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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution

The Essay
Show #283
The Black Mass
David Gunn

Midnight. A dense, dark fog rolled from across the moor and seeped inexorably into the village. The main street, already unlighted and black as pitch, seemed to plunge into an even more caliginous measure of murkiness. A wind howling off of the lake to the east smacked into the edge of the village and died precipitously. The bell in the clock tower tolled twelve ... and then thirteen. At that moment, the massive stone doors to the church were thrown open and a procession of thirteen robed women strode somberly out onto the street. Even though they trod on a gravel path, their paces were absolutely silent, as if absorbed by the deepening tenebrosity. Each woman carried a hand-sized talisman on which various pentagrams were inscribed. They gave off an unearthly glow that emanated from the points of the stars. Occasionally, the women held the talismans over their heads, spun in a circle, and recited incantations which, too, were instantly muted by the thick fog. They followed the path through the village until it ended in front of a small, one-room schoolhouse -- a building that looked suspiciously like the house I'm currently tenanting. One of the women reached deep into the folds of her cloak and extracted a key, with which she unlocked the front door. She and the others soundlessly entered the building and closed the door.

I could have sworn I just heard a comparable sound from downstairs!

Inside, they pulled back their hoods and removed their robes. Aside from matching corset-bolero ensembles, they were naked! They stood in a circle, placed the talismans on the floor in front of them and joined hands. Then one of the women -- who resembled me in a vague but nonetheless disconcerting way -- began to recite in a voice that sounded slightly demonic, the following: "nemar ever of yrol geht dnare wo peht dnamod gnik ehtsi enihtr of live morf sureviled tubno itat pmetot niton suda eldna ..." A chill ran from my spine to my lips -- or rather the lips of my doppelganger who was uttering the incantation -- for I intuitively knew that that was the Lord's Prayer recited backwards, one of the prime ingredients in a Black Mass!

In turn, a vial of holy sparkling water was desecrated with a slice of lemon, an upside-down cross was brandished in a blasphemous game of badminton and a 17th century virginal was sacrificed on an alter made of Sorcery Today magazines. The ambient air temperature fell precipitously as a suffocating aroma of brimstone rose around and enveloped the diabolic ritualists.

And suddenly, my cross-sexual twin felt the presence of a second black mass in the room. Out of the interstices that separated this house's universe from its parallel counterpart there emerged hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands of small, black insects. Alarmed, one of the women switched on a lamp, and instantly the black mass of sentient exoskeletons swarmed to it. Several hundred others fanned out to explore other reaches of the room, and it was then that the women noted their membranous forewings, their hellaciously large compound eyes, their bloodsucking mandibles, and knew what they were. They were flies. But not just those annoying two-winged gray pests found in and around human habitations -- oh, no. These were cluster flies.

The black mass tired of buzzing 'round the lamp and migrated to the window closest to where one woman had placed her glowing pentagram. They clustered.

I had had enough. I rushed downstairs, much to the perturbation of the women -- but I didn't invite them into this house; what right did they have to be miffed? Anyway, as they shrieked a bit and wrapped their robes about them, I pulled my trusty Electro-Hygiene Mark III from the closet, shoved a new bag down its maw, turned it on, and approached the black mass. I shoved the nozzle into their midst. At first, nothing seemed to happen. But then, as thousands of flies were sucked into the bag, the vacuum began to vibrate. It threatened to shudder right out of my hands, so I set it down on the floor, where it continued to convulse like a Saint Vitus' dance troupe.

The rest of the hovering black mass was becoming moody and annoyed, so I flicked on the outside arc lamp and flung open the window. The huge cloud of flying arthropods immediately headed for the light, and I pursued them for as far as the power corded nozzle would reach. Then I slammed the window closed, caulked the seal with putty -- which University of Vermont Extension Paper EL 11 recommends as a means to deny cluster flies access to a building -- and turned to address my trespassers. But, they had vanished. Gone, too, were their talismans and the aroma of brimstone. I peered outside at the light, and saw no trace of the flies. Even the vacuum had ceased its arthropodically induced paroxysms.

Now it's the following morning, and as I gaze out through the upstairs window, a few dozen compound eyes stare back, their black chitinous bodies flying in aimless circles. But are they really random patterns? Didnít that one just effect a scriptwritten "nemar ever of yrol geht ...?"

It's episode 283 of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, high time to clear the ointment of all flies and turn the consequences over to Kalvos.