“Ubik” by Doug Hawley

Excerpts from the Lake Oswego Weekly Express:

From the Garden Column October 3, 2017 – Jersey Wilkins discovered a very strange plant in her yard last week. The plant, which vaguely resembles wheat stalks with corn kernels, has grown to about a three feet high all over her back yard. None of the members of the LO Garden Club can identify the plant. It has the very unusual, almost supernatural property of appearing different color depending on the time of day and the position from which it is viewed. Ms. Wilkins says that the plant has taken over her garden in just a few days. All of her other garden plants have disappeared.

From the international section October 10, 2017 – The world is in a panic after the otherworldly plant, now called ubik, short for ubiquitous, has spread around the world and is displacing the grains that feed the world – rice, barley, wheat and others. Samuel Jeffries, the head of the biology department at Oregon State University says “The plant seems unrelated to anything else in the world and poisons the ground for other grains. We project the much of the world’s food supply will be destroyed quickly if we don’t find a solution. As of now, no one knows of anything that will kill ubik and not simultaneously make growing the usual grains impossible. Of course, all the appropriate experts are working on the problem.”

Many are relieved that ubik does not interfere with marijuana grows, but are worried about munchies being unavailable after smoking.

The new plant has everyone guessing about its origins and the rumors are going wild. Monsanto has denied any knowledge of the disaster, but several of its facilities have been fire-bombed by eco-terrorists who blame it for ubik. Some claim extraterrestrial origin based on last year’s meteor shower. Interviews with military brass have been met with uniformly stoic “No comments”.

From the front page October 17, 2017 – Jersey Wilkins, who was the first person to have noticed ubik, made a discovery about the plant. “Out of desperation, with the stores running out of food, I decided to eat some ubik. I scraped the kernels of the stem and ate a few. There was no immediate problem and a few days later there were no ill effects. I can’t say that it tastes much good, but I feel fine.”

Professor Jeffries was asked why no scientists had tried what Ms. Wilkins had done. “When we analyzed ubik, we found unidentified compounds which we were afraid could be poisonous. We still don’t know about long term health effects from ubik.”

We have discovered that ubik may be harmless for other mammals as well. Livestock owners tried to keep their pigs, cattle, sheep and goats away from the plants without success. So far all of the animals that have eaten it seem to be thriving, even healthier than before.”

From the front page October 31, 2017 – With the whole world desperate for food and none of the usual grains available, ubik distribution sites have been set up around the world. The normal grain fields, now filled with ubik, and surplus from private yards and gardens are being used.

Scientists warned about the unknown long term affects of ubik, but with millions who would starve otherwise, the various governments decided that they had no choice.

From the local news – Lake Oswego distribution points are at 15687 Boones Way and 53 State Street. LO is fortunate in that most residential properties are growing their own.

From the national section January 12, 2019 – The current best seller at McDonalds is the Uburger, made with a ubik bun and a ubik fed beef. Nutritionists have hailed the McDonalds healthy menu. With corn gone, there is no more high fructose sugar, so all fast food has been improved. It is early, but it appears that cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes have decreased.

Green World is one of many groups petitioning Monsanto to develop an artificial flavor for ubik so that it will have a pleasant flavor. National leader Scott Samson said “Yes I know that it isn’t like us, but radical problems call for non-traditional thinking. We need something to make ubik taste better. My preference would be peanut and chocolate.”

Dr. Jason Miles at Oregon Health Sciences University sees a much healthier future with ubik, while Professor Gene Smith worries about unknown side effects from ubik and the danger of relying on one crop that suddenly appeared and could disappear just as suddenly.

A lighter note – A survey with accuracy within 2% indicates that 72% would trade their healthier blood pressure to get their body and head hair back that disappeared on the ubik diet and 60% of women are happy that men don’t have beards anymore, particularly the scruffy hipster kind.

From the business section – Sassy Salon is offering two specials. Head painting is half price for the rest of the year. For those in the 72% wanting their hair back, lifelike head and body hair is discounted 25%.

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