- Talon Stradley
The Tea Kettle Brings Love
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.
EVA AND THE GREAT WORMS
In the early days, the people within the cities had no way of effectively moving about them. They could walk, but some cities were sprawling. It was nearly impossible to make your way to your job, your home, or your friends and family. This persisted until a clever mortal by the name of Eva came up with a plan. The mortals walked on the surface of the earth, where all the buildings were, but perhaps they could walk beneath it and bypass the cluttered infrastructure of the land. People laughed at Eva. How could they possibly dig out enough dirt for the city to walk through?
Eva brought their attention to the worms in the desert. The worms were giant, the size of the tallest skyscrapers Abad ever made. They tunneled endlessly through the sand. If she could lead one of the worms to the city and train them, she could create the subterranean pathways that they always dreamed of.
So, she walked out into the desert. She brought with her some leftover oils from the city’s feasts and she walked into the sands pouring the oil on the ground behind her. She took heavy steps to get the attention of the worms who then saw the oil as an indication of food. They followed her trail back to the city. Once they were close, she tried to saddle the creatures. Unfortunately, this did not work. The worms dug haphazardly around the edge of the town and then left. Her plan had failed.
Eva climbed down inside of one of the holes. She was hoping to find that maybe they dug close enough to the city to be of help. Maybe this would make it easier for the mortals themselves to dig the tunnels. What she found instead was a kingdom. Awaro’s Kingdom, The Land Beneath Land. She walked through the massive caverns, past underground rivers and thousands of workers digging away. Eventually, someone noticed that she shouldn't have been there and she was brought to their jails. There, she explained that she was just trying to help her city, she just wanted to make tunnels to help her people move. This caught the ear of a guard. Her mission made its way up the ranks, all the way to Awaro.
Awaro, God of Ground, was a massive God, larger than most others. He was wide and stout and dirt filled his wrinkles and cuts. He made his way to the prison to talk to this surface mortal.
She was scared at first, she had never been in the presence of a God, but she did tell Awaro of her plan and the worms. Awaro laughed, a large hearty laugh that shook all of the earth above him. How cute that the mortals thought they could tame the great worms. Awaro told Eva that he liked her plan, it was smart, even if the execution was poor. He agreed to help her, to have his subjects build the tunnels, on one condition. Eva could not tell anyone who really built the tunnels. Not a single mortal and definitely not a single god. If asked, she would say the worms built it. That she was able to tame them after all. Eva hastily agreed, not thinking of the implications of her arrangement.
In just one day, the tunnels were built. Eva returned to her city, triumphant. Idola, Goddess of Cities, heard of this new development. She went to Eva to ask how she had managed such a great feat. Eva said that she trained the great worms of the desert. Idola was impressed. She asked Eva if she would travel to the other cities to provide this service. Eva was hesitant, but upon Idola’s insistence, she agreed.
That evening, Eva made her way back to Awaro’s Kingdom. She asked Awaro for help, that Idola wanted these tunnels beneath every city. A grin erupted across Awaro’s face. He said he would help the mortal, but the same conditions would apply.
Now, most cities have these tunnels. They have been developed to house trains and other means of transport. People use these tunnels blissfully unaware of the hands that built it or the avenue it has given Awaro and his subjects…
IVIUM AND THE INTERNET
One day, Filum, God of Knowledge, presented a new idea to the pantheon. He was charged with keeping all of human knowledge in the library where he lived. It was very expansive and wonderful, but not practical for the mortals. They had no way of accessing the information inside. He proposed an interconnected web of information that would allow all mortals to read of the knowledge Filum kept inside of his library. All of the gods agreed without thinking much of it. One of the gods saw an opportunity to punish her wayward followers.
Ivium, Goddess of Entertainment, had created the television as a means of escaping the harsh realities of the world. The mortals, however, had begun using the invention as a means of tackling the world’s hardships, whether real or fictional. Ivium tried to shut down the practice, but the mortals began making offerings directly to Mesec, God of Satellites, as a way of keeping their stations afloat. Ivium was furious and had been looking for a chance to humiliate the stations. Filum’s invention would be the perfect tool for this.
