TALE OF THE TUMBLEWEED

Another tumbleweed rolled into town yesterday- the third of its kind this month. This time around, the professor’s trap finally worked: we found the damn thing snagged in a tangle of barbed wire, screeching loudly, trying in vain to unfurl its hungry tendrils. This one was at least thirty feet in diameter, so we figured that something good had to be buried under all those thorns.

With the professor’s help, we managed to tether it to the ground, branch by putrid branch. He showed us where the tumbleweed’s mouths were hidden, those vague, toothy grooves that fingers never returned from. After around three feet of untangling, we came across a hoof: the beginnings of a frightened buffalo, still alive, though stored for later consumption.

“This is how the giant tumbleweed survives,” he told us. “It rolls across the prairie at night, snagging whatever prey it stumbles across on its way eastward, anything from jackalopes on up to people. It doesn’t swallow them right away, though; it keeps the same creatures bound up for weeks, and leaves them to graze on its inward facing branches.”

“Is there any way out?” I asked.

“For most creatures? No. For humans? Some claim that they’ve pulled it off, anyway. The best creatures at finding their way out, though, are goats.”

“Seriously?”

“Seriously. They aren’t native to North America. They were brought here by settlers, so wild tumbleweeds had never needed to deal with them until a few centuries ago. A tumbleweed unlucky enough to pick up a goat will find itself chewed straight through in a matter of hours.”

“Huh.”

After peeling our way through another yard or so of sinewy vines, we came across a much more unexpected discovery: an intact human head. It was clearly attached to a pair of shoulders, though we knew that it would be hours before the rest of the body could be successfully removed. After a few gentle slaps, the head actually opened its eyes. Somehow, he was still alive.

“Can you hear my voice?” The professor asked. “Are you alright?” 

“Oh, me?” The weary head grinned. “I’ve never felt better, though I must say, you’ve got your work cut out for you. You see, there’s still a damn fine horse down under me.”


The old west is full of strange tales.

Certain cheap diners will sell a tumbleweed slaw.

Tumbleweeds envy the stillness of the saguaro.


LOOSE ENDS

OBOES WITH TONGUES