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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #314
Dance of the Coelacanths
David Gunn

Meanwhile, back on the forgottenmost fork of the Gauley River that cleaved Bung Hollow, West Virginia, like an ill-fated flying squirrel at a skeet shooting convention, Canadian Wingate had opted not to tell his cousin the truth about the sentient noses that hovered over the river just outside of the slightly submerged bungalow. He based his decision partly because the story was simply too implausible for normal human consumption -- not that his cousin had met "normal human" criteria for many years -- and partly because half an hour ago his cousin had slipped into a trancelike state and had not uttered a word or shown any sign of metabolism since, though his nostrils did continue to keen in what anthropomorphists might term parallel fifths. Outside, beneath the watchful -- well, under ordinary literary circumstances, the word would be gaze, but since the noun doing the gazing in this case is four score-plus noses, perhaps a better word would be -- "sniff" of 80 gravity-defying smell organs, the water began to roil anew. Then the surface was broken by a dozen piscine lobular fins effecting an elongated figure eight, much as the ears had done earlier. In fact, it was a continuation of an aquatic ballet that began more than 350 million years ago: the "dance of the coelacanths." Low on the food chain favorites list thanks to its urea-saturated flesh, the coelacanth prospered from the Devonian to the Triassic Periods. But then an anomaly in the taste buds of the ichthyosaurs made the lobular crossopterygian appetizing again, and its numbers soon dwindled. But Aunt Nature apparently wasn't about to let the coelacanth go the way of the pileated smorgasbordium, because simultaneous upheavals in continental drift drove the otherwise doomed fish to new spawning territory: the remote backwaters of what is now the Gauley River in West Virginia. And so the coelacanth prospered for more millennia than you can shake a pileated stick at, until 1999, when bunco operator-turned-bungee jumper Bung Hollow Wingate, mistaking one of the ancient fish for a recently engineered deep sea bunny, captured it, cooked it and ate it. Urea-saturated flesh is normally an acquired taste, but it has already been suggested that Bung Hollow Wingate did not easily suffer the moniker of "normal." Neither, apparently, did his fellow townmates, who likewise found the carbamidic tang wholly savory. The result was a flurry of fish fries on the banks of the Gauley, which decimated the coelacanth population -- until ...

... until the arrival of a nettle (ca 88) of gravity-flaunting noses from the Crab Nebula by way of a green Monadnock Refuse Company dumpster in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan -- speaking of which ...

As Cyanora was catapulted from the Algonquin Hole's holding tank into the Saskatoonian cabin's second floor bedroom like a Dixon College cheerleader shot from the spout of team mascot Bowzer the Blue Whale, she was quick to note -- just before she collided with a young man who would eventually answer to the name of Peter -- a reliquary precariously balanced on the mantel that looked oh so familiar to her: a pentatonic 12th century Mayan shrine on which fandango-dancing fogdogs were etched in basso-rilievo just above the cryptic inscription R-Veemglotry. It was the expectorated likeness of a 900 year old aesthetically functional bucket from the Yucatan Peninsula lowlands that she'd been studying for six months. But then she did crash into the young man who, toppling backwards, frantically grasped for purchase. He grabbed hold of the mantel. More accurately, he grabbed hold of the precariously balanced reliquary on the mantel. As all four of them toppled to the floor -- the fourth being one of the noses from the pile on the stairway that had come over to investigate the Algonquin Hole action -- both Cyanora and Peter had the presence of mind to shriek in surprise. The fragile reliquary hit the floor hard; however, thanks to an inherent tensile strength developed by the Mayans in January of 1117 but lost when missionaries drilled their European aesthetic into them, it didn't break. But then the beat tones from the two shrieks wormed their way into the Mexican bucket's ceramic interstices, found a common frequency on which to resonate, and comminuted it.

Peter was having a hard time of it -- an "it" that can be traced all the way back to the very beginning of this tale. He had looked forward to swapping his dull Louisianian haunts for a potentially exciting sojourn with his most peculiar and recondite uncle, but his uncle had vanished, he'd been chased by at-large eyes, ears and noses, and now some strange woman had materialized in an area of the room previously occupied by a large clot of nosy snoots and, without pausing to introduce herself, fallen on top of him. His shriek had been an instinctive commentary on these events. It was to be his only comment because at that very moment the air around him fwoomed, and he and the woman were sucked out of Saskatoon and recontextualized ... well, somewhere else. Just before Peter entered Algonquin stasis, he passed a large contingent of confused looking fish (deep sea bunnies?), whose lobular fins effected an elongated figure eight, and he thought to himself that this used to happen to him a lot back in Myrtle Grove.

Cyanora, on the other hand, had only enough time to brace herself for impact with the young man and regret the demise of the reliquary before she checked back into the Algonquin holding tank. As she, too, began to lose her bond to 21st century Earth, she noticed with some abstract interest that she now was clutching a -- well, what on earth was it?

For all intents and purposes, it is probably not this 314th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, though similarities naturally exist, not the least of which is, or isn't, Kalvos.