By Thamanda Crompson
Fauxhasset Paroder Staff Reporter
Sunday, August 27: a day that was like a birthday to me.
I, who had never had a birthday (that I could remember); I, who had never known my parents (or at least had not seen, heard, or received money from them in the memorable past); I, who had lived my entire life (all 10 months of it that I could recall) without any origin or backstory: I was finally to learn where I had come from, where it all began.
Two months ago, I covered the Futuristical Society’s silent auction. It was a fundraiser for their project to convert the historic Peachhood Congregational Church, which shuttered when Christianity went out of business in the 1990s, into a space center.
The top prize of having the future space center named in one’s honor went to our town’s wealthiest resident, Ben Bentley, for a cool $40 million. The structure shall be called the Benjamin Buckminster Bentley III Center for Space Observation and Exploration.
At the other end of the spectrum, the least desirable prize – a trip back in time to witness one’s own first moments on this earth – went for $2.07. Not $2.07 million. Just two dollars and seven cents. It was all I had left after stopping at Mooncheddar Coffee on my way to the event. I thought I’d be outbid. Instead, I was the only bidder in the category.
Thus it was that I found myself lying on my back in the Peachhood Church bell tower last Sunday, surrounded by strange, white chalk symbols, a couple of friends for moral support (shout-out to Rookie Ranger Devan Branch, Part-Time Everything, and New Kid On The Block Monica Moniker), and Futuristical Society Director Zed Harbinger, who would be operating the “time machine.”
Harbinger said some strange words and rang the bell backwards so that it pealed loudly moments before he struck it. He was supposed to ring it 28 times, one for each year I was traveling backward, but I only heard the first clang before the world around me blurred and my memories of the past 10 months began streaming by in reverse.
At first I could pick out individual memories: Branch and me trapped in Fauxsutawney Fil’s woodland prison, the black hole, Fame Island graffiti, President Jimmy Garoppolo – but soon the memories were coming too fast and all I could do was grit my teeth and wait for it to—
Actually, it hadn’t been so bad, or so long. Had I really traveled 28 years into the past? I could tell right off the bat that I hadn’t. I was somewhere familiar, and though it had, perhaps, slightly fewer cracks and crevices then, there was no doubt I was on Achey Cedars Way. And it was not that long ago.
It was, in fact, last October. Yellow leaves collected in the deep potholes. Jack o’ lanterns dotted the doorsteps. Political signage on nearby lawns pitted Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump for president, with a solitary “Tom Brady for Prez” sign in the mix. It must have been around 9:00 in the morning – early and chill, with a bit of mist still hanging around, but late enough that everyone had gone to work or school. Even the dogs were quiet.
Harbinger had botched it, or so I thought. But then, a roaring helicopter appeared overhead and slowly descended on the vacant street. I felt that I should back away, but I didn’t really have a body to do so and could therefore only watch. The vibrations got inside the cracks and sent crumbs of the street jittering away until at last the pilot cut the motor.
Two men descended from the craft. No, not those Two Men. Two anonymous men, who I recognized at once. Police have asked me not to name names since the investigation is ongoing. Suffice it to say that you know these two men. The anonymous men approached a particular pothole – the one that, a few weeks later, would swallow five-year-old Shorty Lembas – and scowled into its depths.
“Looks OK to me,” said one of them. “I say we go for it. Some of us took a hell of a gamble on this, and we don’t all get to live forever, you know. I have three businesses riding on this. I’ll be bankrupt.”
“Not yet,” said the other. And that was all. They boarded the helicopter and left.
It seemed the pothole agreed with the impatient one. As bits of the street came loose and danced beneath the aircraft’s vibrations, something must have fallen into place, because the pothole began to glow, and moments later it opened up.
Or, no – that wasn’t right. It inverted itself, became a hill. And at the top was a person. A woman. Tall, pink-haired, riding a one-wheeled electric skateboard. She brushed some dirt and blood off her knees and palms, looked around in bewilderment, and finally took off on the skateboard, riding toward Fivest Ave.
That was it. My “first moments on this earth.”
I was born out of a pothole at age 27.
It finally makes sense why paranormal investigator Buster De Gost could never figure out what (or who) came out of that pothole when Shorty Lembas went in. What had caused it to reassert the universal balance by swallowing the next person to come along? The answer, it seems, was me.
That’s it for this report. I have an apology to make to a certain Dooey Lembas, and a helping hand to extend – for what it’s worth.