Hocoa 6

Few road-trips to the the northern regions of our fine Imperium are complete without a trip to the crater where Gorlax may have landed on Earth. A ways up the road from warm and lusty Gillam, Manitoba, the hole now known as Hudson Bay is well-known for its water, and its Hudsons, but less known for its intergalactic unstoppable monsters with no sense of shame. For it is here, local Winnipao legend says, that Gorlax landed on Earth, streaking across the Nord-Skij in his scabrous, repulsive Honey-Baked Starleaper.

Wibbles Hugo and I are no fools, for we know that the official explanation provided by known royalist Michaelle Jean is that Hudson Bay was merely created in 1745, to shore up Canada’s precious ice reserves and have something to gloat about to the more southerly colonies. Although the Bay was certainly used for this purpose, there are records which show that some kind of body of water may have existed in the region of Canada prior to 1745; a telegram from Kaqchikel Mayan King Tucohatatapetatl to a Cree merchant living in the Hudson Bay area, dated 1472, reads “YO STOP HANGIN APOSTROPHE WITH MA FRENZ IN IXIMCHE STOP HOW Y APOSTROPHE ALL APOSTROPHE S GIANT BODY OF WATER DOING QUESTION MARK”. The reference to a pre-Michaelle Jean-era Hudson Bay is clear.

We decided to find out for ourselves. Although Hudson Bay was drastically and irreversibly irradiated in 1956, after a testing accident on the Bay crippled the Voss Nose Thrustopheles V sailboat prototype, impoverished fisherman still venture out onto the Bay to try their hand at catching a sea-snake or snapodile. Wibbles and I teamed up with Captain T. Fangs Richardmong for the day, and set out for the center of the Bay to see what we could see.

“I knows Gorlax was here,” Richardmong says. “My daddy always said this here lake was special, wasn’t made by no royalist, and he had schoolin’ so I knows it’s right.” Since the locals don’t really have much else going for them, the Gorlax Theory is very popular in the region. It also provides a genetic explanation for the horrifying mutant DNA that seems to be dominant among the inhabitants (although, that said, the much-vaunted “Son of Gorlax” promoted as an attraction in the province was later verified to be a whale carcass, which Gorlax had merely molested). There is no doubt among these noble northern weirdos that Gorlax has walked among them.

On the other hand, His Majesty the R. H. Mr. Harper noted, in his weekly visit to the home of every Canadian simultaneously, that theories for the creation of Hudson Bay that involved extraterrestrial intervention were counter-revolutionary, and that to say otherwise was counter-revolutionary. This “see no Gorlax, hear no Gorlax, speak no Gorlax” attitude persisted in government circles for about seventy years, until Gorlax ate the R. H. Minister from Kentish Okotoks, gained his legal powers, and was ascended to the House of Lords. In accordance with Gorlax’s governmental position, it is now acceptable to acknowledge his role in Canadian history, but the origin of Hudson Bay remains a touchy subject nonetheless.

As we neared the center of the irradiated body of water, it dawned upon me that we had brought no means to verify either side of the story. What were we doing here? Does that mean that the Gorlax Theory is true? Probably. It is a pretty big Bay.

