Hocoa 4

The town of Mayberry, Michigan is a bit irregular. Up until two years ago, it was a thriving town, with seven hundred grain reprocessing mills and a Gap outlet. In a rash election-year decision, however, the town elected the self-styled insane person Dr. Ploxenhaus as their new mayor. Insane Mayor Ploxenhaus, as he demanded to be known, immediately conscripted half the town and embarked on a bemusing quest to drive deep, wide tunnels through the Tarbyhao mountain range, which surrounds Mayberry. Deep caverns were dug under the town itself, too, as if Ploxenhaus feared some kind of catastrophic attack upon it; it’s estimated that there’s over 400 miles of tunnels beneath Mayberry, as well as a cavern big enough to hold twenty-six Chretien-class aircraft carriers sitting side-by-side.

After this hideously ambitious construction project was more-or-less complete, Insane Mayor Ploxenhaus is known to have commanded his secret police to herd the town’s population into the caverns. Ploxenhaus, in his last official act as the mayor of Mayberry, pooped in the urinal of Bill Fong Chevrolet, renounced his mayorship, and descended into his subterranean fiefdom, taking on the title of Lord Protector of the Underfunk. Nothing has been heard from him or the residents of the town since.

I went to Mayberry, and walked down the abandoned, dilapidated boulevards. The town has not been touched in the two years since Ploxenhaus’ Exodus, and exists in more-or-less original condition. Due to the immediate nature of their deportation to the caverns, the belongings of the town’s residents are largely as they left them, lending the town an eerie aspect. Store shelves are stocked with the remnants of rotten fruit, as well as better-preserved canned and preserved goods, and the odor of Insane Mayor Ploxenhaus’ last official act still hangs over the lot of Bill Fong Chevrolet.

Being a journalist of the fourth type, I decided to try and find an entrance to Ploxenhaus’ Under-Realm. The town’s many manhole covers lead only to the abandoned sewer system, and a search of Ploxenhaus’ abandoned mayoral estate yielded nothing, save for his world-renowned collection of SelectaVision CED discs and office doodads. It seemed as if the town’s populace had simply vanished.

The search resulted in nothing but dead ends until my photographer, the erudite Wibbles Hugo, found a large camouflaged hatch in the bottom of Mayberry Junior High’s flooded swimming pool. After draining the pool of the viscous goo that had been left by local seagull surgeons, we opened the hatch and found a large stairway descending into the dark. As Wibbles Hugo is a fearless man, famous for hunting and being cranially-inhabited by the chupacabra, we followed the stairway to its terminus — a giant, steel airlock door, wide enough for two school buses and a duck to pass through abreast, sealed from the inside. Above the door was the telltale gleam of a security camera lens behind smoked glass, and far below, we could hear and feel the distant hum of giant generators. We knocked, but received no response.

It’s unknown what became of the residents of Mayberry — whether they still toil in some far, sunken sub-Mayberry — but their town is so-so. The service isn’t great, because you will be the only human for twenty miles around, but the parking is just spectacular.