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The Green Album

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So you want to hear about the Green Album, huh? A real collector, you are. You're probably one of those freaks who keeps a collage scrapbook, am I right? Just messing with ya, it's just weird someone coming up and asking me about the old thing of their own volition. Usually I gotta get the story going for 'em. Usually they just start wind up listening while they wait for the bus...

Means we've got some time to kill. So. Awright, the Green Album. Info is info, and it'll cost you. That's a really nice watch you've got there. Gimme.

Thanks. It matches my eyes, doesn't it? Don't laugh.

Don't you dare laugh.

... Sorry, you paid me. Gotta get talking, we've got time... The Green Album - I guess you've heard enough to know what is, know why I might know about it. But all the same, I'm gonna go through the basics and you stop me if you've heard this one before. Cool? Cool.

They say - and who they are changes with every time this story gets told - that the Album gets it's name from the fact a defect in the pressing facility caused every single vinyl to oxidize and turn green as the gunk in a swimming pool that hasn't seen chlorine since rationing started. Naturally, I don't have a clue if that's true or not - can records even oxidize? Does that turn stuff green? Whatever.

Point is - and this is the point - is that the album is green. More green than emeralds, or freshly cut grass, or the stem of a flower that's been cut and cut and cut until it's all mulched and stomped on by the feet of eager young schoolchildren. That's the first thing people notice; because you can't help but notice it; it makes each pressing look like some classical bronze-age-y artifact, not just an old record only a few people care about.

People like you and me.

Enlightened people.

Don't know what artist recorded it, or even where the copies were pressed - though good rumor has it that every single copy in existence was bound in an old facility out of Luneberg. Some folks say it's the ground there. That's old ground, you know; much as any ground anywhere, but the difference is that the heaths and wildlands, they remember. And they're bitter about it.

Other sources I've met tell me that a miner was involved. Went into music after going absolutely crazy. Personally, I don't see how the theories contradict, right? Could be the guy was crazy from mining below the heath; swamp water and salt and fungus growing in his lungs, and the fungus moved at just the right angle to release spores that - to his diseased mind - sounded like music.

S'a valid theory, pal. You have yours, I've got mine. And it's your dime I'm on; but that brings us to what we're both looking for. Now, no one knows exactly what's on the album of course; and no one who hears it is eager to talk about it. Most of the time, they seem oddly subdued and yet unimpressed. Remember that the record is kind of an open secret; speaking for me personally, I know at least seven museums in this fine country that have a copy, and one that'll give you a private screening with it if you ask real nice. Name of the place starts with 'S' and ends with 'N'.

I've heard if you pay for the experience, you even get a bag of popcorn.

But for every thousand folks who listen to the record and walk away nonplussed, there's one person who gets the changes. We don't know what they are, of course - only that when people hear the album - really hear it - you can tell. First there's the melancholy, and the dissasociation; the gradual detatchment from their old lives, and then... And then..!

...

Those you got in your pocket. Those Pale Mills? I want 'em. Give 'em to me. Now light one up. Do I look like the sort of person who'd be allowed a lighter? You and your jokes, man!...

Ah, wow. That's the stuff. Much obliged. 'Kay. So were where we?.. Oh, right - what folks heard on those funny green discs. That's the million dollar question, and probably why and I are so interested in this hot little number. From the people who just consider it a badly done performance art 'stunt' piece, done in poor taste - well, apparently there isn't anything actually on the Album. Just one, long, painfully out-of-tune french horn, carrying the same note for the entire length of the recording. Besides being an impressive feat of breath control, it's grating, hilarious, stupid, and painful to listen to all it once -

But it shouldn't cause people to just disappear and leave their clothes in nice little piles in front of the moors and fens now, should it..?

See.

Fire like this is the only thing that keeps us safe from the world around us.

Fire and smoke. If it were up to me, we'd burn down every last tree, every building - we'd devise bigger fires, better fires that could burn down mountains. Maybe even burn down thoughts and time - wouldn't that be a laugh... Maybe it'd even make it a bit harder for 'em.

The one thing you haven't heard is what people who get taken by the Album leave behind. And it's why I've been testing you, getting things I want from you. Don't scream, I don't want an officer to see me and go back to the ward again. Yeah - you wince up your lips like that. Feels gross, doesn't it? Like seaweed bubble-wrap.

Now this one's yours. Maybe the person who had it last shed it off like a coat, or maybe it belonged to a lover that crawled out of the salt and then dissolved them in the world's grodiest mitosis. S'yours now, and with it I'm gonna tell you one last secret about the Green Album.

People always listen to it wrong.

You have to play it backwards.

.. Well, time's up! My handler'll be noticing I'm gone, and that looks like your bus coming on in. It's up to you from here on out; your choice whether to keep on with your boring daily life, or take the loveliest risk you'll ever make. They let me have a room with a view of the fen.

I'll be watching for you!

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