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A sally to the Kremlin

Red squared on December 11, 2011.

I arrived in the quaint little Russian city of Москва on Friday this week, having traveled via an aëroplane manufactured in 1932 and never flown nor even touched, let alone maintained, since. It wasn’t the least bit airworthy (or aëroworthy), so the travel agency arranged to have it towed behind a 747 using a stout chain that looked like it came from the anchor of the Zeno’s Paradox. It probably did, for just as we were passing over Москва, a bunch of Silesian Shipping Gnomes emerged from between the chain’s links and began nibbling through the embarnacled steel as quickly as they could. Moments later, my aëroplane was in free-fall. I was incontinent.

The aëroplane, diaeresis and all, crashed into the ground at nearly twice the speed of sound. Continuing to ignore any semblance of the actual laws of physics, the impact ejected me from the plane through the windshield; I did a micturitional barrel roll in the air and landed feet-first a handful of toises behind the plane. But for the pigeon that flew overhead at just that moment and pooped right on my forehead, I was unscathed. I was completely uninjured. Not even my corneas were bent this time.

I looked behind me expecting to see the fiery wreckage of the Gee Bee, but the aëroplane had apparently hit the ground so hard that it vaporized on impact. Not even a cartoonish aëroplane-shaped burn mark could be found. Marveling under my breadth at how I survived such a newtonful impact, I set out on foot in what appeared to be the direction of Москва. I had failed in my attempts to steal nuclear secrets out of the back pocket of President Piggy-Man in order to sell them to a Soviet spy in return for a brief encounter with the Царь-пушка so I could slip inside and cannonade myself into southern Moravia just so I could say “crunk!” to my old friend, Mister Ollanthorpe von Sträsmussenbörg, who apparently hadn’t been trampled by underdogs twelve years ago, but was infarct quite alive. But, nuclear secrets or no, I would contrive a way to get in and see that cannon—and use it.

Breathless explanations of my Goldberg-esque zanity out of the way, I continued on foot toward Москва, the city that housed the storied Gremlin palace in which my beloved big-ass cannon was situated. Images of Alyssa Milano on muddy bare feet slogged through my mind as I slogged through сажень after сажень of thick, sticky Russian mud. The lovely Russian распутица seemed to be in full swing, but—being neither Adolf Hitler nor Napoléon Bonaparte—the endless, endless mud would not deter me from reaching my cannony destination.

Many mud-encrusted hours later, I arrived in the quaint little Russian hamlet of Москва. Realizing that many of my mouth-breathing readers most likely had no clue where I was due to my continued use of verbatim Soviet Moonspeak, I decided to visit the equally quaint little Russian hamlet of Moscow instead. After slogging back through sazhen after sazhen of thick, sticky Russian mud, and once again declaring my non-Hitlerness and thus my insistence on not letting the lovely Russian rasputitsa bog me down, I arrived in the quaint little Russian hamlet of Moscow: Home of the Tsar-Pushka, the biggest cannon ever glued together out of smaller cannons, and the pride of the Russian Tsars of old in their endless penis-measuring contests against the rest of the world.

“Fleas, flies, and friars! Fuccant! I cursed mightily when I realized I was back at the exact same hamlet I had just left, although I was now covered head to toenail in twice the mud I had been. And there was neither anything little nor quaint about the sprawling metropolis that greeted my Pnårpy little eyebulbs now: Moscow had a population of 11,514,330 (I knew the number precisely—thanks to the free encyclopedia that even a Soviet propaganda apparatchik could edit), an area of 1,091 km2, and more than a quinquadecillion rubles flowing through its muldersome economy.

I looked around with my beady eyes, my eye stalks swiveling back and forth as I took in the sights. The Russians were all rushing about, to and fro, walking up and down the streets, avenues, boulevards, pavilions, and quinky-dinks laid out as far as the eyes could see. I watched the madding crowd as I plotted and schemed up a plan for conniving my way into the Gremlin palace. Predictably, the various and sundry voices in my head soon got into a shouting match with each other: Nosey and Gloopy tried to out-shriek each other while Wrrhnrrhthlplck’ck sang “The Ballad of Lost C’mell” to himself and Pnippy demanded to know why I hadn’t started burning and pillaging the city until I got my way.

