A guide to the monsters, menaces and evil forces that terrorize our town
Illustrations by Dakota McFadzean
Like any city, Regina is a town of paranormal phenomena. In this feature, Scary Dog writers investigate what they’ve learned — or at least suspect — about the mysterious forces that shape the Queen City. This knowledge comes with a price: it has been known to drive people mad, or at least kinda cynical. But for those with courage, peeling back this supernatural curtain is the first step to defeating the dark forces that infest our beloved home.
1.) THE BOOM KAIJU
The Boom is a gigantic beast whose most notable characteristic — besides being so massive that it blocks out both the sky and common sense — is its appetite for natural resources and excrement of pure money. For years the Boom lived in Alberta, casting its massive shadow over us, but increased potash mining and an ideological slouch towards conservatism in the mid-2000s finally lured it over.
Now the Boom spends most of its time roaming around Saskatchewan, consuming potash, oil and whatever else it can get its Hoover-like mouth around, then pooping out cash and credit in a furious, sputtering stream. More and more people flood into the province to work as keepers and feeders of the Boom, frantically shoving raw resources into its mouth, lest the monster get hungry and lumber off into the energy-rich fracking tracts of the U.S. Midwest.
Cults have sprung up around the province, building subdivisions and sports arenas in the belief that these signs of prosperity will please the Boom and convince it to stick around, even after its food supply runs short (or the beast grows impatient with the speed and convenience of its extraction). Attempts to brand the creature with political colours have been moderately successful, but one day the Boom will moult and its true coat, as brittle and insubstantial as ice flakes, will blind us all before it lumbers off for its next feeding grounds.
Sometimes, after a particularly chalky and massive meal, the Boom unfurls its miles-long wings and takes to the upper atmosphere, releasing streams of money that darken the sky. Ordinary people run into their backyards and spill into the streets, holding up old Safeway bags, hoping that the upper currents will falter and bills flutter down like autumn leaves.
Unfortunately, much of it ends up riding the slipstream to Australia and other exotic ports. /Aidan Morgan
2.) A CITY THAT BITES
On your first visit, Regina tempts you with its glittering skyline stretched out along the soft wide plain. Look, you think, it’s a toy city, plunked down in the middle of nowhere. So innocent, you think, tee-hee, just look at that sign at the gate to the city! The drawing even looks like a… ‘Oh, it’s too much!’, you report to the friends you left behind, ‘they don’t even realize it rhymes with, well.’
It’s beautiful here, quaint, lush. A great place to raise kids. And look at that sky! And the rabbits! And before you know it, 15 years have passed and you have a family and the Regina you came to is awful, it’s turned into a place that you couldn’t possibly want to live, nothing but trucks and football and ridiculous new neighbourhoods with names like Harbour Landing and Porchscape, and the smarmiest politicians you can imagine, and then they pave over parts of the old park downtown with cold white bricks, light it up with blazing white sports lighting from, what are they, lynch poles? they look like to you, and then they buy the election with your money for a new stadium but drown you with privatized sewage schemes and the infrastructure has gone to shit all around you, thank God you have somewhere to live. You can’t leave anyway because your kids are still in school.
You wonder what kind of people they will be, raised in this culture, but you have nowhere else to go anyway. It would be crazy to give up your government pension at this point. But where will your kids go to university now that this one’s been starved to death — and oh, God, the gumbo is crushing your basement, and the ice has broken your roof and everything around you has been painted beige and there has been so much demolition of old buildings that the skyline looks like a mouthful of broken teeth and, oh God, you haven’t been downtown in a while, and there are awful new towers popping up, all in a row…
You see now that the skyline wasn’t just an architectural Freudian slip by people who didn’t know better.
You realize it was intentional all along. That it’s… it’s… REGINA DENTATA. /Carle Steel
3.) THE TERROR AT THE END OF NOVEMBER
Sometimes I get e-mails. Most fall somewhere in the “Great work!” to “Move away, asshole!” range.
Others are from people passing on secret insider information and a few — the best of the bunch — share mad conspiracy theories about how city hall really works.
