Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Timed Writing: 5/23/2012
Time: 10 minutes
Prompt: "... sending forth growths and tendrils of some strange new life..."
Source: 1 x 4 x 2 + 3 x 4 = 20 = The Final Solution by Michael Chabon
Several days ago, Charlie'ther said that if I really wanted a challenge, I should try catching a mooboo. Ignorance of the term must have shown on my face.
"Mubu," he said, as he used his finger to scrawl the four-letter word in gravy on the cafeteria table. "You know -- a music buff." I shuddered. I had listened to music a few times -- before. Not that I'd had much opportunity.
"I'm doing fine," I said. "I'm challenged enough bringing in my quota every month." That wasn't true. It had been quite some time since I'd found the work difficult. With so many desperate s'ners pouring into town every week, all I had to do was stand by the dock with smile and a tray of doughnuts and they practically leaped into my proverbial net. Still, not all of the 'thers and 'sters were quite so adept. Charlie'ther, for example, didn't have the face for the job. His teeth were twisted and one of his eyes always looked off in a different direction. Sure, all were created equal, but unfortunately for Charlie'ther, not all were created symmetrical.
"Aw, go on, Drew'ther," he said. "I know how blessed you are with your charisma and your pearly gate teeth, but even I do alright when I'm trolling the easy waters. Empty-headed, hungry s'ners -- especially the lonely ones -- they're longing for help. But you find a full-blown mubu, head mucked up with melodies and lyrics... well, that's a whole 'nother story. They can be all manner of sad and suffering and still don't want what we've got to offer."
"What's got you talking about mubus all of a sudden?" I asked. Charlie'ther used his fork to push the last of his beans into his spoon. He looked up at me with his good eye, then back down at the beans.
"I just saw someone yesterday. Someone I used to know. She was a 'ster a few years back -- before you joined us." Charlie'ther's voice was barely audible. Not a whisper, just so quiet I could barely hear. "Her name was Sarah'ster. She went and got herself seduced by a mubu." I think I gasped or something because several 'thers and 'sters looked over and Charlie'ther made a show of shoving that last bite of beans into his mouth.
"That's awful," I said. "How'd it happen?"
"She was good. Really good. She could bring in more s'ners in a week than even you ever have. I think she was starting to get proud."
"... goeth before destruction..." I murmured.
"Yeah, well she met this mubu one day. He looking through a dumpster downtown. Sarah'ster thought he was hungry and figured he'd be an easy catch, so she went up and started talking to him. Turns out, he wasn't looking for food at all -- he was a mubu looking for elpees.
"What are..." I said, but Charlie'ther interrupted before I could finish.
"An elpee is a black disk -- about the size of your plate. It's thin and it's got tiny writing on it. Too small to see, but if you put it on the right kind of machine, the machine will read what's written. But mostly what they wrote on elpees was music!"
"So this Sarah'ster met a mubu looking for elpees," I prompted.
"The mubu convinced her to listen to what was written on some of his elpees. She came back and told me that it was amazing -- different from the flockhymns and better. I told her to be careful and that she better stay away from the mubu. The next week though, she didn't show up for flockmeet and I heard she'd gone back to the mubu's house. And then I didn't see her anymore and someone said she was living with the mubu." Charlie'ther paused and looked around the room before continuing. "Living together and not married." I felt something like nausea roiling in my stomach, and then shivers ran over my neck and up my scalp.
Later on I ran into Mary'ster, one of the oldest and wisest 'sters in the flock. I asked her about mubus and music.
"There's nothing evil about music, in and of itself," she said, "-- at least not all of it. Some of it does use lyrics that are blatantly dishonest or seductive, but for the most part, it is more subtle. And just because something's not overtly evil, that doesn't mean it's good or worthy. Are you considering reaching out to a mubu, Drew'ther?" I hummed and hawed and didn't come up with an intelligible answer, so she continued. "I think that's a wonderful idea. They need the light as much as anyone else, and you've proven yourself to be an effective fisherman. It's only appropriate that you ply the mirkier waters now."
I was shocked. After the way Charlie'ther had talked about mubus, I thought nobody would suggest that a 'ther of my short years attempt anything so perilous.
"If you do go after a mubu though," Mary'ster said, "be careful. Keep some other lines in the water so you don't get discouraged. Mubus are difficult to reel in, and the fight can be taxing. Oh... and whatever you do, no matter what a mubu says, don't ever put on a pair of headphones."
Three days later, I stood across the street from a dilapidated brick apartment building, up on the hill, twenty-five blocks east of my usual fishing grounds -- past the hospitals, even. There were plenty of desperate s'ners wandering the streets -- some in nice suits with handbags or typewriter cases and some in patched rags, pushing rusty market carts. I was only interested in the building though. Laundry, garbage, and loyalty banners flapped from some of the windows. On the second floor, one of the larger windows was dark -- boarded up from the inside. Below it hung a sign, hand-painted on the back of a metal garbage can lid: Mus'c Stor & List'n Room.
(about my timed writing exercises)
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