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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #465
The Other Buckminster
David Gunn

The Company was big, so big that it was impossible to know precisely how many employees it had. However, it apparently wasn't quite big enough. One day, a form letter arrived at Corporate Headquarters that was addressed to a lower middle management official. The Mail and Materiel Section could find no corresponding employee, so it forwarded the letter to the General Personnel Office. After combing through hundreds of workforce databases, a mid-level human resources administrator concluded that the position had never been filled. The administrator notified his supervisor, who in turn advised her superior, who breached the official corporate chain of command by sending the letter directly to the Chief Of Decisionmaking. Whether or not the Company would function any better with the additional employee was moot. It was founded on and wedded to an inflexible corporate hierarchy. So the C.O.D. formed a search committee to find and procure that missing employee. The process was a long one. First, six hundred and fifty candidates from the company's employmental rolls were considered for the search committee; ten were chosen. Then the actual search began. It took twenty-two years. The Company was nothing if not pertinacious. Eighty-three thousand and twenty-eight candidates were considered. One was chosen. There was only one problem: the selectee was not a willing one.

Chief Ferreter Frangipanada led the members of her search committee down the steep trail into the valley. The trek had been long--ten days--and arduous--the terrain had often been rugged, and the sounder of giant boar they had stumbled upon had attacked and eaten two of their party. But at last they had reached the vale in which the lower middle manager was reputed to be holed up. The ambergris that had coated the trail, making it treacherously slick, finally petered out, so they were now able to walk at a normal pace. The haze that had hung clammily in the air also lifted, and they could see that the valley was, or had once been, inhabited. A large swath of forestland had been cleared, and in that clearing stood thirteen alternatively architectured homes. Twelve of them were geodesic domes, structures of interlocking polygons that gained popularity in the 1960s and 1970s. They ranged in size from 18 feet to a monstrous 360 feet in diameter. The domes were arranged in a pattern that radiated outward from a central structure that was not based on Buckminster Fuller's futuristic design. The middle building resembled a large, twisted sausage, and Frangipanada had no doubt that it was the home of the human resources holdout. Briskly, she marched her committee straight to the only visible entryway and pressed the doorbell.

Immediately she withdrew her hand in surprise and revulsion. The surface of the button was disgustingly sticky. In fact, the whole exterior of the edifice was covered in a gummy glaze that glistened in the early morning light. It smelled, too--not the spermacetic spiciness of ambergris, but rather the sickly sweetness of ... a donut. Donning a pair of safety gloves, the Chief Ferreter pushed open the door and led her party inside. The interior of the structure was utterly deceiving. It consisted of a single cylindrical room that seemed to curve up and away, like a torus with a Möbius strip complex. For the mathematically snooty, it was as if the witch of Agnesi had marooned Rolle's theorem on the Kroenecker delta. Here, the aroma was overpowering in its sugary intensity. The floor, too, was glazed with a sticky patina, and the committee members had to firmly lift up their feet when they walked.

Frangipanada instructed the party to split up and search the premises--some followed the sloping corridor to the right, the others to the left. The Chief Ferreter briefly looked outside for signs of recent inhabitancy, found none, and stepped back into the dimensionally illusory interior. This time a wave of intense nausea accompanied the cloying odor, and she abruptly had to lie down.

The action saved her life, for just at that instant, two giant rows of teeth bit into the house right where she had been standing. The upheaval threw her against the door, which sprung open. She tumbled to the ground as the teeth bit into the house a second time. From inside came the horrified shrieks of the search committee as it was summarily dismembered. Frangipanada looked on in incredulity as the teeth - and they weren't connected to a jaw or similar framework; they simply existed without attendant corporeality - as the teeth tore off the end of the structure. The Chief Ferreter scrambled away as a colossal thumb and index finger materialized, yanked the rest of the house off of its foundation, and plunged it into what she had mistaken for a nearby stagnant wallow. The strong aroma of arabica and robusta beans that arose from it, however, convinced her that the cylindrically twisted structure she had narrowly escaped from could only be the eponymous creation of the equally twisted designer, Buckminster Cruller.

No, gentle listeners, donut go gentle into that good night. Instead, stick around for the 465th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, which immediately follows the trajectory of our own toroidal dunker cup, Kalvos.