The Lorelei Signal
The Prafts and the Hywisps
Written by Douglas J. Ogurek / Artwork by Marcia Borell
The Landivum River ran through Warth. On one side of the river were the Browntans. There, the ground was flat and brown, and the sky was tan.
The Prafts built all the castles in the Browntans. The Prafts’ castles were square, and brown and tan. Inside their castles, the Prafts ate piesquares, and got answers.
Rouzzle Peaks chirped and spiced on the other side of the river. The sky there purpled like trumpets, and the trees and hills and clouds and mountains curled like the taste of chocolate peppermints.
In Rouzzle Peaks, the Hywisps created all the castles, which whistled with colors, and tangyfizzled like melted spirals. The Hywisps went to their castles to taste the shapes, and listen to the colors.
As you can see (and smell), the Prafts and Hywisps were as different as night and the smell of clay. But in one way, they were all the same: they were afraid of the River Inume.
No Praft or Hywisp had ever met the Inume. But on still and fruit punchy days, the Inume played an instrument called a flowt. Its music glided along the Landivum River. Then you knew it was time to go.
A Praft and a Hywisp gathered building supplies at the Landivum River. The Hywisp flew into a sourclang tree. Then he swoarpysnarled across the river. “Your Browntans are as fun as burnt toast and broken pianos.”
“I’m glad the river separates us.” The Praft dropped a river brick into his cart. “Because your Rouzzle Peaks is out of control.”
Music drifted from where the river met the sea. The Praft thought it was a flute, but not quite. It sounded silvery to the Hywisp. No, no. More light green than silvery.
The Hywisp flew down to the river. He peeled some harpytaff, then scooped some flutterfluff. “The Browntans’ castles are not sweetgong like our mountains, or chimelime like our fountains. Gupsheemash. The Browntans’ castles are as square and dry as your blocky pies.”
The Praft’s fingers tingled, and his legs felt lighter. “Your castles get gloppy and splotchy,” he said. “You always have to tear them down. Every castle we’ve built still stands strong.”
The music flowed around the Browntan boxbushes, and swirled through the crinkleberry patches and lemonblares in Rouzzle Peaks.
The Hywisp’s wings felt a little like the smell of orange peels. “Your castles taste rotten. Ours are syrupy and cinnamony. Yours sound like they got stuck, and ours flap and clap. So woarpyscloape.”
“You can’t taste castles,” said the Praft. “You can’t hear them either.”
The music grew louder, and greener. The Praft and Hywisp argued. Their bodies felt lighter and orange peelier, but they kept arguing. Soon, they got so light and peely they couldn’t move.
Down the river, beneath where linevines mixed with doughwhir branches, a creature appeared.
The creature, floating just above the water, was coming toward them.
The Praft saw its colorful cloak. He tried to run. He couldn’t move.
When the Hywisp heard the cloak’s colors ring, he tried to flap his wings, but they just flopped.
Closer floated the creature. It had a hood, and held a long stick. The top of the stick curved into a jelly-flavored shape. Then the Praft and Hywisp knew—the stick was the flowt, and the creature was the Inume.
Louder and greener grew the flowt music. The Praft yelled for help. The Hywisp oranged and reded.
The Inume drew closer. Red tan black. Pink yellow brown blue. Its cloak colors flashed and clanged. They were trapped.
The flowt music flowed gently, and greenly enough to stop an army. So gently the Praft was not afraid, even when he saw the Inume had no face. So greenly the Hywisp hummed along in pink and blue.
First the Inume floated to the Praft, then it brought the top of the stick up to the Praft’s face. The strange shape was a mirror. The Praft saw his own eyes. They were brown, but then, they whispered other colors: blue and green, yellow and red. Even orange. As many colors as the Hywisp’s eyes! And when he listened to his own eyes carefully, the Praft could hear a symphony.
Next the Inume held the mirror before the Hywisp, whose eyes played their tunes and raised their voices. But then strange sounds peeked out: a tan tone, and a rhythm that was brown. The Praft colors could make music too! And when the Hywisp looked hard, he saw brown lines, and squares of sunlight in his own eyes.
When the Inume floated away, the Hywisp looked at the castles in the Browntans. “Why do your castles last so long?”
“Because we use river bricks,” said the Praft, “and river bricks are strong.”
The Hywisp picked up a brick. It was heavy, and it was strong. And it was brown and tan, like the Browntans.
The flowt music faded. The Praft peeled some harpytaff from the river, then wrapped it around his fingers. “Why do you use this stuff?”
“Because it makes our castles flubblepretzel, and honeychuckle.”
The Praft felt the harpytaff, and a swervyswirl flavor filled his mouth. Then he heard its colors chuckling and bubbling. “Will you show me how to use harpytaff?”
“Wa-Terthskee!” said the Hywisp. “Harpytaff and flutterfluff.” He lifted the river brick. “Will you show me how to stirplay these?”
“Stirplay,” said the Praft. “Okay.”
After the Praft and Hywisp met the Inume, the Prafts’ castles sounded more colorful and tasted curvier, and the Hywisps’ castles lasted much longer.
The Hywisps went to the Prafts’ castles to share piesquares, and get some answers. At the Hywisps’ castles, the Prafts learned how peanut buttery curves could be. And the Prafts found out that some colors buzzed, while others rumbled. Some colors even sizzled and cackled.
Nobody has seen the Inume since that day it made the Praft and Hywisp see and hear themselves. But on still and fruit punchy days, if you listen hard, you can hear that flowt gliding and greening along, no matter where you are. Then think about the Prafts and Hywisps, and remember: the Landivum River doesn’t separate the Browntans and Rouzzle Peaks—it holds them together.
Originally published as part of a longer story in Gone Lawn (summer 2014)
Douglas J. Ogurek, the pseudonymous and highly unprofessional founder of the unsplatterpunk subgenre, thinks he’s changing the world . . . one intestine at a time. Unsplatterpunk uses splatterpunk conventions (i.e., controversial/gory/gross/violent subject matter) to deliver a positive message. Ogurek guest-edited the wildly unpopular UNSPLATTERPUNK! trilogy, published by Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction. These anthologies are unavailable at your library and despised by your mother. Ogurek reviews films and fiction at that same magazine.
Publications have rejected Ogurek’s work more than 1,500 times. However, The Paris Review, considered one of the world’s leading literary journals, thanked him for submitting a manuscript in one (form) letter. Another highly respected journal, The Yale Review, stated, “We want to thank you for your kindness in letting us see your work.” Thus, Ogurek is also a kind author.
More at www.douglasjogurek.weebly.com. Twitter: @unsplatter