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Abandoned by Dandy

Author since 2023 6Stories 11 Followers
Abandoned by Dandy

You may have heard about the Dandy Corporation’s modern-day ghost towns. A company as large and as long-lasting as Dandy Co. is bound to make a few mistakes, and when they do, it’s often cheaper to just ignore them than to throw good money after bad.

One such misstep was the “Pirate’s Atoll” resort in the Caribbean. It didn’t start as a ghost town, of course. Cruise ships would drop hundreds of passengers off at the resort to relax in luxury. The resort had a tiki bar, a small collection of exotic animals, and daily live pirate shows. You can find these facts, and even a few photos, if you know where to look it up.

Dandy Co. blew over $30,000,000 on the project. That’s not a typo. Thirty million dollars. Then, without warning, they completely abandoned it.

Blame was placed on the cruise lines, which were contracted to provide a licensed Dandyland theme. Apparently, they tried to renegotiate fees in a predatory manner. They knew the resort would be useless without the ships, and that Dandy had a lot to lose. Local staff on the island were also blamed for showing up late and having a poor work ethic.

That’s where the truthful nature of the story ends. It wasn’t because of greedy cruise lines, and it most definitely wasn’t because “those dang foreigners are so lazy”. No, I very sincerely doubt that those excuses hold water.

Why? Because of Primeveire’s Palace.

Near the beach side city of Emerald Isle in North Carolina, Dandy began construction of “Primeveire’s Palace” in the late 1990s. Conceptually, it was going to be a lush, medieval forest. The aforementioned palace would sit at the center and house the guests.

If you’re unfamiliar with the titular character, you may remember the classic story, “The Noble And The Knave”. However, most people probably know her from the decades-old Dandy cartoon of the same name. Primeveire is a young lady from a royal family, exiled into the primitive wilderness by a cruel nobleman. There, she befriends various woodland creatures before being rescued by a reformed highwayman.

Primeveire’s Palace was a controversial undertaking from the very beginning. Dandy bought out a ton of high-priced land for the project, and scandal surrounded some of the purchases. The local government claimed “eminent domain” on people’s homes, then immediately sold them to Dandy Co. One home had just finished construction when it was immediately condemned with no real explanation.

The land that had been seized was supposedly intended for some sort of highway project. Knowing full well that this was a lie, people starting calling it “Lemming Lane”. A play on their mascot, Lucky Lemming, and the legend that the creatures took paths to their own demise.

Then, there was the concept art. A few stuffed shirt types from Dandy Co. held a city meeting.

They intended to convince everyone that this project was going to benefit them. It would increase tourism, bringing extra customers to local businesses. They revealed the concept art with a flourish and accompanying upbeat music, sure it would impress their audience. When people saw the garish, technicolor eyesore of a building, the surrounding tribal wilderness, and staff members dressed in “wild savage” loincloths and masks… suffice to say everyone flipped their shit.

We’re talking about a magical castle of sorts, an arcane forest, and half-naked servants. Not only would this be in the center of a relatively wealthy, historic area, but also one below the “Bible Belt”.

Magic, talking animals, and exposed skin were highly controversial at that point in time. One crowd members stormed the stage, in fact, managing to break a presentation board over his knee.

Dandy took the community and essentially broke it over their knee in response. Houses were razed to the ground. Land was cleared. There wasn’t a damned thing anyone could do or say about it. Local television stations and newspapers were against the building of the resort, at first. Then, some corporate connections between Dandy Co.’s media holdings and the local news venues came into play. Their opinions soon turned on a dime.

But I digress… Remember Pirate’s Atoll in the Caribbean? Dandy sunk all that money into it, then split at the first sign of trouble. The same thing happened with Primeveire’s Palace. Construction was completed, and visitors stayed at the resort with little to no problems. The smaller surrounding communities were flooded with traffic and the usual annoyances that came with an influx of lost and cranky travelers.

Then… it all just stopped. They shut it down and nobody knew what to think. Still, though the lack of answers was confusing, residents were pretty happy to hear the news. Dandy’s loss was hilarious and wonderful to a large group of people who didn’t want this in the first place.