Hocoa 5

The next place I stopped was Hobst, Ontario, the well-known “City of a Thousand Lemurs”. Apart from its tedious and somewhat-racist lemurs, Hobst is known as being the home of at least twelve videogame concerns, and the International mecca of technologique.
Hobst’s most famous resident is, perhaps, Bimbletum Games, makers of the popular Hamcraft, Minecrepe, and World of Hamcrepe game franchises. “We here like to think of ourselves using modest terms like ‘visionary’ and ‘fly’,” says Steve Bimbletum, the owner. “The insane devotion our fans harbor towards getting the best numbers means that they’ll pay us literally any dollar amount until their numbers are good. Then we can just make new categories of numbers, and they’ll pay all over again.” This strategy has made Bimbletum one of the world’s richest companies, and their skyscraper dominates the Hobst skyline. “I can’t see where my ducks is ’cause the shadow,” said one resident, who didn’t know her name.
Companies like Bimbletum drive the Hobst economy, but the old guard of lemur trainers and handlers has been loathe to adjust to the change. “I remember when this was a lemur town,” said handler R. R. Beauregarde. “You’d graduate high school, go to the provincial college, get your degree in lemur sciences, and come right back home. This was a good place, with good lemur values.” Others echo his sentiment; general feeling among the lemur-related population is that Hobst’s new status as Canada’s “repetitive social game Mecca” has damaged the town’s character in ways that aren’t obvious to the newcomers.
Steve Bimbletum disagrees. “You used to hear a lot of lemur-this, and lemur-that, but it’s mostly faded away. I think everybody knows that the lemur habits of this town were not sustainable, especially after what notable lemur Mr. Tickles did to the Japanese Foreign Minister that one time. It’s big a long time since a lemur has sat on the city council.”
Whether the new computer mysterons or the old guard of lemur fanciers are correct, it’s clear that Hobst is changing. But one thing that doesn’t change is the city’s traditional love of 100 meter-long hot dogs. The unwieldy confections are produced in a 104 meter-long factory, the well-regarded Stevenson’s Giant Wangs LLC. “We can produce up to 48 hot dogs an hour,” said owner and grandson of the founder Richo Stevenson. “People here seem to love to serve ’em at every occasion, even if the participants can only eat a meter or two. Having a 100 meter-long hot dog is telling the world that you have defeated your enemies, and reign supreme in their domiciles. You can’t buy that sort of prestige, except from us or Bebop Privatized Militaries Corp.”
The Stevenson’s Giant Wangs factory is well-known in the region for using an average of 17,000 GRT of animal products and by-products a day, helping cut Canada’s waste meat production by 85%. “This sort of stuff — deer anuses, bear eyes, hooves, oink-boxes — this all used to go to waste feeding underprivileged kids in New Congo or wherever,” Richo Stevenson said. “Now we just use it on the giant hot dogs. That’s a proper use of a defense allocation if I’ve ever heard of one.”
Animal rights activists, the only actual by-product of the Stevenson’s factory, are also a notable presence in Hobst. “We recognize that a lot of what goes into the 100 meter-long hot dogs aren’t animals, at least not technically,” tubelcaine wrangler, horse special ed. teacher, and activist Unicrow Ramirez told me, “but there’s still more than a few animals in those things. We would prefer that wasn’t the case. That’s why we do these self-immolations here.” Unicrow’s replacement, Bandana Probis, agreed. “If even one animal has to die to make a 100 meter-long hot dog, that’s not great. I’m super-not in favor of that.”
The factory shows no signs of being in danger from these hairy interlopers, as the city’s leaders recently enacted an ordinance that makes the 100 meter-long hot dog the official food of Hobst; indeed, it is now a crime to serve any other kind of food within city limits. Consequently, I cannot recommend Hobst’s fine dining. The sheer size that its restaurants must be to accommodate these hot dogs limits ambience somewhat, and the waiter’s beverage suggestion — “how about a pop in the mouth”, he said — was unhelpful. Hobst is a city with many identities; lemurs, repetitive nonsense games, impractical dining, it has it all. But they are not in harmony, and dealing with it all seems to have made Hobstonians irregular, and ill-prepared to consider alternatives to their chosen faction. I don’t begrudge Hobst its nuances, but I assure the casual traveler of Canadia that Hobst is too much of a grouchy pain in the ass to be worth any bother.

Hocoa 4

The town of Mayberry, Michigan is a bit irregular. Up until two years ago, it was a thriving town, with seven hundred grain reprocessing mills and a Gap outlet. In a rash election-year decision, however, the town elected the self-styled insane person Dr. Ploxenhaus as their new mayor. Insane Mayor Ploxenhaus, as he demanded to be known, immediately conscripted half the town and embarked on a bemusing quest to drive deep, wide tunnels through the Tarbyhao mountain range, which surrounds Mayberry. Deep caverns were dug under the town itself, too, as if Ploxenhaus feared some kind of catastrophic attack upon it; it’s estimated that there’s over 400 miles of tunnels beneath Mayberry, as well as a cavern big enough to hold twenty-six Chretien-class aircraft carriers sitting side-by-side.

