Mysterious Americana Catalog: ‘RPM Tire Swing’

M-A-C (11): ‘RPM Tire Swing’

Category: whatsit

Collection Date: (REDACTED), 1983

Collection Location: (REDACTED), Arkansas

Collection Report: The Catalog followed up on an emergency room report. The notes of one of the attending nurses: ‘Kid says he was on tire swing when it started spinning like it was still on a car and someone gunned it. Looking at his broken collarbone, legs, and neck bruising I almost believe him.

The item, apparently having burned through its rope support with friction alone, seemed to depart the property on its own, traveling over 300 miles before it was picked up on the shoulder of Highway (REDACTED) after striking a hitchhiker and landing on its side. The item goes inactive when placed horizontally. It is completely bald, but its performance as a wheel does not seem to suffer, its top speed calculated at over ninety mph.

Current Collector: Garth Millman (they/them), senior rank

Notes from Collector: “It hung as a swing for a while, and we’ve had a few reports of other wheels we haven’t nailed down. My theory is that there’s an entire car broken down and split up, but still working. Some joker holds a wheel and turns it, all four of our swings turn. Somebody steps on a gas pedal buried in the muck and little (REDACTED) is thrown screaming across his yard.”

Current Status: active

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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

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 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

Mysterious Americana Catalog: ‘Possum King’

M-A-C (5): ‘Possum King’

Category: varmint

Collection Date: (REDACTED), 1993

Collection location: (REDACTED), Virginia

Collection Report: A teenage prank instigated the incident, in which the MAC was stolen from a large barn deep in the woods out past (REDACTED).

The item is a desiccated ‘opossum king’ like the myths of the ‘rat king’, where many animals in a tight space wind up starving to death with knotted tails glued together by excrement. In this case nine opossums are joined, but arranged somewhat artfully as a stiff wreath. Continue reading