Bedlamites contest winner: Heather’s entry

Here is Heather Harper’s winning entry in the Monsters & Mormons Bedlamites contest.


Claim: A group of men, chosen by Satan and made immortal to do
his work on Earth, attack and/or seduce the unwary.

Status: FALSE

Example (collected from the internet): “Holy cow, you guys, the
Bedlamites are REAL!  My roommate’s cousin was visiting and shared
this warning from her Stake President. Last weekend, he was driving
by Yosemite National Park when his tire blew out. While he was trying
to fix it, three men stopped and asked if he needed help. When he
said “yes,” they laughed at him. Then one took out a gun and shot a
hole in one of the other tires. He protested and another took his
tire iron and smashed in his headlights! They were really getting
nasty; they even started hitting him! Thank God he was wearing his
garments. When his clothes got ripped the holy glow from his garments
burned their hands and they dropped their weapons and ran. They MUST
have been Bedlamites! So everyone remember, always be on your guard

Origins: The so-called “Silver Plates,” revealed by Latter-Day Saint
“prophetess” Dinah Kirkham in 1843 include the story of a city called
Bedlam. According to the story, Bedlam was a wicked city on par with
Sodom and Gomorrah from the Bible and, like them, was destroyed for
it. The only “sin” specifically mentioned is that of “un-charity.”
Though what precisely is meant by that is unclear, popular belief has
been that the Bedlamites lived the Law of the Jungle, going so far as
to murder the sick and elderly.

A series of suspicious events and sightings in Utah in the 1850’s,
coupled with a disputable reading of Elisa 11:7, have given rise to
the folk belief that there is a group of men who, like the Three
Nephites, have had their lives supernaturally extended. The
difference is that the Three Nephites are supposed to have had their
lives extended by God in order to bring souls to him, whereas the
Bedlamites are survivors of the destruction of Bedlam whose lives have
been extended by Satan to sow fear and pain and in general do evil.
In the usual fashion of folklore, no one credible can be found who
claims to have actually encountered the Bedlamites. It’s almost
always someone’s father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate.
Also, given the nature of these encounters, it is difficult to assign
supernatural origins to what is most likely plain old human nature.
The temptation to blame events like the Mountain Meadows Massacre on
“the Devil” must be strong, but which is more likely: a posse of
anti-angels or a gang of human thugs?

Heather “silver plates sound hard to keep clean” Harper

Last Updated:
13 April 2011



Bedlamites contest winner: Adam’s entry

Here is Adam K. K. Figueira’s winning entry in the Monsters & Mormons Bedlamites contest.

For months now, reports have been circulating online of the discovery of a document attributed to Emma Smith discussing certain passages from the Book of Lehi, which of course was written on the 116 manuscript pages infamously lost by Martin Harris. In the letter, Sister Smith mentions a conversation she had with her husband, the Prophet Joseph, regarding the work that he was translating. Apparently she was intrigued by Joseph’s description of certain happenings shortly after the arrival of Lehi’s family in the Promised Land, and referred to these events in her document, which is most likely a journal entry as it seems to have no specific intended recipient.

The story in question is of one Beidl, described in the ancient record as a short, dark, exceedingly round being who entered the camp of the Lehites on an evening. After attracting Laman’s attention, Beidl led a small party back to his home, which was in a “great hole in the rocks” located “a long distance” inland of the camp. Beidl had seemingly been cut off from his people somehow, but his strange language made it impossible for the children of Lehi to understand exactly how.

According to Emma’s report, the Book of Lehi ends by mentioning the marriage of Beidl to one of Laman’s daughters, and Emma speculates that the union with this strange personage may have been the beginning of the curse which plagued the Lamanites ever after.

