Saturday, April 9, 2011

Radio Panspermia

A modern take on a Medieval Tale by Dante Alighieri (The Divine Comedy).

by Joan d’Arc

Televisual glee erupted from the audience crowding Pennsylvania Avenue as the four Dracutians glided down the portico of their spaceship parked on the White House Lawn. The translucent bubble surrounding the pink pod, with its veranda and seven terraces, was only visible in the glint of sunshine bouncing off it. The tall humanoids waved at the crowd and sat down to a feast on the front deck of their sterile dome home.

The putty-faced TV announcer lost himself in the stretch of the unimaginable moment. “Get with it, Charles,” said the voice of the teleprompter in his ear.

“We are here on the South Lawn of the White House on this Good Friday morning where President Obama is expected to make an announcement soon,” said Charles. “The Dracutian ambassadors have made the enormous journey from their home star and will deliver their message to mankind in just under two hours. First they will sit down to a magnificent state brunch. “This is Charles Azaril, reporting from the White House. Back to you, Elysia.”

Charles locked his grin on camera one waiting anxiously for the cut. Aside from having an itchy ass, some UFO nut behind him was leading the crowd in a round of Kumbaya, which was causing him to come dangerously close to losing it.

“Thanks Charles. Looks like the crowd is giving those gentlemen a warm welcome,” said his perky sidekick Elysia. “Those fellas must be a bit tired after the long trip. Billions and billions of miles, as the late Carl Sagan would have said.”

The station broke for a commercial message shouting its special report — BILLIONS AND BILLIONS OF MILES! — in super letters across the screen. The marching band from Raleigh, North Carolina shrank the unthinkable enormity of the voyage into Earthling terms with their cymbalic cover of “Hard Day’s Night.”

Neena-June Lamb looked away from the kitchen TV and nervously slurped her coffee. “Life as we know it is over, Danté. I wish life was boring again.”

“No you don’t, Neena-June,” said Danté Pilgrim. He stared in her direction as the microwave beeped his breakfast. “You’re the goddess of discord. You like panic.”

“Are you telling me I asked for world chaos?”

“Yes, I am, Lambie Pie.”

“I’m reflecting the hysteria yet to come. Can’t you hear it in my voice?”

“Yes I can, dear.”

“Don’t call me dear, you turd.”

“I will never call you dear again, Your Highness.”

Neena-June’s cell phone intervened with that infectious ring, “you drive me crazy with that boogie oogie oogie.” Danté Pilgrim danced around in his underwear as she answered in her Queen Mummest tone, “Heloow,” and quickly closed with “Aabsoluutlay.”

“National Press Club, 2 o’clock. Put your pants on.”

Neena-June looked down at the front page of the Washington Post. “Jesus Christ, Danté! At last count, 980 Darwinians have committed suicide by following each other off a cliff in New Jersey!”

“You wish, Miss Lamb,” he snorted, as she chalked one up in the air with her index finger, a geeky game they liked to play.

At two in the afternoon Danté and Neena-June pulled up a barstool at Marvins for a quick gin and tonic. “Hey Danté!” said Milton, the swarthy bartender. “Yesterday you had nothing. Today you’ve got a woman and a radio!”

“The fun starts when you take the radio outside,” Neena-June retorted with a cool glance. How does that jerk know that’s my favorite Mickey Rourke line from Barfly?, she thought. Milton was one of Danté’s old work buddies from Hewlett Packard. She couldn’t stand any of Danté’s pals from his former life. And of course Milton couldn’t understand Danté’s attraction to the abrasive and cynical Miss Lamb.

Neena-June Lamb flipped open her laptop and curled the earphone around her ear. President Obama was just walking up to the podium surrounded by secret service agents. The Fab Four — as the media were now hyping them — waved at the cheering crowd from inside the luminous sphere. The whole scene had a dreamlike feel, even more unreal than the usual everyday unreal. Neena-June tried to figure out what exactly was the difference between this and a dream.

She poked Danté and asked, “Can you get drunk in a dream?”

“I would say not,” said Danté, who always answered her as though she were serious because she usually was. “Somebody else in the dream could be acting drunk, but you couldn’t get drunk.”

