“Knowledge was knowledge a hundred thousand years ago, when our especial forbears were shambling about Asia as speechless semi-apes!”
— H.P. Lovecraft, “The Last Test”
It’s a new year, and time for the “Call of Chicago” column to seamlessly shift from endless iterations of Stuff We Left Out of The Dracula Dossier to endless iterations of Stuff We’re Probably Not Going To Have Room For in The Fall of Delta Green. You won’t even notice the difference!
The various peoples of Indochina tell national origin myths in which a hero displaces inhuman rulers – and inhabitants – of the land. The kings of Funan in Cambodia and Champa in central Vietnam both succeeded (and intermarried with) naga rulers, multi-headed snake beings. In northern Vietnam, their hero overthrew the Hung Kings, descendants of dragons and “mountain fairies.” In Laos, hideous giants laid down the Plain of Jars before being driven out. But what if some of these monstrous inhabitants remained for thousands of years, only to be started from their jungles by the new warrior heroes from Hanoi, Hue, and Houston? Might they not leave tracks in the historical record? Might they not leave … footprints?
Of the Reptile Kind
Or perhaps they leave trails … serpentine trails. We’ve already covered the ophidian naga and the almost as telling “dragon” of the Hung Kingdoms. These might refer to Cthulhu spawn of one or another kind, or to the Valusian serpent-people. The latter seems more likely when we read about a 1970 encounter about 30 miles south of the DMZ. A US squad on patrol discovers ruins of Cyclopean architecture (“stacked large stones and boulders”) near the entrance to a cave that seems artificially cut into the rock. A foul odor and opaque mist flood out, and the patrol waits until the serpent folk emerge:
“As it stood up from a crouch it stood at least 7 foot high and started to look in our direction. At that time, another similar-looking creature was moving out of the cave. They were making hellish ‘hissing’ sounds and looking directly at us.
The only way I can describe these beings is that they looked like upright lizards. The scaly, shiny skin was very dark – almost black. Snake-like faces with forward set eyes that were very large. They had arms and legs like a human but with scaly skin. I didn’t notice a tail – though they wore long one-piece dark green robes along with a dark cap-like covering on their heads.”
During the ensuing firefight, the two Reptoids vanish, perhaps turning invisible, rotating into another dimension, or rapidly eating and shapeshifting into two of the men. Eventually, the patrol close the cave entrance with explosives and return to base.
Explorers of Vietnam’s Son Doòng Cave (discovered in 1991 and opened to tourism in 2013) also report sighting reptilian humanoids (or humanoid reptiles) and similar “devil creatures.” One person has vanished in the cave, perhaps abducted by the things. Or perhaps just lost on the way to red-litten Yoth: Son Doòng is one of the largest cave systems in the world.
US forces encounter “rock apes” numerous times in country, with varying results. Rock apes are reddish-brown, furry, upright humanoids, between three and five feet tall. They make “a noise that sounded just like dogs barking.” Some cryptozoologists believe they are gibbons, snub-nosed monkeys, langurs, or even (very lost) orangutangs; they may in fact be ghouls, voormis, or some unknown breed of Tcho-Tcho.
Some prime rock ape encounters include:
- Near Chu Lai, June 1966: Marines ordered not to fire and expose their positions engage in a rock-throwing contest with “hairy, bipedal humanoids.”
- A Shau Valley, 1967: Repeated attacks by rock apes emerging from caves on Firebase Rockpile.
- Dong Den near Da Nang, May 1968: Marines and rock apes battle hand-to-hand after gunfire doesn’t stop the furry attackers. (Date also given as “early 1966.”)
- Nui Mo Tau ridge, 1969: Hundreds of rock apes (“ghostly images swooshing around in bush and trees”) attack a 101st Airborne patrol. After the Airborne open fire and drive the rock apes off, “I searched the site and but found not a drop of blood, which totally amazed me given the amount of firing that had gone on.”
- Quang Nam province, 1970: Another rock fight breaks out between a Marine Force Recon unit and at least 20 rock apes. “Those Apes started to come at us and we ran as fast as we could and we didn’t stop until we were out of the jungle.”
The rock apes’ more elusive cousins, the nguòi rùng (“forest men”) may be Lemurians, voormis, or just bigger ghouls. Their brown fur tends toward gray or black, not red; they are much taller (6’-8’) and generally less aggressive. Significant sightings occurred in 1947 and 1969, a Special Forces patrol in 1968 find one cut in half, and two sets of nguòi rùng footprints (11 inches and 18 inches) appear in 1970. In 1971, tribesmen from Dak Lak province capture a batutut, as they are also called. They haunt Vu Quang Forest in North Vietnam.
The Shining Ones
Another cluster of sightings seemingly has nothing in common – except that the bogeys all glow. They may be mi-go or mi-go constructs, servitors of the Shining Trapezohedron or the Shining Moon-Thing of Muria and Chau-te-leur, shoggoth extrusions, or imagos out of space or out of Dream.
The most salient Shining One sightings include:
- Mekong Valley, December 1964: A squad of Special Forces on river patrol encounter three large (7-8 feet tall), yellow, glowing apelike beings “with flat faces, slits for noses and snake-like eyes.” The creatures have three clawed fingers and three clawed toes. The unit fire on the beings with weapons up to a Browning Automatic Rifle, with no effect except “twitching.” The US team retreat to their boat, but “before leaving they saw a strong powerful glow on the riverbank as if dozens of the creatures had gathered to watch them leave.” (The report no doubt mistakenly gives the year as “1974,” the year after US forces withdrew from Vietnam.)
- Near the DMZ, late 1966: During a Viet Cong ambush of helicopter landing, an 8-foot tall giant “dressed perfectly” and wearing a sort of helmet kills a VC guerrilla, saving a US crewman. It has “an aura,” and speaks to the crewman in English (or telepathically).
- Near the DMZ, October 1967: A six-man Long-Range Recon Patrol encounters a being with a long face and black eyes, emitting an eerie glow. One soldier fires a burst into its head, and “a brilliant blue syrupy fluid splattered the trees.” Using a Starlight scope, the patrol spots three lights in the sky. All the witnesses but two died in Vietnam.
- Near Da Nang, summer 1969: Three soldiers on a bunker see a mysterious apparition above them:
“It looked like a woman. A naked woman. She was black. Her skin was black, her body was black, the wings were black, everything was black. But it glowed. It glowed in the night—kind of a greenish cast to it.
There was a glow on her and around her. Everything glowed. Looked like she glowed and threw off a radiance. We saw her arms toward the wings and they looked like regular molded arms, each with a hand, and, fingers and everything, but they had skin from the wings going over them. And when she flapped her wings, there was no noise at first. It looked like her arms didn’t have any bones in them, because they were limber just like a bat.”
The glowing moth-woman buzzes the team, as low as seven feet overhead, and then flies off after three minutes.