After finishing her summary of the scriptural account, Emma mentions that during their conversation on the topic, Joseph told her of a vision in which he saw the history of Beidl and Laman. He described Beidl as a “grotesque person with an unusually large nose,” and told of a split among the children of Beidl and Laman, in which the majority stayed with the newly formed group thereafter known as Lamanites, while the remainder, who had inherited Beidl’s unfortunate facial characteristics, went their own way back to the great hole and were referred to generally as Beidlamites.

But all this is old. The exciting new news has only come in the last few hours.

Latter-day Saint archaeologist Moab Young has discovered what he describes as a “Beidl-like” skeleton in the region of Neuquén, Argentina, near the site of the unlisted El Sauce crater. El Sauce, a 20 km wide hole in the ground of unknown age, has been generally thought to be an impact crater, but a lack of convincing evidence for this theory has kept it off the official Earth Impact Database list.

Young’s theory is that El Sauce is, in fact, the “great hole in the rocks” mentioned by Emma Smith and that far from being impact related, the crater is the collapsed entrance to the subterranean home world of Beidl and his mole-man ancestors. The close proximity of the Beidlamites hole to the original Lehite camp suggests that the original landing site may have been much further south than generally thought.

NOTE: Adam has also created a magazine-style version of the story complete with images.

Monsters & Mormons: Bedlamites contest winners

Many thanks to all who entered the Bedlamites contest. Theric and I have each selected a winner. Congratulations to Heather  Harper and Adam K. K. Figueira! You each win an electronic copy of the Monsters & Mormons anthology as well as fame, honor and glory. In fact, we’ve written awards citations for you. But first two notes:

1. This won’t be the only Monsters & Mormons contest. There will be more chances to win as the publication date draws near.

2. Many thanks to our other entrants. We will be featuring your entries here at AMV in the coming weeks. And to quote Th:

I must say that the overall quality of submissions made this the most fun I’ve had today. (Of course, I’ve also been stuck at a car dealership all day over a steering recall. The competition isn’t fierce. But don’t let that subtract from my enthusiasm.)

A Snopes entry? Brilliant idea! The Book of Asherah? Give me more! Little green Bedlamites of Mars? Why not?

Thank you so much, everyone who contributed. I have so many of you tied for second place that I can hardly bear it.

Wm adds: Yes, thank you. Of course, me being the cruel, cruel man that I am — I can bear it. So I’m holding the line at our two winners. Sorry. More chances to win later.

Th.’s Award Citation for Adam:

This story felt so much like a real news article I kept googling some of its elements to see if at least this part were real. The story came together with the right mix of deadpan journalistic earnestness and ennui that I think there’s a solid chance you could pull this hoax off and make people believe it for a while. The way he casually brings in Book of Mormon-geography theory and other elements serve to ground his new tale in already existing crazy and the whole thing comes together in way that feels both blandly real and exotically aesthetic. Which is a long-winded way of saying I like it a lot.

Wm’s Award Citation for Heather:

Nothing quite captures the tone of internet discourse like Snopes — informed, authoritative, footnoted, drily witty, often irreverent or condescending, and sometimes goofy. And Heather packs those qualities in there with her amusing yet almost truthy enough to be real fake Snopes entry. Heather won me over not only with her notion of Bedlamites as a reverse Three Nephites, but by getting the details just so — the fake URLs, the silver plates, the references. Besides what could be more hilariously delightful than debunking something that isn’t real in the first place?

The winning entires will be posted in the coming days. Monsters & Mormons is still in the editing phase. More updates as progress warrants.

Bedlamites extended! Deadline now April 18

So here’s the deal: I’m confident that we’ll have enough entries to pick winners and surprise and delight you. But people are putting some real effort in to these entries so Theric and I have decided that an extra weekend is in order. So the new deadline for the contest is 10 p.m. CDT, Monday, April 18, 2011.

Remember to submit through this Google form. And to follow the submissions guidelines found in the original blog post about the contest.

Monsters & Mormons: Bedlamites contest!

4/13/2011 Update: We have decided to let you have two weekends to work on your submissions — the new deadline for the contest is 10 p.m. CDT, Monday, April 18, 2011.


