• Talon Stradley

The Road Brings Others

Updated: Jun 6

Hello, and welcome to Newton’s Dark Room Presents: Main Street Mythology. Over the course of the last few years, NDR member Julia Sawbone traveled across the American countryside. She collected legends etched onto bathroom stalls, spray painted on freight cars, and mumbled by workers in allies. She brought these legends back to us and now we bring them to you.

They tell the story of a modern pantheon of gods, the trouble they found themselves in, and how their actions shaped the world that we know today. From Newton’s Dark Room, This is Main Street Mythology.





STRADO, GOD OF ROADS



Strado was the child of Idola and Yomeo and the older sibling of Cale. From Strado’s conception, they were trained to take over the mantle of head of the pantheon from their mother, Idola.


Every morning Strado would go to the library of Filum to learn everything they could about life on this earth. The child was impatient. They couldn’t be concerned with the dense teachings of Filum or the precise organization of the library. The order of it all made them anxious. They did enjoy some parts of it though. Like when Strado ate lunch with Filum and his husband, Praten.


Praten was an understanding man. His days were spent pulling connections between two people so they could speak to each other from a great distance. This offered him an intimate look into the workings of any being, god or mortal. Communication made at a distance rarely lacks substance. It also helped that Praten could hear the thoughts of others. He knew of Strado’s discomfort, but he never mentioned it. He always did his best to turn lunch conversations away from studies and towards lighter conversations. It was then that Strado first heard of art.


Art was a concept created by the mortals of the earth. It was creating something beautiful for the sake of making something beautiful. The gods made things, but up until this point, they always had a practical function. Some of the mortals art was practical, a lot of it had a message, but most of it was for the sake of beauty. The gods never sought such a pointless pursuit.

That day, Strado told their teacher that they would like to make something beautiful. Something large. Something that gods and mortals alike could see the beauty in. Filum scoffed. Strado had much to learn. The library was vast and growing. There were parts Strado hadn’t even been to, let alone studied. It would take a lifetime to train Strado to lead the gods. They had no time for frivolous achievements.


Strado protested but was silenced by the thud of a book in front of them and a stern glance from Filum. The child reluctantly resumed their studies. Filum stayed in that wing for sometime, organizing book after book. At one point he left, presumably to another section of the library. Strado waited a couple of minutes, seeing if Filum would return anytime soon. When he did not show, Strado closed their book and opened the clasp on a large stained glass window. They climbed out and fell two stories to the ground below. They had nothing but the clothes on their back and a handful of years of knowledge and they were going to make something beautiful.


They didn’t have any paints or clays or even parchment for a story. After walking the streets of their city, they finally found a lot with leftover concrete. Abad or Webbi had likely left it here during one of their building stints. Strado knew enough to know that concrete did not work on a small scale. It wasn’t all that friendly to detail. They also weren’t interested in making something small scale. They wanted to make something large. Something monumental. Something the gods would talk about for generations to come.


Strado’s final plan was to use the concrete as  paint. They would lay it on the earth in thick wide lines. These lines would curl all across the planet. When viewed next to Mesec and the satellites, one would be able to see a stunning portrait of  the entire pantheon.


Strado started at the edge of the city. With their supply of concrete, they began to lay the groundwork for their masterpiece. This first stretch took them over a year. It was winding and sloping over the uninhabited deserts. No mortals lived in the deserts and the gods felt no need to go there. Many wondered where Strado had disappeared to. Many assumed they had died somewhere.


When Strado was next seen, they were at a neighboring city. In between the two cities was a long winding concrete line. Only after their first stroke did Strado announce their plan. The other gods always found Strado a bit eccentric, but this was beyond eccentric, this was psychotic! Was Strado just going to wander the deserts carrying bags upon bags of concrete? For what? For a picture? They disregarded Strado’s work as the work of a madman. Strado simply didn’t care. After they had disappeared to continue work on their art, Idola began searching for a new successor.

It was voted that Cale, Strado’s younger sister, would be the heir to the throne. Though she didn’t have as rigorous of a training as Strado, she had independently shown great wisdom and innovation. Nobody knew how Strado would react to the news. Strado was ecstatic! They hugged their sister, wished her luck, and immediately asked Abad for some more concrete.