“Why not?”

“Because the dreamer is always drunk. You can’t get any drunker.”

She put her hand in his back pocket and smiled what felt like the first smile of the day. All attention was now fixed on the telescreens in the bar. President Obama’s speech had already begun in a tone of calm assurance:

“Americans and people of the world, we are united as I stand here today,” he paused, scanning the huge audience on the D.C. Mall. “Our galactic cousins have come in peace as ambassadors of good will. And I assure you now in this defining moment,” the president gestured emphatically with his thumb and forefinger together, “that they mean no harm to our people . . . to our customs . . . to our institutions . . . or to our religions.” He paused the good timing of a southern Baptist preacher. “I assure you as I stand here now, that the Dracutians only wish for us to live in peace . . . in peace globally, and in peace cosmically.”

Neena-June listened for shades of nuance in Obama’s speech. But there weren’t any. His voice seemed flat and his speech monotonous. Was he on tranquilizers? On second thought, it didn’t even look like him. His face was a bit too chubby. Am I paranoid?, she wondered, as she thought about those conspiracy theories about presidents having doubles.

“Now is the time for all of us to be tested,” Obama continued, poking the world’s chest. “But you should continue your lives in the normal way. Go to work. Go to school. Go to church. And continue to enjoy your sports activities.”

Obama loosened his collar a bit. “I stand here today to give you hope,” he said in a childish tone. "For isn’t it, after all, what we had supposed all along?” He grinned white teeth and paused serenely. “Is not God’s creation the infinite universe of stars and galaxies — all of them peopled by the same one God in his infinite purview?”

“People.” There was silence as he looked out over the crowd. “Are we not all equal in the eyes of our good Creator?"

Obama blathered on and on in the clammy oppressive heat. Every person in every sticky collar was itching to hear the cosmic message from the Dracutians. But it was not to arrive until the chosen spokesman for humanity had finely crafted a borderless worldview where the old bordered one had been.

Neena-June closed her laptop and looked around at the mob of spectators squeezing in from outside to watch the screen. Even though she had to use the bathroom, there was no going anywhere. She waved at Milton and shot up two fingers. By the time he bumped over their way with two more drinks, it was time to hook up the earpiece again.

The camera zoomed in on the Fab Four, who now sat in a row on the sofa of their patio. They wore brightly colored Nehru jackets for the unparalleled occasion. The alien leader stepped up to the podium and held up the V sign, the intergalactic symbol of peace, and began speaking in rhythmic English.

“People of Doloré. Friendly greetings from the Limbus borderland to your ground Tartufoli. Downward of seven celestium spheres we have dropped to visit the Third Circle Inferno. We thank from our great bosoms your delicious chefs and cheftesses who are well and truly baked. No people has been so much delight on our lips, twice on the hips. We fatten ourselves to you!”

Hearty laughter emitted from the strangely adolescent face of the leader of the Dracutians. The other three nodded in agreement. Neena-June looked up at the TV in horror and scanned the room. All eyes were perched on the screen without a flutter. There was a kind of hush all over the world as the lanky alien picked up again in the cracking voice of male puberty.

“So in peace we bring greetings from Limbus to your teachers of all colors and shapes, to give hugs to your scientists, and in the shining light of Helios to hold your hand. Of vegetable we like many if your mother likes to ask. For billions and billions of hard day nights we loved your television, your radio, your rock and roll, your Beatles. Now we thank you to sing and dance and play the lyre on the lawn of Khthonia.”

The crowd on Pennsylvania Avenue was quiet except for babies crying and old people asking, “did he say the lawn of Khthonia?” The other three lads grinned and gave high fives all around. The leader now introduced himself as George, and his mates as John, Paul and Ringo.

“We like please to have some more TVs, games, ipods, and cell phones. We like to have three of your guitar, amplifier and drum set. We like to have musical poetry from your Beatles. We like to entertain when the guitars learn to play after some time in the House of the Lie.”

“Danté, am I drunk?”

“No, Neena-June, you’re not.”

She ordered two shots of Johnny Walker, for herself. No wonder Obama had looked so strange. The first Official ET Disclosure had been arranged on his watch and it was turning into Beatlegate.

