Longtime readers already know how much I love our national parks. I wish I had the time, money, and stamina to visit every single one of them. I’ve learned a lot about our country with each new park encounter.
While researching parks that I have yet to visit, I happened to stumble upon one called Mystery Flesh Pit National Park. Naturally, discovering that there’s a park I’d never even heard of intrigued me quite a bit. I had to learn more.
This park, sadly, can no longer be visited. Its history is rather tragic. In the early 1970’s, we are told, James Jackson, an oilman, stumbled upon what turned out to be a large geobiological orifice just outside of Gumption, Texas. He decided to explore said orifice, and the subterranean superorganism turned out to be so large that it couldn’t be accurately measured. As is often the case, man’s first instinct is to profit off all discoveries, and the Mystery Flesh Pit was no exception.
Enter the Anodyne Corporation, which, post-catastrophe, was renamed the Permian Basin Recovery & Superorganism Containment Corporation. They saw the opportunity for great riches by mining the site’s organic resources, and while conducting their extraction operations, they enlarged and reinforced the organism, and opened it to tourists in 1976. It became part of our national park system in the early ‘80’s and was a very popular destination, but it had to close because of a horrific tragedy that occurred in 2007.
You can read the very detailed and extremely technical government disaster report here, but if I’m reading it correctly, a freak combination of a great deal of rain which caused an overflow of water inside critical sections of the superorganism, combined with a power failure and the inability of some very poorly maintained pumping equipment to keep up with the water volume, caused a choking action and subsequent vomit response within the superorganism at a time when there were an increased number of visitors within it due to holiday celebrations.
That tragedy resulted in the death of 750 visitors, and an additional 1,800 people were seriously injured. (I can’t imagine what it must be like to have your last conscious moments on earth be consumed with the fact that you’re essentially being digested and/or masticated.) To make matters worse, 18,000 residents of Gumption County were left with some horrific side effects due to the gastric ejecta which flew, well, just about everywhere.
But even worse than the loss of human life is the loss of such a precious natural resource for the American people. While it’s understandable that the federal government wants to avoid future gastric disasters, especially since it’s unknown if this superorganism, when sufficiently agitated, might become ambulatory, the end result is that park lovers like you and me will never again be able to visit this unique location.
If you approach the site of the former park now, you are presented with a tall electric fence and a warning sign that says, among other things, “Stop! This area has been quarantined for YOUR safety!” “Over 582 people have died attempting to commune with the superorganism.” (Which proves this sign is woefully out of date.) And, perhaps most startling, “There is nothing beyond this fence worth dying for.”
But there is a silver lining to this cloud. Mystery Flesh Pit National Park’s legacy is an extremely comprehensive internet archive that is not only educational, but also allows you to delve almost as deep into the ecosystem as you would have if you had been able to enter its big, fleshy maw to go exploring like so many others have done.
If you visit this archive, click on everything you see, because things that don’t necessarily look like links often lead you to yet another page, with yet more links that yield troves of fascinating information. I have, on more than one occasion, lost 3 or 4 hours wandering through this internet maze, learning something new every time. I highly recommend it.
There is entirely too much information to distill in this humble blog post, so, to whet your appetite, I’ll just introduce you to this one topic: The Fauna of the Permian Basin Superorganism. I hope these few fun facts will encourage you to delve into this archive in greater detail. You won’t regret it.
In my opinion, one of the most intriguing creatures that resides within the deeper portions of the superorganism is called a Gasp Owl. They are very elusive, so little is known about them. They congregate in broods and are easily frightened. They are called Gasp Owls because their breathing is quite labored, even in those specimens which seem otherwise healthy. I wonder if they used to keep the campers up at night? I suspect I wouldn’t get much sleep, knowing they were nearby.
Gasp Owls have often been mistaken for the fabled “Marrow Folk” on the rare occasion that they’ve been spotted by tourists.
