Friday, May 20, 2005


      Douglas was a human with not so much on his mind. He had thunk every thought he could think to have thunk. And anyway, the big important questions that kept him awake at night had finally found their big important answers. Or so he thought. Trampsing through an exciting jungle on an alien planet was a time for a little straight-forward fun. And so Douglas sang a little, straight-forward song.
      "Burpel burpel burpel burpel burpel burpel burpel..."
      "What is your fascination with that word?" interrupted Josef.
      "It's fun!" replied Douglas, "Try it."
      "No, thank you."
      "Come on, Josef. What are you, mouse or man?"
      Josef stopped.
      "You take that back!"
      "Burpel." said Douglas. Josef sighed.
      "Burpel." said Josef, "See? Burpel burpel burpel. It's just a word. Burpel burpel."
      "I bet I can say it louder!"
      "You cannot!"
      "Burpel!" yelled Douglas.
      "Burpel!" yelled Josef.
      "Boggle!" yelled something else entirely.
      Douglas and Josef stared off into the dark, tangled distance.
      "I didn't know echoes could change the words," said Douglas, and tested again, "Burpel! Burpel!"
      "They can't," confirmed Josef.
      "Boggle! Boggle!" denied the echo. It seemed louder.
      "They also can't," Josef added, "get closer."
      Douglas crouched down.
      "What is it?" he whispered.
      "Boggle!" it called, on its own this time.
      "I have the rather funny notion," whispered Josef, "that I've heard this before and that we're not going to like it."
      "Boggle! Boggle!" The leaves rustled all around them.
      "Where do I know that sound?"
      "Boggle! Boggle!" And out they came.
      "Oh no!" exclaimed Josef, "Superturkeys!"
      There were a great deal of them. Bright yellow cubes with long heads out in front, which bobbed up and down behind maroon squawking beaks. Small white wings hung limp at their sides, but how they moved was hidden beneath them.
      "Variations of turkey are a common food source across the galaxy, though mice prefer the less talkative kind."
      "They don't look like turkeys," observed Douglas, but even as he said it, he had begun to doubt himself. Although they weren't shaped like turkeys, there was something vacant in their eyes. Something about their aimless wobble.
      They were all around now, growing ever more comfortable with their visitors. The distance at which they wobbled got smaller and smaller until one of them actually bumped into Douglas and fell over.
      "Oh no!" cried the superturkey, "He's got me!"
      "I do?"
      "He's got me! I'm done for!" It thrashed about at his feet - well, as best as a box-shaped bird can thrash. "If only I hadn't been so delicious!"
      "I'm not going to eat you."
      All the superturkeys stared at Douglas.
      "I'm not going to eat you."
      "Must be a vegetarian," it said, and the rest of the turkeys laughed at Douglas in a way he didn't like.
      "I'm not a vegetarian, I'm just not used to eating food that - I mean, who - well..."
      "Who... what?"
      "Who want to be eaten."
      The superturkeys gasped.
      "Hear that? Now we want to be eaten. You think we want to be stuffed with bread and vegetables? You think we long to be slow-roasted and marinated over a crackling flame? You think we fantasize about being served steaming on a lavish platter, heavy with the scent of exotic spices?"
      "You certainly act like it."
      "Maybe I act like this because you messed with my head, you vegetarian."
      "Ha!" cried Douglas in disbelief, "Why would I mess with your head if I were a vegetarian?"
      The flightless bird looked him square in the face.
      "You tell me."
      Douglas objected with a series of mumblings and frustrated hand gestures, which looked to Josef like the rain dance of the Babeloney fisherpeople. Finally, he threw his hands in the air and stormed off. The superturkey turned its attention to the lab mouse.
      "How about you? Are you feeling hungry? Up to some vicious nibbling?"
      "I'm afraid not."
      "You're a vegetarian too?!"
      "No," replied Josef, "just a gourmet."