“Oh yes,” George came back to the microphone. “We have turned off your guns and weapons, and keep them off, or we will call our big fathers from the Limbus Netherland who will punch out your fathers!”

Just then someone in the crowd hurled a rock at the outlandish couch hobo, which bounced off the electronic bubble and started a repercussion like melting plastic. The shield seemed to wobble in the heat and then resumed its rounded shape.

George came back again with another threat. “And if you throw rocks or be unruled you will become our slaves! Do not try to dismantle the big shield or our big fathers will deliver the Tesla death ray! Thank you. And please deliver some more marvelous turkey legs.”

In an instant all the fanfare turned ugly. There was screaming and panic in the streets. All eyes looked to the sky for the impending Tesla death ray.

Neena-June’s cell phone was ringing like mad. She belted down the two shots and bolted for the door. Danté chased after her, squeezing through the mob that was trying to flee the bar. One by one the crowd at Marvins popped out the door into a world of wrong. The natives were running every which way but there was nowhere to go. The city was crippled.

Danté and Neena-June pushed their way through the crowd at the Press Club and flashed their FBI badges. They ran down the hall to the left and knocked on the third door on the right. The door opened and they were rushed inside a chilly room full of intelligence operatives of all stripes.

“Where in hell have you two been?” asked Agent Cerberus.

“Watching from the bar at Marvins. What do you know so far about the Dracutians?” asked Danté.

“They have shut down all weapons systems globally. All we can do is throw rocks.”

Neena-June grinned. “We’ve been reduced to sticks and stones, just like Einstein said?”

“Apparently so,” said the portly Cerberus.

“So what’s the next move?” asked Danté.

“Well, we’re keeping them well fed and entertained until their parents get here,” Cerberus kept it serious.

“Wait a minute. Aren’t their fathers heading here to punch . . . ?” Danté trailed off, feeling suddenly foolish.

“The Dracutians are in the 5b Sector Treaty group,” explained Cerberus in his usual deadpan delivery. “They cannot land on the White House lawn and start demanding turkey legs and Beatle music.”

“Oh . . . but they have,” said Neena-June Lamb.

“We think these kids put it in warp drive, so to speak, and arrived here before their parents,” explained the chief, Guelph Blackmon, stepping into the circle of conversation. “We were expecting the mother ship. This is the . . . ah, I guess you’d call it, the birth pod.”

“Or the teenage space van,” Danté chided. Nobody was in the mood to laugh.

“We think it escaped from the group,” said Cerberus, waddling over to a chair to take the load off. “They don’t usually travel in lone ships like this. Especially the student scout ships. These kids are in a lick of trouble.”

“Oh good lord,” said Neena-June. “So they aren’t really dangerous?”

“We’re not sure about that, but at this point it wouldn’t be easy to convince the public, even if it were true,” replied Guelph Blackmon.

“Exactly,” Cerberus interrupted. “There’s sheer hysteria out there. And when people see the fleet of ships that are coming, they’re really gonna wig out.”

“So what’s the plan? Can’t you call and have their parents ground them?” Neena-June mocked.

“That’s the wild card,” answered Guelph. “We don’t know their parenting style. We’re waiting to hear from the NSC. There’s pizza in the conference room. Go and get a slice and relax while you can. We need you here the rest of the night.”

Neena-June sat by the stack of pizzas and shivered. The air conditioning was turned up way too high. Cerberus was already on his third slice. Air whistled through his fat swollen nostrils and grease dribbled down his chin. Jesus Christ, she thought, the guy can eat under any circumstances.

She thought about the kids and wondered what their parents were like. She thought about Obama. Who wrote that speech? Was there someone else in that suit? She didn’t want to ask but hoped it would come up in conversation with the chief.

Just then Chief Blackmon entered the conference room and instructed everyone to sit and watch the replay of George’s speech. “We need all hands on deck. Quick! I want to hear your thoughts out loud.”

“That bubble,” asked Cerberus. “Can we hit it with anything?”

“Everything’s shut down,” the chief responded. “We’re waiting to hear whether HAARP in Alaska is still operational.”

