My Nightmares Smell Like Pink
Damn you, Guinness. Damn your dark, earthy brews and your book of madness that drives normally sane people to the edge of folly. You’ve destroyed more lives in the pursuits of “records” than the Olympics and Extreme Archivists combined. I was there the day it all went down, the day the brightest minds of my town were snuffed out in a wave of pink goo that stuck like the fluorescent taint of horror.
My town of Crockport was a one-horse town; a one-horse, twelve-car, one-drunk-named-Charlie town. It also had a bubble gum factory.
The Trubble Bubble Gum factory had originally been built during the Second World War to make ersatz rubber tires. 1400 chewable tires later, the Army cancelled their contract and Trubble Bubble Gum was born. It was the go-to place for employment in Crockport, the job for anyone who wanted to stay in town and had already gotten fired from the Burger King and the gas station.
The story of that fateful day started when Mayor Rathbone was flipping through a Guinness Book of World Records and saw that the record for largest bubblegum bubble was 20 inches across. He snorted—that wasn’t even as big as his desk. They could do better than that.
Forget the human factor though; they would do it by machine. The 4th of July fireworks were cancelled and the money diverted to the Bubble Machine, as Rathbone called it in his mind. 10,000 dollars of development later, they had a hose hooked up to a tank of compressed air. Most of the money had gone to the huge scaffold it was erected on.
We all crowded around to watch as workers from the factory carted out a 400 pound log of gum. According to the mayor, the monstrosity could make a bubble 575 feet in diameter. Of course, he did the calculations on his arm with a Sharpie so no one was too sure of the accuracy of that number. Still, in his words, “It’ll be a sight bigger than 20 inches, that’s for sure.”
The crowd hushed as they turned on the air. The pink bubble blossomed like a time-lapse video of a growing flower. A minute later, it was ten feet across and growing every second.
When they stopped for a break at 120 feet in diameter, everyone agreed it was big enough; everyone except the mayor. “Look how easily we did this,” he said. “It won’t even be a month before someone makes one 125 feet and we’re back to obscurity.” So on went the air and the sticky pink colossus loomed over us.
At around 300 feet in diameter people started to back away. They weren’t fleeing exactly but they had that stealing certainty that whatever happened, this was not going to end well. The bubble made it to 344 feet across when the bird appeared.
It was an ordinary robin, presumably fluttering home to its nest with a worm in its beak. We all watched, horror-struck, as it flew straight for the pink Death Star, like a red-breasted Millennium Falcon stuck in a tractor beam. Soon it was all but lost from sight in that expansive bubblegum background. Then, we heard that tiny noise that signaled doom.
There was a startled squawk and a gooey mass burst from the bubble, looking like a seabird caught in a Pepto-Bismol Exxon Valdez spill. The robin was soon forgotten as the record breaking bubble pancaked onto us, blocking out the sun.
The aftermath was like a war movie made by Willie Wonka. Men, women and children staggered through the streets, stuck to cars, light poles, each other. The ambulances came but got stuck in the streets and even after the National Guard was dispatched with giant paint scrapers, it was weeks before the town looked even recognizable.
Crockport is now on the map, at least, although not for the world’s biggest bubblegum bubble. Mayor Rathbone didn’t know that you needed a representative from Guinness there to confirm it. Also, the factory is gone. Still, we now have the leading chiclephobia clinic in the world, so I guess that’s something.