UZO, THE FIRST TO TRAVEL



Strado continued work on their masterpiece. Starting at one city, meticulously pouring concrete, then ending at another. The mortals’ first introduction to these lines was when Strado arrive in their town walking on one. As such, the mortals never set foot on the paths. They viewed it as a holy place, a tool of transit for the gods. This rule was held throughout the earth and no mortal ever set foot on the bridge. That was until Uzo.


Uzo was a farmer of the city. With the help of his family, he grew his produce on top of one of Webbi’s skyscrapers. He had two children and a wife. The family worked long hours in the garden to provide for themselves and their neighbors. Yomeo, god of Community, was quite fond of the family. Good times, however, were not to last. A disease ravaged the city. Many people died. Uzo’s wife was among them.


Uzo was broken. He did not sleep that night. Instead, he silently sobbed into his bed. The next morning the children had to drag him out of bed to tend to the garden. Without his children, it was unlikely that Uzo would have ever gotten back on his feet. Every morning was like that. Uzo, weighed down in bed and the youthful hopefulness of his children getting him out. This went on until one day the children did not come.


The children had grown sick, Uzo could hear them coughing in the other room. They were bedridden and they would likely die. The city still had not found a cure for this plague. Uzo laid in bed for quite some time that morning. He had given up hope for him and his family. That is when he turned his head and saw Strado’s Path on the edge of town. His family was dying and his garden was wilting. Uzo forced himself out of his bed. He grabbed the last of the good vegetables, a container for water, and a hat to shield himself from the sun. He walked down his building, out onto the street, and started towards Strado’s path.


At the edge of town, Uzo was confronted by an old friend. They hadn’t seen him in quite some time and were wondering where he was going. Uzo explained himself. He was going to follow the path to the land of the gods. Their people were dying, his family was dying. If he did not do anything, they would all perish. Uzo had nothing left to lose. If he walked the path and perished, it would be better than passing in a bed next to the corpses of his children. If he succeeded, it would be all worth it.


Uzo hesitated for a moment, and then set foot on Strado’s path. He was the first mortal to even touch it. He did not die. He did not get struck down by lightning or the sun. He did not feel enlightened. He did not feel any different than the moment before he set foot on the path, so he walked. He followed the path.


Uzo walked for several days. He was out of food and water when he saw it. A city. He did not know if this was his city or not. The sun had been so harsh he easily could’ve gotten turned around, or maybe it was the city of the gods.


Uzo arrived and stepped off the path. This was not his city nor was it the city of the gods. He was met with eyes like his. Strangers, but human and mortal. One of them shouted and another came to Uzo, giving him food and water. Everyone’s eyes were wide.


As soon as he could speak, Uzo explained his situation; The other city, the disease, his family. The other mortals nodded, shocked that there was another city. They told Uzo that they too had met with that plague and that they had a cure. Uzo repeated that to himself. They had a cure. They had a cure.


Eventually, the Town’s mayor arrived. He met with Uzo and supplied him with a caravan. They would assist Uzo on his journey back to his home city. They would bring, not just medicine, but technologies, goods, and knowledge. Even the mayor himself went on this journey.


A few days later, Uzo arrived back in his home city. Everyone was dumbstruck by the caravan that accompanied him. Having seen them in the distance, Uzo’s mayor was waiting for them at the end of the road. The two leaders talked, happily astounded at the existence of more societies. They began to discuss plans for opening trade routes and transportation, working together to brave the world. They would use Strado’s Path for all of their travels.


While two powers met for the first time, Uzo took a vial and hurried home to his children. They were past coughing, curled up together on the elder’s bed. Uzo gave them the cure. They did not immediately heal. It was a process and it was difficult, but they both survived. The family went on to thrive and Uzo was known as the Hero of the Road.


Eventually, he traversed the other paths, taking his children with him. They discovered even more communities. The leaders traveled from city to city, meeting with mayors and citizens, sharing knowledge and culture and taking this back to their own cities. Under the guidance of Idola and Yomeo, they all flourished.


The roads are now commonly used, connecting each city to one another. No mortal alive remembers when the roads weren’t there.


Strado continues on their work, their masterpiece incomplete. They do not build the roads for the mortals, but they do not mind their presence. They find it encouraging and intriguing. It gives purpose to the beauty. These roads are Strado's masterpiece.




MARIA AND THE GARBAGE TRUCKS


When Doti’s father, Yitodi, was still in charge of the island of waste, he created a creature to better help the denizens of the mainland dispose of their trash. Up until then, mortals would have to make long, dangerous treks to the west coast to dispose of their trash. Yitodi created creatures that would carry this trash for them and make the journey alone. These were large, hulking beasts. They were armoured with a thick metal shell and their underbellies swept up anything in their path. A claw transfixed to their side would grab anything of interest and dump it into their maw.