Personally, I hadn’t given the place a second thought after hearing it had closed over a decade ago. I live about four hours from Emerald Isle, so I only managed to hear the rumors and rumblings. No first-hand information made it my way.

Then, I found an article from a blogger who had explored the Pirate’s Atoll resort. He posted detailed descriptions of the crazy shit he discovered there. Everything left behind was smashed, defaced, probably ruined by disgruntled former employees. Hell, maybe people came from miles around to wreck the place. They were probably just as angry about Pirate’s Atoll as folks here were about the palace.

There were even rumors that Dandy Co. had released their aquarium stock into the local waters when they closed down. This would’ve included a variety of dangerous, invasive species, including sharks. Who wouldn’t want to take a few swings at them after that?

The blog post about Pirate’s Atoll got me thinking. Even though many years had passed since it closed, I figured it might be interesting to do some urban exploration at Primeveire’s Palace. I could take some photos, write about my experience, and pretty much copy what this other blogger had done long before me. I might even be able to take something home as a memento.

I can’t say that I hurried there. It took me around a year after I first found that blog post. Over that time, I researched the the resort… or rather, I tried to. Naturally, no official Dandy-related website or resource made any mention of the location. They had all been scrubbed clean.

Stranger still, it seemed like no one other than myself had thought to talk about the place or even post vacation photos from there. None of the local news sites contained one word about the place, though that could be expected since they had all swung Dandy’s way. They wouldn’t be allowed bring attention to the embarrassment.

More recently, I learned that large corporations can actually ask search engines to remove search results. From what I’ve heard, they don’t even need to provide a good reason for the removal. Looking back on it, that’s probably what happened. It’s not that there were no posts about the resort, but that their words were simply made inaccessible.

So, naturally, I could barely find the place in the end. All I had to work with was an old-as-Hell map I received in the mail back in the ’90s. It was part of a promotional brochure that had been sent out to people who had recently been to Dandyland. My family had visited the park in the late ’80s, so we were on the list. I hadn’t intended to keep the brochure, but it got shoved into a box with my childhood comic books. I only remembered it existed a few months into my research, and then it took me a couple weeks to get around to visiting my parents and finding where it had all been stored.

After I found the map, I was sure the difficult part was over. However, on my way to the resort, I found that the locals weren’t going to be any help. Most were transplants who had moved to the beach in recent years. Others were old residents who sneered the second I spoke the word “Primeveire” or, worse yet, “Dandy”.

The drive took me through an inordinately long corridor of overgrowth. Exotic plants had run rampant and overpopulated the area, mixing with the native species that were desperately vying to reclaim the land. I was in awe when I finally reached the entrance to the main resort. The tremendous, monolithic wooden gates still stood, their supports cut from what seemed like giant sequoias. The otherwise majestic gate was gouged by woodpeckers, and the base was slowly being eaten away by burrowing insects.

Hanging at face-level was a sheet of metal. It was some random scrap, with a hand-painted message scrawled in black paint. “ABANDONED BY DANDY”. Clearly, this was the handiwork of some past local or employee who wanted to voice their own small protest.

The entrance was open wide enough to slip through, but not wide enough for a vehicle. So, grabbing my digital camera, a flashlight, and the brochure, I set off on foot. Flipping the paper over displayed a layout of the resort itself, though the landscape was a little less friendly.

The inner grounds were just as wild as the entryway. Fruit trees stood untended and ragged among piles of their own stinking, bug-riddled rot. There was a strange clash between order and chaos, as carefully planted rows of perennial flowers fought for space with tall weeds and stinking, blackened mushrooms.

All that remained of any smaller outdoor structures were piles of broken, charred debris.

Something that seemed to be an information booth was now a chopped-up heap of wood and splintered information boards. What vandals hadn’t ruined was ruined by inclement weather.

What struck me as bizarre, was a large statue of Princess Primeveire which stood prominently within a courtyard in front of the palace. She was frozen in a delicate wave toward no one, staring into empty space with a demure, slight smile as generations of bird shit covered her crown, hair, and dress. Ugly, thorny vines entangled her platform.

