By Martin Heavisides - email@example.com
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They blindfolded our entire section for the in-flight meal. This was annoying because I had a window seat and we were flying toward the sun, but apparently it was in the fine print of something we'd signed on boarding. They were kidding I'm sure when they said “the pressure door's that way, we have parachutes should you require them,” but you don't want to take the chance. The carrots tasted like rutabaga, which is really strange since I've never eaten rutabaga so how would I know? I'm not saying it tasted like good rutabaga anymore than the spinach tasted like good mashed potatoes or the beefsteak like good chocolate pudding. Now every time I see a chocolate pudding I think about mad cow disease. I suppose that makes sense since it's a milk-based product.
Other testers reported variable but equally subjective tastings. I don't think anybody correctly identified a single serving. Orange juice tasted like tequila, I don't know why that couldn't happen to me (especially since they were charging for drinks on the flight). On the plus side I didn't get the ravioli which tasted like earthworms still covered in gritty soil, though she didn't mind. Said it took her back to when she'd been a bird in happy transient flight once upon a time. Until she was caught and snapped dead by a hooded falcon but that's another story. She later married the falcon but that was another life.
When they removed my blindfold the clouds below our wing were awrithe with serpents and agallop with stallions. I had to wonder how even a billowing cumulus cloud could hold up so vivid and solid a tusked woolly mammoth. I remember thinking maybe that's where all the prehistoric creatures went instead of becoming extinct. It seems a more sensible choice. Through a gap in the cloud I could see the ocean below, which was on fire. Green, orange, lavender and bright blue flames. In a subsequent letter I was informed the probable reason for these visions and the wildly subjective taste impressions both was the substantive dose of lysergic acid dialethamate in our lemon iced vanilla cake. (It tasted like hominy grits, which is not my idea of dessert.) They said it altered our perceptions backward as well as forward in time because it was a new, unusually proactive variety. But how did the acid know in advance who was going to ingest it? I think personally the reason was the time zones we were passing through.
I have no idea the purpose of this study, but I for one will study the fine print in airline contracts a great deal more watchfully in future.
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C 2005 Martin Heavisides
Bio: Martin Heavisides has published in Studies in Contemporary Satire, Canadian Forum, Jeremiad, Black Cat Review among others, online at Mad Hatter's Review, the beat, monkeybicycle, and he has a story upcoming in The Landing.