It is well known how the book spread like infectious disease, from city to city, from continent to continent, barred here, confiscated there, denounced by press and pulpit, censured even by the most advanced of literary anarchists. No definite principles had been violated in those wicked pages, no doctrine promulgated, no convictions outraged. It could not be judged by any known standard, yet, although it was acknowledged that the supreme note of art had been struck in The King in Yellow, all felt that human nature could not bear the strain, nor thrive on words in which the essence of purest poison lurked.
I suspect I have found the children's version of The King in Yellow, so if you are brave, pour yourself some absinthe and lets take a look at a little tale for tots simply known as ...
The cover looks harmless enough. What could be wrong about 6 children holding hands standing out in the middle of a field where a lone tent stands? That is until you notice the fourth boy is wearing black leather ladies' pumps. His name is Dan and you'll meet him soon enough. He's weird. Really, really weird.
The story starts out with little warning of the horror to come. The narrator, a little girl, has brought her friend Ned to a tent accompanied by a little black puppy. We are told very little else and we will soon learn that horror tales are best told when much is left to the imagination.
Now it gets a little strange. The narrator and her puppy have disappeared and for some reason, Ned has felt compelled to bring another little girl to this mysterious tent in the middle of a field. A new dog enters the picture, evidently a weiner dog.
Okay. Something is afoot here. Nell, a little Mona Lisa smile on her face, has now wandered off to bring another child to the tent. Dan seems rather nonchalant about the whole affair, but he's not the most liked boy in school. I mean, he wears his mother's shoes, for heaven's sake. So if a pretty girl grabs him by the hand to take him to who-knows-where, he's up for it. He probably thinks he'll look quite fetching in her dress.
And this is where the bad feelings start. Innocent little Ellen in her cute little sun dress, her doll hanging only by a limply grasped hand, is looking at this tent where weird, ol' Dan has led her. But our little Ellen is smart. Dan has to lean over and whisper in her ear and who knows what enticements he's whispering. Would you like to wear my shoes?
And by the bye, where are the parents in this whole atrocity? I'm sure the parents have heard about Dan. Weird Dan who lives up the road in the weird house. The one who is so poor, he has to wear ladies' pumps on his feet because his guardians can't even afford a decent pair of Keds.
"Daddy? I'm going to go play with Dan."
"Really? Dan, that kid who wears ladies' shoes? And where are you going, sweetheart?"
"Oh, he's going to take me out into some field somewhere and show me a tent."
"Really, honey? I'll tell you what. You sit here and play with Dolly and Daddy will get his shotgun and shovel and go talk to Dan."
No! No! Our innocent Ellen has been sucked into whatever is going on with this tent! But, wait! Where is she leading Bill? Hope blossoms in our heart. Ellen's innocence has protected her! Maybe she's leading Bill away from the tent? Maybe to a place of safety and this horrible whatever is finally broken by our resolute heroine?
NO! NO! The auther has destroyed our hope. Despair! Despair! Ellen is now one of these weird pod people too and Bill will soon join them.
You know, for a group of kids who seem compelled to drag others to a tent, they look bored out of their skulls.
Maybe they're waiting for something!
And where's the little black puppy? Never mind. I do't want to know.
And here's a scene straight out of Poe's A Cask of Amontillado. Bill, his arm around Ted in feigned friendship (he really wants to keep him from running away), leads him to the tent.
"Hey, Ted. Come with me! I want to show you this awesome tent."
"Uh, aren't you upset about me giving you that massive wedgie in front of the girls on the playground?
"No way, man! You're my main dude! Come with me. Just ... come with me."
And the curse continues, but notice the artist isn't showing us Al's face. And seeing how ragged Al's pants are, you get the weird feeling Ted might have just dug him up somewhere.
You can almost hear Al moaning, "Brains!"
And Al, his zombie face still hidden by the artist, leads his sister to the tent.
"Nan! Come with me!"
"Al! We buried you last week with the dysentery! You're alive!"
"Brains! I mean ... Riiight! Come with me, Nan. I got something to show you."
And Nan goes to fetch Nat, but somehow we can't feel sorry for Nat. I mean, c'mon! His mother dresses him up in a sailor suit?!?! His only friend is Dan and Nat's just had enough.
Nat would probably march into the jaws of Cthulhu at this point just to get rid of the shame.
This isn't an evil seducation. This is a mercy killing.
And now they're all inside the tent. But they're happy! They're smiling! Even Zombie Al is happy.
But, wait! (counts fingers)
Where's Nat! Where's fancy pants, sailor sissy boy Nat!?!? HE'S NOT HERE!
Oh, the horror! Whatever happened to Nat is what they're smiling about! Dare we know what these childish monsters have done with poor Nat? Oh, the horror! The horror!
If this was a Lovecraft book, mindless nature would now lash out and destroy them all!
Oops. Spoke too soon.
-- The Sinister Minister