I approached the building. Any colors left were washed out, sun faded, and much of the plaster meant to simulate stonework had cracked from exposure. Where the paint hadn’t peeled or chipped away, there was copious amounts of graffiti.

The front doors weren’t just left open, they had been taken completely off of their hinges and were seemingly stolen. Above the gaping maw where the front doors had been, someone had once again painted the phrase, “ABANDONED BY DANDY”.

You’re probably waiting to hear about all the awesome stuff I saw inside the palace. Forgotten valuables, derelict cash registers, a full-fledged secret society of homeless cannibals… but no. The inside of the building was so stark, so bare, that I think people may have even stolen the moulding off of the walls. Anything that was too big to steal like counters, desks, and giant fake trees rested in an empty echo chamber. Every step I took was amplified like a slow rat-a-tat of a machine gun.

I checked the floor plan and headed to the specific locations that seemed interesting. The kitchen was as you’d imagine. It was an industrial food prep area with rows of various appliances. No expenses were spared. Every glass surface was broken. Every door was knocked out of its frame. Every metal surface was kicked and dented. Worst of all, the entire room smelled like stale, acrid piss.

The walk-in freezer, not even remotely cool at that point, had row upon row of empty shelves. Hooks hung from the ceiling, most likely for hanging cuts of meat. As I took in the sight for a moment, I noticed that several of them were swinging. Their movements were so slow and small that it was almost impossible to see if you weren’t paying attention. I briefly considered that it had been caused by me moving through, but they were moving in areas I hadn’t even been to yet.

The public bathrooms were in much the same state. Just like the Pirate’s Atoll resort, someone had methodically smashed each porcelain commode with whatever was available to throw. About a half-inch of stinking, stagnant water had pooled on the floor, so of course I didn’t stay for long. What’s odd is that the toilets and sinks (and the bidets, yes I went in there) all dripped, leaked, or just flowed freely. It seemed to me that the water should’ve been shut off quite a long time ago.

There were plenty of hotel-style rooms in the resort, but I definitely didn’t have time to look through them all. The few I did peer into were similarly destroyed, and I wouldn’t have realistically found anything interesting in them. I thought I could hear a television or radio in one room, since it almost sounded like there was a conversation going on inside. It was like a whisper, but looking back it could’ve just been my own breathing echoing in the silence. Maybe it was just entirely a trick of the mind.

It sounded like an exchange between two voices.

1: “I didn’t believe in it.” 2: (Nearly inaudible reply.)

1: “I didn’t know that. I couldn’t know that.” 2: “Father told you.”

1: (Nearly inaudible reply, similar to weeping.)

I’m aware of how ridiculous that sounds. Still, I suspected there might’ve been something running in that room – or worse, some meth heads who had holed up there and probably would’ve knifed me.

When I returned to the front of the palace, I figured I hadn’t found anything of note. The trip had been a waste of time. I was going to drive straight home again, rather than booking a hotel room, so I couldn’t even consider it a one-night vacation.

As I looked outside, I noticed something in the courtyard that I must’ve missed before. It was something that would give me one really cool thing to show for all my trouble, even if it was just a picture. A life-like statue of a python, maybe fifty feet long, sat coiled up and sunning itself on a large, graffiti covered rock. It was almost time for the sun to set, so light was falling onto it in the perfect way for a photograph.

I approached the python and snapped a photo. I stood on my toes and snapped another. I moved in closer to get the details of its face. Slowly, casually, the snake lifted its head and looked directly into my eyes. It turned, slithered off of the rock, across the grass, and into the tree line. Its head long disappeared into the woods before its tail even left the sunning spot.

Dandy Co. had released all of their exotic animals onto the grounds. Right there on my floor plan map was the reptile house. Of course, I should’ve expected it. I had read about the sharks at Pirate’s Atoll, and I should have known they would do this.

I was dumbfounded. Utterly stupefied. My mouth must’ve been hanging open for the longest time before I came to my senses and snapped it shut. I blinked stupidly for a moment, then backed toward the palace, away from the snake. Even though it was gone, I wasn’t taking any chances and retreated to the building to gather my wits again.

