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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution

The Essay
Show #381
The Frog, the Snail and the Topical Anti-Infective
David Gunn

Once upon a time in a far-off land there lived a frog, a snail and a topical anti-infective--Boise, Ursanola and Hydrogen Peroxide, respectively. Not to put too much of an anthropomorphic spin on them, they all lived contented lives in the same communal ecosystem. Boise was a tree frog, able to climb to the very top branches of the Gingko Forest thanks to toe discs and cartilages between his ultimate and penultimate phalanges. As a larva, Ursanola had been abandoned by her parents, but a kindly whelk named Lawrence took her under his operculum and raised her in Gingko Pond. And Hydrogen Peroxide, although naturally occurring by the action of sunlight on water, lived in Gingko Meadow in a small, brown plastic bottle with Acme Brand proudly emblazoned across her midriff.

One fine day, Lawrence spotted a school of pismo clams grazing along the pond floor ten feet from his den. Normally, this was a bit far to stray from the safety of his home environs, but he was keen to bring home an especially tasty treat for Ursanola. So he lumbered across the mudflat, making no attempt to conceal himself. The clams, who could win a medal for stupidity, never sensed him, and Lawrence was able to sweep half a dozen into his food sac before any of them thought to sound an alarm. But as Lawrence was happily returning to his den, who should emerge from the watery shadows but Predator Catfish! Like lightning she struck, swallowing the whelk, shell and all. From Lawrence's den, Ursanola had watched the scene unfold in horror. Frantic, the snail lost all sense of security and fled the pond. Of course, to a snail, "fleeing" is relative, and six hours elapsed before she broke the surface of the water and staggered onto dry, Gingko Meadow land. Exhausted, she plunked herself down on the first comfortable rock she could find.

"Excuse me!" said Hydrogen Peroxide.

"What, what are you?!" exclaimed Ursanola.

"I am a bottle of Acme brand H2O2, of course," sniffed Hydrogen Peroxide haughtily.

"Oh. I've heard of you. You're a natural metabolite of many organisms, decomposing into oxygen and water. But what are you doing in that brown plastic coat?"

"Trying not to decompose." Hydrogen Peroxide said. "I was put in here as a germicide antiseptic by a race of bipeds intent on disinfecting the whole damn planet. I lived on a medicine cabinet shelf, where I was occasionally drawn off to cleanse abrasions. I felt my life dripping away ounce by ounce, so one day I up and left. Eventually, I came to be here."

"How very exciting!" enthused Ursanola. "Are there any other life forms like you here?"

A very timely question, that, as, 75 feet above them, Boise was gazing down at them with eyes that saw only potential dinner entrées. According to amphibianologists, the excellent vision that tree frogs enjoy rapidly diminishes at distances greater than 70 feet. Hence, Boise had plummeted only five feet from his arboreal perch before a clearer picture of the two unsuspecting conversationalists below prompted him to regret his action. Most tree frogs lay their eggs in water, but Hylidae Hemiphractus, such as Boise, carry their eggs on their backs. This gave him plenty of ballast to unload, which he did at a frenetic pace, and with nary a shred of remorse. The more eggs he jettisoned, the more slowly he descended. By the time he was down to his last egg, he was scarcely floating down to the ground. Hydrogen Peroxide was the first to spot him.

"Watch out! Itís a voracious peeper!" she cried out, as she walloped the defenseless frog with her bottle cap.

Boise collapsed in a heap, too stunned to move. Hydrogen Peroxide sidled over to him, preparing to deliver a clock-cleaning blow, when he wheezed, "wait, stop, uncle, I give up!"

Ursanola sprang to his rescue. "Wait, H2O2, have mercy!"

"He was planning to eat you, and maybe me, too!" countered Hydrogen Peroxide, her pH level rising.

"Yeah, but ..." Ursanola could hardly explain to the topical anti-infective that he reminded her of Lawrence. "But, he's helpless now!"

Boise had by now managed to collect his wits, which had scattered about him in the meadow. "Hey listen, sorry, it was a case of mistaken identity. Why I could no sooner eat you," he said, addressing Hydrogen Peroxide, "than I could me own dear mum, may she rest in peace. And as for you, my little sugar shell," he drawled, gazing salaciously at Ursanola, "you could be the twin of my darling little daughter, may she likewise rest in peace."

"I think you're just feeding us a line!" sniffed Hydrogen Peroxide.

Again Ursanola gently demurred. "Oh, but he's, he's hurt! Look how he's limping!"

In fact, Boise hadn't budged, but he seized on this auspicious opportunity by hobbling around in a circle, clutching his left leg painfully. "Crimony, I may never hop again," he croaked. "Listen, I said I was sorry. Let's just move on, okay?"

Hydrogen Peroxide relented at last, and the three disparate fellows then sat down to figure out just where they might move on to, for the sudden synergy among them created in them intense feelings of wanderlust. They settled on circumnavigating Gingko Pond first, just to see how well they traveled together. Plus it would allow Ursanola the opportunity to clamber back into the water if, during the trek, she grew too weary of dry land.

They set out at once, two of them moving at a snail's pace, the third leapfrogging ahead of and behind them and showing no sign of a gimpy leg. They traveled precisely 66 feet--a tenth of a furlong; an 80th of a mile--when they came upon a small shed. Although its shiny aluminum siding suggested that it was a new structure, it was in appalling condition. Each window was broken, the door hung on its hinges at a crazy, disquieting angle, and a gaping hole in the roof suggested that something had exploded from within. The only identifiable object was a sign over the door, which Hydrogen Peroxide read to the others. "US Department of Agriculture Genetically Engineered Catfish Program."

As sorcerers have known since time immemorial, the mere utterance of a necromantic word can conjure it. No sooner had the words "Genetically Engineered" issued from Hydrogen Peroxide than the pond water in front of the three companions roiled and churned, and out leapt Predator Catfish. She landed in Gingko Meadow, shook her head to get her bearings, spotted the three, licked its lips, and began to lumber towards them on prehensile fins. Ursanola was too terrified to move, Hydrogen Peroxide hunkered down and prepared to defend herself with her cap, but Boise chose to absquatulate. Unfortunately, he didn't chose his escape route wisely, and as he leapt back towards Gingko Forest, Predator Catfish lunged with a speed much greater than logic would dictate and caught him. Ursanola dived into the pond, and Predator Catfish was right behind her. Then she surfaced, lassoed Hydrogen Peroxide to the ground with a prehensile whisker, and promptly swallowed her whole.

An unsettling chill settled over Gingko Forest and Meadow as Predator Catfish slipped back beneath the surface of Gingko Pond. Somewhere in the distance, a US Department of Agriculture program director barked.

The moral of the story is two-fold: (1) be glad that it took place in a far-off land, and (2) be careful what you wish for, the exception being this 381st episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, whose genetically engineered music program is utterly safe, taken as directed by its occasionally fishy program director, Kalvos.