Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 184,867,938 Issue: 488 | 1st day of Eating, Y13
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Cabbage Generals Are Rude, or How I Doomed the World With Vegetables


by dan4884

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Let me preface the story I’m about to tell you by saying this: it was all because the potion was cheap.

     It began with a routine trip to everyone’s favorite magic shop. As usual, the store was packed to its gills with shoppers snapping up each and every potion they could resell for a profit. Somehow these savvy shoppers knew exactly which bottles were worthy and which were not – fingers and paws, talons and claws reached in every direction, grabbing a morphing potion here and a strengthening solution there. I, an unassuming Plushie Chia, could hardly keep up with the free-for-all and simply stood spellbound, pressed as flat as I could make myself against an ignored shelf at the rear of the store, as Kauvara raked in the gold the shoppers were all but hurling at the till.

     It was there that I found it: the potion that would change everything. It was an unlabeled stout bottle, rounder than it was tall; and when I lifted it off the shelf, I discovered its mottled green contents had congealed somewhat. It was wholly unappetizing, but what drew me to it was its price tag. The numbers were scribbled so carelessly I was sure there had been a zero left off the end, and I glanced around with a stifled glee, amazed that none of the savvier customers had discovered this little gem among the more eye-catching bottles.

     I waited for the crowd to subside somewhat, concerned for my fragile fabric exterior. (There is simply nothing worse to a Plushie than to lose one’s stuffing; it is the equivalent of having one’s pants pulled down in public, and an experience I am shamed to say I have experienced on more than one occasion. Blame the poorly stitched seams.) I was careful, however, to pay for my potion while there was still a small crowd grouped around Kauvara; the scrutiny I might place myself under were I to be alone in the shop with the Kau might lend to her questioning the price of the bottle, something I very much wanted to avoid. In retrospect I realize that I craved the elusive “good deal,” to brag to the big guys that I too could find a diamond lurking among the healing potions.

     I paid the price for this tunnel-minded desire in more ways than one. I left the shop a happy customer, somewhat less gold clinking in the coin purse in my right hand but untold riches in my left, its thick seafoam concoction bubbling lazily as I bounced home. I stopped for a few minutes at a food cart, enticed by the fresh fruits and vegetables that had been shipped from Mystery Island earlier that morning. I filled a basket to its brim with the ripest tomatoes, carrots, peas, and cabbages I had ever seen, and hurried home, with visions of potion testing and crisp salads clouding my mind.

     ***

     With the remains of my salad wilting lazily under the summer sun, I pulled the potion from my knapsack and placed it on the table in front of me, where it continued to bubble methodically. As I watched it lovingly for a moment, relaxing in the pleasant midsummer heat, it occurred to me that I had no idea what the brew might do. Sure, the thought had darted through my mind back in the madhouse of a magic shop, but the prospect of a good deal had distracted my rationality with the equivalent of a Meowclops and a ball of yarn.

     The potion seemed to react positively to the sunlight; its shade deepened to a lovely aqua and the bubbling ramped up as if it were in a boiler. Even the bottle itself seemed taller, like it knew it was being watched and wanted to make itself more presentable. Surely this couldn’t have been the case, my common sense reminded me gently, and yet there it was. I was certain the potion had changed under my inspection.

     The desire to test it overwhelmed me. But how? Centuries of scientists would have cried foul were I to down the unknown substance myself, especially given its curious alterations in the past few minutes. I cast about for some sort of test subject. The Doglefox sniffing a mailbox shortly down the lane? The Larnikin currently chewing its way through a leaf of lettuce on my plate? These options were too inhumane, I reasoned, staunchly avoiding the fact that I nearly drank the potion myself just moments before. No, the living was off-limits, but I consoled myself with a very near substitute. I snatched the potion and hurried inside my modest home to find the rest of the vegetables I had purchased earlier.

     I laid them out on the counter carefully, arranging them by size from smallest to largest. The potion stood expectantly behind the row of vegetables, its hue a deep emerald by now. As I broke its seal, the bubbling ceased and the color deepened still—perhaps a reaction to the air, the amateur chemist in me reasoned. With a deep breath, I tipped the bottle slowly, wrist trembling slightly as I braced myself for a negative reaction. The viscous solution eased out of the bottle slowly and I let a few drops hit each of the produce. The peapods, first in the row, absorbed the concoction appreciatively, as if they had been craving hydration. The tomato, on the other hand, seemed to repel the liquid I offered it, and it rolled down its smooth skin rapidly. The twin carrots soaked up half of the brew I dropped over them with apparent disdain, seemingly saying if I must with a halfhearted shrug. The head of cabbage, however, was on the receiving end of my shaky wrist’s mistake; I dumped nearly half of the remaining potion onto it, and it disappeared before my eyes as the cabbage sucked it up greedily.

