Dave: “…The practice of killing the dead–”
Dave: “You heard me.”
Apparently Thoreau did not go to the woods because he wished to live deliberately, but because he wanted to get away from crazy people disinterring their relatives and eating their dead, infected-with-TB hearts.
September 26, 1859, he wrote:
The savage in man is never quite eradicated. I have just read of a family in Vermont–who, several of its members having died of consumption, just burned the lungs & heart & liver of the last deceased, in order to prevent any more from having it.
Run, Henry, it gets worse than just burning! Run!
See, tuberculosis, known as consumption, was thought to kill as the dead consumed their living family members’ life force. None of that silly science germy-germ stuff. No, a scapegoat we want, and a scapegoat we shall have! So burning, inhaling, cutting…and consuming. Yes, Larry, you will be having your sister’s heart for dinner. Do you want to die like she did? No? Then open the tunnel for the choo-choo train…
1892: Mercy and her sister and mother were exhumed. Mercy was, shall we say, fresh, so she was deemed the culprit in her remaining brother, Edwin’s, consumption. Mercy’s heart was removed, burned, pulverized, mixed with water…and then (hold on to your hats) Edwin was forced to drink a sister heart smoothie.
Moment of silence for that awful moment in time.
I’ll never look at a Frappuccino the same way again.
(Spoiler alert: It didn’t work. Edwin died two months later.)
Mercy has been a great influence on the horror industry, no surprise:
- Caitlin R. Kiernan’s short story, “So Runs the World Away”: The Ape’s Wife and Other Stories
- Lucy Westenra, Mina’s ill-fated BFF in Dracula
- H. P. Lovecraft’s short story “The Shunned House”: The Complete Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft (Knickerbocker Classics)
- Sarah L. Thomson’s young adult horror novel Mercy: The Last New England Vampire
- Oh…and a rap song. Get down, Mercy Heart! B. Dolan’s song, “The Hunter”, on Fallen House Sunken City
Smithsonian article on the New England Vampire Panic
The Vampire Hunter’s Guide to New England: True Tales of the Yankee Undead by Christopher Rondina and Chuck Durang
Food for the Dead: On the Trail of New England’s Vampires by Michael E. Bell
New England’s Things That Go Bump In The (New England’s Collectible Classics) by Robert Ellis Cahill
Cultural references from this episode:
- Conjunction Junction (Schoolhouse Rock was the ’70’s, y’all)
- Nosferatu (the first modern cinema vampire, recognize)
- Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins, shrouded in instruments
- City Mouse and Country Mouse
band names for this episode:
- Turnip Fucker
- Asshole Ghost
- Dead Larry
- Stabbing Carrots
- Freezer Fresh
- Eating Hearts
- Burning Heart