THE GASHLYCRUMB TINIES: A MEDICAL REPORT

 For over 50 years, Edward Gorey's magnificent The Gashlycrumb Tinies has been delightfully disturbing readers with its darkly hilarious poem of misadventure and mortality amongst a group of children. Our very own Genevieve Cogman is an uber-fan, and for Halloween she has satirically re-imagined the book from the - admittedly bemused - medical examiner's point of view. You can see the deliciously macabre results below. 

Genevieve's own book The Invisible Library is out now in paperback, and its sequel, The Masked City is out in December. Click the pics to find out more.

 

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The Gashlycrumb Tinies – A Medical Report

Clinical codes from the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, for

the recent school trip by the Gashlycrumb Children’s Home. Medical records, 

photographs, and post-mortem reports (in cases where the bodies were recovered) 

are filed together with this document. In cases where the injuries were not specified, 

we have omitted the ICD-10 code for “unspecified injury” while awaiting more

complete information.

 

A is for AMY who fell down the stairs

W10 Fall on and from stairs and steps

(Do we know what her injuries were?)

 

B is for BASIL assaulted by bears

W55 Bitten or struck by other mammals 

(No, ‘it was fair horrible, that it was’ is not sufficient medical information. Was this a

trip to a zoo?)

 

C is for CLARA who wasted away

R64 Cachexia

(Was it due to extreme malnutrition? If so, E41 Nutritional marasmus. And why was

she on this trip in the first place? Didn’t anyone alert social services?)

 

D is for DESMOND thrown out of a sleigh

V80.0 Rider or occupant injured by fall from or being thrown from animal or animal-

drawn vehicle in non-collision accident

(No doubt one of the other little brats shoved him over the side. I don’t trust children.)

 

E is for ERNEST who choked on a peach

T17.9 Foreign body in respiratory tract, part unspecified

W79 Inhalation and ingestion of food causing obstruction of respiratory tract

(Do we know how far down his throat it went?)

 

F is for FANNY sucked dry by a leech

T14.5 Injury of blood vessel(s) of unspecified body region

W57 Bitten or stung by nonvenomous insect and other nonvenomous arthropods

(Can someone check this? I’m sure it takes more than one leech to completely

exsanguinate someone, even a child.)

 

G is for GEORGE smothered under a rug

T71 Asphyxiation

W83 Other specified threats to breathing

(It was an accident, right? Right?)

 

H is for HECTOR done in by a thug

T71 Asphyxiation

X91 Assault by hanging, strangulation and suffocation

(The police statement said that it was very professional. This is the first one in the

group that was definitely murder. All the earlier ones could have been accidents… 

but in view of this one, are we sure?)

 

I is for IDA who drowned in a lake

T75.1 Drowning and nonfatal submersion

W69 Drowning and submersion while in natural water

(Or W70 Drowning and submersion following fall into natural water. Did she fall or

was she pushed? They were supposed to be going around in a group, but nobody

reported having seen her go missing till they found the body.)

 

J is for JAMES who took lye by mistake

T54.3 Corrosive alkalis and alkali-like substances

X49 Accidental poisoning by and exposure to other and unspecified chemicals and 

noxious substances

(The photograph shows him on a stepladder, reaching for the bottle on a shelf with

other bottles. He knew what he was looking for. I don’t think it was a mistake.)

 

K is for KATE who was struck with an axe

S21.1 Open wound of front wall of thorax

X99 Assault by sharp object

(The blow was to the middle of her chest, and they left her body lying in the snow. I

refuse to be a party to this cover-up any longer.)

 

L is for LEO who swallowed some tacks

T18.9 Foreign body in alimentary tract, part unspecified

W44 Foreign body entering into or through eye or natural orifice

(One does not simply swallow a whole bag full of tacks without noticing that

something is wrong. Try it. No, on second thoughts, don’t try it.)

 

M is for MAUD who was swept out to sea

T75.1 Drowning and nonfatal submersion

W69 Drowning and submersion while in natural water

(All the witnesses said that they saw her sailing off quite happily. All of them. Since

when does every single witness agree on what happened? Don’t you think that in

itself is suspicious?)

