Father-Daughter Serpent Mound Origin Story Face-Off

Darker Pages LogoLast week, my daughter and I went to volunteer at the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage at the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System. We helped some amazing people make insane quantities of biscuits, chai tea, chicken salad, and salad dressing. While there, we paid a visit to Serpent Mound.

The mound rests on a plateau within a massive crater—the site of a meteor impact over 300 million years ago! The mound was likely built about 1,000 years ago, and its head faces exactly in the direction of the sunset on the summer solstice. At 1,348 feet long, it is the largest serpent effigy mound in the world.

If you’ve never seen it, stop reading this. Make travel plans to visit southwestern Ohio. See it.

All done? Good. Glad to have you back.

Serpent Mound is many things. A mystery. A complex feat of engineering. A brilliant piece of natural artwork. An inspiration. One thing that fascinated my daughter and me is that no one really knows why it was constructed or what it means. Even its head is up for debate. Is it an oversized head or is the serpent swallowing an egg?

In the spirit of this sacred place, we decided to have a father-daughter fiction face-off. We spent about a half hour writing our own stories to explain the ancient origins of this magical site. Below is what we came up with. Other than editing for spelling and paragraph breaks, I didn’t tinker with either of our stories.

If you have a few minutes, please read them. Post below which you like better, or cast your vote via my Facebook page or Twitter.


Story One:

For a long while, Wonka Chonka shoveled ash and bone, hoisted rocks, and carried an awful lot of dirt. It was a massive chore, but nothing had been the same since that giant rock fell from the sky.

That was long before Wonka Chonka’s time, but he’d seen the writing on the wall in the old caves, before they collapsed. It was a mystery who had drawn the story of pictures, but it didn’t matter. It was unknown where the rock came from, but it didn’t matter.

What mattered was the suffering that ensued. First, the evil within the rock poisoned the stream. The largest fish grew legs and sharp teeth and ate and ate until it towered over the trees and killed everything except the birds. And then the fish grew wings and hunted down the birds too. Anything left alive soon drowned in blood.

After that, the evil rested awhile.

When it awoke, it possessed a beaver that toiled in the river. It compelled the beaver to follow the river upstream to its source. Then the beaver built a massive dam and caused the world to run dry. The clouds lost their rain and soon crashed to the earth, useless.

After that, the evil rested awhile.

This time, it was Wonka Chonka’s people who woke it, with the sounds of their labor and ceremonies. The evil slipped inside a young boy who swam in the stream. That night, the Boy did unspeakable things. Wonka Chonka had managed to forget the Boy’s name, but he could not forget those terrible deeds.

The tribal elders ordered the evil to leave the Boy, and the Boy murdered them and escaped. Wonka Chonka was part of the band that hunted him down. They found him lying dead in a nest of snakes.

They took the Boy’s body into the woods and burned it.

After that, the evil rested awhile, but not long at all. The Boy’s charred skeleton rose out of the grave with an army of corpses—dead people, deer, raccoons, lizards, and birds—everything but snakes. The evil Boy attacked the tribe and killed everyone except Wonka Chonka, who only escaped by wrapping himself in snakeskins. He had a hunch that the evil would fear the snake. He was right.

The Boy led his army eastward and said that he would destroy all life on earth. He left on the longest day of the year, and said that he would complete his crusade in exactly one year.

And so, Wonka Chonka set about his grim task. It started with the ashes of his people, then all the clay from their lost village. From there, he took shovelful after shovelful of dirt. Slowly, he built the serpent. He never slept. He never stopped.

Exactly one year later, the dead boy showed up. He descended the valley in which that asteroid had long ago fell. As he climbed the opposite hill, he knew victory was his. At last, he had destroyed all life on this sad little planet.

Just a few more steps.

The evil strode over the edge of the hillside.

The Serpent Mound—possessed by the souls of Wonka Chonka’s ancestors—hissed and gobbled him up. Wonka Chonka laughed and cheered. He sobbed awhile and sat atop the mound. He closed his eyes to sleep and never opened them again.

After that, the evil rested awhile.


Story Two

A long time ago, when Indians and pilgrims lived, and the world was ever so different, the story of Serpent Mound was born. You may think that this is all fictional, but it couldn’t get truer.

Now many indians had to be brave,strong, and cunning but no indian was stronger than Faca Laca, who was rumored to have magical powers. But if anyone ever asked her if she had magical powers, Faca Laca would pretend that they weren’t even there.

One day, she plunged into the deep ocean, vowing that her spirits and her magic would stay with them forever. A little boy named Ronnie and his sister Lola thought that this was rubbish. They wanted proof of these so-called powers.

So they waded into the ocean and soon saw a remarkable glow and golden sparkles loomed above it. They swam down to investigate. The boy touched it—and held a ball of it in his hand. The girl did the same. But they never returned. Ever. Nobody knew what happened to them. Yet.

A snake slithered down there years later. It couldn’t be identified as any type of snake. Any type of snake on Earth. It grabbed the children who weren’t dead yet and carried them to shore with its powerful tail. Now it had a meal. It was about to pounce and decompose their bodies to rotting flesh, when a lady yelled, “STOP!”

Her voice boomed and echoed. It was the spirit of Faca Laca!

“Or what?” The alien snake hissed, ready to take its prey back to Venus.

“Or THIS!” Faca Laca sprinkled her magic into the air and said some odd words: “Kalimindo, hollin aster, rog, mevenule, yockit, horrisonillisko!”

The snake puffed up. Wider and bigger—it couldn’t control itself as it bloated up like a balloon. Fatter, taller, longer, scalier, it’s third eye/poison shooter blowing up into a big ball in front of him. He swelled up so big he nearly burst, and suddenly…he turned into clay and ash. Mounds of cookie dough-colored clay and scraps of ash and debris littered its back. It was filthy but beautiful.

Today it is called Serpent Mound.

And as for the spirit and magic of Faca Laca, sometimes you may see a scratch or scale on the serpent’s back that wasn’t there before. And sometimes, if you look into the trees the second the sunrise begins, you may see Faca Laca’s spirit practicing kung fu by the shrubs or swinging on the pine’s rough branches.

The end.

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