Lately, I’ve received a series of messages from someone calling himself “Mister Hobart.” One of the highlights from his first e-mail is this: “You’ve heard about the strange metals being used in Taylor Field’s temporary seating? It’s all over the Skyscraper Forum. And see how it looks like a ‘great bowl’ from above? Just like a satellite dish for picking up transmissions. Only this isn’t for picking up signals from no satellite!”
A week later, Hobart wonders: “Why do you think they built the plaza there, smart guy? It made more sense to build a pedestrian promenade along Scarth to Vic ,but no! They stick it right outside those old buildings. Everybody knows that’s an intersection of ley lines. A nexus of mystic energies. The place is full of bad vibrations. Why do you think nothing stays open there?
How do you think the metal table and chairs move around at night? You ever try lifting them? And why did they ship over ITALIAN pavers?”
So, clearly bonkers. (And Mister Hobart, if you’re reading this, you really need to get help.)
In his last e-mail, he even sent me several scans from a book he said contains prophecies written down in early colonial times along with descriptions of various magical rituals. Hobart referred to it as the The Netherhill Grimoire and, though he claimed some know it as the Liber Sintaluta, my best Googling has turned up no references to either name.
Below, I’ve reproduced as best I can the highlighted sections of antique English that Mister Hobart sent to me…
Bylld uppe a mighty bowlle mayde of wyrd metals and stonne so that it can hold bodily many mannen und wimmen in revelry. Keep open to the heav’ns the grayte bowlle so to drawe douwne vitalities froume the æther und attract the eyes of the Louwde Ones.
Pace cubits to a count of 3520 [ed: according to Hobart, 3,520 cubits is roughly one mile] from the grayte bowlle und upon a hemisphere of Italienne cobbles raize fourre gibbets, five mannen talle, mayde of ironne stain’d a reddish hue as of olde blüd, crook’d at the toppe with lanterns hung benyth, the tippes aim’d innewards at a pointe middenwise upon the versine line. Upon that pointe shouwld be raiz’d a flatte dais mayde of a stoney matter.
That is the focuss of the summonning und the spirits therre wilt be moste puissant and lusty for the sacrifice.
Hobart noted that several pages between these two sections were water damaged and unreadable. The manuscript continues…
Lo, the Louwde Ones enterre yourre landes for the last Sabbath of the eleventh monthe, summon’d to your touwnne, clyd in coloures most garish, drinnke mightily of yourre biere, belloewing und wailling abowt the unfayrness of the one they call Reffs and complayn most lowdly abouwt the lacke of pærkking. Yourre mannen und wimmen wilt cowær most afear’d und yourre touwnne wilt burnne. Then the Louwde Ones wilt fæk off.
Since sending these scans, I’ve heard nothing from Mister Hobart. /Paul Dechene
4.) ORCS IN TRUCKS
No one knows where they come from — Mordor? Isengard? Weyburn? Melville? Potash mines? The city’s desolate North-West? What we know is that truck orcs (Uruk-Truk) are a scourge upon our fair town. They drive their disagreeable, rusty and shabby vehicles down the streets and avenues of neighbourhoods they don’t live in — Centre Square, Heritage, even the elven lands called Cathedral (but only in large numbers, for Cathedral elves do not tolerate their rude incursions).
What do these foul hobgoblins do? Why, they curse and ridicule pedestrians and other wanderers, directing their foullest orc-words at womenfolk (orcs are usually male and always misogynistic).
Rarely, they will actually attack someone, leaping from their orc-wagons to deliver a swift blow or, sometimes, savage beatings.
Why are they so angry? Well, they’re orcs. They’re stupid and mean, they smell bad and no one likes them.
Travellers beware. The orcs and their trucks are on the hunt. /Stephen Whitworth
5.) THE CREATURE FROM THE PLUTOCRAT’S LAGOON
If you wonder why we need a new sewage treatment plant, travel to Regina’s west end and take a deep breath. I’ve never experienced it myself, but a friend and born-and-raised west-ender says that sometimes when the wind is right it’ll catch a fecal plume belched up from one of the plant’s treatment lagoons and blow the cloud into his neighbourhood. “Like the whole city is farting right in your face,” he says.
Makes you wonder why city hall didn’t upgrade the plant years ago. Ask the mayor and he says, “We were still designing the project, looking at the timing of that relative to other infrastructure needs, so I wouldn’t want to rewrite and say we should’ve done something differently because we weren’t ready to go then.”
