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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #256
R-Veemglotry
David Gunn

A smidgen more than 13 millennia ago, the parents of Peter, having spent 245 years in aggravatingly dull transit aboard a tramp space steamer, arrived on Earth. On their home planet of ÷Grzoplaid, fourth orbiting celestial entity from Star ZWR9(b) in the Crab Nebula's centerleast sector, they had managed a travel agency that catered to para-mortals who sought sensory deprivation destinations. One such customer, insisting they make good on their Worry-Free® Guarantee and personally see to her accommodations, was curled up in a small, carpeted crate by their feet. Taped to the ceiling of the container was a 3D picture of a Boolean treadmill, which the customer psychokinetically ran on each day to help keep her body joints limber. Disguised as large, ambulatory noses, the three had no difficulty moving unobtrusively through settlements of the bipedal inhabitants of Mesolithic Earth. The destination was a well-groomed village in what was then Gaiaconda, on the southern tip of the extended Bermuda Triangle. The community, called Mbanico by its primeval planning commission, was surrounded by copses of coat and corn trees. A large square garden usurped the center of the village, whence sprouted the first tender shoots of row upon row of cultivated noses, ears and eyes. Peter's parents negotiated with the tribal leader the purchase of a used hut on the periphery of the village from where the client could, if she wished, deprive herself of as much sentient contact as she liked. Or, she could gradually integrate into the society. It was her choice, which was a rider to the Worry-Free® Guarantee -- as was the promise of two square ÷Grzoplaidian meals a day. While P's Ps planned to hightail it back to the Crab Nebula as expeditiously as possible, they would not leave their client alone. Just before landing, they launched a sophisticated communications satellite to monitor the customer and provide regular food shipments, routine medical assistance, miscellaneous supplies, as well as 28,000 pay-per-view cable entertainment channels. As the client settled into the hut, whose austere appointments she found entirely satisfactory, the travel agents told her the Native Name she would use during her month-long sojourn here: Evadio.

"Evadio," the para-mortal whispered. It fell off of her lips like a banged-up bunkbed from a Bangkok bungalow. She said it again, louder this time. "Evadio!" Outside, the nearest row of cultivated ears perked up curiously, excitedly, bending their lobes towards the familiar voice.

Evadio signed the release form, paid the balance due, and waved au revoir to her chaperones as they boarded an outbound rapid transport on which they had secured passage. Unfortunately, a heavy backwash from the spacecraft's take-off rockets momentarily bumped the satellite out of its geocongruent orbit and into the unfamiliar currents of the Van Allen radiation belt. As the exterior hull temperature exceeded maximum operating parameters, the heat-protective paint peeled off the starboard teletransmitter turret, cooking a bank of circuit modules beneath. Although the unit's spacedrop functionality was unaffected, its communications system was off-line. So when Evadio tried to ring it up a month later to book return passage to ÷Grzoplaid, the satellite was inappropriately silent. Evadio buzzed the satellite again and again, even got a long-distance operator to try the number, but all to no avail. Weeks passed; then months, then years, then ...

Then one day, as she sat perched atop her hut retrieving the latest spacedropped provisions and fuming over pay-per-view charges that had automatically liquidated her savings account 4,927¼ light years away, the same temporally-disturbing Algonquin Hole that frequented the base of the pickle-nose glacier half a world away materialized above her, then under her, then through her. She responded like teeth do to fluoride -- involuntarily, but with a refreshingly minty aftertaste. Breathing in the warm, tax-refund-scented air, she slipped into a time displacement stasis just as the rapid transport carrying Peter's parents appeared like a flaming ball in the sky and plummeted into the nearby southernmost hypotenuse of the Bermuda Triangle. The same backwash that had fried the communications satellite had also discombobulated the transport's navigation system. Its course effected a giant parabola, and when the ship's autopilot failed to compensate for the discrepancy, it returned to Earth the hard way. Peter's parents, knowing full well the limitations of steerage class travel, had laid claim to the only escape pods, and were the spacecraft's sole survivors. Floating down to Stone-Age Earth, the two travel agents reflected on this potential career-altering predicament, just as a temporal reflection from the Algonquin Hole enveloped and altered them, too.

Time, having little say in the matter, passed. Years turned into centuries which in turn turned into millennia, which, if you rearrange its letters, turns into Lima Linen, a fine cloth from the Peruvian lowlands that is much favored by visitors from the Crab and other crustacean-themed nebulas around the galaxy. Slipping into and out of the Algonquin Hole, usually at its whim, Evadio and Peter's parents kept their own already dilatory aging processes at bay. By the time 12,796 years had elapsed, the travel agents had matured merely a couple of chronotomes, and Evadio, thanks to the minty fluoride in the air, had actually shed three years. Then in 1740, the Habsburger formerly known as Charles VI was suddenly absorbed into the space-time mix, and Evadio and Peter's parents were just as abruptly vortexed out -- Evadio back to a hut that had changed little since she last pulled a spacedropped parcel from its rooftop, and the two travel-weary emissaries to Myrtle Grove, a tiny Louisiana hamlet that coincidentally was an anagram of their hometown on ÷Grzoplaid. (Note to zealous readers: although it has no bearing on the story, the name, to satisfy your enthusiasm for minutiae, is R-Veemglotry.)

Wait. Wait just a minute. If R-Veemglotry has no bearing on the story, then why was it etched in bassorilievo underneath fandango-dancing fogdogs into the 12th century Mayan reliquary that Cyanora was working on? Come to think of it, whatever happened to her when she walked into her orange-glowing kitchen lo those five long chapters ago?

This is not a question to be posed lightly, not when the bulk of the 256th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar has yet to see the light of a radiophonic magnetron transmitting unit ... and especially not a question with which to befuddle ol' Kalvos.