“Just another day in Pnårp’s head!” I smorgishly thought–shouted to myself. Several rushing Russians turned to look at the curious spectacle of a mud-clad American thought–shouting to himself. I reddened as I realized my thought–shouting had been more shouting than mere thinking this time. I ducked into an alley way to continue my conniving.

“Hitler! Hitler, Hitler! Hitler? Hitler!!” Shnarkey contributed just then.

“Quiet, you guys! This is serious business!” I interjected. After a few more protestations on the part of Pnippy, all of which were summarily dismissed by impacting my forehead repeatedly against the brick wall to my left, the voices inside my cranium subsided to a dull, nattering roar. Wrrhnrrhthlplck’ck continued humming to himself about the naked cat-girl with the blazing hair. I sighed, collected my thoughts from where they had scattered all over the pavement, and re-emerged onto the Russian sidewalk.

I stopped the first rusher-by I saw and politely asked him for directions to the lovely Gremlin palace. He didn’t speak any English, and other than being able to copy and paste Cyrillic Moonspeak from Wikipedia into my docile & perfunctory blog, I spoke no Russian, so we arrived immediately at an impasse. I threatened to clock him over the head with the first clock I could find, and then let him go about his business. Rat-like, he scurried off.

Rooster-like, I continued looking around for someone who might speak as much English as I did (which wasn’t much, truth be told). A dark-haired and clean-shaven man wearing an upside-down galosh atop his head and sporting a necklace made of hotdogs rounded the corner and began walking toward me. Cocking my head like the cockiest of cocks, I scrutinized the hotdog necklace and crowed like a Rhode Island Red upon discovering that the man’s hotdogs were indeed of the inflatable variety: Clearly this mean was an American!

I didn’t even have to forcibly stop the man like I typically have to when interacting with random passers-by or old friends whom I had just met for the first time. He actually came up to me. Stopping a mere toise in front of me, he first inquired, after a lengthy introduction that nearly bored me to tears, why I kept injecting archaic French units of length into this saga that was purportedly about my trip to the gorgothine Russian city of Moscow. I had no answer for him, so he labeled me “off-topic” and demanded that I cease at once, lest I be banned from ever posting on my own blog again. Off in the distance, Britney Spears barked.

“But this is my own blog!” I protested his demands.

Without so much as a surmise of impropriety, he continued: “It may very well be, and you may very well be, and everyone and everything else may very well not be, but the fact remains: You’re off-topic!” And he slapped a sticker on my forehead that read “off-topic” in English.

“Hah! So you do speak English!” I retorted.

“Of course I do! I’ve been speaking it since the beginning of this exchange, too! Don’t you, too? Everyone does! If I didn’t, who wouldn’t? If you didn’t, who couldn’t?” he snorted. “If… shouldn’t?”

“Just remember: Spoons always come with a second side underneath,” I contorted the conversation further.

“???? ??? ????? ????, ??? ?????? ??? ????? ????-?????” he resorted to speaking Russian—but didn’t have the proper encoding installed. His head-galosh wobbled.

I eyed him questioningly. I tried to lighten up the rather gravid conversation with a joke: “A holocaust walks into a drink and orders a bar. The drink realizes that this is insanity, takes a child, and ends his life leaving his three shotguns dogless.”

An awkward pause ensued. Then: “You wouldn’t happen to be the Oridanian Corpuscle Man?” he enquavered, switching back to English, fortunately encoded as US-ASCII. “And if you’re not, you wouldn’t happen to know how I could find him, would you? And if you don’t know how to find him, you wouldn’t happen to know how to find someone who does know how to find him, would you? And if you don’t even know that much, you wou—”

I cut off his litany of logarithmically spiraling queries. I had stopped him on the street so I could make confusing queries, and here he was turning the table on me! I wondered if that Britney-Spearing accident in the Muscovite suburb of Dzerzhinsky last night had somehow replaced me with an ordinary person and everyone else with a gorplious replicant of yours truly.

I looked down. My colorful pepperonial belt and sequined kilt were still in place, and a freshly sharpened and enkoala’d kookely-wanger hung at my side. No, I was still Phillip Norbert Årp. I breathed a sigh of beef. This man was just insane.

“Anyway, my good fellow! Enough with this bizarre interlude! I’m looking for the Gremlin palace, and specifically the chamber within containing the fabled Tsar-Pushka! Would you happen to know where I might find the Gremlin palace?”

