A Case of Spring Fever

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A Case of Spring Fever (1940) is an educational short produced by the Jam Handy Organization.

A fine day of golf with his friends beckoned, but Gilbert was stuck fixing the couch.

"Springs!" he said contemptuously, "I hope I never see another spring as long as I live!"

A ear-splitting shriek pierced the air, as though the earth itself were trying to prevent some horrid intrusion, and before Gilbert's terrified eyes a bizarre creature took form. Wide, staring eyes peeped out from a pointed face, whose gaping maw featured but one tooth. But it was the body which set Gilbert's heart to pumping, made his mouth dry with fear.

The nearly human-looking head and hands of the being were mounted upon a body which resembled nothing short of some bizarre construct of twisted wire (A spring, Gilbert realized, a spring.). The juxtaposition of flesh and metal turned Gilbert's stomach, and he longed to turn away, but he was transfixed to the spot.

With no bones, the creature twisted in an unnatural manner, and those horrible eyes focused upon Gilbert, staring at him as if he were a particularly loathsome insect, and with a shrill, inhuman voice, Coily the Spring Sprite introduced itself.

Gilbert's wish had been heard, it said, and it would be granted.

Chilled to the bone, Gilbert could do nothing but nod frantically. Anything. Anything to make this vile creature go away. Anything.

And the world changed.

Gilbert found himself staring, dazed, at the ceiling, unaware of how much time had passed. He checked his pocket watch frantically, hoping to restore his bearings, but his old family heirloom lay silent for the first time in over seventy-five years. The demonic face of Coily stared up at him from its polished surface.

"No Springs." was all it said.

Gilbert felt a cold chill enter his heart, but he tried to shrug it off. There were other clocks in the house, after all, and his wife would be able to-

...Where was his wife, anyway? Hadn't she been speaking on the phone, just a few scant seconds ago?

Wait a minute! The phone! He could ask the operator what time it was. Or call up his friends and explain his situation! His shaking fingers tried to turn the dial, but the phone refused to respond. Coily appeared before him again, his wicked face twisted in a snarling grin.

"No springs. Anywhere. Ever."

Horror overwhelmed him, and Gilbert raced from his house, almost-unconsciously picking up his golf clubs, as though they would have any use as a weapon against the malevolent entity. He took three steps outside, when the overwhelming silence hit him like a sledgehammer.

No children played in the streets. No birds sang in their trees. Gilbert strained his ears and could not even hear the sound of insects. Why was it so quiet? The only thing Gilbert could hear was a pounding in his ears. And he realized.

Just like springs, muscles expand and contract, and one particular muscle expanded and contracted one hundred thousand times a day.

Yes, the heart, itself, was like a spring.

Tiny springs in everyone and everything, ticking away, sustaining their lives. Springs which existed within six billion innocent people and an uncountable number of animals, all over the world. With but one careless wish Gilbert had snuffed every one of them out. He was the greatest mass-murderer in history. The last mass murderer, for who could follow him?

Running on autopilot, he stumbled to his car and tried to start it. Where would he drive? Where was there to run? The questions were moot. The car wouldn't start.

"No springs, my friend. No springs."

Shattered, Gilbert numbly fiddled with the car's broken glove compartment door. He was the last man in a world of corpses. Alone, all alone.

A piercing shriek made him jump, and his heart sank as he realized that he had but one chance at redemption. One chance to atone.

"Coily." he rasped. "Please. I-I didn't know what I was wishing for. I'll do anything you ask of me. Please..."

The demon regarded the pathetic man for a moment.

"Just this once. And you will never make a wish like this again."

The world twisted once more.

Gilbert awakened. Springs. Beautiful, glorious, springs obscured his view of the ceiling. He staggered to his feet and slumped back onto the newly-repaired couch, overwhelmed with relief. The nightmare was over at last.

Gilbert should have known better.

He tried to put the horrors of the afternoon behind him, tried to enjoy a simple game of golf with his friends...but when he opened his mouth to speak, nothing but joyous praise for springs poured forth. Worse, he could not stop speaking of them. Springs, springs, springs babbled forth like a river from his lips. When he tried a clamp a hand over the offending orifice, he ended up biting himself. Hard.

The worst part was that his friends didn't realize a thing. Indeed, driven to distraction by Gilbert's mad ramblings, one of them began the wish which had invoked the Spring Sprite in the first place. From somewhere deep within Gilbert briefly found the strength to admonish his friend, warning him away from the dark path he now tread, before surrendering to the torrent of madness once more.

And Coily looked upon his work, and it was good.

This short is public domain.

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, please go to the episode recap page.

Tropes used in A Case of Spring Fever include:
  • Be Careful What You Wish For
  • Cartoon Creature: Coily.
  • Catch Phrase: "NO SPRINGS!"
  • Character Filibuster: Gilbert gushing about springs.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Coily removes all springs from the world just because Gilbert verbally expressed some frustration while trying to fix a mattress.
  • Driven to Madness: Gilbert giving sermons about springs seems to give this vibe.
  • Easily Forgiven: Coily reversing Gilbert's wish just as quickly as he made it.
  • Easy Evangelism: Conspicuously averted. Gilbert's spring-centric proselytizing does nothing more than annoy his golf buddies, who obviously couldn't give a rat's ass about the thousands and thousands of everyday uses for springs.
  • Educational Short
  • It's a Wonderful Plot
  • Odd Job Gods: Coily.
  • Otaku: Gilbert.
  • Reality Warper: Coily has the ability to miraculously remove all springs from the world in seconds flat. He also appears able to be able to rewind time in order to restore the world to its previous state. That is, assuming the whole thing isn't an elaborate Mind Rape for Gilbert.
  • Stealth Parody: Considering that most educational shorts don't feature people becoming incredibly bored and resentful of the information therein, this may be one.
    • Not necessarily a parody -- it does convey all the information expected of it. It was just really well-written, by the standards of a Jam Handy educational short.
  • The Trickster: Coily.
  • Unfortunate Names: Coily
  • Wonderful Life: The first half pretty much consists of Gilbert seeing what the world would be like without springs.