Where the Music Comes From

WINNERS: Atlantis, and old book, corn

I have Atlantis in the back room. Do you want to see it? I kept it in a little box behind the canned tomatoes. It’s really very nice. When you look at it from above, it looks like a Christmas ornament designed by M.C. Escher. It glitters and glows at night and in the day I get to listen to the citizens play music.

You don’t believe me? Neither did this one kid who always comes in to the store. Every morning, I went to the back and gave Atlantis a single kernel of corn to eat. It’s enough for all of them. They’re really small. This kid, Billy or something like that, came in and wanted to know where I got the music to play in the restaurant. I told him it was from the artists of Atlantis. Billy said he’d never heard of that band, and I had to laugh. I was joking with him, but he wanted to know.

I went to get the day’s kernel when I saw Billy go to the back room. He must have been looking for a CD player or something. By the time I found him, he was already looking into the box and trying to get the cables off the microphones.

The whole restaurant was filled with screaming and crashing and the sound of dozens of Atlantians dying as this kid poked the tiny crystal spires of an entire city playing music for me. And he’d spilled my tomatoes. I grabbed last year’s phone book from the table and beat him over the head with it until he passed out. I disconnected the speakers, but the damage was done. Atlantis was cracked and broken. Millions had died. The kid lay on the ground. I popped the corn kernel in my mouth and dragged the kid out back to take care of him.

I moved Atlantis to the freezer. That door already has a lock. And don’t worry. The Atlantians are already used to the weather. The music they made was just in time for Christmas. The boy? Oh, he’s in the freezer too. No, Officer, I don’t know where I put the key, but I swear I was just about to let the kid go. No, I didn’t know you could get reception from in there, either.

Could you watch Atlantis while I’m gone? They really like corn.

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