Of course, ask him any questions about rumours concerning the more uncanny products that have arisen from our effluent and the mayor turns stern and unresponsive.
“What about the theorized magically generative properties of the chemical stew currently being ejected from the wastewater plant? How is that related to new federal regulations?”
“What about the stories of some kind of creature recently rising from one of the treatment lagoons?”
“It’s said this creature has an instinctive privatization agenda? Is this connected to the decision to go with a DBFOM P3 for the plant expansion?”
“They’re calling it the ‘gill-manager,’ can you confirm or deny?”
“And what of this gill-manager’s reported appetite for unionized labour? How has that affected staffing?”
Ask any of those questions, and the mayor clams right up and looks at you like you’re crazy.
But note… that isn’t a denial! /Paul Dechene
6.) THE DIRT HILLS HAVE EYES
When I was a kid growing up in North Regina, Walsh Acres to be precise, the neighbourhood was at the then edge of the city. Nothing lay north of it except a field, some dirt hills and then more fields, filled with wheat, etc. as far as the eye could see. To the east was the highway but there wasn’t much traffic on it. Much further north laid the industrial area but the city hadn’t expanded the residential areas out that far yet.
The dirt hills were just a couple of small hills the sat on the edge of a drainage ditch that ran westward for some distance. Everyone used the hills to ride their bikes up and down on, and in the winter, for sledding. With the hills on the edge of the ditch you would ride down into the ditch and up the hill, turn around and go down the hill into the ditch and back up.
It was a natural jump for bikes and you could get some excellent air if you had the speed. There was also some excellent wipeouts that occurred there.
There was an urban legend concerning those hills. It was said that a man had taken and killed some kids out there and that we should all avoid the hills because something similar might happen to us. Naturally we all just went out there anyway, keeping our eyes open for signs of blood or at least a dead body, but there never was any sign of something amiss. If there was a malevolent force out there snatching and killing kids I never saw it or knew of anyone who actually disappeared. The hills just sat out in the middle of nowhere, as far as the eye could see, possibly waiting for a victim.
Today progress has taken those hills but if there was malevolent force I’m sure that’s even angrier at the loss of its habitat. The fact that the location of those dirt hills is now a large chain hardware store probably doesn’t quiet the spirits down.
Perhaps it’s still lurking out there, waiting to snatch those willing victims who foolishly wander down the bathroom fixtures aisle alone, unaware of the trespass that they are committing. /Shane Hnetka
With the Riders set to host the Grey Cup on Nov. 24 their rabid fans would love nothing better than to see them do what the past two hosts (B.C. in 2011, and Toronto in 2012) did and win it all. But when you consider that in their entire 103 year history the Green & White have only captured three Grey Cups, the odds of that happening are long indeed.
True, for much of their existence the Riders have been the very definition of the underdog going up against the big boys of Confederation in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and other CFL centres. Still, it’s not like they haven’t had their chances. Eighteen times they’ve advanced to the Grey Cup. Their three titles translates into a winning percentage of .166. Compare that with Toronto, which has 16 Grey Cups in 22 appearances for a winning percentage of .726.
Remember, too, that for most of its history, outside of a failed two-year experiment in the mid-’90s when seven American franchises were added to the mix, the CFL has been an eight or nine team league. Based on simple probability, the Riders should have 10 or so championships to their credit. Yet they have only three — in 103 years!
That’s a stat from the Twilight Zone. And the only conceivable explanation is that the Riders are cursed. Laugh if you want, but there’s precedent for it. In baseball, the Boston Red Sox endured a mind-boggling 86-year drought between World Series titles stretching from 1918 to 2004. As the decades of futility mounted, punctuated as with the Riders by heart-breaking defeats and soul-destroying collapses at key junctures in the season, fans began to rail against the dreaded Curse of the Bambino.
