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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #481
The Lozenges of Possibility
David Gunn

Johnny Bumpkins had been in his back yard excavating a hole big enough to accommodate the five alpaca carcasses when his D7's blade pinged against something hard and metallic. He shut off the engine, clambered down from the cab, and peered into the pit which, after an hour's steady digging, was nearly thirty feet deep. The sky was mostly leaden and overcast, but a single ray of sunlight broke free of the cloud cover and shone down onto the pit, reflecting off of a small, oblong object at the bottom. Intrigued, Johnny cautiously lowered himself into the hole. He uttered a series of sharp chirps, and a thousand earthworms straightaway emerged from the soil and provided handholds for him. Johnny had long ago gotten used to the naturally slimy mucus that covered the worms' epidermis. But it had repulsed every girl he had ever tried to impress with his worm mustering trick.

The air temperature at the bottom of the hole was thirty-two degrees per second per second, and accelerating. Several of the worms, caught in the tiny spontaneous vortexes, were sent spinning up and out of the pit. Working together, three of the larger vortices made a grab for Johnny. He sensed their strategy and deftly dodged them. But he unwittingly stepped right into the path of the mother of all vortexes, which lifted him off the ground as easily as if he were made of aspartame. At that moment, Johnny spied the shiny object that had lured him down here. Effecting a counter-spin, he twisted out of the vortex's grasp. He fell to the ground in a heap and seized the object. A scant millisecond later, the vortex was back with a vengeance, lifting him up and slamming him against the side of the hole. Even when he was flung twenty feet above the rim of the pit and fell painfully to earth on the adjacent boulder field, Johnny steadfastly held on to his prize.

He paused to collect his wits, which had flaked off his shirtsleeves when he landed. The hole was now alive with violently incompatible wind currents. A fierce squall erupted from the hole, snatched the D7 caterpillar tractor, and dragged it back into the pit. Just as Johnny got up to look, a great tremor rocked the earth, knocking him hard to the ground. He didn't know how much time passed before his head cleared and the tinnitus stopped, but when he looked again, there was no wind, no tractor, and no hole.

Except for the wailing of the panicky earthworms, the area was now deathly still. Johnny Bumpkins shushed them with a different set of chirps, then inspected the object he held tightly in his hand. It was a common tin with a hinged cover. He brushed the film of dirt from the lid and gazed upon a calligraphy the likes of which he'd never seen. Five nested rhomboids comprised of ligatured Zs were surrounded by a trisoctahedron in high heels, which in turn was encircled by a hunter-gatherer parallelepiped that seemed to fade into and out of focus. The bottom of the tin turned briefly hot, like a floozy just tendered a ten-dollar tip, and then the top sprang open.

Inside, arrayed in four neat rows of four, were fifteen lozenges and a very tiny kayak. Each lozenge was wrapped in a paper foil on which was printed one word: "Possibility."

Johnny stared. Could he really be holding in his hand The Lozenges of Possibility?! For years, he had heard rumors of their existence, but he gave them neither credence nor clear water. Legend held that they were the sole vestiges of Kültepe, a mystical ancient land that suddenly vanished in the year eight thousand and thirty B.C. A sorceress named Vulcanola was said to have created them as defense against a race of giant bunyips. When one sucked on one of these lozenges, anything was possible. But it was just as likely impossible, and the very day the beta-testing was to begin, Vulcanola lost the lozenges, the bunyips overran the land, and then promptly disappeared it.

Johnny Bumpkins was a fervent believer in empirical data--experimentation was verifiable; untested theories were mere speculation--so he carefully plucked a lozenge from the tin, removed the foil wrapping, and popped it into his mouth.

Time seemed to slow down as he sucked the life out of the sweet tablet. No, not sweet. It tasted a little like bunyip. Somehow he just knew that. Ululations from an earthworm choir formed an eerie counterpoint to the cinéma fausseté of strange and compelling imagery that now swam before Johnny's eyes. He looked out over a vast field of sentient pearls that shimmered in the dark fuchsia sunglow. In the center of the field atop a bejeweled dais sat the Mother of the Pearls, who bore a striking likeness to Vulcanola. Descending silently from the sky was the kayak that had previously been in the lozenge tin, though now it was much larger. When it was about a fathom and a half from the ground, it stopped. A woman who looked not unlike a trisoctahedron in high heels held her paddle over her head. She shifted it ever so slightly, and the ground beneath her swayed coincidentally. Hundreds of pearls rolled higgledy-piggledy into each other, and even the Mother had to firmly grasp her dais to keep from falling off. Then the woman tapped the side of the kayak with the paddle, and the pearlescent serenity was shattered by a roar from a machine that suddenly appeared in their midst. It was Johnny's D7, and it was carving a swath through the pearls at an alarming rate. At the controls sat a pair of swine, grinning evilly.

Finally, it was just too much for Johnny to accept, and he thought the word "impossible!" Immediately, the chaotic scene vanished and he was again in his back yard, the tin still clutched tightly in his hand. He prized open the lid. Fourteen lozenges stared back at him, the word on their wrappers hinting at future attempts to contravene the impossible. As he closed the lid and slipped the tin into his pocket, he realized that the kayak was missing.

Missing from this 481st episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar is any semblance of pop music, for this is no mom-and-pop radio show we're running here. Rather it's the popply product of Uncles Damian and Kalvos.