“HAARP!” Danté flipped. “Yea, let’s make a hole in the sky and let the sun fry the whole city!”

“Well, if the dads come down and decide we haven’t been nice to the kids, we’re gonna hafta use it to intercept their missiles,” Cerberus retorted inanely, munching listlessly on his fourth slice.

“All right, you two. Let’s back up to George’s first words,” Neena-June offered calmly. “Doloré is Italian for Earth. Limbus is Italian for Limbo. Where are these sofa chumps getting this medieval metaphysical language?”

“Good point,” said Cerberus. “They’ve been on a ship absorbing television and radio since they were born. They must have all the languages and dialects of the Earth down by now.”

“What is that word he used right there? Tartufoli?” asked Danté.

“That’s Italian for potato,” replied Cerberus, with a piece of pepperoni wagging from his lower lip.

“People, we’re through the looking glass here,” declared Guelph. “This is a home invasion. Some teenagers from Hell have the White House by the short hairs.”

I’m not so sure that’s where they’re from, thought Neena-June. She wanted to correct the metaphysical direction, but thought better of it for now. “Yup, Obama looks completely destroyed,” she opted instead. “If that’s even really him.”

She studied Guelph’s reaction from the corner of her eye. Other than scratching his left nostril with his right forefinger he didn’t budge. She looked around the room. In every eye was the blank dead stare of oblivion.

“So what’s the first move?” asked Danté.

“There it is,” said Guelph, rewinding the video to where George requested three guitars, three amplifiers and a drum set.

“Is there a guitar shop opened?” said Guelph. “Cerberus, make some calls. Neena-June and Danté, you’re making the delivery. Let’s get going.”

“What about the sheet music and turkey legs?” asked Neena-June.

“Yup, let’s go all out,” ordered Guelph.


It was dusk by the time the van pulled up in the alley stocked with the Dracutian grocery order. The CIA driver they had assigned to Beatlegate was Leon Nolan, a black man with a huge Afro wearing very short shorts. Neena-June had worked with him before he had the fro. Oh shit, she thought. This is weird.

To make things weirder, they were told to pretend Agent Nolan was a slave, because Dracutians have slaves and they would think it was the normal way to do things. The last thing the U.S. government wanted, Chief Blackmon had advised, was to make the space cowboys lean on some kind of button in there. “They won’t understand that we do things ourselves here, so don’t help him carry anything,” he ordered.

Neena-June didn’t believe the Four were hostile. I’ll make that judgment when I get in there, the CIA-trained anthropologist thought to herself. She climbed up into the passenger seat of the beat-up van and checked out the dashboard saints amidst glittery stars and pom-pom spheres.

“Hey, Nolan, how’ve you been? So, you got guitars and everything, hey? Good show." She sniffed the air. "Got turkey legs too?”

“Well, I did the best I could,” said Nolan. “The stores were closin’ n’stuff. I got three guitars, one amp, and a bongo.” He winked at Neena-June. “Why you makin' fun o my legs?”

“The Fab Four hafta share an amp?” yelled Danté, sitting on a guitar amp in the back of the tricked-out van. “That might start a holy conflagration,”

“Ringo is playing a bongo?” Neena-June mused.

There was silence in the van for a few blocks. Nolan had done the best he could and was pissed at the wisecracks. Danté broke the silence. “Well, Nolan, thanks for picking up all this stuff. You did a great job.”

“Yes, Nolan, thank you,” Neena-June agreed. “Have you been briefed on all this yet?”

“Not really,” he responded. “I got a short briefing from Cerberus about a call to their parents. He said the kids have shut down global weapons systems. Remarkable! How the hell’d they do that?”

“Not sure,” Danté tried to explain. “All we know is the Dracutian command ships were on their way here as part of the UN’s UFO Disclosure Program and, we’re not sure how this is possible, but apparently they hadn’t realized they lost one of their little radio pods.”

“The Dracutian High Command has now seen the TV broadcasts and seem to understand the ramifications,” added Neena-June. “So we’re not sure if they’re still coming or canceling the meeting.”

“What a trip!” smirked Nolan. “How long ago did they lose the pod? . . . . Wait a minute. Did you say radio pod?”

