Estimated reading time — 11 minutes
This is Part One of a three-part series. The next two installments will be posted over the next couple of days; alternatively, you can track The Shredder Monkey Series tag for new updates.
E-mail from: Ian Koros, Contributor, Scientific Fringe Magazine
To: Michael Wyzeki, Editor-in-Chief
Several weeks ago, I was presented with a bizarre account I believe you’ll find worthwhile.
A friend of mine first found it. You know those spam e-mails, the ones that sometimes make their way into your inbox? For erectile dysfunction pills, diet supplements, et cetera? Anyways, this friend of mine clicked on the link attached to one of those by accident.
But instead of an advertisement for an erectile dysfunction pill or diet supplement, this one lead to a personal blog kept by a young woman. A girl named Ariana Gomez, apparently. I’ve tried to find this Ariana Gomez on Facebook and Instagram, but so far have had no luck.
My friend forwarded it to me, and I printed out the blog entries. It was a good thing I did, because the link no longer works. I got an error message the second time I clicked on it. And a pretty nasty virus, I should add.
Neither of us could find the picture of the monkey that Ariana Gomez refers to.
Below is the account in its entirety, which I retyped word-for-word from my printout. As to authenticity, you are free to judge for yourself.
Blog entry: September 1st, 2014
Okay. Hi. I’m the girl who put up the picture of the stuffed monkey. You know the one. Squat, squarish torso. Long thin arms; skinny little legs that would never support that bulky, squarish body. Round head with two little ears on top. Purple, with puke-green details and a big pink circle on what’s supposed to be its belly. Red eyes and nose, no mouth. Not sure what’s up with the mouth.
Here’s how it is: this monkey is haunting me. This little cartoon character – the Shredder Monkey, he’s called – has appeared in my life on two completely different incidents, yet has absolutely no presence in pop culture. And then there was that singularly disturbing incident at work with the old man with dementia, and what he said …
Anyways. Lemme start at the beginning.
It was fourteen years ago. I was eight. My aunt and uncle had a timeshare by Lake Tahoe. Every summer, my whole extended family would drive out there for a couple weeks to swim, water ski, barbecue – you know, escape the commute and the suburbs, fun in the sun.
Since other people used the house as well, my dad liked getting an extra day off work and driving out early, just to make sure the place was livable – nothing broken or rotting, no beer bottles or used condoms or dead hookers lying around.
That year, to ease my middle-of-summer boredom, I decided to tag along with him.
So we took off in my dad’s Civic for the eight-hour drive, through an early-summer storm. At some point, I fell asleep in the back seat, lulled by the sound of rain against the window. When I woke up, we were parked outside of a dilapidated gas station.
I opened the door and climbed out. I didn’t recognize the area at all. The rain had stopped; it was warm, and the sky was bright blue and cloudless. The gas station had four pumps and one tiny shack that functioned as a snack shop. There was nothing but fields of tall, yellow grass on all sides.
The snack shop (or whatever it was) looked as though it had been standing since World War II. It was a little place, with walls of rusted sheet metal and one wood and mesh door. No windows. Just three blackened, indecipherable neon signs. My dad stood outside the car, pumping gas. He gave me five dollars to buy food.
The inside of the sheet metal shop was scarcely in better condition than the outside. The fluorescent lights were dim, and dust hung in the air. The white-tile floor was stained and peeling. Two old refrigerators rested against the back wall, stocked with soda and beer. A variety of cigarettes and tins of chewing tobacco were displayed behind the front counter. And there were several shelves dedicated to snack food. Candy, chips, beef jerky, plus more substantial stuff – cans of beans, string cheese (I stayed away), tuna, condensed milk, cereal. All coated in a healthy cover of dust.
I looked around, and realized that I didn’t recognize any of the brands.
A couple examples: CHALK chocolate (at least, I assumed it was chocolate). Something resembling a Snickers bar in a pastel purple wrapper with bright blue lettering. I had no idea what was in it, because the nutrition facts and description of the product were all written in a strange language that resembled Chinese characters mixed with Egyptian Hieroglyphs.
