I. The Birth of Cuthbert The Progenitor
Meet Cuthbert The Progenitor (or Ur-Cuthbert, if you prefer). Alec and I made him by accident while we were trying to make a Halloween ghost prop. See, Cuthbert’s head is a helium balloon; the long balloon and the inflated glove are full of plain ordinary air. This accounts for his excellent posture: the helium-filled head keeps him erect, and the other two balloons anchor his noble spirit to Earth. We were hoping (and by we, what I mean is I: Alec and the lady at the balloon shop both assured me that my plan Would Not Work, and they were quite right, too) that the whole of this structure could be covered in a very light-weight sheet and incorporated into Atherton Court’s First Annual Halloween Yard-Haunt, where it would, we (I) hoped, bobble in a sinister and ghost-like manner when stirred by winds. Only it turns out that there just isn’t a sheet light enough. By the time I saw that this was indeed a fact, though, I was also seeing Cuthbert The First, and I was so enchanted by his peculiar hideousness that I no longer cared that my ghost prop was a flop.
II. Atherton Reflects Upon Her Creation
Brooding upon Ur-Cuthbert as he bobbled prepossessingly in my wake (yes, I did haul him around by his ribbon/leash for the rest of the evening, to the great perturbation of both Alec and the cat Anubis), I decided that the main thing about him was the perfect balance of the balloons. That is, the way in which the air-filled balloons interacted with the helium balloon to keep him upright and standing upon the ground. Also, the inflated glove was pleasingly freakish and strangely convincing.
And yet something was missing. I wanted Cuthbert to be, somehow, larger. Also, I felt that he was not as disconcerting as he could be. He wasn’t living up to his potential, and I could not, for a time, figure out what was lacking.
And then I bethought me of caterpillars.
III. Cuthbert The Caterpillar
The next day, I returned to my local Balloon Emporium and demanded five helium balloons and a large package of long balloons. I explained to the balloon lady what I would do with them, and she seemed interested or possibly horrified. Then I rushed home with my purchases and got to work.
This time, I tied my five helium balloons to a single long balloon. I inflated five more long balloons, and to each of these tied an inflated white glove. I attached these five hideous limbs to the long balloon which was the creature’s torso. Solemnly, I then gave the creature a balloon-tail. Finally, with yet more solemnity and a certain amount of ritualistic chanting, I gave my creature a single, terrible eye.
It was done.
Cuthbert the Caterpillar was unloosed upon an unready world.
COMING SOON: CUTHBERT THE CATERPILLAR in a SHORT DRAMATIC PRESENTATION
…and by Short Dramatic Presentation, what I probably mean is, a slideshow with captions. You know, kind of like a silent film, only with fewer starlets.