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Camp Royaneh, the Boy Scout camp where I work has been around for many years. 86 years to be precise. However, what people often forget is, prior to becoming a Boy Scout camp, this place was the Watson Ranch, and before that it was controlled and inhabited by the Pomo Indians.
One thing that is worth noting about the Pomo Tribes of this particular area is that they were famous for there detailed legends, both about the area, and its denizens. These legends spanned from tales of creation, to epic myths explaining exactly why the Chinook Salmon of the Russian River swim upstream, to tales of how the Coyote stole from the sun to get the Pomo the gift of fire. However, perhaps the most notable thing about the legends of the Pomo people is that all of them seem to explain, in some way, things about their world, some things of which science is yet to explain.
Specifically though, this particular tale, deals with a monstrosity of which the Pomo’s called IKTHOS THANOS, a word that seems exceptionally out of place in any language, including the native tongue of the Pomo. Furthermore it has been claimed that the letters, which made up this monstrosities name were not of this world themselves and thus the pronounced version of Ikthos Thanos’ name is undoubtedly a perversion of the true name.
The Pomo also claimed however that Ikthos’ nature was so horrible and so different that thinking to hard about his nature, on concentrating on the deadly enigma of his existence was enough to give the bravest men nightmares and drive the lesser ones to insanity.
It was, however said that Ikthos form was similar in basic form to that of, an extremely tall, warped man, but differed drastically in appearance, his face bearing a triangular shape, with black, beady eyes which seemed to hold answers to horrible questions of which none would dare to ask, and his long, ghastly crablike arms and legs, each with long, black nails would allow him, or I should say IT, to move in such a way that no animal on this planet would ever naturally move, his movements being closest to that of a crab, but his speed and poise being more similar to that of a panther.
It is also notable that throughout the land surrounding the river there are hundreds of both stone and wood carvings of this monstrosity, known to invoke nightmares in even those who know not of what they look upon.
But perhaps, the most horrifying thing of all, was the fact that Ikthos was said to dwell entirely in ones peripheral vision, just outside of the corner of one’s eyes.
As with all things, the Pomo’s reign over this land was ephemeral, and when the white man came and settled this land, many of the great legends and stories of the Pomo disappeared, and legends of creatures such as Ikthos were only spoken of in whispers, and by the occasional drunken ranch hand or prospector at campfires down by the river. Nonetheless, many a soul continued to disappear, and die near the river, though their deaths were typically chalked up to as having been the result of negligence, and the stupidity that was associated with gold miners.
Still, in a few circles, the legend of Ikthos Thanos, the monster of the Russian River and its tributaries survived the death of the Pomo people and, in the late 50’s two Camp Royaneh Staff Members, James Donnely and Humphrey Roman discovered the legend, and decided to bring it back, and would use it to frighten children down near the area of the river near the old canoe base, known as the plunge. Humphrey, who was an expert storyteller, would tell the kids about the monster, describing all its horrifying qualities and out of the water, he would emerge, wearing a rubber mask and a tarp in order to look similar to how they described Ikthos, and he would grab Humphrey and pull him under the water.
This little prank of theirs continued and caught the attention of the Camp Director at the time, Steve Erle and during the 4th week of the 1991 season he came to watch them pull off there little masquerade.
The story proceeded with Humphrey performing the many theatrics of the story, and than, on que, out of the water, emerged the figure, clad in the tarp and rubber mask, and grabbed Humphrey, dragging him into the water. The children than, as they had each week, ran back up, screaming and startled to their campsites.
The Camp Director however, stayed to congratulate the two staff members on there prank. However, after waiting about 10 minutes, with no one showing up, Steve went to look down the river for the two staff members, thinking that they had potentially head up the another path.
He decided to look quickly down into the plunge, just to make sure that they had left, and there he saw, a red mist filling up the water (You know, similar to the red mist of sharks feeding) and than as he looked in closer to see what was going on, right behind him he saw James Donnely, his hands and face covered in blood, muttering, at first very quietly, and than, almost screaming
IKTHOS THANOS ALEGOS NICHOS!
After that, Donnelly was commited to the Psychiatric Health Center in Cazadero County, and two this day, there are two main theories on what happened. Either he had had some preexisting mental condition, or there actually had been something in the water, which butchered his friend in front of him. Personally, I think that he thought just a little to hard about Ikthos Thanos…
Credit To: Dominic Archer