After this hideously ambitious construction project was more-or-less complete, Insane Mayor Ploxenhaus is known to have commanded his secret police to herd the town’s population into the caverns. Ploxenhaus, in his last official act as the mayor of Mayberry, pooped in the urinal of Bill Fong Chevrolet, renounced his mayorship, and descended into his subterranean fiefdom, taking on the title of Lord Protector of the Underfunk. Nothing has been heard from him or the residents of the town since.

I went to Mayberry, and walked down the abandoned, dilapidated boulevards. The town has not been touched in the two years since Ploxenhaus’ Exodus, and exists in more-or-less original condition. Due to the immediate nature of their deportation to the caverns, the belongings of the town’s residents are largely as they left them, lending the town an eerie aspect. Store shelves are stocked with the remnants of rotten fruit, as well as better-preserved canned and preserved goods, and the odor of Insane Mayor Ploxenhaus’ last official act still hangs over the lot of Bill Fong Chevrolet.

Being a journalist of the fourth type, I decided to try and find an entrance to Ploxenhaus’ Under-Realm. The town’s many manhole covers lead only to the abandoned sewer system, and a search of Ploxenhaus’ abandoned mayoral estate yielded nothing, save for his world-renowned collection of SelectaVision CED discs and office doodads. It seemed as if the town’s populace had simply vanished.

The search resulted in nothing but dead ends until my photographer, the erudite Wibbles Hugo, found a large camouflaged hatch in the bottom of Mayberry Junior High’s flooded swimming pool. After draining the pool of the viscous goo that had been left by local seagull surgeons, we opened the hatch and found a large stairway descending into the dark. As Wibbles Hugo is a fearless man, famous for hunting and being cranially-inhabited by the chupacabra, we followed the stairway to its terminus — a giant, steel airlock door, wide enough for two school buses and a duck to pass through abreast, sealed from the inside. Above the door was the telltale gleam of a security camera lens behind smoked glass, and far below, we could hear and feel the distant hum of giant generators. We knocked, but received no response.

It’s unknown what became of the residents of Mayberry — whether they still toil in some far, sunken sub-Mayberry — but their town is so-so. The service isn’t great, because you will be the only human for twenty miles around, but the parking is just spectacular.

Hocoa 3

If one finds oneself in eastern Ohio, as we so often do, you can’t avoid seeing Glorious Stingle, the City by the Things. Glorious Stingle is well-known as the ice cream capital of the province, having won nearly every award for the confection there is. Indeed, the prefix “Glorious” was awarded to the town of Stingle by Harper himself, after he stopped by the province and tasted some “Mint Chip Surprise” in a local eatery.

The secret of the town’s delicious ice cream, residents tell me, is their giant cow Steve, an escapee from the HydroDoris research farms. Steve was created by HydroDoris as a prototype of a giant race of cows made to provide top-quality dairy supplies to off-shore oil concerns. But HydroDoris (a subsidiary of the Mexican Unigrow conglomerate) did not realize the sheer power of their prototype until it was too late; by the age of 50 (two in human years), Steve was able to walk through transparisteel without difficulty. Try as HydroDoris might, they could not contain Steve, and she wandered throughout the Provinces, settling at last in Stingle, as Stingle’s residents were the first ones who didn’t try and make giant steaks out of her. A comfortable agreement was reached; Stingle would protect Steve from steak-seeking interlopers, and Steve would provide the residents with top-quality dairy supplies. And thus, Glorious Stingle’s ice cream legend was born.

