• Talon Stradley

S1E12 - New Artesia

Hello, and welcome to Newton’s Dark Room Presents: Broadcast, monthly updates from the Newton’s Dark Room Collective.

Last month we had a bit of a predicament. We were trying to teach S. Owen Sow a lesson in responsibility, but we all got distracted with our new gas powered typewriter. As a result, S. Owen Sow forgot to bring in the food that was left to rot in the sun. Some of us went inside to ration the food we still had, but S. Owen Sow stayed out to clean up the mess.

We’ll get into what he found in just a second, but first, I want to tell you about the Podcast Junkie Discord server.

For those who don’t know, Podcast Junkie is a weekly podcast review show that showcases a wide variety of podcasts, everything from true crime to audio drama. But Podcast Junkie isn’t just a weekly podcast, it’s also a discord server! Here, podcasters and listeners alike can get together, get advice, talk about their favorite shows, and celebrate the wonderful world of independent podcasting. Come hobnob with all your favorite indie podcasts like Oz 9, Moon Base Theta Out, A Ninth World Journal, Girl in Space, and more! We even have our own Newton’s Dark Room channel, so stop by and chat about your favorite Calisland Artist Collective.

If you’re interested in joining, check out the link in the description or give Podcast Junkie a follow on twitter @castjunkie.

Now, back to the broadcast.

S. Owen Sow was outside by the road, sitting on the hot summer pavement. He was sorting through some of the food, picking up bread and rotten beef, inspecting it for mold, and tossing it if it was ruined. Most of the food was ruined.

He spent the better half of the afternoon working on this task. It was a mundane, disgusting chore. At least until he felt a small pinch on his arm. He looked down and saw a black splotch. It was a circle with sloppy lines jetting out from it, kind of like a cartoonist drawn explosion. As he was inspecting this phenomenon, he felt another pinch followed by another little crater. He looked around. Was someone shooting spitballs at him or someting? Was it a weird insect? A rash?

As his eyes scanned around, he saw several small flying objects coming right for him. For a moment he thought they were bees but they were flying too straight to be a bug. He stared at the objects, fascinated and dumbfounded, until they plummeted themselves into his skin. They were missiles, tiny missiles, and they were responsible for those scorching black marks on his arm. S. Owen Sow snapped to his feet, nearly falling over in the process. He began running back towards the front porch, the missiles following just behind him. He turned his head and saw them rising up… from the food.

S. Owen Sow burst in through the front door and quickly shut it behind him. We heard a series of small knocks, almost like a woodpecker smacking away at the front door.

S. Owen Sow pressed his face against our stained glass window in the door. He noticed that all of these micro missiles were coming from the food. This was concerning. S. Owen Sow knew that rotten food was bad for you, but he thought that was due to illness, not weapons of war. He didn’t want to go back outside and get pelted by more missiles, so S. Owen Sow did what he tends to do in situations like this. He wandered around the compound asking others to take care of his problem.

Normally, there is someone to do it. Someone who feels bad for S. Owen Sow, is unaware of his responsibilities, or just feels like being nice. Today, however, there was no one who fit that bill. Everyone knew that S. Owen Sow had messed up and this time, he would need to handle his own mistakes.

S. Owen Sow grabbed the thickest jacket he could find in the hopes it would protect him from the small blasts. However, Calisland tends to have rather warm weather and so the thickest jacket he could find was a slightly padded rain coat. This rain coat was rarely used because the removable hood was missing. We’ve all been looking for the hood for a while now because getting your head wet in the rain is the absolute worst. We still haven’t found it and that’s why we spend most of our rainy days inside.

S. Owen Sow grabbed this jacket. He stood at the front door, took a few deep breaths, and ventured outside. Sure enough the missiles fired. A few of them pelted his head, but for the most part they landed against the protective jacket. S. Owen Sow was able to pinpoint where all the missiles were coming from: The Pepper-jack cheese. He ran over and knelt down, closely inspecting the food to see what exactly was going on.

As it turns out, what he thought was mold was actually a tiny city, or more accurately a military complex just outside of a tiny city. The military complex was right next to the city from our perspective, but in reality it was closer to a small gas station town that had a bowling alley. There was a long road leading to the city. The traffic got worse as you neared the urban center. S. Owen Sow followed this road out past the city and into a small suburban area. In this tiny town, all of the blocks were shaped like triangles.

As S. Owen Sow traced the road he found more and more communities, cities, airports, and other such civil structures. They spanned from the Wheat bread to the pepper jack cheese and even further into the avocados and eggs. It was an entire miniature civilization. And they were pissed.

All through the streets marched protestors. They held up signs that said “Down with the murderous giants!”; “Tiny Town is not Trash!; or “Bring back the Beef!”

S. Owen Sow correctly guessed that this last one was a reference to the beef he had thrown out just moments ago. He looked over to where the beef was and he saw broken roads, houses caving in, and families at the edge of it all weeping. He had destroyed an entire community.

Heartbroken, S. Owen Sow vowed to make amends. He searched through the city until he found the Mayor’s office and he boomed down to them.

The mayor lived in a humble but respectable government building over on the apples. She was a bold and confident mayor, used to being the leader of a growing civilization.

When S. Owen Sow approached, she immediately began yelling at him, calling him a menace and devil. How dare he mess with the wonderful city of Artesia! Then she proceeded to sing the Artesia National Anthem.

S. Owen Sow stopped the Mayor mid song. You realize that there is already a city called Artesia, right? The Mayor stopped, thought for a second, and then confidently proclaimed, then we are NEW Artesia!

