Study Guide

The Monstrumologist Folio I: Progeny, Chapter 1

By Rick Yancey

Folio I: Progeny, Chapter 1

"A Singular Curiosity"

  • Will Henry is finally writing down the secrets that he's kept for his whole life. The person he kept them for has been dead now for forty years, and although he can barely remember what he had for breakfast, he can remember ("with nightmarish clarity") the events of the spring of 1888.
  • A little after 1:00AM, Will Henry is rudely awakened by the doctor—his eclectic, self-centered, genius caretaker—because they have a caller.
  • Apparently, a mysterious caller in the wee hours of the morning isn't that odd of an occurrence at their house. The doc is engaged in a dark and dangerous business, and that hardly befits the light of day.
  • The caller is an old man in a straw hat and ill-fitting, bedraggled clothing. He has brought them what he calls a crime of nature, and he's clearly beside himself with panic.
  • The doc orders Will Henry to ready his laboratory. And put on a pot of tea. And find his boots. Yikes, sounds like Will Henry is pretty much the doc's servant, despite the doc's insistence that he is his "assistant."
  • The night caller and the doc carry the crime of nature, which is wrapped tightly in burlap, down to the laboratory and laboriously place it on the examining table.
  • It turns out the old man is named Erasmus, and he's a grave robber. He was going about his dastardly business when he came upon his terrifying discovery; he knew the one place he could bring it to was the house on Harrington Lane and the infamous doctor Pellinore Warthrop.
  • The doc pays Erasmus for his troubles, and as Will Henry shows Erasmus out he asks why Will Henry's there, as this is no business for children. Apparently the doc took him in after the sudden death of his parents in a fire.
  • The doc is positively amped about his new specimen. Will Henry is not quite as keen, and who can blame him?
  • Once they finally undo all of the burlap wrapping, Will Henry can see that there are two bodies, not one, wrapped in an "obscene embrace." This can't be good.
  • Will Henry almost pukes—he is only twelve, after all, and even though he's seen more horrors than your average tween, this one is nasty.
  • Erasmus has brought them the corpse of a young girl who has been eaten by the monstrosity that is draped across her body. The thing is like an oversized male, with one blatant exception: It has no head.
  • According to the doc, it is Anthropophagi. Okay… (Which is creepier, this creature or the fact that spell-check recognizes Anthropophagi?)
  • The doc dictates his findings to Will Henry to transcribe. As he examines the corpses, he is trying to figure out what killed the Anthropophagi. One would think it was the lack of a head, but as it turns out, they don't have one. Their mouths are housed in their torso and contain hundreds of teeth like some kind of freakish shark.
  • The doc is prying around in the thing's mouth, obviously looking for something that Will Henry can't possibly surmise. The doc finds it triumphantly—a pearl necklace. The Anthropophagus died choking on the poor girl's jewelry. Ugh.
  • Now that Doc Warthrop has ascertained how the creature died, he starts to puzzle out how in the heck it got there. It is native to northern and western Africa, but definitely not New Jerusalem.
  • He starts examining the girl, and while listening to her abdomen with a stethoscope, he finds something.
  • Oh… yuck, yuck, yuck. That something is a tiny Anthropophagus fetus—and it's alive. Apparently, in order to reproduce, the female expels a fertilized egg into her mate's mouth, where it rests in a pouch in his lower jaw. He has two months to find a host for their offspring before the fetus bursts from its protective sac and he swallows it or chokes on it. This one used the dead girl as its host. Ew.
  • The doc and Will Henry quickly contain the demon baby in a jar and kill it with a euthanizing cotton ball. Uh, wow.

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