Mysterious Americana Catalog: ‘Used Water’

M-A-C (10): ‘Used Water’

Category: whatsit

Collection Date: (REDACTED), 1985

Collection Location: (REDACTED), Delaware

Collection Report: Here will be made a note regarding MAC discoveries at yard sales: In no other circumstance are you more likely to discover a MAC or an associated item than at a yard sale. Statistically, over 17% of items that move through the Catalog have previously passed through at least one recorded garage or yard sale. There is also an effect, unrelated to each individual piece, where MACs that have been purchased in cash show reduced anomalous effects, but that being offered for sale at one of the events increases them again. This effect cannot be replicated artificially. Continue reading

Franklin’s Monster

Many know the tale of Frankenstein, but few remember its alternate title ‘The Modern Prometheus’.  Long before its penning someone else was called the ‘Prometheus of modern times’, and it was none other than the American founding father Benjamin Franklin.  This tale supposes that he was the one to engage in the doctor’s dread experiments, and success came through his most famous effort with the key and the kite…

Franklin’s Monster

by

Blaine Arcade

1749

It was said that the birds ate uncommonly tender, but only by the man who had prepared them. In truth most of the preparation was performed by cooks, and they treated the turkeys the same as they would animals killed and handed to them any other way. Roasted. Salted. Anointed with thin golden gravy.

All the while they warily eyed the Leyden jars set out behind their cooking utensils as if they might explode. They looked like bottles from which the infants of molten giants might be fed, the glass lined with metal foil inside and out. There was no lightning hopping between them, but it had to be in there, invisible, for it had been brought forth to instantly end the lives of the seven birds that were to be served to the crowd of thirty that evening.

By this time Mr. Benjamin Franklin was already well-respected as a printing and publishing magnate, and currently served as the postmaster of Philadelphia alongside his joint appointee. Perhaps the job could’ve been handled by one man, but two helped avoid political squabbles, also having the effect of giving Benjamin the spare time needed to indulge his scientific fantasies, which, as the guests of his dinner party were now learning, were frighteningly close to reality. Continue reading

Mysterious Americana Catalog: ‘Shoelace Ramps’

M-A-C (9): ‘Shoelace Ramps’

Category: doohickey

Collection Date: (REDACTED), 1966

Collection Location: (REDACTED), South Carolina

Collection Report: Stumbled upon by one of the founding members of the Catalog in the year of its first issue, this MAC had several instances over several years, all of which occurred in the area surrounding a mountainous trail with no signposts. Continue reading

Mysterious Americana Catalog: ‘Loopy’

M-A-C (8): ‘Loopy’

Category: varmint

Collection Date: (REDACTED), 2007

Collection Location: (REDACTED), New Mexico

Collection Report: This item is the rare exception among MACs, as in appearance and behavior it is nothing more than an ordinary animal. The (REDACTED) family were on an RV trip in 1992 to see the world’s largest pile of (REDACTED) when they stopped to have a picnic. Continue reading

Mysterious Americana Catalog: ‘All-Popper’

M-A-C (7): ‘All-Popper’

Category: whatsit

Collection Date: (REDACTED), 1978

Collection Location: (REDACTED), California

Collection Report: The item was discovered after an unknown amount of active time thanks to an employee of (REDACTED) cinemas. While preparing a batch of popcorn, the artificial butter caused their wedding ring to slip from their finger and strike the active heating implement at the bottom of the hopper.

In their testimony they reported the ring instantly ‘popping’ as if it were any other kernel and becoming lost amongst its fellows. Continue reading

Mysterious Americana Catalog: ‘Bund Button’

M-A-C (6): ‘Bund Button’

Category: whatsit

Collection Date: Jan. 7th, 2021

Collection location: Washington D.C.

Collection Report: The item was claimed by a coroner in the aftermath of the right-wing insurrection on the U.S. capital. It was worn by a known conspiracy theorist with a small but dedicated online following that was difficult for the Catalog to neutralize.

The item is a shield-shaped American flag pin with the letters ‘GAB’, for German American Bund, what might today be called the American Nazi Party. The coroner, being intimately familiar with our organization, swears that upon removing the pin a length of metal retracted out of a wound on the cadaver’s chest, just over the heart. Continue reading

Tourney at the Hanging Gardens (finale)

Practice

The palm reader couldn’t find his friends. He knew he was their friend because he had read that information right off his own third hand, of the four that he had. How he got four was a mystery. One day the second pair was just there, one scratching his back while the rest stretched into the air with a morning yawn.

There was no one to mentor him in the skill of palm reading; it was just something he learned by immersion, like someone dumped into a foreign land adjusting to the language. Almost everyone had palms, so it seemed strange nobody else responded to that pressure the way he naturally did, by struggling to understand them. Continue reading

Tourney at the Hanging Gardens (part three)

Multitasking

Babylon’s sky was the only sight humanity would ever see that could truly convince them they had left their world of origin. Even the celestial ocean swimming with stars was still their world, despite being inhospitable. The hanging gardens themselves could be felt and thus understood, but they were just grit forced deep into a wound and healed over. The realm itself was foreign, and they were all immortal because they didn’t belong there.

As such the endless fields of orange and gold clouds, while breathtaking and sometimes even breathkeeping, eventually wore on the soul like the unblinking eyes of a disapproving parent. The only refuge was heading for the core of the gardens where there were walls on all sides and mindless chatter about nothing could bring them back to a sense of normalcy. Except the weather. They couldn’t make soothing small talk about that, as Babylon didn’t have any. Continue reading

Tourney at the Hanging Gardens (part two)

Respawn Chat Log

There was a place inside the hanging gardens of Babylon where ghosts gathered. It was sealed off from its endless colorful sky, lit only by the pale white energy of a crystal formation at its center, standing more than fifty feet tall. It had tree-like branches, more than thick enough to support the weight of living creatures, but only the ethereal dead were present.

The ghost of Flippers sat on one such branch, kicking his feet, just waiting. Nothing in the game stayed dead forever. The crystal tomb was much more like a waiting room or a penalty box. Really it was an admirable extra step from the game’s developers. A lot of other multiplayer games just cut to another active player’s camera when the countdown to respawn started. Continue reading

Tourney at the Hanging Gardens (part one)

Atlantis wasn’t the only advanced civilization to suffer a sudden and precipitous fall; there was also Ys, Norumbega, Arcadia, and others… at least according to the lore of the hit video game Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Jenny Handerly (who goes by Handzy online) is also seeking her own path to paradise, through the game.  If her ragtag team of friends can win the next Hanging Gardens tournament she’ll be set toward the future of her dreams, but there are plenty of obstacles in the way, in the gardens and well beyond them in the ruthless, youth-obsessed, and often bigoted world of E-sports.

Tourney at the Hanging Gardens

by

Blaine Arcade

Tutorial

The party had journeyed deep into the caverns of the hanging gardens of Babylon. It was not a place that knew true darkness, so no matter how far down they went they would always be able to see their way. Still, it was as dim and cool as it ever got in their paradise, and it had them all on edge.

They hadn’t constructed the gardens, and they didn’t know any of those who had, so all of the small questions about its functioning were allowed to fester and grow into giant frightening shadows in the back of their minds. Continue reading