Like many of you, we were quite taken with Elder Holland’s use of the word “bedlamites” in the Sunday afternoon session of conference. It was an affectionately appropriate term applied to children, one that acknowledges the realities of wrestling with child energies in the daily praxis of Mormonism and nods to the fondness in LDS discourse of the use of the suffix ‘-ites’. It also, of course, evoked all sorts of intriguing ideas for those of us who have Monsters & Mormons on the brain. In fact, Graham Bradley tweeted: “@motleyvision You have to do an M&M volume 2 now, and I CALL DIBS ON THE BEDLAMITES

Sorry, no plans for volume 2 as of yet. But here’s a chance to win an electronic copy of the Monsters & Mormons anthology. It’s the Bedlamites contest!

Yes, we know that it’s a real, albeit Anglophilic and somewhat archaic word that means the inmates of a lunatic asylum. But what if it wasn’t? What if it was an actual group of somethings/somebodies in Mormon history (of any dispensation)? What somethings? Which somebodies? Well, that’s up to you. But here’s the thing — we don’t want stories. We want fake documentation. It could be a section of scripture, mission statement, strategic plan, ballad, scholarly footnote, article abstract, wikipedia article, OED-style definition and usage/citation history, Bible Dictionary listing, Encyclopedia of Mormonism entry, journal entry, letter, etc. Anything that gives us a glimpse of a hidden or alternate history of the mysterious and/or long-forgotten Bedlamites.

The rules are:

  1. No short (or short short) stories. As mentioned, we want you to explore other forms of discourse here.
  2. There needs to be some Mormon connection, even if it’s only a tertiary one.
  3. Your entry should be 500 words or less, and it should be submitted by 10 p.m. CDT on Friday, April 15.
  4. Your entry should follow the tone of this blog — irreverent, odd, witty, obscure, satirical, highbrow, lowbrow, etc. are all okay. Mean or mocking is not.

There will be two winners — one selected by Wm; one by Th. Each winner will receive an e-edition of the Monsters & Mormons anthology when it is published in October of this year.

We also want our contributors to the anthology to be able to participate in the fun should they feel so inclined. Should one of them win, we will randomly select one of the other entries to give the e-book to.

We will be accepting submission only through this Google form. We will publish the winners and probably a few other favorites here on A Motley Vision, but will also make public and post a link to the Google spreadsheet that the form feeds so that we can all enjoy all of the entries. If you aren’t interested in sharing your entry, this isn’t the contest for you. Now on to the bedlam-making!

Welcome to the Monsters & Mormons Bedlamites contest form. Enter your submission of a section of scripture, mission statement, strategic plan, ballad, scholarly footnote, article abstract, wikipedia article, OED-style definition and usage history, Bible dictionary listing, Encyclopedia of Mormonism entry, journal entry, etc. The only rules are:
1. No short (or short short) stories.
2. There needs to be some Mormon connection, even if it’s only a tertiary one.
There will be two winners — one selected by Wm; one by Th. Each winner will receive an e-edition of the Monsters & Mormons anthology.
Please note that all submissions will be made public when the contest closes at 10 p.m. CDT on Friday, April 15. It’s a good idea to compose your entry elsewhere and then copy and paste in to th

Monsters & Mormons: the final nine

Theric and I are pleased to announce nine more works — and the final set of works — that we will be including in Monsters & Mormons. Everyone who has submitted should now have a decision in hand. If not, email us. But I’m pretty sure we’ve replied to all of our ~70 submitters. Thanks again to all those who sent something in. It was fun reading everything, and we do wish we could find a way to accommodate every work. But editing time and page count and the parameters of the anthology mean we had to make choices. Some tough ones even.