 

N is for NEVILLE who died of ennui

R98 Unattended death

(Ennui. Is that what they’re calling it now? He was alone when they found him, and

nobody could remember who was the last person to have seen him.)

 

O is for OLIVE run through with an awl

W27 Contact with nonpowered hand tool

(The witnesses claimed that she was throwing it up and down in the air, and it just

happened to hit her at exactly the wrong angle. Poor little girl. Such a sad accident.)

 

P is for PRUE trampled flat in a brawl

T14.7 Crushing injury and traumatic amputation of unspecified body region

W52.5 Crushed, pushed, or stepped on by crowd or human stampede: trade and 

service area

(Nobody could explain why she went into the bar. Nobody tried to stop her. Nobody

seems to have investigated the noises. Everyone was very clear on that.)

 

Q is for QUENTIN who sank in a mire

T71 Asphyxiation

W83 Other specified threats to breathing

(Chasing butterflies, apparently. In October. With early snow already on the ground. 

The cover-up is getting more and more obvious.)

 

R is for RHODA consumed by a fire

T31.9 Burns involving 90% or more of body surface

X09 Exposure to unspecified smoke, fire and flames

(Is there some way we can have the remains of her clothing checked for chemicals? 

People don’t just catch fire like that. It is not that easy.)

 

S is for SUSAN who perished of fits

R56.8 Other and unspecified convulsions

(No previous medical history of epilepsy. No previous medical history of anything. 

According to the witnesses, she ate the same food as everyone else, and they can’t

possibly explain why she went into spasms all over the sofa.) 

 

T is for TITUS who flew into bits

W40 Explosion of other materials

(They said that the bomb was clearly marked and well signposted. But the tour guide

said that it was just in an unmarked box, and that someone passed it to the boy, 

though he didn’t see who.)

 

U is for UNA who slipped down a drain

W17 Other fall from one level to another

(The post-mortem mentioned very interesting bruising on her fingers, suggesting that

someone had stepped on them.)

 

V is for VICTOR squashed under a train

T14.7 Crushing injury and traumatic amputation of unspecified body region

V05 Pedestrian injured in collision with railway train or railway vehicle

(I don’t care what the crossings-guard said, the boy’s medical record shows that he

had perfect hearing. There’s no way that he wouldn’t have noticed the train coming.)

 

W is for WINNIE embedded in ice

T69 Effects of reduced temperature, unspecified

X31Exposure to excessive natural cold

(Apparently there was a lot of damage to the body while getting her out of the ice. I

suppose that’s one way to avoid forensic reports on the true cause of death...)

 

X is for XERXES devoured by mice

T14.1 Open wound of unspecified body region

W55 Bitten or struck by other mammals

(They’re not even trying to hide it at this point, are they? And what happened to the

mice afterwards? Are they still out there?)

 

Y is for YORICK whose head was knocked in

S07.9 Crushing injury of head, part unspecified

X59 Exposure to unspecified factor

(The evidence doesn’t say if it was accidental or assault. But I think he saw too much

and they wanted to get rid of the witnesses. At this point, one of the only two

remaining witnesses.)

Z is for ZILLAH who drank too much gin

F10.1 Mental and behavioural disorders due to use of alcohol, harmful use

(Possibly add F10.2 Alcohol dependence syndrome as well, if you have any further

information about her drinking habits. Given all the other fatalities, you can see why

she wanted a stiff drink. Or was she celebrating 25 murders?) 

 

This report will be going to the police tomorrow: I think they haven’t put all the data 

together yet, the way that I have, and I’m sure that they’ll want to investigate. I’m not 

going to let this rest. There will be a proper investigation. We will find out what 

happened to those 26 children. 

(The author of this report is currently missing.)

 

With thanks to Edward Gorey, author of The Gashlycrumb Tinies, and to the World 

Health Organisation for the ICD-10 classification.