I’d wanted to do another MiSTing of something and didn’t have time to get at some more chapters of The Tale of Fatty Coon somehow, despite having a whole year to try it. Instead I found a trifling little short story from a 1930 issue of Astounding and went to that. As best I can tell, it’s public domain, so no fair making me feel bad bringing out something completely inoffensive and fantastically avoidable for the sake of making some easy jokes, okay? Thanks. Also by the way I wrote and scheduled this to post before we got a meteor coming in to southeastern Michigan, so let’s just hold off on those allegations of who plagiarized who, all right?
MiSTed: The Jovian Jest [ 1 / 1 ]
[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. THEATER. ALL file in. ]
TOM: So, an astounding tale from outer space, huh?
CROW: That’s the rumor.
> The Jovian Jest
> By Lilith Lorraine
CROW: Sponsored by the Alliteration Council.
JOEL: You’d think that would be an association.
> There came to our pigmy planet a radiant wanderer with a message —
TOM: ‘Please remove us from your mailing list’.
> and a jest
JOEL: And a jape?
TOM: No, a *jest*. Pay attention.
> — from the vasty universe.
> Consternation reigned in Elsnore village
[ ALL make grumbly crowd noises. ]
TOM: Rar, argh.
JOEL: Consternation and uproar!
> when the Nameless Thing was
> discovered in Farmer Burns’ corn-patch.
CROW: Fatty Coon! Get out of here!
> When the rumor began to
> gain credence that it was some sort of meteor from inter-stellar
TOM: [ Nerdy ] I *believe* you mean it is a meteor*ite*, thank you.
> reporters, scientists and college professors flocked to the
> scene, desirous of prying off particles for analysis.
CROW: Scientists and college professors! That’s what we’re doing wrong. We never should’ve given all those samples to the pro wrestlers and the guy selling Dead Sea bath salts at the mall.
> But they soon
> discovered that the Thing was no ordinary meteor, for it glowed at
> night with a peculiar luminescence.
JOEL: We need a novelty song! Get Phil Harris, stat!
> They also observed that it was
> practically weightless, since it had embedded itself in the soft
> sand scarcely more than a few inches.
CROW: Also Farmer Burns was growing his corn in the sand.
TOM: It’s a little game he plays.
> By the time the first group of newspapermen and scientists had
> reached the farm, another phenomenon was plainly observable. The
TOM: Dum DA-dum!
> was growing!
JOEL: Well, that’ll happen.
> Farmer Burns, with an eye to profit, had already built a picket
> fence around his starry visitor and was charging admission.
TOM: ‘All right, here’s my nickel. Now give me an admission.’
CROW: ‘I’m the guy that clicks on Twitter Moments on purpose.’
> He also
> flatly refused to permit the chipping off of specimens or even the
> touching of the object.
JOEL: ‘Can I lick it?’
JOEL: ‘Can I lick it just a little?’
JOEL: ‘C’mon, I just want to lick it.’
TOM: ‘Well … okay.’
> His attitude was severely criticized, but
> he stubbornly clung to the theory that possession is nine points in
CROW: So science is going to need at least a touchdown and a field goal to catch up.
> It was Professor Ralston of Princewell who, on the third day after
> the fall of the meteor, remarked upon its growth. His colleagues
TOM: Were frankly amazed he took that long to get to it.
CROW: ‘No, please, Ralston, talk about growing orbs some more.’
> crowded around him as he pointed out this peculiarity, and soon they
> discovered another factor — pulsation!
JOEL: My god … it’s disco aliens!
> Larger than a small balloon,
CROW: Yet smaller than a large balloon …
> and gradually, almost imperceptibly
> expanding, with its viscid transparency shot through with opalescent
> lights, the Thing
CROW: Dum DA-dum!
> lay there in the deepening twilight and palpably
JOEL: Aw, it’s space-chilly.
> As darkness descended, a sort of hellish radiance began
> to ooze from it. I say hellish, because there is no other word to
> describe that spectral, sulphurous emanation.
CROW: Well *you’re* pretty judgemental there, narrator.
> As the hangers-on around the pickets shudderingly shrank away from
> the weird light that was streaming out to them and tinting their
> faces with a ghastly, greenish pallor,
TOM: Sheesh, they act like they’ve never even tried a death-ray before.
> Farmer Burns’ small boy,
> moved by some imp of perversity, did a characteristically childish
CROW: He ran around yelling for a while until he fell down and cried.
> He picked up a good-sized stone and flung it straight at the
> nameless mass!
JOEL: The mass answers back about sticks and stones may break its bones.
> Instead of veering off and falling to the ground as from an impact
> with metal, the stone sank right through the surface of the Thing
JOEL: Dum DA-dum!
> into a pool of protoplastic slime. When it reached the central core
> of the object, a more abundant life suddenly leaped and pulsed from
> center to circumference.
CROW: It’s like pouring sugar in the gas tank, that.
> Visible waves of sentient color circled
> round the solid stone.
JOEL: What’s an invisible wave of color?
> Stabbing swords of light leaped forth from
> them, piercing the stone, crumbling it, absorbing it. When it was
> gone, only a red spot, like a bloodshot eye, throbbed eerily where
> it had been.
TOM: [ As the kid ] ‘Uhm … can I have my rock back?’
> Before the now thoroughly mystified crowd had time to remark upon
> this inexplicable disintegration, a more horrible manifestation
> occurred. The Thing,
JOEL, TOM: Dum DA-dum!
> as though thoroughly awakened and vitalized by
> its unusual fare, was putting forth a tentacle.
CROW: That figures.
TOM: It’s always tentacles. Why is it never, like, sea lion flippers?
> Right from the top
> of the shivering globe it pushed, sluggishly weaving and prescient
> of doom.
ALL: [ As onlookers ] HE DID IT!
> Wavering, it hung for a moment, turning, twisting,
> groping. Finally it shot straight outward swift as a rattler’s
> Before the closely packed crowd could give room for escape, it had
> circled the neck of the nearest bystander, Bill Jones, a cattleman,
> and jerked him, writhing and screaming, into the reddish core.
TOM: [ Bill Jones ] ‘Tell my cattle … I love … aaaargh!’
> Stupefied with soul-chilling terror, with their mass-consciousness
> practically annihilated before a deed with which their minds could
> make no association, the crowd could only gasp in sobbing unison and
> await the outcome.
JOEL: You know the *Australian* alien space blob is like twenty times deadlier than this.