Just as she expected, the mortals began presenting information found in Filum’s library. Sometimes, they would learn something urgent and noteworthy and would discuss the topic on “The News”. Other times they would dedicate entire hours to explaining a more complex or wondrous topic. Ivium grew to hate Filum’s web and its truthful prevalence in her fantastical televisions. Ivium came up with a plan.
Ivium sat at a typewriter, the same typewriter which had crafted her most revered works of fiction. She began writing an article, styled in the same way as those found in the library. It was titled 5 Reasons Why Plants are Killing Your Family. She pulled the article from her typewriter, put on soft shoes, and made her way to the backside of the library.
Ivium reached her hand up to a back window. Having learned a lesson from Strado’s escape, Filum had barred the windows and locked them. This did not stop Ivium. Knowing the large scale of the library and knowing Filum would be busy with his invention, Ivium simply picked up a loose brick and threw it through the window. She climbed inside, cutting herself only a little. She found a nice shelf, one that looked relatively unattended to, and placed her article on it. She snuck back out and waited for the news the next day.
Sure enough, all across radio and television were stories about the dangers of plants. The article claimed that plants eat dirt. Dirt was just broken down waste. In fact, plants grew better when feces and corpses were placed at their feet. When you were eating a plant, you were eating everything the world had discarded.
This did an effective job of creating a fear of plants. People began cutting them from their diet relying solely on meats, many not thinking of what their meat was eating. This caused a worldwide epidemic of sicknesses. People’s bodies were not prepared to handle living on meat alone. People died and Ivium laughed. The mortals believed anything they saw! This would surely teach them to lose their trust in the television and return their attention to the escapism Ivium provided.
This was not the case. Instead, in the face of hardship, the mortals relied more on the information of the television. They began using it to test and communicate ideas, trying to find things that would minimize the damage of their new plant-less life. Ivium, having pushed the mortals closer to what she had desperately tried to destroy, was pacing in her office. She needed to find a way to fix this. A way to undermine the trust in the television while also stopping the world wide plague she had brought upon them. This was when she heard her name echoing through the city.
It was Filum. He was angry and searching for Ivium. He had entered into one of the rooms in his library to find broken glass scattered across the floor. After scouring through the entire room and reorganizing everything, he found something that didn’t belong in the realm of human knowledge. It was the article that Ivium had written.
Ivium’s eyes darted across the room, looking for somewhere she could escape. That was when the door broke in. Filum, a typically reserved man, was standing in the doorway, nostrils flaring. He was large and hairy, some say he could even take Webbi in a fight. Ivium knew she would not be able to escape him.
Filum dragged Ivium into the meeting hall. He slammed her down in a chair and walked back to her camera. He told her to say it was all a lie, that she had tried to fool the mortals of earth, and that plants do not actually kill you. He then struggled for several seconds trying to figure out how to turn on the camera. Ivium tried to stand to help him, but Filum demanded she stay seated. Eventually the camera was on and Ivium’s confession would begin.
It took longer than expected. Ivium was very reluctant to admit wrong doing. It took Filum asking very pointed questions to get the truth out of her. Most of the world was watching as Ivium confessed her crimes and refuted the claim that plants are bad for you.
All across the earth, mortals tried to understand the situation. Some were angry at Ivium for her lies, others were relieved they could be healthy again. Some people missed Ivium’s announcement. To this day they believe that plants are harmful and they preach this train of thought to anyone who would listen.
Most would find this ordeal humiliating.. Ivium, however, was smiling. She may have been clever, but she was no global mastermind. What she was, was lucky. The mortals of the earth, after having found out they had been lied to, grew wary of their televisions. They did not discredit it completely, but they began questioning the information it presented. Though Ivium had humiliated herself in front of gods and mortals alike, she had succeeded in undermining the fruits of her own labors.
