Where Has it Gotten Us?

a fictional tale by Quincy Rhoads

Thomas Pynchon and his dinosaur army are fast approaching the Southeast United States. Their keys to success include the element of surprise, long, complex, and divergent sentence construction, and big fucking dinosaurs.


It all started four months ago when California fell. But, to be fair, California has really belonged to Pynchon since the sixties. The dinosaurs are the only real difference between then and now. California was over-taken by well-read soldiers riding pterodactyls and t-rexes overnight. You would think that people would notice a gargantuan dinosaur army being assembled. But you would also think that you could find a photo of Thomas Pynchon through an internet search, which is simply not the case.

Even though Pynchon is the new president of the west coast of the US, people still haven’t seen his face. After all, he’s a very private man.

My Dad has seen his first lieutenant, though. Dad and Mom were in Vegas celebrating their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary when Pynchon’s dinosaur cavalry rode into town. The first lieutenant is named Reginald Munkers the third, or so that’s what my father tells me, but he’s been babbling constantly since he came home. Reginald shot Mom in the forehead. Dad says it was like watching a watermelon explode. Now Dad just sits at home and yelps.

Having a yelping dad living at home has been a real strain on my marriage.

“No one even knows who that is but you,” My wife says one night while washing the three plates that we have left. Dad has been trying to eat all of the dishes lately. You would be surprised how strong the human jaw can be.

“Yeah, but even if you haven’t read V., you have to admit that Thomas Pynchon is a force to be reckoned with. He has velociraptors with machineguns strapped to their heads for Christ’s sake,” I say.

“If you love him so much why don’t you go marry him and his brontosaurus?” she says.

My wife was a sociology major as an undergrad.

I hear Dad yipping and turn around to see a three-inch chunk of glass lodged in his lower gums. He has eaten the last of our drinking glasses.

***

The front gets closer and closer to Tennessee every day. I read in the paper that the pterodactyl corps knocked down the St. Louis Arch.

My American Lit II professors are ecstatic about the impending invasion. The other day I smelled the distinct smell of barbecue as I walked past Dr. Picard’s office. I peeked through the cracked door to find him sitting behind his desk holding a hand mirror in one hand and a soldering iron with the other. He was carving the muted post horn from The Crying of Lot 49 into his forehead.

I had dreams of teaching Hemingway and Fitzgerald to blank-eyed sophomores, but by the looks of things, that’s not going to pan out. The head of the English department has already scheduled five post-modern literature courses for the upcoming fall semester. And I keep hearing rumors that the president of the university is considering a distributive requirement for all incoming freshmen to take a special topics course on Gravity’s Rainbow.

On my way to the cafeteria the other day I saw a student worker put up a poster for the “What-If-Clarksville-Read-The Same-Book?” event. The book is going to be Inherent Vice.

I know that the front is moving closer and closer.

***

Just like my wife, my boss doesn’t really grasp the magnitude of the situation. The front is only thirty miles from the edge of town now, but he still expects me to come into work.

“These soldiers need their Slayer and Metallica t-shirts to fight,” he says. And for the most part he’s right. Our sales have quadrupled since the invasion, but we’ve started stocking 8XL Neil Young shirts, too. For the ankylosaurians, of course.

A lot of townspeople have blamed the librarians for the invasion. As a result, they’ve been burning any book published after 1966.

A lot of us at the university have been able to guard the campus library, though. Granted, it’s pretty damaged due to air raids, but we still have all our Joyce and D. H. Lawrence.

***

I’ve been pouring over Against the Day for answers as to why Pynchon is so hell-bent on domination, but I’ve only gotten about three pages into it. I’ve had to take naps between sentences. Since my wife left, I haven’t slept well.

I tried to point out the difficulty of spending time together amidst the impending onslaught of a dinosaur army manned by the crazed fascist henchmen of Thomas Pynchon to my wife before she left, but she wouldn’t have any of it. All she left me with was our last unbroken bowl and Dad. He’s taken to howling at the Sun.

***

I woke up to the sounds of screeching dinosaurs and crying babies this morning. Pynchon’s army had invaded town. Dad burst into my room baying like a Great Pyrenees. I barely had time to put on a pair of jeans before the dinosaur cavalry burst into the bedroom. They were there to round us up and place us in age-appropriate work camps.

“Why are you doing this?” I said to one of the soldiers who grasped my shoulder.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw a man with a t-rex head picking ligaments out of his blood-covered teeth.

“To create Mr. Pynchon’s masterpiece,” the soldier said, barely a mumble.

***

I’ve been in the work camp for three weeks now. Most of the people in my particular camp were professors and adjuncts at community colleges. They have us copy-editing what looks like Pynchon’s new manuscript. All of the sentences are five pages each. It’s enough to drive an English composition teacher mad.

The guards urge us to work faster. To ignore the bad lighting, that shit smell, the chains. The captain of the guard says, “Don’t you want to be a part of something greater than yourselves? To be immortalized in type?” He cracks his whip down hard. “You’ve all wanted a life devoted to words. So live it. Finish Mr. Pynchon’s magnum opus.”

Beside me a man cries like a little child. The guards unchain him from the rest of us and drag him away.

“I want my mother,” he says before they shoot him in the neck. They leave him bleeding in a chink of sunlight spilling onto the warehouse floor.

I spot a misspelled word in the manuscript that I’m copy-editing. Devotiojn. I circle it with my red pen.