Campers who overnighted within the deepest regions of the superorganism (surrounded by a mandatory electrical fence, of course) often surfaced with stories of hearing ritual chanting deep below. Sometimes they saw the shadows of creatures that could not be mistaken for any of the park’s many parasitic organisms. Scientists have found no conclusive evidence that Marrow Folk exist, but the chanting voices leave many unanswered questions. I wonder if any recordings of these chants are extant?
This historic national park flyer, which shows many of the parasitic organisms that tourists would often encounter in this unique ecosystem, gives you a small taste of how much we all can learn from this now defunct site. It’s heartbreaking to contemplate the numerous scientific inquiries that will now never reach credible conclusions.
Our nation, and in fact, the world, is diminished by our inability to enter the deepest bowels of this creature and conduct further study. If only it had not chosen to engage in a premature geobiological consumption event which resulted in such a catastrophic loss of human life. Contemplating the discoveries we will now never make is enough to make one weep.
For those of you who are gullible enough not to realize that this park is an extremely detailed and very hilarious work of fiction, here are a few sources that will explain how the whole Mystery Flesh Pit story has taken on a life of its own:
Please support Trevor Roberts, the creator of this amazing world, so that he can continue to entertain us with his wild imagination. Either buy some Mystery Flesh Pit merchandise here, or contribute to his patreon account. Thank you!
Like this quirky little blog? Then you’ll enjoy my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5
10 thoughts on “My Exploration of Mystery Flesh Pit National Park”
Wow, thank you so much for this post! I love that you picked up on and introduced us to this artist and his work. It makes me so happy that I live in a world where there is a “worldbuilding subreddit, a community where creatives can discuss the fictional worlds they create”.
Me too! I’m afraid to check it out because I’m afraid I’d get lost in that amazing place and never come out!
You had me at flesh pit. At first I thought you were going to treat us to an episode of Night Vale.
This would make for a great, Night Valeish, podcast series. Imagine all the creepy stories Roberts could conjure up. (maybe you could write a sample episode to encourage him?) Given how prolific and detailed it is, it must be how he spent his covid lockdown time. With the current lack of critical thinking and abundance of conspiracy theories, it’s not surprising that Snopes had to address the validity of such an obvious piece of fiction. If readers, prior to 2016, had been told of how our sociopolitical reality would unfold, they would have dismissed it as pure fiction. Yet, here we are a$$ backwards careening downhill into the maw of a mystery flesh pit. 😬😱 Thanks for continually supplying us with access to the twisted, bizarre creativity that dares to illuminate the darkness descending upon us. I bookmarked this under educational sites. 😁 p.s. I entirely relate to the gasp owls and this came up under marrow folk… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90RMeJwDr_c&t=31s
I love Welcome to Nightvale! https://theviewfromadrawbridge.com/2015/09/19/join-me-in-night-vale/ Even more, I love imagination, and critical thinkers tend to have a great deal of it. The difference is, they know the difference between fact and fiction. It’s quite liberating. Thanks for the link!
Off topic, but given it’s MLK day, this is concerning…
What’s this I’m hearing about Robert E. Lee Day?
As mind-boggling as it might be, the birthday of Confederate general Robert E. Lee is still celebrated in some states and the observance falls on the same day as MLK Day. It’s a state holiday in Alabama and Mississippi (in conjunction with MLK Day) and it’s observed in Florida, though schools and offices are not closed for it…
This emphasizes the need to continue the fight that Martin Luther King began. The need for it didn’t end with making his day a federal holiday.
I had never heard about this. Now I’m sick to my stomach.
And speaking of National Parks…
Are National Parks open on MLK Day? Yes—and it’s actually a great day to go as there are some tremendous cost savings. While they’re run by the government, national parks are open on MLK Day—and this happens to be one of five days this year when the ones that charge an entrance fee will waive that…
Hope you aren’t at work so you can take advantage of the free entrance fee.
We have an annual pass, so we’re good all year round. Can’t wait til we can get a senior pass.
Haven’t been back there in a while…the site, of course…My impression was that the entity got tired of people poking around inside it and–.
It definitely didn’t end well.