I looked for a place to sit down and breathe. I had always had an unreasonable fear of snakes… of anything with scales, really. At that point, my legs felt like they’d become jelly. Of course, there was no place to sit down unless I wanted to recline in broken glass and a leaf carpet crawling with insects. I could’ve hauled myself onto a desk, but it probably would’ve collapsed from age.

I had seen a receding staircase in the lobby and decided to have a seat there until my pulse stopped pounding in my ears. The stairs were far enough from the front of the building to be somewhat clean, other than a startling accumulation of dust. I pulled a wedge of metal off of the wall and used it as an improvised seat cover. Once again, it had been painted with the “ABANDONED BY DANDY” motto I had become accustomed to.

The stairway lead down to a below-ground level of the building. Using my flashlight, I could see that the stairs ended at a metal mesh door with a padlock. A sign on the door, a real sign unlike the hastily scrawled ones, read “Mascots only! Thank you!”. That perked up my spirits for two reasons.

First, a mascots-only area would definitely contain some interesting things back in the day. Second, the padlock was still in place. Nobody had gone down there – not the vandals, the looters, no one.

That was the one place I could actually explore, and perhaps find really unique stuff to photograph or even steal. I had come to the palace with the decision that it was okay to take something back for proof. After all, the owners clearly didn’t care.

I didn’t have much hope of breaking the lock. The ravages of age weren’t powerful enough to corrode the metal that much. What I could do, however, was separate the plate that held it in place from the damaged wood of the wall. The screws pulled free easily once I applied enough pressure. Either others hadn’t thought to try bypassing the lock, or it was still too solid when they had tried.

The mascots-only area was a startling and welcomed change from the rest of the palace. Every second or third florescent light was illuminated, though they flickered and faded randomly. Nothing had been broken or stolen, though time and desertion had taken their toll. Tables bore notepads and pens. Clocks hung on the walls, frozen at different times. There was a punch-in clock, complete with filled-out time cards. Chairs were scattered around, and long rotted-out food and drinks sat on counter tops. It was like one of those post-apocalyptic movies where everything is left in a state of evacuation.

As I wandered the maze-like sub-basement hallways, the sights became more and more disquieting. Further in, desks and tables were knocked over. Scattered papers had melded with the damp floor, and a large expanse of fungus was slowly overtaking rotted carpeting. Everything was just… squishy. Anything made of wood disintegrated into mush when I applied even the least amount of force. Clothing items left hanging on hooks simply fell to moist threads if I tried to remove them.

One thing that got on my nerves was that the light became more sparse and unreliable as I proceeded. It wasn’t dark enough for a flashlight, but not bright enough to be comfortable. The depths of the sub-basement grew dank and suffocating. Eventually, I reached a bright yellow door with the words “Mascot Prep 1” stenciled on its surface.

In my excitement, I all but yanked off the doorknob. I figured that room held the costumes, and I definitely wanted a photograph of that twisted, stinking mess. Try as I might, whatever angle or trick I tried, the door wouldn’t budge. That is, until I acknowledged defeat and began to walk away. That was when there was a slight popping sound, after which the door slowly creaked open just a bit.

Inside, the room was completely dark. Pitch black. I used my light to search for a switch on the wall by the door, but there was none. As I focused on the walls, I was jarred out of my concentration by a sudden and piercing electrical buzz. Rows of lights overhead suddenly flashed to life, flickering and fading like the others I had passed.

It took a second for my eyes to adjust, and it seemed as if the light was going to keep growing in brightness until the bulbs exploded. Just when I thought it would reach that critical stage, they dimmed a bit and steadied. The room was exactly how I had imagined it. Various Dandy character costumes hung on the walls like strange cartoon cadavers suspended from invisible nooses.

What I found odd, and what I really needed to make a record of, was a Lucky Lemming costume at the center of the room. Unlike the other costumes, it was lying on its back like a murder victim. Its fur was matted and shedding, creating bare patches.