CALE AND DOTI
Cale had been told about Doti, the Goddess of Waste, who lived on an island of trash far off the coast. Doti was an important and wealthy god, but she could not make the meetings that the pantheon held. Cale had never met Doti. She had only heard stories. Stories of her resourcefulness, of her benevolent ruling. Cale was fascinated with Doti.
Cale would often climb up onto her skyscraper and peer out towards Doti’s island. Cale spent much of her time there. If she was lucky, Doti would be walking along the beach. Doti always walked with a straight back. Her feet moved precisely as she walked, almost like a dance. The sharp coastal wind would carry her hair behind her, her patchy white dress radiant against the landscape of waste around her.
Once during dinner, Cale asked her mother about Doti. Idola spoke with great admiration of the goddess of waste. When Doti was very young, her father, Yitodi, passed away. He was a massive man and very callous. He was respected, but not well liked. Yitodi taught his daughter about ruling this land of waste. His lessons were short and hopeless. This was their job, and it was not a good one. While Doti was still quite young, Yitodi passed away. That was the last time Idola had seen Doti on the mainland. She was just a small orphaned girl of garbage. The pantheon debated for many days over who would oversee the island. In the end, no one wanted to take on the responsibility. Doti was taken back to the island and placed in charge.
The poor girl was so compassionate, even then. She saw how horribly her father had treated the subjects of their land. She decided to start construction on a castle. Doti built the first room, the ballroom, herself. She found pieces of glass, metallic sheets, and fancy broken tiles. She would collect anything that could be added to the floor to give it the rainbow sheen it is now known for. The subjects were confused at first, believing that she was incompetent, unable to run the island properly. Until finally Doti revealed her project. She invited all of the subjects on the island to a dance held in that ballroom. She wore a patchy white dress that she had fashioned for herself and her subjects rejoiced. That was the first time Doti had ever seen them smile.
Now she holds those dances regularly. Life is still difficult out there, but the compassion and respect that Doti gives her subjects has turned the island from a place of rot to a place of rebirth. Idola praised that Doti was truly one of the most remarkable members of the pantheon.
Cale certainly thought so. She imagined what it would be like to attend one of those dances. She pictured Doti walking down the stairs in her white dress, perfect and beaming. She could hear the music bouncing around as the subjects of the island whooped and hollered, boots smacking against the floor in time. She could feel the warmth of the sun reflected in the glass in the floor, bathing the whole room in colored lights. When Cale imagined this she would often dance around her rooftop, her arms hanging where she hoped Doti would one day be.
On one such night, Cale decided to write a letter. This letter was tame, it was an introduction of herself and invitation to watch the city skyline four nights from now.. She signed her name, took this message, and went looking for a container to seal it in. She was hoping to find a bottle or a pot or something meant for this kind of travel, but instead she found an old floral printed tea kettle. Cale stuffed the note inside and set the kettle in the ocean. It carried the note away towards the island of waste. Cale got straight to work on her big show.
Doti received the letter later that day. She happened to be walking on the beach when she heard the kettle clack against the side of the docks. She picked it up and felt something move inside. She opened it to find the letter. Her heart felt so light that it might carry her away.
You see, when Cale made her light to win the attention of the moon, she really caught the eye of Doti. Doti loved Cale’s lights and she would often wander the beach of her island at sunset to catch the magnificent things light up the city when darkness came. She loved those lights and she thought the world of Cale. Now this goddess from across the ocean, someone she had never spoken to before, was sending her a message. Doti could hardly contain her excitement and she bounded back to her room in the castle. She hung the letter on her wall.
On the mainland, Cale was nervous. She had placed one of her lights in every window in her building. Attached to each light was a cloth which was hooked up to a rope. This rope ran to the top of the building to Cale’s hands. She practiced for many days, always making sure the sun was out to drown out her early practices. The fourth day came and Cale let out a heavy breath, clutching the ropes in her hands.
