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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #139
The Visual Equivalent of a Hiccup
David Gunn
No matter how often the event occurred, Aldeau never failed to be amazed each time he made first contact with an alien life form. The blepharospads, the goiters, the embryons, the heebie-jeebies, the clevelandors, the Paroleans, the chaoticians -- each initial meeting had been unique and offered numerous opportunities to get inter-species relations off on the wrong foot, or whatever means they were using to accommodate gravitational reality. But this last first contact with the -- well, he never did catch its name -- the creature that resembled pressed burlap and rosin had been especially unsettling, because it wasn't an encounter so much as it was a collision. As far as Aldeau could tell, both he and the, um, the alien had been caught in the throes of an Algonquin Hole as it tore yet another snippet from the fabric of the fabled space-time continuum.

He had parted company with the last remaining member of his mining shack comrades when the Inuitian bailed out of the Hudson Wingback seconds before it and part of a radio tower vanished from a patch of highly unstable Klegmore real estate. Sensing that his tokamak had had a hand in the event, Aldeau had remained in the car, curious to see what next law of physics the still-disassembled device might discombobulate. A low frequency hum gradually replaced the susurrus of static from the car radio speakers, which rose and fell coincident with his surroundings oozing into and out of focus. Suddenly, everything outside the Hudson dissolved into the visual equivalent of a hiccup, and Aldeau slipped into a bizarrely different, but somehow pleasant alternate universe.

Unfortunately, the pleasantness didn't last long. His tokamak, determined to maintain instability in the time-space continuum, kept shunting him from dimension to dimension, from reality to reality. He had decided not to abandon the device for fear of what it might do all by itself, not that he ever exercised the slightest control over it. In each new universe, the sky was blue-black and the car radio worked, but nearly all other aspects of reality made U-turns and tried to distance themselves from him as rapidly as possible. This time, the Hudson was, for want of a better word, parked -- which is a perfectly fine word after all -- perpendicular to the pinnacle of a mountain. Nearby were a heifer, a weeping stone, a willow tree, a kingfisher, a white bull, a piece of golden fleece, and a young man drinking a cafß lattß. In the valley below, he spotted several people lounging about in togalike attire. From the declivity of the mountain and the position of the sun relative to the undeniable tokamakic influence on it, he deduced he was on Mount Olympus. But whether he was in western Washington or northern Greece, he didn't know. He put the Hudson in gear and drove slowly down the mountain. There was no road and the angle of descent approached 100 degrees -- certainly this was a motoring adventure that should never be attempted without a tokamak. At the bottom of the mountain two dozen bumpy miles later, the degrees changed to Celsius, and Aldeau nearly swooned from the suddenly oppressive heat. He passed the mythological counterpart of a 12-unit motel whose jagged shadow provided welcome shade to a nearby kennel of sweltering dogwood trees. A paved street branched off from the motel, and he followed it cautiously. It led straight to a large, ornate building whence issued a caterwauling of such chimerically fierce proportions that Aldeau stopped the car at once. Or rather, the car's forward motion was suddenly compromised by emanations from the toroidal magnetic chamber that was taped to his jerkin. As he stepped from the Hudson, a strapping young lad with biceps the size of anteaters stomped menacingly out of the building. If this was the local Chamber of Commerce's idea of a meet & greet, he wanted none of it. The lad gesticulated so threateningly that Aldeau figured he'd better forget introductory social amenities and go right to Plan Z: shoot first and form a committee to ask questions later.

He removed the pulsating reality-hazard from his jerkin, set it down on the ground, and flicked a toggle switch to "On." As normalcy as he knew it took another holiday and the ruffian began to lose his focal point, Aldeau took time to examine his surroundings. The house grounds were full of baroque sculptures of giant, armed ants, possibly of ancient Greek influence. Sleek marble fountains spat water into a semicircular poolatorium in which sullen fish awaited their destiny as luncheon fare. A portable sarcophagus in the driveway awaited disassembly from a recent camping and looting trip in the Aegean region known as the Flambeau Oriange. Three betogaed babes peered at him inquisitively from a second floor window shrouded in bunting. A loud swoosh caused him to glance up further, and, as amazed as Aldeau often was when trying to cope with new and wholly fantastic wonders, he was utterly flabbergasted now to see the planet Neptune bearing down upon him. Hoping for at least one more tokamakic reprieve, he gamely looked the other way, left, towards his car radio, whence caterwauling of a different nature signaled none other than Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, this 139th episode of which rarely looks the other way, preferring instead to stare contemporary music, no matter its total lack of saving grace, right in the snoot. And one snoot whose nasaline perceptions we've nearly grown to trust over the course of the past 16,560 minutes of digitally demonstrative radiophonic programming is that of Kalvos.