“My Sphincter Bleeds for Chartreuse Anteaters” by Phillip Temples

Many thought that the worldwide aphasia outbreak would bring about the end of the world—or at the very least, civilization as we know it. It certainly put a crimp in all normal day-to-day activities. One day, the world was chugging along as usual; the next, everyone was speaking gibberish. People also lost fluency with written communication.

Words were a jumble of nonsensical constructs. A simple question like “Can you understand me?” came out of peoples’ mouths as “Is my cat weasel black?” or, “Are moochers on my father’s eyebrows?”

Scientists had no explanation for the sudden pandemic, which produced symptoms consistent with stroke or silent migraine. They attributed it to possible environmental poisoning or some unknown airborne virus. The usual sorts of treatments for aphasia or stroke, like Botox or anticoagulants, had no effect. What the scientists did not know was, the planet had passed into a cloud of unknown radiation that affected the brain’s ability to process language—specifically the Broca’s area in the lower part of the premotor cortex in the language dominant hemisphere.

Without the ability to communicate, engineering, science, and technology quickly ground to a halt. But participation in the arts flourished. People found new hope in non-traditional forms of communication through the visual and musical arts. Enrollment in art classes jumped dramatically, while sales of musical instruments skyrocketed.

The number one song on the charts after the second week of the pandemic, written and performed by a relatively obscure group known as The Black Banana Lungs, was titled, “My Dog Leaks Antifreeze.” The lyrics included the refrain:

He makes the spaghetti sauce,
Purple links in diamond lettuce,
Keep me down with his split lip, ruby red.
Haiku. Haiku. Haiku!

Seventeen days later, Earth cleared the mysterious radiation cloud and humans’ ability to speak and write was again restored. The world rejoiced.

“My Dog Leaks Antifreeze” remained at the top of the charts for twelve more weeks.

Phillip Temples resides in Watertown, Massachusetts. He’s had five mystery-thriller novels, a novella, and two short story anthologies published in addition to over 190 short stories online. Phil is a member of GrubStreet and the Bagel Bards. You can learn more about him at https://temples.com.

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