The song needed some work.

S. Owen Sow proceeded to explain that he was indeed the evil giant who had destroyed their lands, but he wanted to help. The Mayor firmly demanded S. Owen Sow leave them be. If he tried to interact with them, he would destroy their city of New Artesia.

Just as she was finishing explaining this, the Calisland Caretakers came outside. They also started shouting at S. Owen Sow, demanding he throw out the rotten food.

Now, S. Owen Sow has never held much responsibility, not so much as a pet goldfish, but in this moment he felt the grave responsibility now given to him. He had to protect New Artesia. They were depending on him and if he let the Calisland Caretakers take them away, he would be responsible for the deaths of thousands. He stood firm, looked the Caretakers dead in the eye, and sneered “No. Leave this rotten, moldy food alone!”

The Caretakers backed inside, more confused than scared. S. Owen Sow stayed in his defensive stance until the door clicked shut. He hurried back over to the capital building.

“What do you need?” he asked hurriedly.

The Mayor explained that what they needed most was water. This food was great sustenance for them, but their people all had head aches and bloody noses, classic symptoms of dehydration. And they can’t drink salt water so the sea mist wouldn’t help them much. S. Owen Sow nodded his head, thinking about where he could get the water without leaving the city undefended. He scanned the area around him, it was mostly charred buildings and ash. The commune building they all lived in was one of the only still functioning structures on Calisland. He looked at his home and noticed a garden hose coiled off to the side.

The spigot was just out of sight, but if he hurried, he would be able to turn it on and get back to the food before the Caretakers came out to clean it all up. He rose to his feet and bolted towards the house. He wasn’t paying attention to his surroundings or what was under him. All of his focus was on that hose. He never even saw the rock that rapidly showed up under his feet. For a brief moment, S. Owen Sow was flying. The next, he was crashing into the ground. Dirt shoved it’s way into his eyes and nostrils. The base of his wrists were scraped raw, with several cuts where he had snagged a rock.

He didn’t even pause to think. He snapped to his feet and stumbled forward as he cleared the dust from his eyes. The hose was there. He put in a bend to stop the water, turned on the spigot, and turned to race back to the food.

As he rounded the corner of the house he saw, surrounding the food and the tiny civilization, a pack of Roombas.

S. Owen Sow panicked. The Roombas were attracted to what they assumed was mold. In reality, it wasn’t mold. It was the tiny cityscape of New Artesia! S. Owen Sow bolted over, the hose lazily lopping water onto the ground. Once he was in range of the rotten food and Roombas, he placed his thumb over the head of the hose. The pressure caused the water to spray in a fine mist over the whole commotion.

The electronic Roombas hated the water. They immediately began to retreat back into the dryness of the large house. Meanwhile, the citizens of New Artesia rejoiced! it was raining and they could finally drink the recommended 8 glasses of water a day.

S. Owen Sow felt proud of himself. He had saved the community, he gave them water. Maybe he was more responsible than anyone thought…

The Calisland Caretakers burst open the front door. They stormed towards S. Owen Sow, who stood there with the hose still in his hand. They began yelling at him, berating him, demanding that he move the food. To be fair, they had a point. It was still rotten food and the odor was atrocious. Plus, it was starting to attract birds and that brings about a whole other set of issues.

S. Owen Sow tried to calm them down. They kept yelling until they ran out of things to yell about and then S. Owen Sow could finally speak.

He understood that the food could not stay outside, but he also didn’t want to just throw it all away. He explained that there was a tiny city on the food and that he felt responsible for their wellbeing. The Caretakers started riling themselves up again, but S. Owen Sow quieted them with his plan. He was going to move New Artesia into his room. He would make the room air tight so that none of the odor would escape. He also planned on adding an air filtration system to make sure the citizens of New Artesia could all breath. If the Calisland Caretakers would help him set up the room, he would give up his space for the city.

He understood that the food could not stay outside, but he also didn’t want to just throw it all away. He explained that there was a tiny city on the food and that he felt responsible for their wellbeing. The Caretakers started riling themselves up again, but S. Owen Sow quieted them with his plan. He was going to move New Artesia into his room. He would make the room airtight so that none of the odor would escape. He also planned on adding an air filtration system to make sure the citizens of New Artesia could all breath. If the Calisland Caretakers would help him set up the room, he would give up his space for the city.

Moving New Artesia wasn’t easy. While most of the neighborhoods were built on separate pieces of food there was some overlap. S. Owen Sow had to work with the city planners of New Artesia in order to properly divide up the neighborhoods, move them to the room, and re-set them to their original positions. It was a difficult logistical nightmare, but they got it done. By the end of the two day moving process, all of New Artesia was safe and sound in S. Owen Sow’s room.

S. Owen Sow approached the mayor once more. He apologized again for destroying the beef neighborhood. He hoped that they were safe in their new home. He also explained that he would be checking in regularly to make sure that they had everything they needed. The Mayor thanked him and humbly declared that the city would’ve been destroyed without their giant protector.

S. Owen Sow left the air tight room, turned on the air filtration system, and slowly closed and sealed the large metal door. He walked through all the hallways of the house as he made his way down to our living room. Every member watched from the doorways of their own spaces. They watched as S. Owen Sow, the person they didn’t even trust with the laundry a month ago, walked through the house to sleep on a couch. S. Owen Sow had found his sense of responsibility, and there was a new form of respect growing in the minds of the collective. S. Owen Sow was now the Keeper of New Artesia.