To walk down Glorious Stingle’s main street is to be swathed and doused with ice cream as one might be swathed and doused with odorous oils in the most perverted of Turkish salons. You cannot escape Glorious Stingle without eating at least forty scoops of their private reserve-caliber dessert, nor would you want to. There are over 750 distinct ice cream-selling entities within the confines of Glorious Stingle, and double that amount of ice cream distilleries for export only. Glorious Stingle is a haven not just for Steve, but also for the world’s ice cream lovers.

As with many eastern Ohio towns, Glorious Stingle is not immune to the recent danger of attacks by the venomous, feral Amish, but the residents have fought them off before, and claim that another attack is of little concern to them. I spoke to Reebus Poprin, a local toppings specialist, who lost his arm after a bite from what the townspeople refer to as “a Silas”. “Yes, I concede that the venomous, tricky Amish used to be a pretty major concern around here,” Reebus said, “but between Steve, our system of waffle cone punji sticks, and our constitutionally-protected right to bear sharpened ice cream scoops [which are ever-present in Glorious Stingle], I’m not worried. We’re a lot better-prepared than we were when I lost ol’ grabby here.”

The Amish seem to be the town’s only concern. Ice cream futures rose over a thousand percent last year alone, and continue to rise. “It’s a good, stable currency,” remarked town councilman H. J. T. Pieterhoops, “as long as you keep it between about negative twenty and negative five fahrenheit.” And, as Steve is in excellent health, there’s no reason why the town’s dominance in the field can’t continue. As it stands, Glorious Stingle is an excellent little place, and I can’t recommend a visit highly enough.

Hocoa 2

Traveling north, we soon arrive at Planks Town, Virginia. Planks Town is known throughout the region as the original home of Trench-Rapist Autos, the Quebec carmaker whose infamous entry into Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year caused the nation of Austria to be dissected into small parts and sold to drug-crazed Russians at bargain-basement prices for intravenous injection. I decided to stop in Planks Town and see what remained of the old Trench-Rapist spirit.

“The T-R boys had to pack up and leave ’round about aught-four,” said Stunkbug Lee, chairman of the Planks Town JCC and my tour guide. “The factory was folded back up into a cement mixer, but all the rest’s still up.” Indeed it is; the town is littered with bits of history. The Zeppelin Field, where Trench-Rapist founder Diane Fish was challenged to a rap battle by Time-Lord Soichiro Honda, is probably the town’s centerpiece, although Fish’s girlhood home is of architectural interest as well as historical, as it’s composed of 144 distinct polyhedra in the finest Civil War-era architectural tradition. “Lot of history in them polyhedra,” Stunkbug Jones said: “There was actually a plan to move ’em to [current T-R home] Roberval, but some of those Stanislaus boys caught the helicopter on the ground and pumped it full of jam.”

Other notable T-R relics include the church where Fish prayed to George Lucas to stop, the tomb of four hundred thousand Trench-Rapist-DeSotos, the platinum bust of Bob Lutz that once served as the T-R factory’s “hood ornament,” and the abandoned prototype of a T-R arctic exploration crawler/party bus. All of these sights are easily-accessible from Planks Town’s depressing town center.

Although Trench-Rapist has departed, Planks Town still seems to hold to their bitter rivalry with Olio, Pennsylvania, home of T-R rival Stanislaus. References to Stanislaus and “those foul and depraved citizens of Olio” fill the Planks Town newspaper whenever anything bad happens, and effigies of Olio mayor Roblipson Gloris and Stanislaus head Ed “Steamboat” Sunflowers are still burned in Planks Town streets at every sundown. Even strolling down the market street one afternoon, I was struck by how fiercely loyal Planks Town residents are to the departed Trench-Rapist. Local eel merchant Elvie Raymond said it most succinctly: “I wants to put an eel in “Steamboat” Sunflowers.”

