|THE WHIRLING WHIMPUS |
Turbinocissus nebuloides Sudw.
Lives along the hardwood ridges of the Southern Appalachians, and is doubtless responsible for the occasional complete disappearance of hikers in that area.
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A chunky beast, some seven feet tall, with a body about the size of a coal-oil drum and roughly furred. The equine hind legs unite at the fetlock, terminating in one broad hoof. The front legs, disproportionately long, sinewy and powerful, end in broad paddles. When standing at ease, the Whimpus usually rests these on the ground.
The Whimpus is wholly carnivorous. Deer, bear, oxen, turkeys, humans---they're all grist to his mill. About sundown time he will take stand by a bend in the trail and begin to whirl on his single hoof. The maximum speed (2150 r.p.m.) is quickly reached and is accompanied by a peculiar droning sound. At top speed the Whimpus is practically invisible, a little dust or a few leaves eddying about being the only indications of his presence. The unwary, home-bound hiker, on hearing the odd droning, usually starts to investigate it. The instant he steps within the circle of those flying, flailing bony paddles he is deposited thereon in the form of an unctuous treacle. The Whimpus then promptly cuts his throttle, slows down, and crawls under a nearby patch of rhododendron to lick off his syrupy supper.
A Whimpus was recently reported from Nebraska by a chap whose name, age, and previous condition of veracitude are unknown to us. He swears that he saw one at precisely 11:32 P.M., on June 23, 1935, just as he was emerging from a roadside gin-mill. We are dilligently seeking confirmation of this report.