… twelve minutes until the next train. Perfect. I’ll tell you what
I am nervous about. Having a train barrel past you when you’re only two feet away? Yeah, that. What you just heard are the Tommyknockers. They’re a subspecies of goblin found in caves all around the world, but, here, in New York City, Tommyknockers have made their home, like many magical creatures, living in subway tunnels running underneath the city. The Tommyknockers enjoy
living in complete darkness, so they’ll try their best to stay away
from the more occupied locations in the subway system. It… takes a
little illegal exploration to wind up in the most popular habitats,
which... is exactly what I’ve done. I think my favorite part about seeing
these abandoned parts of the subway system is all of the artwork that just was left here to rot. So many mosaics that haven’t seen the light of day in over sixty years… I mean… Just imagine having designed and worked weeks on your art… only to have it be walled up or sealed away… "Left in an Acheron-like solemnity and Darkness." Walt Whitman said that about the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel in Brooklyn.
The river Acheron is one of the five rivers of the Greek Underworld… The river of woe. The good news is that Tommyknockers love dark, abandoned, and gloomy, but that doesn’t mean they don’t interact with humans. They have, on hundreds of occasions, helped people lost in caves or, more frequently, mines find their way out.
SEBASTIAN: I am right beneath a colony of Eastern Tommyknockers. They are a
flightless species with large ears and a dependence on sound to
hunt and guide themselves. Their call sounds like knocking, which is
how they got their name. I have outfitted my flashlight with a red lens to not disturb them.The Tommyknockers are relatively bald, with very pale skin. Now that I think about it, they look a lot like Sphinx Cats, if cats had bat faces… and stubby tails. And... primate-looking limbs. You know what I mean… I hope. This is the smallest species of Tommyknocker, the largest that we have discovered being able to grow up to three feet in height, but these guys are only about a foot tall.
There are some grunts coming down the way. Small and erratic.
SEBASTIAN: Crap. Hold on. The Tommyknockers won’t like this. Well, guess it’s as good a time as any. This is the Common House Boggart. They’re standing at, well, about seven inches? They have a brown coat of short fur and has dressed themselves in newspaper. Let me just…
take out my glove… Well, hello there. I am going to pick this guy up and transport them to another location.
The boggart makes a grunt. Sebastian picks them up.
SEBASTIAN: No need to be so rude. Geez. Okay. Okay. I get it. You’re mad. Calm down. Calm down. Calm. Calm. Okay. I’m putting you in my bag now.
Yeah, I am. That’s what you get for not behaving.
Sebastian stuffs the boggart in his bag. It growls and fight fabric.
SEBASTIAN: Please don’t pee. Whatever you do, don’t pee in there. Please? The Common House Boggart is not a species of its own, but is, well, I guess, a hulked out version of what is called the Common House Brownie. The Common House Brownie is a species of fae that is capable of speech. But… when they get like this… they just… can’t
manage to anymore. If you can’t tell already, Boggarts aren’t like the
ones in Harry Potter, where they shapeshift into your greatest fear,
but they can make life a living hell for you and are considered to be a
pest in most communities. I’m going to bring this one down to
the Brownie shelter. It’s a homeless Brownie initiative that feeds Brownies and gives them a place to live so that they don’t… go bad. To fae, Boggarts are a lot like rats. Boggarts are especially susceptible to being hunted by other fae for the sole purpose of ridding the area of them. It’s… problematic given the fact that Boggarts are intelligent creatures once taken care of. Back in Europe, when people believed in the fae more, they would leave sugarmilk and other offerings out to the Brownies in return for taking care of their home. But
when those offerings stop, or when the Brownies lose their home, they begin to grow jaded and transform into the Boggart. Brownies have the ability to change their size as well as the texture of their skin and fur, puffing themselves up and rustling their fur into bristles to ward off predators, but when they transform into the Boggart, these abilities go into hyperdrive and cause them to be in a constant state of
aggression with the world around them. Boggarts thrive on abandoned locations and attack anything moving into their territory. They are… mostly harmless, but in larger groups can become very dangerous if you aren’t careful. Many humans confuse Boggarts with ghosts because Boggarts live in old asylums or abandoned homes. Some even live in newer homes and go unnoticed until it’s too late.
The sound of people begins emerging as Sebastian enters subway station.
SEBASTIAN: Alright. Logging off.
EXT. NIGHT. UPPER EAST SIDE STREET.
SEBASTIAN: The boggart has been dropped off at the shelter. They brought down
the book of missing Brownies and identified them as Aehdan Dill.
They… got displaced from a home during the Brooklyn gentrification.
