Saturday, April 28, 2012

“You May Want to Stand Back From Our Mongoose”: a terribleminds flash fiction challenge

This week’s challenge is to create a short using a random-generated military operation title. I thought ops were always two words (Operation Desert Storm) but of the five the generator spat out, three were whole sentences: “Don’t Piss Off the God”, “Prepare to Be Destroyed By Our Centaur”, “You May Want to Stand Back From Our Mongoose”, “Flaming Preacher”, and “Civilian-Devouring Kitten”. I was in a weird mood today already but a person with an overactive imagination really should NOT be given prompts like this, cause, holy feck…where do you even start?? I may just have to do all of them just because theyre so damn strange...not to mention loaded with potential.


Deep Creek, OR – In a bizarre scene Monday afternoon, officials from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s office, US Department of Agriculture, and US Fish and Wildlife Service took seventy-seven green-robed followers of the Herpestida Movement into custody at the cult’s secretive headquarters in rural Clackamas County. The group’s leaders, Archus Parvu, 57, aka Herman Swift, and his daughter, Kuhni Naso, 38, aka Alice Burkelt-Swift, passively resisted with their fellows as they were read their rights and escorted to inmate transfer buses. An explosives unit was quickly dispatched when Parvu, being led away, gazed up at the compound’s giant monument and commented cryptically to sheriff’s deputies, “You may want to stand back from our mongoose.” No improvised explosive devices were found.

The arrests follow an intensive multi-agency investigation spanning several years and reaching as far afield as India and Somalia. Among the allegations are fraud and other charges under the RICO Act and dozens of counts of wildlife trafficking under CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. The wildlife allegations involve the group’s illegal importation of several endangered and threatened species of mongoose, which Herpestida devotees view as divine entities. USFWS and USDA authorities were unwilling to comment on how cult members managed to successfully smuggle at least thirty-seven dusky-tailed mongooses from Sri Lanka, fourteen yellow-footed kusimanses (a related species) from Somalia and eight lesser banded kusimanses from Ethiopia into the US undetected. The cat-like mammals were found to be in good health when seized and were being housed in quarantine at an undisclosed location while their fate was determined.

The Herpestida Movement is no stranger to controversy since it arrived in Oregon in 1997. It presents itself as an environmental freedom group seeking enlightenment but residents in the secluded nearby town of Deep Creek tell of strange torchlight rituals held inside the compound under the full moon and cultists, apparently under the influence of hallucinogens, parading through town brandishing semi-automatic weapons. Parvu and his inner circle have also come under scrutiny for living a conspicuously lavish lifestyle while preaching the blessings of a life of austerity to his followers, who must agree to surrender their worldly belongings to the cult upon moving to the compound. Animal rights groups assert that the group engages in lewd conduct with the animals it worships but Naso, the cult’s spokesperson, has emphatically denied all such claims. As she was quoted in a 2006 interview, “Herpestida is the Great Mother, the All-Seer, who challenges the Dark Serpent on our behalf. All Herpestida’s followers pay homage to her wisdom and benevolent protection by caring for her children like the furry little demigods they are. We could never conceive of such awful and sacrilegious acts as we are accused of by those poor, sad, confused people.” The group’s monument to the quasi-goddess Herpestida, partially visible from the compound’s front gate, is a fifty-foot tall stone mongoose standing up on its hind legs and facing south, the direction in which the group believes the truly worthy can find the gates of heaven.

Deep Creek residents seemed overjoyed that the group was being taken into custody. “They’re all loons,” one man said under condition of anonymity. “They’re nothing but bat-[expletive deleted] crazy and I hope the state straps them into backwards jackets and throws away the key.” A local business owner said she was “glad somebody finally got them out of here. They were scaring off the tourists. They’d all wear those green robes and stand along the highway into town and wave signs like they were picketing, but the signs didn’t have any slogans...only these weird-looking pictures of squirrels. I’ve had visitors come into the shop here and ask me if the whole town is all anti-fur hippies or some silly thing. Since the mill shut down the river tourism’s all we’ve got left anymore, and those whackadoos being here were just bad for business, let me tell you.”

The Clackamas County District Attorney declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.


  1. Portlandia...

    I have close relatives living in OR; sounds pretty normal.

    1. LOL. This was a cup of Rajneeshpuram and a shot of Bohemian Grove (stir together, bake in a weird brain for an hour) but it *does* sound like Portlandia! I'm a native and discovered long ago that normal is relative here....

  2. They didn't catch us all..... Bahahahah!

  3. Aha! I knew that would be Clackamas County. Yep.

  4. Very amusing. I liked the approach of writing it as a newspaper story - it made everything seem very believable. Very good.