“Just my theory, explained Danté. “Didja see the size of the antenna sticking out of that thing?”

“Yea, can you dig it, Nolan? They lost the pod!” Neena-June scoffed in disbelief. “I’ve heard the human race is babysat by an advanced race of ETs, but if these are the babysitters, no wonder we’re in trouble!”

“Some kind of hands-off, free will system?” Nolan jeered. “Cerberus mentioned something about a treaty. Where does that fit in?”

“Yup, the 5b Sector Treaty is exactly that," explained Neena-June. "It’s signed by ET groups who agree to leave a system alone unless invited by its ruling authority. It’s laid out in the guise of free will, but it doesn’t allow anyone to step in to secure the choices available. So it’s top-down free will.”

“Which doesn’t sound to me like free will,” yelled Danté from the back, over the van’s loud muffler.

“But how much of this did the Fab Four cause themselves?” asked Nolan. “Don’t they have a direct dial button in there to call mom and dad?”

“Don’t know what kind of buttons or dials they have in the floating radio. That’s what we’re going in to find out,” replied Danté.

“Don’t forget. They’ve got so-called free will,” explained Neena-June. “They can choose to hit whatever button they want to hit. Or not. But they changed the structure of the material universe by choosing to do nothing, which actually is a choice. They’ve flipped the concept of directed panspermia into its inadvertent form, radio panspermia, which is a fall by light pressure from above.”

"Yea,” Danté shouted from the back, “Was it an accident or were they sent here for some ulterior purpose? That’s the wild card.”

“In the time falling bodies take to light, an accident is waiting to happen in Maya,” Nolan grinned, passing around a fat joint as the radio played, “Give me love, give me love, give me peace on earth, give me light, give me life, keep me free from birth …”

Neena-June passed on a toke, but handed it to Danté, who took a huge hit. “Oh yeah, so, you know . . . Blackmon wants you to play the slave, right?” said Neena-June.

Nolan exhaled a big puff of weed and sputtered. “What? He mentioned me doing all the lugging, but the black man didn’t have the gall to use the S-word with another black man. What’s with that?”

“Well, from what I understand,” replied Neena-June, “the Dracutians have a hierarchical caste system with very specific job designations. The chief thought a “like you, like me” scenario would aid the bonding process.”

“A diabolical plan doomed to failure. You bond, I lug,” wisecracked Nolan. “Yes, massa.”

“I’m sorry, Nolan,” Neena-June turned toward him, her green eyes big with sorrow. “If it’s any consolation, we’re all slaves to the government.”

“You can’t fight the Empire without becoming like the Empire,” yelled Danté.

“I do not wish to move from my present prison to a prison a little larger,” Nolan quipped.

“You’re a one-man revolution, Nolan,” said Neena-June.

“The Kingdom of God is Anarchy. The Center is Everywhere,” replied Nolan, his last words ringing in their ears as they swung around the secret back entrance to the White House and were abruptly greeted by an army batallion with tanks scattered all over the lawn. They handed over their I.D.’s to a military goon and the Hounds of the Lord parted in waves.

Just around the bend as the pink biodome came into view, Neena-June and Danté with gaping maws were pulled running from the van.

“Do you have the guitars and turkey legs?” they were grilled loudly by a white-haired Army Intel officer with fiery red eyes from lack of sleep.

“We must treat these children as heads of state from another world!” Colonel Charon shouted. “They have waited way too long for these items! They have every right to call their parents, except that they’re runaways and we’re the ones that had to call their parents! This is the most messed up situation I’ve ever seen in my life!” he screamed.

“Yes, I understand, sir. Let’s not delay any further,” Neena-June responded, still startled by the up-close sight of the pink radio pod and now noticing that it was beating like a heart. “We’re going in.”

She motioned to Nolan in the van. He had pulled up to the edge of the grass and was waiting for instructions. His maw was wide open too. Charon glanced at him and did a double-take at his giant mane. “Have him drive right on the grass behind us. But let him wait outside for your call.”

As Charon led the two ambassadors to the lower terrace of the craft, Nolan made the sign of the cross in the air and whispered, “God Bless the transport of Intrepid Souls.”