But behind this stirring rhetoric, Planks Town has issues. Aside from a total lack of any reason to visit besides the observation of Trench-Rapist leave-behinds, the town’s financially-ruinous decision to bankroll a venture entitled “Trench-Rapist 2: The Trenchening” collapsed majestically under a sea of lawyers visible from the Mir space station, and the remaining industries — sulfur mining and eel husbandry, primarily — barely allow the residents a subsistence-level income. The average Planks Tonian lives in a three-room dirt igloo, eats one meal of twigs a day, and shares an out-door toilet with up to 400 other residents. “And that’s not the half of it,” says Planks Town interim mayor Stevenson Wellbrox. “There’s no fire department, but everything’s made out of dirt so that isn’t actually a big concern. Likewise no cops, but we don’t have much. No government schools, thank God. And the sewer system has been swarming with eels for a decade. You turn on your water tap and eels just come out. Utilities are a big concern for the city government.”

Nevertheless, Planks Town retains a certain rustic, eel-infested charm. Beyond the copious amounts of Trench-Rapist history on view, the town’s culinary creativity is renowned, and local bed-and-breakfasts are famous in the region for their possession of beds and breakfasts—rare commodities in what we now know as Virginia. Planks Town is well-known as the “second home” of media conglomerate Comcast-Vanadium, and the literacy rate approaches 3%. But strolling down the street, one cannot help but notice the vile gleam in the eyes of passers-by, as they see a newcomer who lives in a real house, with real plumbing, and no eels. Planks Town has suffered greatly in the wake of Trench-Rapist’s departure, but the residents themselves have suffered more.

Hocoa 1

It’s easy to imagine the screaming, naked Weasel of Truth bounding across our associated territories, but in this day and age — when so many of us are employed as computer-wipes, or bebop theorists, with commensurate never-ending hours — you just don’t get the opportunity to traverse our lands and observe the circumstances and conditions in which their inhabitants labor. Not like you used to, certainly; for, as recently as 1997, it was common enough to unhitch the family therapede and escape north, east, west, south, or occasionally up. One misses the open road, and the Canadian Provincial dream it represents and allows. And such is my goal in writing this travelogue; it is a journey across the domain we are all too preoccupied to see, observing local sights, phenomena, notable hobos, areas rife with meat-packing detritus, and a new element I call tribarithene, which so-called “experts” have yet to acknowledge.
We begin our journey in Speebo, Domain of North Carolinus. This sleepy little down-home ‘burg hovers twenty-three meters above the ruins of Old Speebo, just north of the Noble Hatchapoopla river. In the early 1980s Old Speebo, called Speebo at the time, was a thriving North Carolinus slave port, legally sheltered from the 13th Amendment of the then-USA’s Constitution by a little-known “Eyyyyyyy” allowance in the North Carolinus regional home owner’s association by-laws.

Slavery in pre-Harperian Old Speebo was a confusing and demoralizing affair; slaves were often underprivileged individuals captured in extracontinental war zones and transported against their will to Speebo in giant styrofoam coolers. Upon arriving in Speebo, these new slaves would be freed, becoming the new ruling class, and everyone else in Speebo would willingly — if grudgingly — become their slaves. The life of Speebo’s ruling class was thus chiefly occupied with preventing any new slaves from being transported to Speebo.

Typically, this proved futile, as the millions upon millions of slave-packed giant styrofoam coolers washing up upon Speebo’s shore were too much for the under-funded, slave-staffed Coast Guard, who didn’t really care if any new slaves showed up.Life in Old Speebo was thus messy, brutal, but — thanks to advances in medicine and agriculture — very long, with the average resident living to the age of 166.

As the population of Speebo neared one billion, with more slave-coolers showing up every day, the society struggled to support itself. Food, water, and land were of little concern, but Speebin society craved Reeboks, imported from outside the city walls. Reeboks were a required and ubiquitous part of Speebin life, essential to finding a good job, a mate of the desired gender, and TV of suitable girth. But the Reebok factories in far-flung China were drastically underprepared for the Speebin demand, as larges swathes of their workforce tended to get floated to Speebo as slaves. Within the walls of Speebo, rage and dissent built as supplies of the treasured Reeboks were exhausted — there was no end to the shortage, as Reeboks were used, burnt, buried, traded, stolen, or eaten. Speebin society neared a crisis-point.

