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IN CALVINO VERITAS (Six Drunken Draughts) by Paul Kesler 


     When you enter the city of Clinton, you cannot walk on the left. This is a city of angles, which are always right angles. The inhabitants have no left sides, but only two right sides joined at the spine. All modes of transport have but a single wheel, slanting to the East, because no one travels West anymore. Humans on their unicycles claim there are still distant relatives residing in the West, but they are mistaken. The West has been deserted for some time, since no one is permitted to live there. 

     Nevertheless, far beneath the city are certain small pockets where heretics still reside. They plot; they converse; they trade maps. Someday, it is rumored, these pagans may rise from their confinement and restore left angles to the city and its people, but that is only hearsay...... 


     The city of Bond is haunted by vigilant beings. Mount Crushmore, four effigies carved in the shapes of Connery, Moore, Dalton, and Brosnan, towers over the landscape. No one is permitted to pass unobserved, since the eyes of these faces are always upon them. 

     Some people in Bond build elaborate fortifications: massive structures of earth and stone which they vainly hope will shield them from the terrible gaze of Crushmore. Others resort to cheaper methods: burrowing underground, or plastering networks of twigs over the faces in a frenzied attempt to blind them. But there is no escape. 

     Once, a daring traveler went as far as the Russian border, and found a blind spot where no one could see him. But just as he passed through the outside hedge and was breaking into a run, he came to the statue of Pussy Galore, which turned him into stone. 


     When you come to the city of Toadstool you pause and ponder, for there before you grows the towering sprout that first brought doom to enemy tribes. Cortez once passed through this fungoid world, only to find himself breathing strange spores, which caused his lungs to deflate. But since that time, the Toadstool has flourished, and gasmasks are worn by the people. 

     Ancient sages, who live in the uppermost hills, claim there was a time when the Stool did not exist, but no one believes their feeble mutterings. The people continue their homages, wearing their gasmasks and proferring palm fronds, kneeling and praying: 

     "Oh, thou Great One: Vanquish thine enemies." 


     No one who enters the city of Rat can avoid becoming one. The traveler has no choice but to follow the twisting street till he comes to the hub of the city. If he should falter and mistakenly step onto the curb, or touch the sidewalk, a strong electric shock will destroy him. Otherwise he must go on, struggling all the while with hunger and fatigue, until at last, if he is lucky, he will come to the small morsel of poisoned meat waiting for him. If he is strong and manages to survive, the Master will reach down with his gigantic hand and place him back at the entrance. 

     Then he starts again. 


     When he enters the city of Scrabble, the traveler is stamped with a letter and placed on a long thin rack. Other letters willl land on either side of him, though sometimes they will already be present, and a place will be made to accommodate him. 

     The name of this game is Infinity. The traveler must wait until one of the contestants finds a place for him among the myriad names of God. If he is the first letter, he will find himself hauled by the shoulders and placed in the center of a monstrous board. A sonorous voice will declaim: 

     "The first letter of The Name has been played." 

     What position the traveler occupies on the board will depend on the language and beliefs of the contestants, which change interminably. But once he has entered this city, there is no way back. He is merely a letter. 


     One who enters the city of Noodle cannot find his bearings. All about him stretches a huge white wall that yields only slightly with his footsteps: a gigantic ftunnel which leads him round one corner after another. Occasionally he will come upon the backs of other travelers, all heading in the same direction with weary steps and vacant expressions. 

     Sometimes, at rare intervals, a crisis will occur. A tumult will rise, the floor of the tunnel will heave, and the floor will split open. If he is quick, the traveler will take a leap across the chasm to continue his dismal journey. If not, he will grope and flail as spaghetti sauce enters his nostrils and the wails of the others reach his ears....... 

     This, however, is rare. Most of one's days in Noodle are days of endless whiteness.

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