Then, there was some brownish substance in long, skinny plastic packaging. I guessed you tore open one end and squeezed the contents into your mouth, sort of like go-gurt. I didn’t know for sure, however, because the label was in another bizarre written language. Though not the same one. The CHALK characters featured straight lines and triangles, while this writing was squiggly.
A little freaked out, I was about to leave. Then I glanced at the cereal display, and noticed one box had English writing on it. SHREDDER SHOCKS. The box was yellow, and the words were red comic-sans. Kid’s cereal. The picture on the front was of a bowl filled with milk and what looked like shredded wheat squares and pastel marshmallows. The marshmallows were in the shape of purple monkeys. On the back were the obligatory kids’ cereal box games, hosted by a large picture of a cartoon monkey in a bamboo (huh?) tree.
You guessed it. Purple, with puke-green paws and circles around its red eyes, big pink circle on its belly. Square body, long arms, proportionately-incorrect legs. No mouth.
There was a circle-shaped maze, and text telling you to “help the shredder monkey find his way to the oasis.” At the upper right corner of the box, the other end of the maze, was a picture of a little cartoon pond, complete with happy-looking fish poking their heads out. Also, there was a word search, with words like “monkey,” “jungle,” “adventure”… you can guess at the rest.
As I examined the colorful box of cereal, I heard a shuffling that could have been footsteps in the next aisle over. Thinking it was my dad, I went to look. But no one was there. Then, there was a “whoosh” and a SLAM!
The mesh door was swinging. There didn’t appear to be anyone behind it, and I was alone. Weird. The wind, I guessed. I took it as a hint that I needed to get out of there as soon as possible.
I was hungry, and extremely untrusting of the inexplicably-labeled foodstuffs I’d seen, so I decided to take my chance with the Shredder Shocks. I grabbed the box, went up to the counter, and paid the cashier. I don’t exactly remember what the guy looked like. I think the cash register he used was a manual one. I exited the store with my snack, climbed back in the car, and a minute later my dad and I were back on the road to Tahoe.
The cereal was pretty good. Kinda like Lucky Charms and Shredded Wheat Thins mixed together. I ate handfuls until I was bored of it, then amused myself with the games on the back. Which were uncharacteristically hard.
I mean, you guys all remember the word searches and mazes on the back of cereal when you were a kid. They’re made for kindergarteners. Kindergarteners with IQ’s approaching two digits. But this maze I couldn’t solve. I must have tried for half an hour. It was weird; I could see the entrance, I could see the exit. There was a clear path leading to and from each, but the paths didn’t connect.
And the word search was utterly impossible. I decided it must be a misprint. I tried to work it out on a blank sheet of paper in the back of the Goosebumps book I was reading, but all I found was the same patterns of letters, repeated over and over again.
Confused and frustrated, I tossed the box and my book aside and curled up for a nap. When I awoke, we were in Tahoe. At some point while I was asleep, the blue sky had clouded over. Distracted by the bustle of moving stuff through the puddles into the house, cleaning up, and picking out my room, I forgot all about the cereal box. Nor did I think about it at all once my mom and my brother Jose and my cousins showed up, nor while we were swimming or barbecuing or camping. And, two weeks later, when we drove home, the box was no longer in my dad’s car.
On the way home, we didn’t pass the strange, dilapidated gas station.
Fast forward nine years.
It’s 2009, I’m seventeen. A senior in high school. I’m at a toy store in the mall, looking for a first birthday present for my cousin’s baby.
As any parent (or aunt or older sister) knows, walking through the stuffed animal aisle in of a chain toy store is a little bit like walking through Disneyland while tripping on acid. Lots of colors, lots of cute, a little terrifying. I was between Pokemon and Pillow Pets when I saw it fall and land right in my path.