The Bambino was the legendary Babe Ruth. From 1914-19, he was a top-flight pitcher for Boston. But on Dec. 26, 1919, for reasons that remain shrouded in mystery, Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Ruth’s contract to the rival New York Yankees for $100,000. With five World Series titles, the Bo-Sox were one of baseball’s elite franchises, while the Yankees were perennial doormats. But with the addition of Ruth, who subsequently transitioned into a power-hitting outfielder, the Yankees became one of pro sport’s most successful franchises — winning 27 World Series titles between 1923 and present day.
Over the years, Bo-Sox fans tried desperately to lift the curse, doing everything from hiring an exorcist to placing a Boston cap atop Mount Everest to spray-painting a “Reverse Curve” sign on a Boston street so that it read “Reverse the Curse”. It was even suggested by one former player in a 1994 documentary that the team should exhume Ruth’s body from its grave in Hawthorne, New York and transport it to Fenway Park to apologize publicly for selling him to the Yankees.
Not until 2004 did the Red Sox win their sixth World Series. They added another title in 2007, so it seems the Curse of the Bambino has been lifted. As for the Riders, they’re definitely in the hunt this year. But unless a way can be found to lift the curse that the team ostensibly labours under, it seems inevitable they’ll fail in their quest for their fourth Grey Cup championship in 2013.
Any suggestions Rider Nation? /Gregory Beatty
8.) THE BERMUDA CITY SQUARE
There is a terrifying vortex in the centre of this city. If you stop for a moment and remain still, you can pick up on the despair emanating from this psychic black hole, but most people just walk on past. Maybe they’ve gotten used to it, maybe they don’t see it anymore, or maybe they know that to stare too long is to risk inviting madness into their hearts.
To visitors, it probably just looks like a few boarded up storefronts on the main floor of an old building. Perhaps, as they pass through Victoria Park, en route to some meeting or other, they think this is just a temporary condition; that in a month or so, a new restaurant, café, wine bar, or anything else that would make sense for such a plum piece of real estate on the park, will open.
But those who live here know those boarded up windows signify something much worse.
In this strange parallel universe, the laws of economics that govern the rest of our lives just don’t apply. If you or I owned the Gordon Block, we’d probably want to keep it tenanted. But in this Bermuda City Square, such tenants are asked to leave, spend their rent money elsewhere, and said rental space remains empty for over two years, creating a unfriendly void in an area that would otherwise be warmed by extra foot traffic around the park.
It would seem that the owners are in a position where they can just sit on a heritage building, watch it rot from the inside out, and then, when it comes time to develop, cry out “We’d love to save it, but it’s just in too rough shape!” As though they’d just stumbled upon it, completely innocent to the ways it got to be in such a sorry state.
As though they never owned it in the first place. /Vanda Schmöckel
You’ve felt it, the cold shiver down your spine from those blackened Soundstage windows, the yawning emptiness of the barstool next to you, that ghostly vacant house beside yours, the silenced screams of schoolyard children. If you’re a small business person in Regina, there’s also the frightening prospect of your diminished bottom line. It’s all due to the yawning absence of all the film people and their families who left the city when the Saskatchewan Party took its bloody axe to kill the industry dead dead dead.
The ghosts of those people are still here among you, lurking around the haunts they used to love, living in the memories of the ones left behind. The missing ones are in a better place, you know they are, but you can’t stop mourning them, you can’t stop picking at the threads around the hole their absence tore out of the fabric of Regina. You could visit them easily, if you wanted to, in cities that value things like cultural and economic diversity. They mourn you too, you know. They think of you wistfully as they ponder fresh produce, as they hop on public transit, as they avail themselves of all the city things they got in exchange for quitting you.
Will Creative Saskatchewan incarnate them again? Likely not. Will they keep haunting? Oh, yes. If there’s a lesson from this horror show, it’s never make ghosts out of people with cameras. /Carle Steel
You might not know this — it’s from before your time — but Prairie towns, from the Canadian Shield to the Rockies, were once a riot of colours. The pride of the Dominion.
Too bad all the picture postcards of the day are black and white. They’d show houses in Estevan painted indigo and green. The shops of Swift Currant in sky blue and ivory. The grain elevators outside North Battleford alternated mandarin orange and banana yellow. Melville’s town hall was periwinkle. A church in Melfort, mango-tango.
Weyburn was known for magenta buildings and streets paved with rare cerulean gravel. Asquith bricks were solid silver. And they say maroon was preferred in Delisle.
