Last month on the big island of Hawaii, Japanese astronomers, lead by a Dr. Ouchi, discovered a blob, as they called it. The measurements attached to this blob can only be understood by physicists and certain poets, but suffice to say, the blob measured 55,000 light years across. In honor of an odd queen of Japanese and Chinese heritage, Dr. Ouchi named this distant mass Humiko.
Humiko is a Lyman-alpha blob and according to the press release is as large as present day galaxies. To help map her enormity for those of us who haven’t taken a college course in astrophysics, the author of this scientific article explained that Humiko is either a supermassive black hole or a galaxy with 40 suns. I remember reading about Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity and the dark dimpled depressions that Black Holes are but the latter description helped me imagine this blob, first observed by the Japanese crew on a Subaru telescope atop Mauna Kea. Not only have I owned a nice Subaru Outback, but also in 5th grade, I studied our solar system and earned an A on a report about Pluto.
In considering this mass and all the accouterments that go along with 40 suns such as planets, moons, asteroids, gasses, and vacuums, I found my attempt to imagine Humiko clouded by Dr. Ouchi’s calling her a blob.
High-powered telescopes able to view the universe 55,000 light years away hadn’t been perfected. So naturally, when Joan got up one Saturday morning exhausted by her three children, she had no idea that by nightfall her oldest daughter would be besot by nightmares.
Dropping one’s children off at the one theatre in a small town was commonplace back then. Kidnappings were reserved for folks with ransom to pay or power to relinquish. The Blocks had neither money nor power. It might also be noted that on that day, they had no judgment.
And besides, who would kidnap a bossy and precocious 8-year-old and her brilliant little brother Stevie? Not too many thugs would take on this bundle of conniving brainpower.
That day, Joan dumped Cheri and Stevie off at the Center Theatre with 75 cents and a lecture.
Here’s the money for both of you, Cheri. Thirty cents apiece to get in and 15 cents for candy. As you know, the only candy you may not buy is a Sugar Daddy or JuJu Beads. Daddy would be furious if you pulled out your fillings with sticky caramel, so buy Junior Mints, Dots, or chocolate.
And be sure to buy Stevie his popcorn.
Cheri dragged 5-year-old Stevie into the carpeted lobby and up to the snack counter.
Two Sugar Daddies and one box of JuJu Beads, please.
The two little ones made their way into the tunnel of darkness, laden with caramel and anticipation. Up to the higher seats they stepped and settled into the loge seats, large rounded receptacles made of velvet. Stevie had to sit on his legs to keep the seat from folding up on him.
The Center Theatre, the grand dame of Centerville, boasted gold crown- molding and rococo designs in turquoise and brown. The enormous crimson curtain hung in orderly pleats down to the stage, where occasionally the theater manager would stand for drawings sponsored by the local creamery or bike shop.
That day, Cheri noticed that not many children were in the audience. Lots of teens, but not many kids. Ho hum, she said to herself. And already, Stevie had his entire hand wrapped around his upper molar trying to pry out a JuJu bead wedged deep within.
The curtain rose and Cheri detected, through her own eyes and not some new fangled telescope, palpable tension in the air. The teens hushed.
On the screen in large orange letters was the title of today’s featured movie:
Stevie edged closer to his sister because instead of colorful cartoon characters and peppy flute music filling the theatre, a whizzing piece of space stuff accompanied by low violin decrescendos and staccato cello pricks had just landed in a guy’s backyard. When the meteor landed, and silence was worth at least two Sugar Daddies, the Center Theatre sounded as if 200 squirrels were cracking open 200 walnuts and crunching 200 walnut meats.
A blob emerged from the meteor and within 10 ten minutes ate three people.
Even Cheri, who at eight years old fancied herself as fearless as Zorro (she was a Zorro devotee), was not prepared for primal scream that found its way out of her mouth.
Shhhhh said two mean teens, sitting nearby.
Stevie had now crawled over the velvet armrest and was in Cheri’s lap with his eyes closed and his head down.
Get in your own seat, Cheri ordered, her eyes glued to the orange and undulating goo morphing and oozing all over the screen, consuming human hands and heads like JuJu Beads. And just because, Cheri shrieked again and again and again.
Funny how contagious Cheri’s screams became that day as teen after teen, row by row, let out horrible sounds, but not as horrible as The Blob’s intention to absorb every human in its path.
When The Blob entered the projection room in the town’s theatre (a story- within- a- story literary tool that Shakespeare would co-opt from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and that Cheri would later point out to her students), Cheri looked back to the real projection room in the Center Theatre, grabbed her brother’s hand and dragged him down the stairs, still clutching one Sugar Daddy. And screaming just to be screaming, she hoped The Blob hadn’t leached into the lobby.
The manager dialed Sycamore 7473 and Joan answered the phone, holding Cindy Lou in her arms.
Mrs. Block, please come down here right away and pick up your two children.
As Stevie waited on Fremont Blvd. for the station wagon to rescue him from being eaten. Cheri’s bravado had returned. With her index finger slicing the air with Z’s, she knew Zorro would save her tonight from The Blob.