His galosh wobbled again as he mulled over his answer. π2 seconds passed and then π3, and then my old pal the floating, flying pi floated by, waving his decimal point at me. Finally, the engaloshed man brightened and began: “I do know where it is, old chap! (And you are an old chap, I must say.) You go down this road here, then turn left, and go down that road there. You keep going, and then you turn right, and go down that road over there.” He pointed. “Then you turn left, then right, then left again, then you double back and end up on that road way over there.” He pointed even more vaguely. “And once you get there, well… you can’t miss it: Turn right, turn right again, go farther, turn left, go down a hill, around a curve, turn left, turn right, turn right, go up a hill, down into a valley, cross over the freeway, go left, go right, cross back over the freeway, turn in a slow circle, and you’re there.”

I blinked.

“And once you’re there, well, you’re still nowhere near the Kremlin. But if you turn around, then go left, then bear right, then hang a sharp left at the sign shaped like a duck, then go right again, then right, then right some more, then do the hokey-pokey in the middle of the five-way intersection you end up at, and then if you go down the middle road (the one to the south), you’ll end up at…”

I slowly backed away from Mr. Galosh-Head and started looking for another rusher-by to molest. Clearly this man would be of no help—and if I followed his directions, I would probably end up in Wollongong, Australia for all I knew!

Images of tasty Wollongong wall gongs purped into my head. Alas no wall gong exhibition was going on down there this time of year; if one had been, I would actually want to be in Wollongong right now rather than Moscow. I idly wondered if Belgium was holding a Walloon wall balloon exhibition this week. Off in the distance, but growing ominously closer, Britney Spears continued barking.

I began to despair and then panic as I realized that the day was slowly tick-tick-ticking by and I was nowhere closer to finding the Gremlin palace or the big-ass cannon with which I planned to cannonade myself toward southern Moravia. The blood-red Russian Sun was sinking below the horizon, and I knew what that meant: Soon, the Langoliers would be coming.

“Oh, to be in Fáskrúðsfjörður with my dear Ravna right now!” I despaired out loud, thinking about my hoosie-fessed little skeetch-truncheon and her porcelain-white feet. Shnarkey mocked me snarkily. A stray Carpathian Yapping Hound wandered by and tried to eat my greasy belt. I sat down on the curb (“kerb” ’round these parts) and cried like a redheaded little girl still in her pigtails.

A glivious gnute more pastulous than the dormfuddies I had enswaddled my nether parts with schronked on by just then, in as zebra-like a manner as it could muster. I spoke to it, and it spoke to me, and it told me: “Find the nearest storm drain, lift the iron grating, and hop in. That will be the only that way you will ever wend your way into the Kremlin.”

I balked at such a suggestion—I had enough mud and grime covering me as it was!—but the gnute was adamant: It was the only way I would ever find my way to the Gremlin and the Tsar Cannon within. I thought. I considered. I mulled. I even muldered a bit (but I didn’t molder). Finally, my balking came to a cease and I blanched, cranched, bagged the dog, and—passing the burrito—finally relented. With a snort and a giggle, the gnute shimmeringly showed me where the nearest storm drain was. I lifted the iron grating and dove in.

Redder than green, silver than gold…

Downward I spiraled, down a tunnel that I thought would never end: Down a tunnel that grew steeper and steeper as it went on and on (and on) until it was nearly vertical and I was free-falling once again. The tunnel changed directions sharply and I bounced off the wall at velocities unheard of since that firehosing accident in Petrograd in 2008. I cursed the sixteen litres of Mountain Dew I had slurped down this morning as I once again did a micturitional barrel roll, pweeing madly in all directions. I continued falling and darkness enveloped me as the last of the light from above was hidden from view.

Darker than dark, blacker than—


I hit the ground. Or a floor. Or something bone-breakingly solid; in the dark I wasn’t sure. I got up, stitched all my strewn-about bones back together, waited for everything to heal, and then began groping around in the pitch-blackness. Hopefully there weren’t any grues in the area!

A few minutes later I walked nose-first right into what felt like a doorknob. Or a horse; in the dark I wasn’t sure. I lit a match and light drove back the darkness at the speed of light. I was standing in front of a door marked “Царь-пушка” in whimsical Comic Sans. I shrieked in melanderous, gustolious glee and crashed through the door without even opening it. Shards of glass flew everywhere, but I was oblivious to the numerous lacerations and severings it inflicted upon my scarred, Pnårpy body: I was on my way to southern Moravia at last!