They think they went missing around 2015 and have… been wandering around since then. They’ll start a process of giving them new clothes, usually stuff donated from Build-a-bear, and give them a room. Then they’ll start therapy… I just hope that they’ll be alright. I did as much as I can… But I hope that the shelter becomes a home for them. It sucks because people really don’t believe in the fae anymore, so leaving a Brownie an offering… Just doesn’t happen. Wish that it did. I really wish that it did. Anyways, it worked out because the next creature I was hoping to get a look at are nocturnal. Just for your guys’ context, I am in the Upper East Side of New York. One of the great things about this area are all of the stone carvings on the buildings, the faces and the animals… But what I bet you didn’t know is that, at night, some of these works of art are actually different species of gargoyle! I’ve heard reports of an Eastern Maned here in this area and have been trying to look for it for over a week now. Gargoyles, unlike their mythology and the awesome cartoon, are not made of stone and are unable to fly, but they are a very agile species with a remarkable coloration that renders it similar to the building it inhabits and gives
it an appearance to stone. From records that I have been sent, gargoyles were often confused with dragons, another reptilian species, because of their appearance and have adapted to the stone used in human cities for survival. It is very similar to the evolutionary
path of the Peppered Moth, a London-based species of moth that changed from a white and black to a grey and black due to pollution in the city. The paws of Gargoyles are covered in millions of small hairs called setae, which allows for them to be able to climb surfaces
with ease as well as hang on to them for long periods of time. Just like the geckos I would see around the house growing up in Panama. They sleep and remain inactive during most of the day, but come out and hunt at night. (Their favorite food by the way, is pigeon.) During the day, they sleep and sunbathe, but if a creature were to roost on them or,even, in their mouth, the Gargoyle would use the opportunity to strike. Gargoyles, like all reptiles, are cold-blooded, but have live births, with a litter of one to three. I am at an apartment building looking around. The building has dozens of grotesques, which are decorative faces not used to conduct water to another location, which is what stone gargoyles are used for. The word “gargoyle” comes from a word meaning to gargle, because water is constantly flowing out of their mouths.One way to tell a stone gargoyle from a real one is to see if water is flowing out of their mouths. One of the locations with the most gargoyles in the world, and the most
famous, is Notre-Dame… the fire was devastating to their environment, so I hope that they will be okay. From what I've been told, the Gargoyles have relocated to other locations in the city, but that was their home for hundreds of years. The gargoyle has
a lifespan ranging from 70 to 100 years. I believe the oldest living gargoyle was estimated to be about 117 years old.
Sebastian lets out a laugh.
SEBASTIAN: There she is. The Maned Gargoyle is one of the smallest of its species… Man, I didn’t intend for that to become a trend today, but here we are. This is a female, roughly 30 years old, but that’s just a guess. She’s so high up I can barely get a look. Oh, she is really fast. Look at her go! She’s skipping across this building with ease, taking full advantage of her sitae and powerful leg muscles that propel
her. Well, what do you know, she has found a bird nest nearby. She will be attacking the nest to consume the eggs within it. The Maned Gargoyle gets its name from the frill-like mane around its head.
Really wish that I could get closer, but I assume that it would be very
weird to knock on someone’s door and just say “oh, hey, I’m a mythozoologist, like a cryptozoologist, but for creatures that you read about in fairy tales. You have a gargoyle moving outside your apartment, do you mind if I crack open your window and try to attract it to the room with chicken breasts and then take pictures of it to document its biological features for later study?” Looks like the gargoyle is moving back to her perch. Funnily enough, gargoyles will often knock down other stone gargoyles to replace them. Now
that I know where her perch is, I will be able to come back tomorrow and take a picture! Yay! Okay, that’s all I have planned for tonight other than a date with Flynn… If I’m late again he will probably
kill me, so I will talk to all you later. This is Sebastian, signing off.
ADVENTUROUS MUSIC PLAYS INTO OUTRO.
END OF EPISODE.
ADVENTUROUS MUSIC PLAYS.
CREATURE FUN FACT: In the mythology, the gargoyle emerges from a French story, where a dragon terrorizes the town of Rouen in the seventh century. It was said to have a long neck, batlike wings, and lived in a cave by the River Siene. We have no confirmed reports of a dragon matching this description.
The Viridian Wild is created, written, and produced by Davis Walden with creative consulting by Nicole Miller. Our music is composed by Daryl Banner. This episode features the voice of Davis Walden as Sebastian and Alex Welch as Aedhan Dill. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as The Viridian Wild or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more and find transcripts of this episode at theviridianwild.com. We would like to thank our first Adventurers joining us on this journey: Joe and Mandy Walden. You can support Sebastian’s study of the magical world around us on our patreon at www.patreon.com/theviridianwild and gain access to bonus material such as bloopers and book recommendations. The Viridian Wild is a product of Always in My Head Productions. Till next time, happy trails!