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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #318
Dentro de la casa
David Gunn

[The following is a continuation of last week's essay. For optimal comprehension, please review episode 317 before accessing today's chapter. -- The management.]

The small man, sensing that part of the neighborhood is out of kilter, takes one last glance through the window, notices something swirly inside, and immediately backs away from the house. He doesn't get far. The window pane begins to invert and a powerful vortex -- that was what he saw! -- bursts from it. The vortex bends upwards and shoots into the sky, reaches its apogee half a parsec beyond Uranus (that's about 1.6 light years away, if you're keeping track), coruscates a bit to add some visual interest to its debut in this universe, then heads back to the house. The man turns to run, but the pull of the vortex is inexorable and it promptly sucks him through the window and into the alternative universe, the argumentative one. In the process, it shucks the keening from him as easily as if were stripping refrigerator magnets from a plaster chicken.

The breach in the universe recontextualizes to something resembling a thermopane window, the harsh heat and wind abruptly dissipate, and the sky color slips into the domain of the purples: plum, pansy, orchid, mulberry, mauve, magenta, grape, heliotrope, lavender, lilac, solferino, violet. The solferino gets the attention of the protactinium that has been lurking nearby. Briefly the nosy element rounds up a few radical binary compounds and changes into protactinium tetrafluoride, but then the color gradient moves to violet and any potential peril passes.

The door to the house opens. A five-foot ladder is lowered from within to the ground. The term "ladder" is relative, for it more closely resembles a pair of writhing caducei held together by six fluorescent Möbius strips. Only given an alternative of dancing barefoot on hot glass shards with a merciless telemarketer would a typical human be likely to climb up or down on it. The crustaceans have never seen the door open before and are naturally curious. One of them leans far out from the eaves to get a better look. It (he? she? who can say?!) loses its balance and falls. Hundreds of generations ago, these crustaceans lived in the air, unencumbered by gravitational constraints. But then along came Evolution and transferred their airborne facility to one limited to skulking under eaves. Ever since, more than one crustacean has questioned the wisdom of so-called developmental progress. Just as the eavesdropper passes the top of the open door, a tendril of energy from within shoots out, snags the bewildered crustacean, and yanks it into the house.

Inside the house, the humidity is rising faster than the price of farina at the Antarctic Food Co-op. Normally a sweaty 95% to accommodate two of the universes that patronize the kitchen, it increases to 450% to appease the argumentative one, the one with the vortex and now the small man. Waves of household perspiration flow out the doorway and down the ladder. When the salty fluid touches the ground, it completes a transdimensional electrical circuit and a huge spark arcs into the sky, approximating the path of the vortex and awakening a memory in the astatine. Unlike the vortex, the spark does not return -- which is very good news, because its heat and energy would almost certainly render the earth into a 7,900-mile-in-diameter briquette. The keening has less good news to report. After its removal from the proximity of the small man, it had wandered over to the "ladder" to peer into the doorway, for it, too, had not seen it open before. So it was lurking at Ground Zero when the circuit was completed, and it is now hurtling out into space on the back of the arcing spark. The astatine, reflecting its unstable nature, blows up over this turn of events and storms out of the sector.

Also inside the house is the crustacean. It sits in a beaker on a window sill. The sill belongs to the window fronting the argumentative universe. But there on the sill, all is calm and friendly, plus the beaker shields the animal from the oppressive humidity. The crustacean -- which is the best that we can call it because, Evolution notwithstanding, it never developed the ability to name itself -- is in telepathic contact with its neighbors under the eaves. Given our own evolutionary shortcomings, we are unable to listen in on their conversation. An incessant string of ternary clicks, whirs and yips, the discussion might be difficult to appreciate anyway, but we can surmise that it would include some commentary on the small shadowy figure that is now visible in the doorway and approaching the caducei ladder. The figure seems to fade into and out of focus precisely in time with the now fluctuating humidity, which changes so rapidly and to such a degree that the interior of the house is teeming with weather fronts. As the figure gingerly places a foot on the top Möbius rung of the ladder, the sky color advances into the orange zone: peach, apricot, tangerine, marigold, mandarin ... and Tang®. The figure sports the same show business suit that he wore when he followed the vortex through the argumentative window, but little else about him remains the same. For one thing, he has developed a taste for eavesdroppers, and as he fishes a fresh one out of a glass beaker he is carrying, the crustaceans 20 feet above him look on in horror.

But here at Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, we don't espouse horror, unless it's for a really good cause; therefore, we'll let the graphically gruesome event that today's 318th episode has been leading up to play out behind the scenes, and supplant it with the warm and fuzzy overtones of Kalvos.