What’s worse, however, was the coloring of the costume. I think mold and mildew must have taken root, seeming to turn it into a photo-negative version of the actual Lucky Lemming. Black rot where he should have been white. White fungus filaments where he should have been black. His clothes seemed faded and bleached, the opposite of their their usual hue.

The sight was so off-putting that I postponed looking at the thing again until I was ready to leave the room. I took a picture of the costumes hung on the walls. Upward angles, downward angles, side shots to show an entire row of frozen, putrefied cartoon faces. The occasional missing eye made it all the more grim.

Then, I decided to stage a shot. I was going to place one of the bedraggled character heads on the slick, grimy floor. Reaching for the headpiece of a Loopy Loon costume, I carefully removed it so it wouldn’t fall apart in my hands. As I looked into the face of the wide-eyed, moldering head, a loud clattering sound made me jump with fright.

Looking down at my feet, I saw a human skull now resting between my shoes. It had fallen out of the mascot head and cracked into several pieces. The empty face stared up at me, jaw detached.

I dropped the costume head immediately, as you’d no doubt expect. I moved for the door, but something stopped me. I looked back to the skull and felt a flush of anger. I had to take a picture to show the world. I’d need proof of this, especially if the Dandy Corporation was going to somehow make this all disappear. I had no doubt in my mind that Dandy was responsible for this, even if it was just gross negligence. Whatever happened, this was the real reason the resort had closed.

I was the only one who knew. Me.

As I contemplated the implications, that’s when Lucky… that photo-negative, opposite-character in the middle of the floor… started to get up. First sitting, then climbing to its feet, the Lucky Lemming costume, or whoever was inside of it, stood on over-sized, unsteady feet. All I could do was mumble “No…” over and over again as its false face stared me down with an inoffensive, pleasant expression.

With shaking hands, a violently thrashing heart, and legs that had once again turned to jelly, I managed to lift the camera. It took all of my strength to raise and aim it at the thing that was quietly sizing me up, head tilted. The camera’s screen displayed only dead pixels in the shape of the thing. It was a perfect silhouette of the Lucky Lemming costume. As the camera shifted and shook in my hands, the dead pixels spread, marring the screen wherever Lucky’s outline appeared.

The camera died. It went blank and quiet. It was broken. I raised my eyes once again from the black screen to the costume in front of me.

“Hey”, it said in a hushed, perfectly executed Lucky Lemming voice, “Wanna see my head come off?”

It started to pull at its own head, working clumsy, glove-clad fingers around the surface of its neck with clawing, impatient movements. It was like watching a wounded man trying to pull himself free from a predator’s jaws. As it worked its digits into the fabric flesh, rolling rivulets of thick, curdled, yellow bile spilled from what seemed like wounds. At least, it looked like bile. Infected blood? Pus?

Vomit? I had zero interest in finding out.

I turned away as I heard a sickening tearing of cloth and flesh. I only cared about getting away.

Above the doorway out of the room, I saw a final message clawed into metal with fingernails, or possibly bone. “ABANDONED BY GOD”.

The picture files in the camera were irretrievable. I never got my head around writing the blog entry about what happened. After I ran from that place, fleeing for my sanity as much as my life, I knew why the Dandy Corporation didn’t want anyone to know about this place.

They didn’t want anyone like me getting in, because they didn’t want anything like that getting out.

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Slimebeast. The man, the myth, the bellend. What can be said about him? Literally everything. It's how words work. You can say he is made of pure energy, or that he once kicked a football so far and so fast it tore through the fabric of time and decapitated Hitler. Really, you can say anything - but should you? Who's to say? Also he wrote some stories people liked. Except for some people. Those other people are probably really fun at parties. "This music is bad, these nachos are bad, your house smells funny." Nobody wants you at their parties, weirdos!

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Jason Costache avatar
Jason Costache
1 month ago

This as a lovely improvement.

VisceralImagination avatar

Great build up to this story. Love a good paranormal ending!

Swen avatar
Admin
1 month ago

Amazing to see this classic return in it’s improved form. Still one of the best!