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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution

The Essay
Show #499
Oregon donor
David Gunn

Marris glanced around uneasily as he slipped silently into the sanctuary of the Church of Ladders. As church organist and choirmaster, he wouldn't be questioned should anyone discover him here, but he was still on edge, possibly because of the massively dubious scheme he had just consummated. A little light filtered through the stained glass windows, but it was still quite dark inside, so he didn't see the body in the aisle until he tripped over him. Apprehensively, Marris lighted a candle and discovered that it wasn't a "him" but rather an "it"--a Trepidorian!

It wasn't respiring, but then he'd never seen one take a breath, or give one, either. He felt for a pulse, but recoiled as the ever-present slime on its neck and appendages adhered to his fingers. What was it doing here? This was not part of the plan! Little tendrils of fear ran up Marris' spine and slid down into his pancreas. Well, he certainly couldn't afford to have this creature found anywhere, least of all in here! There was only one way he knew of to get rid of it.

He raced up to the chancel and leapt over the railing into the organ loft. There he switched on the mighty Moller-Hubbard Paramount, the largest pipe organ in the entire Pacific Northwest. He pulled out the 32-foot double diapason and contre bourdon stops and mashed his foot down on the low B and C. A veritable tsunami of sound erupted from the pipes. The chandeliers rocked in their ceiling moorings and an empty lammergeier nest shook loose from a rafter and tumbled ambagiously to the floor. It was deafening, but--Marris peered back into the church, saw nothing move--it wasn't enough. He added a rank each of grossgemshorn, bombardone, stentor sesquialtera and chimes. Several side windows blew out and the floor underneath the nave began to buckle. The decibelometer on the console swept past the 180 mark and continued to rise into the red zone. He clumsily plugged his ears with wax from the melting taper, and that cut down the pain in his head from debilitating to merely deleterious. Glancing down the aisle, Marris noticed a dim coruscation beginning to form above the prone figure. He reached under the organ seat to release the safety switch, then added the übertrompette harmonique, octava tapada and cymbelglöcklein. A huge wall of subharmonic frequencies knocked him back over the railing into the chancel, where he lay stunned for a minute, the sound pressing down on him like a heavy wet blanket. Gradually, Marris realized that the organ sound continued unabated, even without his pedal-pressing assistance. He pulled himself laboriously to his feet in time to see the body float up from the floor and, as the ceiling of the church peeled back, up into the sky, where it was summarily captured by one of the Trepidorian airships.

An abused circuit abruptly broke and the organ at last shut down, plunging the church into a comparatively eerie silence. Marris dug the wax out of his ears and sat down to collect his wits, which had scattered all over the nave. But his normally calming hunter-gatherer routine was interrupted by the approaching wail of a siren. Time simply wasn't on his side today!

He clambered back over the railing, unlocked the organ bench, withdrew a satchel and walked quickly down the church's center aisle, careful to skirt the area where the Trepidorian had lain. Just as he opened the front door, a police car pulled up in front of the church. Marris carefully pulled the door closed, locked it, then dashed through the sanctuary to the rear entrance. The overhead emergency light clearly illuminated him but, luckily, no one was around to take note.

It was only a twenty minute walk to the docks, but to Marris it felt like hours passed before he reached them. An invigoratingly fresh wind blew off of Coos Bay, and he briefly looked back towards the eponymous city with a deep sadness. What had he done?! The feeling of remorse lasted only until he had boarded his dugong, entered the cabin and closed and latched the door. Then he opened the satchel and gazed keenly upon the ten neat stacks of thousand-euro notes which totaled one million dollars and forty cents. It was the amount he'd billed the Trepidorians for "expenses" he'd amassed as his part of the deal that would, in two days, cede title of the state of Oregon--all 97,132 square miles of it--to them. Although the aliens (Marris still blanched whenever he regarded them in that way) had wanted only the high lava plains in the southeast, he had magnanimously included the entire state in the deal.

Deal--the term made it sound like he had willfully sold part of his country to a race of hyper-intelligent beings not of this planet! But the contract he had personally cobbled together was chock-a-block with stipulations that, if not followed to the letter, would convey the state back to its Oregonian tenants. Unfortunately, the Trepidorians had vaporized the agreement when they handed over his lucre, and he was in neither a position nor the mood to protest the action.

He zipped the satchel closed, stashed it in a cubbyhole, and climbed back on deck to cast off. Unlike most seafaring vessels, the dugong had neither internal combustion engine nor rudder. Instead, it was modeled after the sea cow from which it took its name, and had flipperlike forelimbs, a deeply notched tail fin, and a fantastic mechanical appliance that converted electrolytes into energy, not unlike the animal's intricate digestive system. But the powerplant was supercharged, and the craft could maintain a speed of 25 knots, even in heavy seas. When Marris switched it on, a throbbing vibration ran from stem to stern and the tail fin waggled. He let out the clutch while simultaneously activating the flippers, and slowly the Footlusitania eased away from the dock and nosed out into the bay.

Except for the incident at the Church of Ladders, everything had proceeded like clockwork up till now. Still, Marris foolishly imagined something could go wrong at this last minute--foolish because, thanks to a revised clause in the contract that he had failed to notice, his imagination was now hard-wired to his personal future. So the moment he thought something could go awry, it did.

The moment that Marris cleared the buoy that marked the outer reaches of Coos Bay and the beginning of the Pacific Ocean, a fifteen-meter long, cryptozoological sea creature vanished from its normal Loch Ness haunts and rematerialized a league beneath the dugong. It swam rapidly to the surface, its four flipper-like legs and powerful tail propelling it with an underwater velocity unmatched since the late Mesozoic Era. Marris was listening wistfully to a recording of his last organ recital on the Moller-Hubbard Paramount when a horrific roar cut short his reverie. He looked up into a pair of luminous compound eyes glaring at him from just above the surface of the water. With a plesiosaur-like ferocity, the creature's snakelike head darted forward, snatched the flabbergasted Oregon donor from his perch, and re-submerged.

But because this is a holiday show--i.e. the 499th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar--we feel obligated to supply a happy ending to today's story. Ergo, due to a misprint in the colonization clause in Marris' contract, the Trepidorians were all awarded colonoscopies in lieu of 97,132 fertile square miles. It just goes to show you ... as now will Kalvos.