Flying Saucers Rock ‘n’ Roll

I’d previously promised to tell you more about Dr. Amwerth, Quantum, and the Elgim. I think the time has come. After the war, Sam and the doctor traveled the country a good bit scouting locations for the Park. Much as he had before enlisting, Sam sought out live music wherever he went. Now he was intent on building a resort area celebrating the music he loved, as well as capitalizing on the success the Wacky Boys were having in Hollywood. In 1953 Amwerth convinced him to check the Memphis area, which Sam did indeed relish. He was still undecided; he liked Chicago but was afraid the climate would never work out. He also visited Burk Wise in Hollywood in 1953 but was unsatisfied with land availability. He returned to Crittenden County, Arkansas, which had become his home base, and made his pitch to the town council of Rockville: he would be given carte blanche to tear down the town and construct, as he saw fit, the world’s first and only rock and roll theme park that is a city. In return, he guaranteed the residents of the county a higher standard of living for one generation—20 years of prosperity. If the residents chose to leave town, so be it. If they stayed, they lived and worked at Sam’s will—where and how he directed, with the promise of more money and better living conditions. 

The most strenuous objections came from two bodies: the farmers and the Morrises. The farmers saw the proposal as the forced extinction of their way of life. Sam’s initial plan—to build the city over the farmland and install light-diffusing lenses throughout the park—was shot down; the farmers refused to be ‘moles’ for Sam, and seemed ready to block the Park at any cost. Ultimately, Sam paid to relocate the intractable parties in toto outside the county. He moved to move the houses, barns, even the soil itself to a depth that insured the families were in fact plowing their ancestral earth. Once finished, however, they enjoyed no promise of security like the townsfolk who remained. Some succeeded and some failed, the farmer’s life for centuries.

The Morrises, meanwhile, had been Rockville’s most prominent family for years. Morton Morris was elected mayor in 1942. His son Marvin practiced law in town. Both opposed Sam’s offer, knowing it represented at least a significant blow to the family’s power. Although the town was split on the decision, Sam prevailed and construction began in 1956. Sam continued to travel the world gathering inspiration for the park. Amwerth was gathering things, too.

The reason Amwerth had been so intent on Sam basing his operations in Rockville was his knowledge of the area’s peculiar history. Rockville had been one of the few small towns before or during the war with meta-heroic activity. The Mechanic was Rockville’s first powered hero, but he was soon joined by the original King Cougar, the Prophet, the Rockville Warrior and the Thunder Road Irregulars, Man O’War, and others. This heroic tradition appealed to Sam also, and led directly to some of Amwerth’s later activities. The doctor really exploited the city’s pride in its native heroes by introducing new versions of the classics and originals of his own creation by the combination of his quantum research, genetic material collected over the years of his association with Sam, and one more element about which almost no one knew.

Everyone is familiar with Wacky Ranch, the theme unlike any other. Established in 1985 on the site of Junior and Maggie Yasgur’s farm, it is the home of Hillbilly Cat, DooWop Duck, and all Bop’s other cartoon mascots. What is lost on most people, though, is that these characters are actual living beings. They were once normal household pets, farm and wild animals, but were mutated and evolved by sudden exposure to radical energies.

And those energies? Beginning in the 1940s, there was a sharp rise worldwide in reports of UFOs, particularly in the US. There was a reason for this, but I have much more to tell you about Sam and the Park before we get to that. For now, it’s important to know that this ‘flying-saucer fever’ made the reports of August 1950 much easier to dismiss. Many reports came in that night not only of a flying saucer, but a flying saucer seemingly in distress, even crashing a few miles west of the Mississippi River in Rockville. Additionally, some sharp-eyed observers reported a second craft that appeared to be following, evenchasing the first, but which seemed to wink out of sight before it passed over the river. 

All of that was true. The first craft was the stolen escape vehicle of the Sheb, a notorious monster of the spaceways. The Sheb was an assassin and a cannibal, six feet four inches tall, 320 pounds, and best described as a demon: short horns protruded from his forehead and a spiked tail from his lower back. The second vehicle carried the agents sent to rehabilitate him: five members of an altruistic race who did not believe in punishment, but who had developed skills and abilities enabling them to benefit the inhabitants of any world. It’s unclear if they came from another planet, dimension, time, a combination of some or all of these…we would come to know them as the Little Green Men, or Elgim (LGM). 

They landed normally in Memphis and approached the site of their quarry’s crash. The Sheb’s craft had been demolished, and only the creature’s inherent resilience prevented his death. As it was, the Sheb lost an eye and a horn in the crash. In a relatively fortunate development, however, he also suffered from amnesia, so the entire question of his rehabilitation could be set aside. His crimes had already made him the scourge of the galaxy, unwelcome anywhere his reputation reached. Because the Elgim had assumed responsibility for him as part of their mission, and also because of their own nature, they promptly decided to remain on Earth.

Now what has all this to do with Sam? The reason this particular group of Elgim was sent after the Sheb was the Sheb’s one weakness: music. Particular sequences, harmonics, tempos, progressions would render him vulnerable, malleable, even unconscious. These five Elgim were not only law officials, but musicians. With their primary mission no longer one of capture or containment, they elected to pursue their melodic mission along with the Sheb.

The influence of the Elgim and the Sheb cannot be overestimated. Their music electrified the Memphis area, while the energies leaking from the Sheb’s ruined ship flowed downriver and precipitated the rhythm & blues/rock & roll revolution. The energy also spread northward to St. Louis and Chicago, west and east: the vital waves were not restricted to the flow of the river. As the music prospered, more Elgim and other extraterrestrials came to Earth. Unknown to most Terrans, this influx of alien culture radically altered the sound of the music and the face of law enforcement.

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