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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution

The Essay
Show #411
Zogard, Son of Wheezle
David Gunn

To put it mildly, it was an unlikely series of events. Members of the Society for the Sanctity of Dead Flesh (2SDF) had commissioned a piece of music to celebrate the centennial anniversary of their organization's founding. "Variations on Turkey Buzzard in the Straw," by a composer who chose to remain anonymous, was scored for full orchestra. The musicians, all members of 2SDF, were ready and eager to perform the piece. But, due to a highly publicized incident that involved months of uninterrupted necrophagia, 2SDF had acquired a rather unsavory reputation in polite society, and no conductor could be found to pilot the orchestra. Undeterred, the United Mine Workers faction of 2SDF unearthed the corpse of the late, great German conductor, Herbert von Carrion. Taking a page out of Mary Shelley's infamous 1818 autobiography, the Society's Corps(e) of Resuscitators infused it with twenty-eight different electrolytes, and reanimated it.

Although he had to be impaled on a stake in order to remain upright, von Carrion needed no help in conducting the score. The music flowed through his veins like effluvium from a honky-tonk sarcophagus, and the musicians responded with rehearsals of inspired instrumentship. The night of the concert arrived, and conductor and musicians performed even more brilliantly. But just as the final Turkey Buzzard chords were sounding, the structural integrity of von Carrion's body began to fail. After all, the tissues and skeletal array had embraced an immutable state of necrosis since his inaugural demise in 1989. Attempting to cue a fortissimo timpani roll on the penultimate beat, von Carrion's latissimus dorsi ruptured and both arms flew off, the left landing in the bell of the tuba, the right--its rigor-mortised fingers still clutching the baton--onto a startled widow in Row C ... who shrieked. As luck would have it, the harmonic content of her outcry was precisely incongruent with that of the orchestra. The argumentative timbres produced a fissure in an Algonquin Hole which unfortunately was just then cruising over that sector of the universe. And, while the aperture was ajar for mere milliseconds, it was long enough for Zogard, Son of Wheezle, to escape.

Zogard had been stuck in the Algonquin Hole for billennia, ever since a similar cacophonous collision of sounds occurred long ago, when the Earth was ruled by giants, puissant trolls and sorcerers who were often at odds with one another. One day, a giant named Dagmar cast a spell on her irritating troll neighbor, Murray, who promptly reciprocated with a hex of his own. The resultant clashes of high-resolution sonic energies opened the previously mentioned rift in the Algonquin Hole into which Zogard, haplessly wandering nearby, was sucked.

Time, of course, has neither meaning nor organization in an Algonquin Hole, so when Zogard escaped its clutches, he expected to see Dagmar, Murray and their ilk. Instead he saw a desiccated arm protruding from the top of a massive nectar stein. The stein was held by a seated man--surely a mortal--who seemed to be drinking from it through a convoluted bunghole. Zogard hovered just above the giant stein, invisible to anyone on this world, thanks to traces of the Algonquin Hole that were still stuck to him. He could surely use a quaff of nectar now--or mead or ambrosia--but he didn't like stealing from those he didn't know, even if they were puny mortals, pah! A terrible screeching noise raised his hackles, and he turned to see several score other mortal men and women who were seated around him. They held tools, utensils, which, when scraped produced horrendous noises that caused his ears, nose and throat to seize up. He placed his hands over his ears to ward off the chaotic sounds, but the motion upset his gravitational equilibrium, and he tumbled thuddingly to the earth.

Zogard not only startled the woman upon whom he fell, demolishing her utensil, all the adjoining mortals reacted similarly, and seemed ill-equipped to deal with a Norse theurgist who materialized out of slim air. Only the unarmed man at the front of the proscenium beheld him with cool aplomb. In fact, the man's cadaverous gaze so gave Zogard the willies--evoking memories of Dagmar's practiced ire--that he turned and skulked away.

Squeezing through the crowd of increasingly frantic mortals, he came to a thick, dark curtain draped from the ceiling. Pushing past it, Zogard found himself in relative darkness and silence. Abruptly he felt a kinship with the surroundings. And once his eyes had acclimated to the dim light, he felt even more at home, for there on a wall to his left was surely the Shrine of Vargoth!

As he had been taught to do a trillion years earlier, Zogard piously approached the shrine on tiptoes with nostrils flared. The closer he got to it, however, the more he sensed something slightly different about this reliquary. True, it was a rectangular metal box, black with chrome accents; a Vargoth Cudgel obtruded from the center of the unit, attached by a silver umbilical cord. But what was that behind the Cudgel? Zogard peered closely. It was a grid of four rows of three gray buttons on which were imprinted the Runes of Cartumia. He automatically pursed his lips in obeisance. But then something totally beyond his comprehension happened: the Shrine began to sing. [ringing telephone]

Its song was short and shrill, and it set his nerves on edge. Instinctively, Zogard picked up the cudgel and caressed the grid underneath. Then he pressed the two buttons in the first column whose runes vaguely spelled Vargoth--he pushed the second one once and the first one twice.

Another bewilderment: the Cudgel spoke to him. [411 recording]

Zogard was so engrossed in this perplexing message that he failed to notice that he'd been surrounded by members of the Society for the Sanctity of Dead Flesh, who, disappointed over the incomplete rendering of the Turkey Buzzard variations, had opted to salvage their centenary celebration with a little theurgist-flavored necrophagia.

There's no need to provide gruesome detail of the events that followed. Suffice it to say that neither Dagmar nor Murray ever heard from Zogard again. The moral? Well, there isn't one--just a warning that the next time you dial 411 for directory information, beware of clustering crowds with a penchant for decaying flesh.

Coincidentally, today’s 411th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar is chock full of musical directory information. Call us at 454-7762 for your free sample. The official imparting of information, with or without Kalvos, begins shortly.