A Town Grapples with 10 Feet of Popcorn
It began with a dull roar. From corners of the adjacent corn maze, then up along the walls, to the tops of the palace itself, the tiny pops soon became a deafening 12 minutes that shook the town as the sun ripped the seeds right off each husk, hurling them all into the air like blunt projectiles. The combined force of an estimated three trillion popcorn seeds all popping in unison shattered windows for a mile, not to mention ear-drums, and the ensuing avalanche of bursting kernels buried the town, stopping life in its tracks.
A hazy dust preceded the wave. Visitors ran for cover, gripped in fear of the atrocities surrounding them, but there was no cover to be taken, other than hastily setup vendor tents and the occasional smaking van. Those that found their automobiles immediately drove into other parked cars. No movement could be made, as if citizens were trapped in thick fog, when kernels began to rain down.
It smashed roofs and cars, took down trees and flooded into the subway like a gushing tsunami. It soon moved down Doobie-Doo Ave., then up to Neighborstash Rd., devastating all in its path. Thousands scurried out of its way, far from the event, and into the neighborhoods surrounding the Corn Palace, dispersing over the next few hours. Some are still reported missing. There is an eerie silence now, as all business, bus lines and roads are shut down and the University has delayed classes. Local leaders are preparing to guide the city through this rough time; see further in for more on the damage, and recommendations from the city.
Corn Syrup, Sea Salt and More
As the wave coursed way through town, it left a range of devastation in its wake. Down by the wharf, what began as popcorn was reduced to crude corn syrup that began to carmelize in the sun. It covered the loading docks and train station completely, wiping away dozens of buildings. Wheels, and shoes, became stuck. Onlookers compared it to walking through quicksand or taffy, and could only laugh at the expansive sight, caught up in a fit of madness and hopeless despair as the economy crashed right before them.
Other kernels made it down to the ocean water, but officials warned that the sea-salted morsels were not as healthy as they are tasty.
“For those people shoving it in fistfuls into their mouths, just remember that it can carry SAR11, and other bacteria,“ said Cannatown University Germ Professor Gabby Waits. “And everyone else, we generally shouldn't be eating it off the ground. Ten second rule.“
Record Setting Levels All At Once
Pegged as the largest such palace in world history, an estimated 420,000 corn husks were used in construction of the palace, which featured a moat, 13 spires, full ballroom and a Denny’s. It was built for the Cannatown eTubular Festival at the beginning of summer, with a new menagerie installed for the Harvest Bowlski’s Fair.
Additionally, an 840,000-husk palace with parking garage was built directly behind it, half out of spite, half from necessity, given the city’s mistake in setting the order quantity to 3 in the checkout cart online when the corn palace was first ordered. Altogether, well over a million husks were sitting in blazing sunlight when the popcorn eruption began.
“In retrospect it was probably a very large waste of corn,“ said city comptroller Wendy Knight. “We probably could’ve resold a good amount directly to Cracker Barrel.“
Following a record-setting summer of heat and flooding, drought reached such levels that several missing bongs were found, uncovered in the Rezzy Resington Reservoir.
Critics say it should have been obvious there was more at stake when the town set about constructing the monstrosity. “Come on, it's Redenbacher 101,“ said town activist Harry Miles. “Mess'd with corn, came home scorn'd.“
The critics are wrong, says town insurance adjuster, Chad Hawkins, pointing out that organizers planned for everything but popping. “There’s no precedent in the natural history of the world.“ Hawkins also divulged, at least in the case of the city, there was no actual “flood“ policy taken out, only “floof“, perhaps a typo--albeit an apparently extraneous and unusable credit that won't do anything to help pay for millions in damages from the syrup. The city may even have to do a Kickstarter to rebuild, unless taxes can be raised.
Other damage just can't be quantified by dollar alone, Hawkins explains. One driver, in a fog of popcorn dust, admitted to driving into, and destroying, several area businesses. In another case, a meat-packing plant manager admitted that, in the blackout that ensued, some “other items“ may have accidentally been jammed into the beef. And then there were the nearly 100 portable toilets at the event; the entire line was pummeled to the ground, creating an absolute bummer of unspeakable magnitude, which spread down the hill into surrounding neighborhoods. “Excavating this pile of shit mixed with popcorn just might be the worst thing I’ve ever done with my life,“ said involuntary parolee Martin Vedemeir, one of fourteen still shoveling as night fell and temperatures dropped.
Such terrible ordeals have the city contemplating how best to use the emergency money received from the state. While it seems imperative to restore power, there's a deal right now for bulk tickets to Maui, at some pretty good rates if the whole city agrees to go in on it. “Even if it means stretching three years of rebuilding into three decades, I think we may all need that vacation,“ says Knight.
Instructions from the City, and Closures
Along with the University, all Parks & Rec classes are canceled, along with Laser Godzilla at the Planetarium. Highway 9 is blocked up by ultra-large kernels blocking the way (a product of a power terminal next to the corn palace, which also amplified size).
“There's no timeline for fixing various parts of the city, one, because of the budget questions, and two, because Rico and Trish both walked off the jobs after thirty years of leading our maintenance teams here in Cannatown,“ Sashsa Brickson, spokesperson for the Mayor's Office, announced at a press conference last night. “We're waiting for someone to step up and take their places, to manage the cleanup of our city.“
“Anyone? Anyone at all?“ she added.
The Mayor's office will work to make sure there is enough in stores to go around--so that each citizen will get their full share of normal bud and wax. Meanwhile, supplies like food will continue to be rationed--particularly munchies. Grocery stores have not reported a shortage of produce or health foods.
The city also asked citizens to stop flushing the popcorn. Five-pound sacks can be brought to proper disposal pits outside town, where crews are working to mulch it quickly.
“It's defeating, you just work all day shoving this stuff in the shredder,“ said one worker, “and then you look out at the massive hills of popcorn still out there on the landscape and you realize it'll never end. This is my life now.“
City council will decide on Maui on Tuesday.