“Stand here in the inner circle,” Charon instructed. “I’ve been in and it’s completely painless. The radio scanner simply reads your natal frequency I.D. and carries you in by the pulse of your heartbeat.” He joined their hands together and stepped off the platform.

In the fierce brightness of an ecstatic moment the two were ferried up to the pod like waves on a beach. Faces first they squeaked through a seamless liquid aperture with the sound of a balloon popping.

There was nobody home in the birth pod. The huge round room seemed much bigger than it looked from outside. There were four separate apartments with four separate everythings. Neena-June looked for mirrors but couldn’t tell if there were any. Just then the four lads entered the room at the same time through four different doors. They each flopped onto their own sofa and clicked on their own TV.

Danté chortled uncontrollably. Neena-June cast him a baleful glance.

Finally George noticed them. “Oh, they are here!”

“Hello. I’m Neena-June Lamb. This is Danté Pilgrim. We have your guitars and your turkey legs just outside. Would you like me to call the slave to bring those?”

“You have slave? Yes, we want to see slave with turkey legs,” said Paul.

Danté lost it again. Oh god, thought Neena-June, I’m on my own here.

She rang Nolan. “Come on in. They want to see your turkey legs,” she told him. While she had the phone out Neena-June asked, “Hey boys, can I get a picture of you to show my mom?”

Sure. They moved closer together. “Your mom knows us?” asked Paul.

“Are we more popular than Jesus Christ?” asked John, as pictures and sound were transmitted to Langley, Virginia.

“Yes, I would say so,” said Danté.

Neena-June agreed. “The Darwinists especially love you.”

“The Darwinists are musical group of punks?” asked Paul.

“Yes, a musical group of punks.” Neena-June was testing their knowledge base. The Four didn’t seem to know much about Earthling science. Neena-June asked for another picture, this time for her dad. They put their heads together for another instant transmission.

The lads seemed to be all about moms and dads. They seemed homesick and were overeating to the point of gluttony. George grabbed a can of whipped cream out of the box Nolan had just carried in through the waterwall. “Must we shake well?”

“Yes, you do need to shake that well,” explained Danté in the most helpful tone he could muster without losing it again. “Contains dairy?” asked George, as he shook it and sprayed a big overflowing mouthful.

“Yes, it does contain dairy,” Danté advised. They both looked at George aghast. How do all teenagers know how to do that?, Neena-June wondered.

Ringo picked up a jar of Hellmans and stared at the barcode. “Barcode is radio I.D. in stripes like zebra?”

“Something like that,” Neena-June responded, sneaking a glance at Danté.

Paul studied the barcode on the Heinz bottle. “Slave, is this ketchup boy or girl?” he asked Nolan.

“Ahhm, I think it’s a girl.” Nolan grinned widely as he swashed through the waterwall to fetch another box of goodies. This was the most effortless delivery he had ever made. He simply modulated through the air carrying one box at a time.

“Your president Obama. He knows well the creator? He has radiofone number for us?” queried George.

“Yes, I’ll try to get that for you,” said Danté with a grin.

“Also the radiofone for David Bowie who fell to Earth?” George requested. “We like to give him ride home.”

Nolan whistled through the waterwall with more groceries. The dharma couch bums were baffled by everything they touched. “Hey, wait! Are you mod squads from television?” asked John from his sofa eating a turkey leg.

Nolan turned and vanished again through the waterwall, chuckling to himself as he modulated, “Heh-heh, the mod squad.”

As Neena-June and Danté were quizzed by the innocence mission, a beamish joy overwashed them.

“Can you take us to George Adamski, who makes very good UFO’s?” asked Ringo. The pod mates laughed heartily.

“Can we meet Mr. Jesus Carpenter of the film Day Earth Stood Still?” asked George, with a faint smirk.

Just as he caught Danté’s eye in a pang of recognition, the pod rang with a shrill trumpet blast. A female voice blared from each of the apartments summoning the Fab Four by their real names: Homer, Ovid, Lucan and Horace. The four hungry poets ran to the flight deck wiping whipped cream off their faces and hiding turkey legs behind their backs.

