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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #154
Out of the Trunk of the Hudson
David Gunn
With a headache reminiscent of the days when he wore adobe hats that were several sizes too small, Aldeau rolled over and gazed up into a sky that was refreshingly non-blue-black. Staring back at him was a biped with comfortably familiar features, such as a head with two eyes not on stalks. The creature’s central cranial orifice worked up and down, whence emanated a series of pitched tones. It took Aldeau a moment before he realized he could understand the sounds.

"Are you all right?" repeated Dr. Beezer.

Aldeau struggled to his feet. "Who, what ... is reality?," he managed.

"I'm Dr. Beezer of the Department of Defense's Alien Incursion Response Team, and you just landed in Roswell, New Mexico the hard way via an Algonquin Hole gateway. If you really are of Earth origin," -- Beezer gestured toward the tokamak -- "can I assume that little beauty had a hand in sending you here?"

Aldeau nodded. "It hasn't worked right since ... since ever. It was copied from the Flambeau reactor unit in Princeton, but apparently not with any great eye for detail. I'm Aldeau. What year is this?"

Beezer's answer was drowned out by the unsettling sound of two conflicting energy forces keening in parallel fifths. Aldeau and Beezer looked up. The sheet of sentient linoleum, for lack of a better identifying name, was hovering a hundred feet overhead. The beezerscope was going crazy, registering way up in the pluperfect in the time dilation field. And then, just as suddenly as it had appeared, it popped through the Algonquin Hole and vanished back into another refraction of space-time.

"The local cosmic continuum has been a bit queasy of late," said Beezer. "And I suspect your tokamak isn't entirely blameless in the matter. Where did you say you'd come from?"

Aldeau tried to explain as simply as possible, but quickly realized that his answer contained little in the Rational Thinking Department. Still, Dr. Beezer followed most of Aldeau's quirky logic anomalies, and only seemed to get lost when he described tokamaking the planet Neptune.

"I suspect, sir, that you may just be passing through this particular time-space universe, and I wish you godspeed in your future and past travels. While you're here, though, perhaps you could help with a problem of immediate concern to this reality. You see, I'm trying to keep a lid on potential global annihilation by a race of antlike aliens because my son and his friend absconded with a vial of blood from their queen. That is so unlike him!"

"But it's quite like his friend," piped up a muffled voice from the trunk of the Hudson Wingback, as it abruptly materialized in front of them both. Dr. Beezer opened the trunk and out crawled a rumpled man clutching a medical hibachi in one hand and a bottle of sparkling wine in the other. As soon as the tokamak sensed the brazier, it began to pulse in and out of focus. At the same time, a crack in the Algonquin Hole appeared two miles overhead and the linoleum, Judo, and the earthworm-strewn floor of the Klegmore mining shack briefly blinked into reality. But then the disheveled stranger flung the hibachi back in the trunk, slammed it shut, and the Algonquin Hole just as quickly winked out of temporal existence.

"Ernesto!" Beezer exclaimed.

"Kuprini!" Aldeau hooted.

"Fzzt fzzt!" sputtered the tokamak.

The newcomer held up a palm, and plucked from it a coconut. "Yes, I am Ernesto," came the sing-song reply in parallel fifths via the coconut, which was evidently some sort of universal language translator, "and Kuprini, and Haxthorn and Zacatole and Judge Crater and Uncle Milton and a dozen other names familiar only to your counterparts in various analogous universes." The tokamak continued to sputter, attempting to make a nuisance of itself by reversing the polarity of every neutron within 30 miles. The multiple-bipedality whacked its vacuum chamber smartly, and the device settled down with an irked hiss. "Ever since the Klegmore Convergence 30 years ago, I've been following your race as it sprints towards global catastrophe ... and all because of that tokamak." Upon hearing its name, the sentient apparatus briefly effected the quantum mechanical equivalent of a leer. "Had you been less consumed by the project's bottom line which forced you to use suspect aftermarket parts, this whole strait might be a lot less desperate."

With the ethereal after-echo of the whispered word "Mesopotamia," the Hudson Wingback vanished. The tokamak tried to follow, but Aldeau grabbed it just before it retreated into a time vortex and buttoned it securely in his titanium jerkin holster.

The Ernesto-Kuprini amalgam continued. "I still don't know who put you up to reconstructing one of these tokamaks, but it no longer matters. Suffice it to say that all of your actions and those of everyone with whom you've ever come into contact over the past 43 years has been leading up to this moment, this nexus. It's all about the Paroleans and the Zontari and what utter cosmic chaos will result if the situation isn't resolved now, today." He gestured emphatically with his hand, and part of the universe around his arm briefly turned inside out. "You see? The entire space-time continuum is on the verge of utter bifurcation." With a disconcerting shudder, the inverted bit of universe uneasily corrected itself.

"You remember, of course, that the Zontari were harvesting Parolean bug blood for use in their fishing contest when an Algonquin Hole suddenly materialized and sucked the Zontari fishing craft out of the space-time continuum? Well, they didn't all vanish. Some of them escaped the mothership. Your son's friend, Ninkota, was one of them. Were you to examine her head closely, you'd discover that she wears her hair up to hide two otherwise prominent antenna nodules."

Beezer thought about her transparent hair, her facility with alien dialects, her fixation on the Paroleans' transport pod, her decidedly unRangoonlike appetite for oysteroni and -- the real giveaway, thought Beezer -- the vast collection of postcards from Zontar she claimed to have "found" on a fishing expedition one day. It all made sense now! But -- his entrails abruptly went cold -- how much danger was Bobby in right now?

With the Paroleans abreast of and training horrible weaponry on the X252APT and Ninkota about to teleport with the vial of bug blood back to the Zontari mothership which just now pierced the Algonquin Hole Roswell Gateway and his ears ringing from a boxing given him by an incorporeal Judo of Klondike, rather a lot, really.

Rather a lot is likewise the amount of tokamakic story still to be neatly resolved before it can at last be laid to rest, an amount greater than that available to episode 154 of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, which will continue to operate as if it never again had to peer into the trunk of the mythical Hudson Wingback, no matter the latent desires of Kalvos.