And so we made them. And here are the final nine acceptances:

  • The poem “Water Spots” by Terresa Mae Wellborn — the kind of poem that gets under your skin. And then thrashes around.
  • The short story “Pirate Gold for Brother Brigham” by Lee Allred — A classic ghost tale featuring Brigham Young and the Great Salt Lake.
  • The short story “Bokev Momen “by D. Michael Martindale — Mormonism filtered through the eyes of aliens to humorous effect. Although how the abducted Mormon feels about that “humor” we shall not comment upon.
  • The novelette “Allow Me to Introduce Myself” by Moriah Jovan* — A demon-fighting Mormon nun with some nifty gadgets.
  • The short story “The Mission Story” by Bryton Sampson — What happens when your weird mission companion has a bit of the mad scientist in him?
  • The short story “Bichos” by Erik Peterson — Newlywed couple. The Amazon. Old stories of scary beasts. (And then the fun starts.)
  • The short short story “A Letter from the Field” by James Paul Crockett — the first letter home from an elder assigned to quite the unusual field of work.
  • The short story “Baptisms for the Dead” by Christopher Birkhead — a missionary companionship keeps working through a zombie apocalypse.
  • The short story “Out of the Deep I Have Howled unto Thee” by Scott M. Roberts — A haunted motorcycle in the Utah desert.

For those keeping track that brings us to 29 works and 30 contributors. Depending on how edits go, the whole thing will end up being between 160,000 and 175,000 words (not counting bios/forewords/afterwords). All of it Mormony, Monsterish goodness. We’ll keep you updated. And now, it’s off to work.

*So in the interest of full disclosure, Moriah Jovan will be doing the layout and formatting on the book. She also runs the publishing concern of which Peculiar Pages is an imprint. I can tell you that neither she nor Theric gave me any pressure on accepting the story, and they both know that I would have had no problem rejecting it. But I do like it, and it does fill a need — so it’s going in.

Theric would like to add that, in fact, no one was more enthusiastic about this story than William. Moriah considered withdrawing it and I was about to let her but William refused. And he was right. This story — like every other story listed in today’s announcement — fills a vital need. And now, finally, we feel complete. And boy oh boy but are these tales going to slap you around. Cue your excitement.

Monsters & Mormons: a fourth round of admits


Exciting times here in Monsters & Mormons headquarters. You can expect, mm, probably one more round of admits after this. We do hope the suspense has been mortifying.

But first, five more tastes of pending excellence:

S.P. Bailey’s The Baby in the Bushes

No supernatural monsters here, so if you can stand a sideways step into a separate genre, then put your gumshoes on and help us solve the mystery of the body in the storage unit. Old Testament law arrives in modern Utah and the consequences are not pretty.

TV McArthur’s The Blues Devil

I don’t think it’s natural for deals with the devil to leave the reader warm and smiling, but somehow TV pulled it off. I can’t explain it. I don’t even want to.

Bridgette Tuckfield’s Experimenting with Life at Extraordinary Depths

As I look back at my notes, I discover that Bridget’s story has “unique and pleasurable elements.” It also has a lot of mud and slime. But it’s unique and pleasurable mud and slime, so no worries. Just stay out of the water.

Brian Gibson’s The Eye Opener

Gibson is clearly wasting his time working in television. I now think about this story every night when we say family prayer. You don’t know how unsettling this is. Yet.

Danny Nelson’s The World

Rarely have I seen stereotypical “Relief Society Ladies” drawn with such love and care and depth and richness that you want to slap anyone who’s ever used that stereotype dismissively. Not to mention perhaps the most original monster I’ve ever read. You can’t predict this story. You can’t you can’t you can’t.