A magnificent dignitary as deep blue as the god Krishna appeared in the middle of the pod. His jacket was deep orange saffron and on the left breast was the official insignia of a solar disk. Above that his name read: "Virgil." He spoke in a sublime cadence, a fantastic rising and falling language.

Zap! Neena-June’s golden hair stood jazzed in the ethericity. Struck dumb in the buttoned aphonia of an ethereal thunderclap, her fingers reached for Danté’s with great effort in the spirit jello, as the bowl of heaven quickened with the nine billion sacred names of god. And that was just the hallow.

To the earthling nebbishes caught in the amplified superhet, it took a flies’ eternity for the delivery of the heliogram — a drama in shimmering miniature, a narration in a shadow play, a mythovision cast by figures in a rumour. In this, the blue representative was assisted by a team of telestai — poets of projection science whose stunning logograms had never been unscrambled by enemy ciphernauds.

The poets removed their robes, which plunked to the floor and disappeared. In blue body tights they expertly mimed the cosmic fiasco of the runaway egg to an invisible audience of government officials. They emoted frabjously with hand signals and ballistic pokes and slaps, while making vocal sounds like monkeys and pharting with hands cupped in armpits. The secret play put the bobbery in radioBabelhaus.

Once the debacle of the early birthing and the resultant lack of fetal training had been elucidated, various faults widened the proverbial crack in the egg: the disaster at the House of the Lie, the impish hellions who threw rocks at them, the radio talk shows blaring round heaven’s dome poking fun of the ‘cowardly neutrals’ who had lost their children — as the joke went — in a downward motion, ‘panspermia perpetuum celestium motuum.’

Every telestai finger touched a new sore spot. Every telestai slap produced a bruise of embarrassment. The debates of imperial counsel were hardened by the intoxicating soma of moral absolutism. The leaders must now make a decision. The young Dracutians had behaved badly, but there was a right and a wrong thing to do now. With sudden and grotesque efficiency the voting buttons conveyed the swift command: “Go—Take them—Now!”

Only then were the insensate bugs in the mute ambertheatre released from the glue garbo that held them. George turned and tried to explain:

“Our moms and dads remind us we are Kings of the Seven Terraces of Purgatory-Limbus Borderland, not prisoners of scandalous condiments of gluttonous Third Ring of Hades. Our senators tell us to rise above with no more fooling around and so we must heed immediately. Please sit and fasten your seatbelts, Mr. Danté Aligheri and Ms. Joan of Arc. I’m sorry to tell you we must leave Mr. Giordano Bruno here, as his product code has not been upgraded in the free will system.”

Back at the van, The Nolan felt a jolt of energy and then sudden inertia. He shook the electricity out of his hands, picked up George’s Fender Telecaster and moved slowly toward the dock. He stood there a while but the freq-net seemed to be shut down. What he didn’t know was his radio freq tag was phant-scat—a scattered phantom signal rejected by the Babylon system. It was a violation of the 5b Sector Treaty to apprehend a slave.

As he stared up at the incredible radio pod, it suddenly retracted its long antenna and began to pulse like a jellyfish. Before it shot vertically into the heavens, it hovered a few seconds on the White House lawn to pull in the patio furniture and neaten up the back forty.

With arms held out as a cross in the twilight shadow of Easter sunrise, the Great Nolan blessed them on their journey: “Cabala of the Steed like unto Pegasus!”

It took only a few hours for the Washington Post to describe the remains of a hot pink weather balloon that had set off the national security apparatus. It had been a hoax, of course — a computer-generated simulation by Korean students from M.I.T. The four pranksters were arrested without delay. Just below their pictures on the front page, the Post reported that the president was recovering, his doctors said, from a slight touch of swamp gas.

Another curious story on the back page reported an anomalous sighting of Jimi Hendrix wandering the streets with a Telecaster. But as everyone knows, Jimi played a Stratocaster.

Copyright Joan d'Arc is the author of Space Travelers and the Genesis of the Human Form and Phenomenal World, published by The Book Tree ( She is the previous publisher of Paranoia: The Conspiracy Reader ( At night she directs a secret group called the Paranoid Women Institute from inside her TikiBunker. (

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