     Now to observe. I stood back and stared as the vegetables on the counter glistened with my additions. Seconds passed as the produce remained frustratingly static, and a creeping doubt entered my mind. I hesitatingly worried that the potion was a dud, that that hag Kauvara had duped me, preying ruthlessly on my amateur restocking skills. And then—a twitch! The cabbage had most certainly spasmed—there! It did it again. And the peas too! They had jumped nearly an inch in the air; I saw it clear as day. The carrots and the tomatoes soon joined in on the strangest dance party I’d ever seen, hopping and bouncing carelessly across my counter. I was rooted to the spot, transfixed by the change I had caused in my produce. My mind raced with explanations—the potion causes one to jerk around uncontrollably? The vegetables are writhing in pain? Is it a poison? Did I kill my vegetab—oh wait, they’re not alive.

     But that’s where I was so very wrong, which I discovered just moments later. With one enormous heave, the cabbage leapt off the counter in a graceful arc through the air—and smacked me silly.

     “Ouch!” I cried, slapping the head of cabbage away. It landed on the floor with a plop and rolled away lightly while I rubbed my forehead absentmindedly where the cabbage had hit me. Where had that come from!? I fumed. The sudden outburst had distracted me from the movements of the other vegetables, and when I refocused my attentions I discovered with horror that they had disappeared from my counter. This was beginning to worry me.

     I hurried off in the direction the cabbage had rolled, still rubbing my head in confusion. What I found around the corner shocked me: the cabbage stood—yes, stood—in front of the other vegetables, who had arranged themselves into a tight-knit array of peas, tomatoes, and carrots, and were saluting their apparent leader.

     “What the devil is going on here?” I said, mouth agape. I could not believe what was happening before my eyes—an aura of uncertainty had excited me as I was testing the potion before, but I was expecting something more along the lines of engorged vegetables or an invisibility solution. I certainly had no idea my vegetables would form an army before my eyes, or that the cabbage, of all things, would be their leader. No, this was too much.

     Upon my outburst, the cabbage signaled to the others, and the vegetable squad turned to face me. There was no discernable reason for me to consider this side of their bodies the front, as there were no markings to indicate eyes, mouths, or any other defining characteristic of a face, but the madness of the situation seemed to call for it. I stared down at the cadre in disbelief as I realized they were preparing to attack.

     “You can’t be serious,” I said, to which my common sense replied with the admonishment that I was attempting to have a discussion with a basket of produce, and therefore had no right to call into question the sincerity of the situation. The vegetables responded with a quiver of anticipation, seemingly waiting for the call to action from their cabbage general. With a slight nod on his part, the vegetables leapt forward, and I was met with an onslaught of projectile peas, carrot missiles, and the dreaded tomato bomb.

     Arms up to block the attack, I ran for cover, wincing in pain as they pummeled my fabric with all they had. The cabbage shot forward and slipped beneath my plodding foot, and I fell forward like a fallen tree, landing facedown with a thud on the kitchen floor. Still the squad hounded me, leaping on top of me and pounding my body as forcefully as they could. It was all I could do to sit up, fending off their attacks as I righted myself on the linoleum of my kitchen.

     “What do you want from me?” I squealed, blocking the carrots’ attempts to gouge my eyes. “What did I do to deserve this?”

     A thud from above me called my attention, and I looked up to find the cabbage presiding over me, my salad bowl at its side.

     “S-salad?” I asked, recoiling from the tomato’s repeated smacks across the face. “This is because I had a salad?”

     Another nudge from the cabbage and my salad bowl fell with a crash to the floor, its wilted remains of lettuce, carrots, and tomatoes scattered among the shards of ceramic. The cabbage retreated from the edge of the counter and returned a second later, pushing the mottled potion to the ridge directly above my head.

     “W-what are you going to do?” I said, eying the potion warily. “Can’t we talk this out?”

     Another nudge from the cabbage, and the potion came toppling over the edge, knocking me out cold. The last thing I remember is the trickle of liquid oozing through my fabric, and the slight twitching I could feel in my stuffing.

     ***

     I tell this to you now as a confession. I am not proud of what I did. I am aware of the reckless endangerment that I subjected this world to, and the fault rests entirely in my hands that we now live under vegetable oppression. Here, in the dungeon of the cabbage generals, I needed to explain to you how I created a force of unassailable produce, and why I now serve out my punishment as a Pea Chia in the hands of our veggie overlords.

     I cannot emphasize it enough—it is only through the potion that they have grown powerful. If you can find this mysterious potion and somehow reverse its effects, perhaps we can wrest control from these ruthless plants and restore balance to the world.

     Until then, take my story as a cautionary tale: you must never eat your vegetables.

The End

 
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