Regina was almost called the Emerald City. The neon streets of Moose Jaw blinded the unwary. Humboldt was proudly decked out in pink. Yorkton sparkled at night.
And then the unicorns came.
Their magic horns like magic leeches sucked up every tint and hue. Then to their homes passing on clouds they flew. Through living skies, their saddlebags nearly bursting with our famous Prairie shades.
What’d you think? They built their rainbow cities with property taxes and a five per cent mortgage?
And so we repainted, a little paler every year. And every year they return to strip mine our colours. Drain the blue from every Monday. Turn our shopping malls grey. Dress our adolescents all in black. Leave us taupe and beige. It’s the one resource of which the Sask. Party’s ashamed to chart the extraction. A P3 — Pony-Purloined Pigments — like all P3s, it won’t survive the Sharpie of redaction.
If only we could monetize this tincture larceny and the Powers That Be be swayed to take from these equine pirates cupcakes and candy floss in trade.
But don’t be fooled, the unicorns still come. They’re not done with Regina and autumn’s the best time to spot one. Sometimes you can hear their distant clopping up the street lost in the night, like lonesome soldiers on patrol. At least they left us green and white.
Damn unicorns. /Paul Dechene
11.) THE PHANTOM OF THE PARKING LOT
It is rumoured that a phantom dwells in Regina’s downtown parking lots. What sort of phantom? Is he the classic model, playing his baroque organ in a lair hidden somewhere beneath the asphalt? Is he a rock & roll phantom, terrorizing the false paradise that is Regina?
Possibly a science fiction phantom? Maybe a music theatre phantom?
Actually, no one knows, because downtown Regina’s surface parking area is so vast that its full reach has never been charted. We could have a dozen phantoms camping in Regina’s downtown parking lots and Reginans would never know.
They’re too busy complaining about the alleged lack of parking downtown.
I think that’s exactly what the Phantom of the Parking Lot wants. /Stephen Whitworth
12.) NEW DEMOCRATIC PODS FROM SPACE
Alien invasion was a political allegory for 1950s’ anti-communism and conforming to society’s norms in the classic 1956 movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers. In the movie, an alien race captured people, placed them in ‘pods,’ who then ejected a replica of said person, sans emotions and feelings.
After the Sept. 26 water treatment referendum, some in Regina’s activist community would like to go to Tommy Douglas House (the headquarters for the NDP in Saskatchewan) and search the basement for pods.
In order to bail out Regina Mayor Michael Fougere in the referendum, Regina’s business community, and the political machines of the provincial Saskatchewan Party and the federal Conservative Party got the vote out. Regina’s activist community worked the phones, monitored the web pages, and pounded the pavement for the Yes side …
But where was the New Democratic Party?
On the federal side, the only name of note taking an active part in the campaign was Marc Spooner, the NDP’s federal candidate in Wascana during the last federal election. The provincial NDP was pretty much nowhere to be seen.
The debate over public-private partnerships in general, and the Regina water treatment proposal in particular, may have put the NDP in a political bind. When they were in government, they had P3 projects of their own, including the renovations to 1874 Scarth Street, which is the home of several provincial government offices as well as Harvard Broadcasting, three Regina radio stations owned by the city’s largest developers, the Hill family.
But if the provincial NDP is abandoning its core constituency in order to appeal to Saskatchewan’s business community — becoming the Sask. Party Lite — then how long will it be before its one-time supporters stop waiting for the NDP to come to them, and instead creating their own political movement without people who don’t appear to need their help?
Perhaps they should investigate Tommy Douglas house. They might find leaders for their movement in the cellar, encased in pods.
13.) THE NECRONOMIDOG
Legend says there is an evil book, the Necronomidog. It has existed for millennia—perhaps even 20 years. This “Scroll Of The Dog” — which scholars of forbidden lore whisper can be found in the capital city of a place called Saskatchewan — is said to contain great secrets but also terrible danger for any who read it.
It is said that the knowledge found in the Necronomidog will drive those who partake of it mad with despair, anger and occasionally fits of insane laughter.
It’s a stupid legend. There’s no such thing as a Necronomidog. Obviously. Duh. /Stephen Whitworth