As tensions broiled, a man named Martin “What In The Hell” van Jeerkson won the Speebo Gouveurneurship, and became infamous for an ill-considered plan to shift Speebo’s currency away from the Reebok Standard. Faced with the loss of their investment, wealthy foreigners gathered up their hoarded Reeboks and fled Speebo. Van Jeerkson panicked, launching a hasty initiative to get Speebins to accept Filas instead, but the damage was done, and Old Speebo collapsed, nearly overnight, as millions died alone in their huge mansions, without Reeboks. The few left alive fled back across the seas, in hopes that the meager scraps of Reebok they still possessed would curry favor with the local warlords of their homelands. Van Jeerkson, muttering the famous words that became his nick-name, moved to Belgium, where he became a famous Tipso Suarez impersonator.

Left unattended, Speebo’s fusion reactor — “Old Wheezy” — sustained the hulk of the city for several months, but eventually surged and erupted, bathing Speebo in the plasmic fury of a thousand suns. The explosion of Old Wheezy could be seen on the other side of the planet. The city was ruined.

All was not lost, though. The wealthy Reebokholders that had fled Old Speebo in anticipation of “What In The Hell” van Jeerkson’s currency reform found themselves left with the idealism that had led them to Old Speebo in the first place, as well as many millions of Reeboks. They wondered on the creation of a new society, one that still had at its core the grace and power of the Reebok, but without the crushing influx of new slaves that Old Speebo had suffered under. They decided to create a New Speebo, hovering above the blasted ruins of the old, with all the old values but none of the old problems. Construction on the initial platform, all two thousand square miles of it, was completed twelve years later by SuperKrupp & Uncles Ironmashers, and it was towed into place. New Speebo was born, and that is the happy city we now visit.

Getting to New Speebo (typically referred to as Speebo) is uncomplicated, as the floating city is served by a very precarious train, a business-as-usual airline, and a deeply confusing subway. The first things one notices about Speebo are typically the giant propellers underneath the city, each blade ninety feet long. “They don’t actually hold it up,” said Samterfuge Jones, Speebo’s chief engineer, “but they look pretty cool.” The city, in fact, is held up by a combination of lighter-than-air gas, pumped into the hull of the platform at the time of construction, and the propulsion provided by its residents. “We face up when we breathe in, and we face down when we breathe out,” said one citizen. “Honestly, you stop thinking about it after a week.” At first I presumed this unlikely, since Speebins are well-known for their small respiratory tidal capacity, but indeed it seems true, as gasp-worthy public announcements are typically accompanied by the city settling a few meters closer to the ruins of Old Speebo, and then rising up again when citizens resume breathing-as-usual. This unlikely system has worked well for the past hundred years, and citizens are proud to note that it may work well for another few months, at the very least.

If there is a national sentiment in Speebo, it is “What?” and “Stop talking to me.” The city itself is a clean, pine-scented wonder of a place, not unlike Singapore or Halifax, and now that the citizenry are secure in their Reebokholding, strife is typically absent from daily life. At restaurants like O’Shaunigan’s Authentic Chinese Hambutts, Speebins from all walks of life gather to compare Reeboks, sing annoying national tunes, and peer-review each other’s outfits. Thanks to effective manipulation of international carbon credit-trading schemes, Speebo’s GDP is largely composed of fictitious exports for overseas manufacturers. As a result, only ten percent of Speebins are employed, typically in education, retail, and warp field plumbing. The rest while away their time on various Reebok-related tasks, or brush up on their outsider art.

Personally, I like Speebo, although I found there to be little to do if one is not interested in Reeboks or local Reebok-related habits. But the inhabitants are happy, and according to Generalissimo T-Bone “Parsnip” McGee, Speebo’s tourism chief, not one among them wishes for a return to the heady days of Old Speebo. “We don’t even look down that much, really,” said McGee. The Speebins have their Reeboks, and they are satisfied.