Monsters & Mormons: round 3 of admits

Yes, progress is being made, and Theric and I are pleased to announced round 3 of admits to the Monsters & Mormons anthology. These 7 works bring us to 15 total. There is still room for more. And we are continuing to work on figuring out which submissions will make the cut. Once again, until you have been specifically e-mailed a rejection, your work is still in the running. And, once again, we’re not doing this in order of our favorite works to our least favorites or anything like that. This is simply the next round we want to announce and is calculated to show that whole thing about range and depth*. And yet again, we’ve got some pretty awesome authors and works here (in no particular order):

  • The novella Fangs of a Dragon by David J. West — a Porter Rockwell (tall-) tale that draws heavily on late 19th-century Utah history and folk legend
  • The short story “I Had Killed A Zombie” by Adam Greenwood — a zombie post-apocalyptic first person account that riffs off of Joseph Smith’s rhetorical style
  • The short comic “Mormon Golem” by Steve Morrison — a reworking of the Golem legend set in 1838 in Far West, Missouri
  • The short story “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone — space opera of the alien-encounter sort with an unusual Mormon angle that was originally published in Analog
  • The short story “The Living Wife” by Emily Milner — a domestic-drama ghost story with a very Mormon context
  • The novella Brothers In Arms by Graham Bradley — action-packed zombie military sci-fi with Mormon protagonists
  • The short comic “Traitors and Tyrants: A Wives of Erasmus Adventure” written by John Nakamura Remy with art by Galen Dara  — ninja action adventure Mormon polygamy/State of Deseret alternate history steampunk

Note that I use the word Mormon as an adjective a lot in the descriptions above. Part of that is that I don’t want to get too far in to spoiler territory, but it’s also that each of these works very much embrace both the Monsters and the Mormons aspects to this anthology. We’ve got some good ones here, folks. And more to come.

*For example, you’ll notice that we have included at least one novella and two short stories in each class so far. That trend may or may not continue.

More Monsters & Mormons admits

I’m pleased to report that Theric and I are making progress with our reading and decision making for Monsters & Mormons. And we are proud to announce another round of admits. As with our early admit class, these aren’t the four that are the most awesome to the exclusion of all other stories (they are pretty awesome, though), and they don’t necessarily bump any other, similar submissions out of the pile, etc. etc. They simply are the next four that we want to announce and thus give you another glimpse of the range and depth of this anthology as it begins to come together.

The next four admits are:

  • The novella The Mountain of the Lord by Dan Wells — an action-packed, western/horror/superpowers hybrid set in pioneer times. Some of you may already know quite a bit about this story from Dan’s blogging about it. Well we got to read it. And it’s in.
  • The short story/historical Mormon mash-up “George Washington Hill and the Cybernetic Bear” by George Washington Hill and EC Buck — a fascinating retelling of an actual pioneer journal account with a Monsters & Mormons twist to it. And semi-inspired by Kent’s AMV post.
  • The short story “Recompense of Sorrow” by Wilum Pugmire — we have graciously been granted permission to reprint this finely-crafted story that brings a bit of Joseph Smith’s more mystical side in to a classic tale of horror that is firmly situated in the Lovecraftian tradition that Wilum so successfully inhabits as a writer (see comment 11 at that link).
  • Two poems by Will Bishop — a pair of poems that deploy the language and imagery of genre to explore aspects of modern Mormon life. You may recognize Will’s name from his participation in the FOB Bible.

Congratulations and many thanks to our next class of admits.

And to report: we are very much enjoying reading though the submissions. We’re not even close to being done with the admits yet. Sit tight everybody. Theric and I are working as fast as we can.

And I know I’ve said this before, but you all have so totally validated the concept and then some. It has been an intense few weeks (with more to go), but very, very gratifying.

Monsters & Mormons: some numbers

Once again thanks to all of you who submitted work to the Monsters & Mormons anthology. Theric and I are very pleased by the response. We’re knee-deep in reading, but I thought I’d share a quick update with a few numbers.

We received about 70 submissions. The vast majority of those are short stories, but there are also some novelettes, poems and graphic novels in the mix.

Give or take several thousand words, those submissions add up to 354,339 words.

Just under half of the submissions came in during the week of Sept. 25 to Oct. 1, with 23 on the last day.

Finally, don’t take this as a sign of imminent decisions, but Th. has read about 60% of the submissions and I have read two less than half of them.