He released them on the mainland and returned to his home. These beasts began wandering. They were unfamiliar and intimidating to the mortals. They soon learned that the beasts were drawn to the trash and they would hide the waste in their homes.


This starved the poor creatures. They were designed to eat garbage but there was none to be found. They began eating whatever they could find. Benches, lawn ornaments, cars, and sometimes, people. This only reaffirmed the mortal’s belief that these were horrid, terrifying creatures. They lived in fear for many years until one day, a girl by the name of Maria had an idea.


She was tired of hiding from the creatures. She was tired of hiding the waste in her own home. The beasts were already in her city eating whatever they could find. She took a bag of trash, stepped out into the road, and began pelting the creatures with old apple cores, empty milk jugs, and paper plates. They noticed the thumping and turned towards her. They began charging, moving the fastest she had ever seen them move. She dropped the bag of trash and ran, expecting her life to soon be over. She ran fast, tripping over her own feet, not stopping until she heard the engines stop far behind her. Confused, she turned around.


The garbage trucks had flocked to the trash, devouring it like vultures. Maria ran back to her home. She grabbed all the garbage her family had been hoarding, every single bag. She began throwing it around the streets. Her neighbors thought she was crazy, but they saw the garbage trucks eating only the trash. Soon, the whole neighborhood was throwing garbage around like confetti. The garbage trucks were ecstatic, chasing the falling trash like cats swatting at leaves. After all the trash had been eaten, the garbage trucks became lethargic and docile. They were so calm that Maria was even able to pet one.

That evening, the trucks made their trek to the west coast where they dumped the trash for Yitodi. Yitodi stood on the island, collecting all the waste. He was unaware of the terror his creations had caused so he smiled, his endeavor a success.

To this day we feed the garbage trucks, leaving our trash for them to eat. They take it and they leave, no longer terrorizing the mortals of our world.




MESSEC, GOD OF SATELLITES


The space outside of our world is vast but populated. From here we can see it all, the stars the moon, the sun, but when you are out there in the midst of it, it feels immensely empty. This was where Messec lived, just outside of our atmosphere. In the early days he was in charge of taking care of our moon, the only satellite we had. He spent his days wandering her surface, dragging a rake behind. He created smooth, spiraling designs that kept the moon in pristine condition. She was meticulously smooth in those days.

Despite the company of the massive moon, Messec was lonely. He would often stare up at the green and blue orb where the rest of the Gods lived. It was while he was looking at the Earth that messec saw the first artificial satellite.


It was just a child then, small and delicate. It was drawn to the earth like a moth to a flame, circling in drunk swooping manners. Messec tried to catch the thing, always closing his hand an instant after it left his grasp. He chased the satellite for several days. Finally, his hands clasped around it. Messec felt the metal bumping around in his palm  and he brought it back to the moon.


Messec created the moon’s first permanent blemish that day. He dug a hole, a nest of sorts, and he placed the satellite into it. It whirred, settling itself into the soft flour-like sand. The satellite stayed in this nest for some time. Everyday Messec would visit the little satellite. He would take it out of the nest, guiding it in the low gravity of the moon, teaching it to fly with purpose. Soon, instead of the lackadaisical romps of its childhood, the satellite orbited the Earth in tight, perfect circles.


Messec did not know this, but ever since the little satellite found the earth, it was being watched. There was another one, out by our neighboring planet, Mars. This other Satellite watched the First but didn’t give it much thought. As the First improved its flying and rotated around the earth in its perfect circles, the Second became interested. It found beauty in the simplicity of it all, in the control. It began meandering over from Mars and it met the First satellite. The two were in love.


They flew back to the moon, together. They made their own nest, a hole in the sand, and they laid their young there to grow. Messec found this nest the next day. Instead of continuing his smooth raking, he stopped and kept watch over the children. Over many months, they grew and joined their parents in orbit.


Every winter the satellites would migrate to the moon. They made more and more nests, their population growing every year. Messec cared for the satellites, fixing their injuries and keeping them well-fed. He treated them like a farmer treats his cattle. Their populations grew and soon, Messec had no time to smooth the moon. Now, he spends all his time watching over the satellites. The moon has grown rough and spattered as a result, showing the wear of age and motherhood. She is still as beautiful as she ever was. If you look at her long enough, you might notice two tiny black flecks cross her white mass. These are the satellites that now thrive outside our world.