It was a stuffed monkey. A purple and pink and green stuffed monkey, with a bulky square body and dangly little legs. Red eyes, red nose, no mouth.
I picked the little guy up. I had no idea where he’d fallen from, and I couldn’t find any others that looked like him. Confused, I flagged down an employee.
“That’s strange,” she said. “I’ve never this stuffed animal before. I don’t think he’s one of the ones we carry, maybe some kid left him behind.”
She ended up letting me have him for free. I don’t know how she would have charged me otherwise; he didn’t have any tags. So I took the stuffed monkey home and kept him in my room. The Shredder Monkey, it had to be. The same monkey as on that bizarre box of cereal I’d bought from that bizarre gas station nine years before. That bizarre cereal I’d never found again.
I’d looked for Shredder Shocks every week at the local Vons, where I shopped with my mom. They never had it in stock, and none of the clerks I asked had ever heard of the product. And when I Google’d Shredder Shocks, I came up with nothing but dune buggies, RC cars, and some episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
No big loss. The cereal hadn’t been that good. I’d looked for some of the other products I’d seen at that convenience store as well, and found similarly useless results. I’d come to assume that dilapidated gas station only sold poorly-made local merchandise, or brands that had been discontinued.
But, all of a sudden, the Shredder Monkey was back in my life.
I wasn’t scared of it, at least not yet. I showed the stuffed monkey to some of my friends, and then to my little cousins’ friends. No one had ever seen a toy like it, nor witnessed any version of the Shredder Monkey on cereal boxes or cartoon shows or anywhere on the internet. As far as pop culture was concerned, he didn’t exist.
Now, fast forward five more years. To this year. Three days ago.
I work for a small ambulance company out of Glendora. I graduated from Citrus College with my AA, but wanted to take some time off in order to earn money and focus on getting into a good BSN program. Life as an EMT with an inter-facility transport company is pretty easy; 90% of the job is driving bed-ridden, confused old people to and from dialysis.
That night, at around 19:00, my partner Ben Cisneros and I were dispatched to San Gabriel Kidney Center to pick up Henry Gaffigan and take him home to Sunshine Convalescent, a delightful little one-star facility where there’s regularly human feces smeared on the floor. We’d been on since 8:00 that morning and were both starting to drag, but you can’t argue with overtime. So we got there, got the guy on the gurney, and loaded him into the rig when Cisneros realized he’d left our oxygen bag inside. He ran back to get it, leaving me alone in the passenger compartment with Produce Aisle Henry.
A little about Henry Gaffigan.
Henry’s 96 years old and weighs around 90 pounds. He’s got a laundry list of chronic diseases, ranging from anemia to CHF to Parkinson’s disease. Mentally, he’s what we call a/o times 0, which means he can’t tell you his name, where he is, what day of the week it is, or what’s going on. Actually, he can’t talk at all; mostly he just stares at you. His atrophied legs are contracted, his right arm is contracted, and his left arm is ragdoll-limp thanks to his second stroke two years ago. His back is so stiff you can’t even prop him up in a wheelchair. He’s on continuous oxygen and, after dialysis, his BP drops so low that twice we’ve had to call 911 from the Kidney Center.
“Hey, Hank,” I said to him cheerfully. “I’m gonna take your blood pressure real quick, okay?”
He stared at me.
I wrapped our manual blood pressure cuff around his left arm. The dialysis machine had given me a fairly healthy 112/54, but those things love reading high. I put on my stethoscope and distracted myself fiddling with the earpieces. Then I heard the whispering.
I dropped the stethoscope. No way. But his lips were moving again.
“New… Odor… Eigh..”
The utterance was a gravelly whisper, drawn from atrophied vocal chords unused for God knows how long.
I stared at him, mouth gaping. Henry Gaffigan was non-verbal. We’d taken him to dialysis for three years, he hadn’t uttered a word in all that time.
“Mr. Gaffigan!” I said excitedly. “Can you tell me what your name is?”
Then he sat up.
