Evil: A Little Something To Lighten The Mood

     [“Heavy” topics can be usefully leavened with humor, if the humorous material is relevant. Herewith, a piece I wrote back in 2010, about a distant culture with a…peculiar view of criminal self-indulgence. — FWP]

The Scourge: A Report From Epsilon Eridani III

     Those boys over at NASA have not been idle. Oh, no, sir. In fact, very recently telemetry and images returned from a highly classified interstellar probe, launched way before we hoi polloi even knew there was such a thing as NASA. Those data have the agency agog; its leading lights fear that if they were released to the general public, it might mean the end — of everything.

     Around Epsilon Eridani is a solar system much like our own. The third planet out is an Earthlike world with an oxygen atmosphere, a flora and fauna much like our own, and a remarkably humaniform race of scientific and technological sophistication comparable to our own. However, they’re far ahead of us in certain sociological respects.

     These people have internalized the Golden Rule to a degree we Terrestrials have never approached. They genuinely believe in allowing every man to do as he pleases, as long as he harms no other person. They have no wars. Their law codes are slender, mainly prescribing the penalties for what any Earthling would recognize as a crime against one’s fellow man.

     Well, except for one thing. Their corpus juris makes it a high felony, punishable by a lengthy imprisonment, to make, consume, or distribute, whether for compensation or for free, even the smallest quantity of marshmallows.

     The Eridanians are so determined to wipe out the scourge of marshmallow crime in their society that the key ingredients for making marshmallows — gelatin, sugar, salt, and vanilla — are heavily restricted, available only to specially licensed medical practitioners and never dispensed except with a prescription countersigned by the local chief of police. The secondary consequences are, of course, severe, especially among bakers, bartenders, and women with soft fingernails, but Eridanian society is resolved upon the elimination of this scourge…or so its leading lights tell us.

     Despite the draconian provisions of this law, Epsilon Eridani III suffers an enormous marshmallow underground, through which flows many billions of dollars’ worth of traffic per year. It’s estimated that perhaps 10% of the public frequents the black market, both for “finished product” and for the ingredients for “home brewing.” Every year, families are ripped asunder when one spouse walks in on the other in a marshmallow-induced fit, or when a mother, innocently seeking only to check the cleanliness of her teenager’s underwear, disturbs a mound of never-worn exercise garb and discovers a cache of gelatin powder. The police of every locale are easily corrupted by the immense profits to be made in protecting traffic in marshmallows and their fixings. Cross-border traffic in sugar has been particularly hard to quell. The prisons themselves are hotbeds of marshmallow abuse, inmates and wardens “partying down” together and everyone up to the wardens in on the gravy.

     Nor does the marshmallow plague begin and end with the consumption of the vice. Eridanian “literature” is rife with marshmallow content, both allusive and explicit. Take for example this passage from a recent “Victorian romance:”

     She beckoned him to the door of her chamber and threw it wide to reveal an enormous mound of marshmallows. Big ones suitable for campfires! Little ones made for hot chocolate! Red, green, gold, even blue! Without hesitation he plunged into the mass, headfirst and mouth wide open. For a long interval she heard nothing but the sounds of gobbling and swallowing, until at last his head poked out of the ruined mountain of sweets.

     “I love you,” he whispered. “Come to me.”

     The administration is understandably reluctant to allow this news to come to light. Earth’s own smugglers, ever alert for new possibilities of profit, would be too likely to enter the space-exploration game.

     However dedicated to their anti-marshmallow crusade the Eridanians may be, their efforts appear nowhere near to success. Just last month, a leading candidate for president was spotted at lunch with his closest advisors, eating sandwiches from which a viscous beige effluent was seen to drip. Later analysis of the leftovers revealed the goop to be 85% peanut butter and 15% Fluff®.

     Your Curmudgeon’s sources have assured him that America is in no danger from this albatross around the neck of Eridanian society; our demographics alone are proof against it. Yet only last week, he surprised his Salvadoran housekeeper humming Guantanamera while stirring a pot of boiling gelatin, pausing now and again to add a spoonful of mashed avocado and a slice of jalapeno pepper. Given the severity of the asset-forfeiture laws, rather than discharge her on the instant he’s sworn her to secrecy and double-layered the claymore ring around the Fortress. We await further developments. Beware!


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    • FJ Dagg on February 7, 2024 at 10:39 AM

    Stop it, Fran…yer killin’ me!

    • jwm on February 7, 2024 at 10:46 AM

    C’mon kid, take it, it’s free the first time…



    • Evil Franklin on February 8, 2024 at 7:36 AM


    Evil Franklin

  1. For the last two weeks, making it the second time in the last 6 months, all Malomars and their imitated competitors have become scarce. Merely coincidence that your old story came to mind?

    1. I think it’s Gresham’s Law. Look at what’s happening to the prices of Chips Ahoy and Oreos! 😉

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