On the island, Doti stood. Her subjects were on the docks, working around her. She stared at the city. She did not look away, she barely even blinked. She did not want to miss what Cale had in store. Cale pulled up her hands, revealing some of the lights. The lights created a picture. It was of two people, holding each other. Cale maneuvered her hands and the picture shifted. She did this again, and again, and again and Doti watched as the pictures began to move and the two people depicted began dancing. They flowed and swayed, dresses floating with each movement. It was one of the most beautiful things Doti had ever seen. She wiped a tear from her eye, smiling.
The two wrote back and forth quite a lot over the coming weeks. They would always pass these letters back and forth in the tea kettle. Both of the goddesses’ rooms became plastered with these letters. Eventually, Cale asked to meet. She said she wanted to visit Doti on her island. This shook Doti. She was ashamed of her job, at her home amongst the waste. She did not want Cale to see the decrepit world she inhabited. She did not tell Cale this. She did not tell Cale anything. She did not write back, not knowing what to say.
This was the first week there was no dance for her subjects.
Cale, not knowing what had happened to Doti, waited nervously for a return letter, but it never came. Cale was never the kind of person to give up. She gathered some wood and made a raft. She set this raft in the ocean and rode the currents to the island of waste. It took her several days, but she eventually arrived. The workers, not prepared to find living beings in the garbage, were very startled. Cale asked where Doti was. The subjects said they had not seen her for weeks and that the last several dances had been canceled. Cale nodded then strode over to the ballroom.
It was empty and the floors were dusty. Even though she stood on an island of garbage, it looked cluttered. Neglected. Cale shivered, the room was imposingly cold. She could see the potential for the beauty she imagined, but the room was lifeless without the cheer of dance and song.
That was when she heard something fall over behind her. Cale turned her head. The mortal Ira was picking up a knocked over plywood cello. Cale approached Ira, who stumbled backward at the sight of the stranger. Cale asked if he could play the cello. Ira nodded. Cale took a soft step forward; “Can you play this?” and she hummed a tune to the musician. It was a gentle melody, quiet but persistent. Ira played the tune on the Cello. The notes echoed through the hall.
After a few moments, Doti stormed from her room. She did not order anyone to start playing. She was trying to rest! She threw open the door at the top of the ballroom. She froze.
There, in the middle of the scuffed dull room, was Cale. She was as radiant as any of her lights, smiling, and swaying to the song.
Doti was not in her infamous dress. She was in rags. Her hair did not flow past her shoulders. It was knotted and clumped. Her smile was not one of pure joy, it was the kind of smile that follows a deep cry. She stepped down the curving stairway. It was not the elegant gait Cale had seen before, it was more like falling, each foot desperately reaching for the step beneath it. Doti moved like this until she found herself in Cale’s arms.
The two held each other for the first time, swaying to the gliding cello. The warmth didn’t come from the glass, but from each other. As they moved, Cale turned her face into the warmth of Doti’s neck. It was better than anything she could have imagined.
You just listened to Newton’s Dark Room Presents: Main Street Mythology.
The legend Eva and the Great Worms was performed by Mike Emling.
Ivium and the Internet was performed by Robert Ready.
Cale and Doti was 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, Pat Nat, and our good friends over at the Carlötta Beautox Chronicles 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.
According to a report by Westwood One, 60% of podcast listeners discover new shows through word of mouth. If you like Main Street Mythology, tell a friend or post about it on social media! You can even tag us on twitter or Instgram @newtonsdarkroom, we’ll be sure to say hi. 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. Hacold is the God of Showers. He is the one who is in charge of the temperature that comes out of your shower heads. Unfortunately for us, he is a scornful god filled with rage and malice. Because of this, we are constantly burned or frozen when trying to clean ourselves. There isn’t too much we can do except offering our bits of soap to the drain in hopes that this will appease Hacold.
Thank you for listening. Next week is our final episode of Main Street Mythology and it’s going to be a little shorter. It tells just one story, but it is an important and impactful story and so we figured it deserved it’s own episode. While you wait for our finale, why not check out one of our favorite audio dramas‽ Here is the trailer for Ninth World Journal.