I wouldn’t even call it “sitting.” It’s more like his body folded at the hips like a hinge. He didn’t support himself with his hands, and his back didn’t arch at all. He just sat straight up, like Dracula out of his coffin in the old black-and-white movies. The nasal cannula attached to his face grew taut, then was pulled from the house nozzle.
Like a puppet’s, his head twisted towards me.
“NEW! ODOR! EIGH! GUARD!” he roared.
His voice was mechanical. Metallic. Like the voice your friend’s voice morphs into when she yells into a steel pipe. And the scariest part was that the jibberish words didn’t seem to be coming from Mr. Gaffigan’s mouth, but from all around me, down from the sky and up from the ground and right in front of my face, all at the same time.
I screamed. In one desperate motion I opened the back door and jumped out of the ambulance, stumbling as I hit the asphalt and nearly falling onto my partner. He was back with the oxygen. As I steadied myself, he frowned at me.
“You okay, Gomez?”
“Mr. Gaffigan… he… he said stuff!” I panted. “Did you… did you hear?”
He gave me a strange look, then climbed into the rig to secure the oxygen bag. He stayed in there a minute, and I heard him repeating Mr. Gaffigan’s name, trying to get his attention. Then, he leaned out the door.
“You sure?” he asked suspiciously. “He looks about normal to me. But you forgot to put him on O2.”
Bracing myself, I climbed into the back with him. Mr. Gaffigan lay motionless on the gurney, exactly how we’d positioned him. The blood pressure cuff still dangled from his left arm. His nasal cannula hung at his side, detached.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared shitless at that point. I let my partner tend to Henry Gaffigan while I drove to the convalescent home, and the old man didn’t do anything else out of the ordinary. He was confused, silent, and quadriplegic, just like every transport before. Was I going crazy? I knew what I’d heard. What I’d seen.
And those words… that jibberish. It wasn’t completely unfamiliar.
As soon as I got home, I wrote down phonetically the syllables Mr. Gaffigan had uttered. (Chanted? Screamed?) It was easy; the terrifying sound was unforgettable.
New, odor, eigh, guard.
I puzzled over it. I repeated the words in my mind, then out loud, over and over again. I allowed them to blend together, gain meaning, lose all meaning. And then I got it.
I still live with my parents. Convenience, mostly; work’s close and they don’t charge me rent. And my parents have a frustrating habit of keeping everything – all my elementary school projects, high school textbooks, and childhood playthings live in moldy cardboard boxes in the attic. Which is where I spent that night, digging through said moldy boxes, until I found the one in which my brother Jose’s and my old books were stacked. Bunnicula, Baby Sitter’s Club, Harry Potter, Beverly Cleary… Goosebumps. Goosebumps number 3, 15, 23, 12, 7, 36…
Bingo. Goosebumps number 9. The book I’d been reading on that long drive to Tahoe, 14 years before. I pawed through the sticky pages until I found the blank one on which I’d written:
GARD NWODR EH
I took the book back to my bedroom, rearranged the words on a sheet of notebook paper, and compared them to the word salad Mr. Gaffigan had spouted.
Nwodr Eh Gard
New. Odor. Eigh. Guard.
What the fuck.
Maybe I am going crazy. Because I’m thinking a confused dialysis patient – a nearly-comatose dialysis patient who doesn’t know his own name – recited to me the meaningless syllables I found in a word search on the back of an obscure cereal box fourteen years ago. A box containing cereal that has, apparently, never existed anywhere except for that dilapidated gas station snack shop.
And that voice. That hollow, metallic voice. Booming from all around me, yet inaudible to my partner, no more than 20 feet away.
I looked up. My eyes rested on the stuffed animal that sat, amongst old dolls and beanie babies, atop my bookcase. The squarish, purple stuffed monkey with green paws and a pink belly. Long thin arms, skinny little legs. Round head, red eyes and nose.
And, even though it had no mouth, I could swear the thing was laughing at me.
Credit To – NickyXX