CECILIA AND THE MATCHSTICKS


Once there was a young girl named Cecilia. Much of the city pitied Cecilia because she lived alone on the streets. A nomad of the city, she moved wherever favor took her. For a while, she lived in the alley between a butcher and flower shop. After that, she began living under the first ever overpass Strado created.


It was colder during her days beneath the overpass. The longest spell of rain that any god had seen plagued the city that month. During the day, if the sun was kind enough to show her face, Cecilia would walk to a nearby matchstick factory. She knew some of the workers and would wait beneath the windows of the factory. Anytime the workers found a matchstick that was too short, tall, fat, or bent, they threw it out the window to Cecilia. During the rainy days or the cold nights, Cecilia would strike these matches, one by one, to keep herself warm. Sometimes she fell asleep. When she did, she would remain asleep until the match went out and the cold returned.


While most of the city pitied the girl, there were some without empathy. When one such person stumbled upon Cecilia under the overpass, they called the police and demanded her removal. The police complied. They did not like Cecilia either. That night, she wandered in the rain. Without the overpass to shield her from the falling water, the matchsticks would not stay lit. The little flame died and the warmth disappeared with it. She realized that the only thing keeping her out of complete darkness were the streetlights.


It was at this moment that one light went out. A single streetlight. The light above her head. There, in the miraculous dry spot under the streetlight, Cecilia lit her match.

As it is known, a broken streetlight is a signal of hope to the troubled. When you are at your lowest, Cale turns off a streetlight above you. After a moment in the dark, you move to the next light.


This is exactly what Cecilia did. She moved to the next light and the next one, lighting a match under each. The street lights guided her out of the city and into the desert. Eventually, she arrived at the edge of it all. The sand fell off the world and Cale watched from atop her skyscraper.


Cecilia never returned but many believed Cale took Cecilia to the God’s City. The next day, the rain clouds disappeared from the city. Realizing Cecilia was not outside their window, the workers spent their evening searching for the girl. They found a trail of deformed matchsticks that led them out of the city and then, to nothing. They spent the night there, sound asleep with the kind of peace only the edge of everything can bring.


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You just listened to Newton’s Dark Room Presents: Main Street Mythology.

The legends Strado, God of Roads and Messec, God of Satellites were performed by Robert Ready.


Uzo, the First To Travel was performed by Mike Emling.


Maria and the Garbage Trucks and Cecilia and the Matchsticks were performed by Eleiece Krawiec.


All the music you heard was created for the show by La Troienne. You can find more of La Troienne’s music on Spotify, iTunes or at latroienne.bandcamp.com.


Visit our website at newtonsdarkroom.com for Julia Sawbone’s journal notes and illustrations, as well as transcripts, downloads, and information on the collective.

Main Street Mythology was collected by Julia Sawbone with story editing by Auggie Pepnia and Kyrah Werner. Sound editing by Sumpra Pepnia, music by La Troienne, illustrations digitized by Trent Stradley.


Special thanks to Raymond Tu, Luis Diaz, Kaitlyn Smith, Fuzzy, and Pat Nat for supporting Newton’s Dark Room on Patreon. If you sign up for our Patreon before May 28th, then you too can have your name read during the credits of Main Street Mythology. You’ll also get access to our behind the curtain series, the maternity ward, and downloads of all our music. Visit patron.com/newtonsdarkroom for more info.

Thank you for making through to the end of the credits. As a reward, here is one story that didn’t make it into the series. The first crosswalks were created when a zebra wandered into one of the cities. It was hit by a car while crossing the street and left its pattern on the asphalt. Because of the roads unique appearance, cars would slow down around it. People noticed this and began crossing the street here. Now, we use paint to emulate that black and white striped pattern to have safe crosswalks.

Thank you for making through to the end of the credits. As a reward, here is one story that didn’t make it into the series. The first crosswalks were created when a zebra wandered into one of the cities. It was hit by a car while crossing the street and left it’s pattern on the asphault. Because of the roads unique appearance, cars would slow down around it. People noticed this and began crossing the street here. Now, we use paint to emulate that black and white striped pattern to have safe crosswalks.

Thank you for listening and we’ll see you next week with a brand-new episode of Main Street Mythology.

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