You and your dog rise with the sun.
You stretch your arms, crack your back, and [[get dressed]].While you button your shirt, your dog rummages around in the cabinets and settles on a deer haunch. This one has ripened to the perfect midpoint between fresh and rotting. He wolfs it down, hair and gristle and fat and bone.
You brush your teeth and hum a wordless worker’s song.
Your morning routine complete, you’re ready to [[leave the house]].You and your dog synchronously go to the door and set down the road, the routine tattooed into your brains through daily repetition.
In the field, you find an unusual [[turnip]]. Your dog keeps his nose down and works at digging his holes. He digs thirty-seven before lunch. The foreman writes it in his journal; your dog is in the running for canine employee of the month.
While you’re on your tenth hole, the [[lunch bell]] rings.The turnip feels light and rough, almost like dried sea-sponge, but it looks solid and smooth (save some short, hairy roots).
[[Go back->leave the house]].During the lunch break, you ignore your [[sandwich]] and contemplate the turnip. The turnip can’t tell whether the sandwich feels disappointed or relieved. The sandwich feels nothing.
You want to show the turnip to your [[dog]], but he is sitting in the grass with some others of his kind. Sometimes you fear that the two of you are growing apart. You’re prone to melancholic introspection, but rarely behave gloomily. You whistle while you work.
Before you know it, [[lunch is over]].A chunk of pumpernickel with sesame-honey spread, lettuce, gouda and grilled venison.
[[Go back->lunch bell]].Back at work, you keep the turnip in your pocket. Addressing the bulge, another worker jokes about a goiter. You tell him that they they only grow on necks. The jokester says, “Yeah, on //turkey// necks!” He laughs at his own joke, and you laugh along, although you don’t really get it.
The dog overhears and understands, but doesn’t find it funny.
The turnip hears nothing.
[[Work is over]].On your way back home, you stop at the fountain to [[wash your hands]].
You scrub your palms in the cool fountain. The dog laps at the water, the caked mud dissolving from his paws and muzzle. After your hands are clean, you drink some too. Yours is a thirsty work. Satisfied, you both [[continue]] on your way.At the mailbox, you lift out a basket of venison and sling it over the dog’s back. You wave to your [[good neighbor]] who is standing out on her porch. She doesn’t wave back.
Oh well — you’re nearly [[home]].Today is the day that your neighbor’s balance between vision and myopia finally tilts towards oblivion. As of midday, the whole world is a swirling, colorful omelet. She sees what seems to be a slice of ham wobbling beside a burnt piece of toast, but can’t distinguish hallucination from garbled reality just yet. She will need to call a doctor.
[[Go back->continue]].You dump the deer’s guts and heart into the dog’s bowl, toss some extra meat into the cabinet, and put a haunch on the fire for yourself. The dog fetches the napkins and a water jug before digging into his supper.
While the meat cooks, you regard the [[turnip->turnip2]]. You’re so transfixed by the anomalous vegetable that you nearly burn your [[dinner]].You toss the turnip between your hands. It strikes with the heft of a normal turnip, but its weight is still somehow //less//.
[[Go back->home]].As you slice the roast, you realize just how hungry you are, and find that you can’t wait for it to cool. The first few bites are still so hot that they have no taste – just a red liquid searing and a satisfying texture.
But after a while, the taste comes. And it is the taste of turnip.
The room darkens as [[night falls]].The dog curls up in his bed and goes to sleep. You rub salve on your hands, massaging it into your cracked knuckles and calloused palms. You smooth a small dollop over your lips and wipe the excess off on the dog’s nose. He sleeps through it.
The turnip sits on the table, considering its predicament.
Eight hours later, you [[wake up]].The next day is much the same: the [[clothes]], the [[meat]], the door, the [[road]].
The foreman is at the forge, getting employee of the month badges (canine, human, and ursine) produced for the next six months. This leaves the soft man in charge of the [[fields]] for the day.
Today you pick a pale blue shirt, brown trousers, woolen socks and, as usual, your work boots.
[[Go back->wake up]].Your dog always eats a large chunk of meat in the morning, leftovers from some supper earlier in the week. You usually eschew breakfast in favor of a larger evening meal.
[[Go back->wake up]].You both always get to the door at the same time.
[[Go back->wake up]].It’s about a twenty minute walk to work, past your mailbox and the fountain and the corn field. At this time of year, the corn is young, and you and your dog can see through the field to the [[worksite]].
[[Go back->wake up]].Standing over an unfinished hole, you take the strange [[turnip->turnip3]] from your pocket. You toss it between your hands. You realize you never actually showed it to the dog.
No matter – you’ve made up your mind. With unusual force, you [[chuck it over your shoulder]].A vast and sometimes muddy field of holes.
[[Go back->wake up]].Its leaves have withered over the past day but its waxy purple taproot is as vibrant as ever. The vague suggestion of sunset over some misty, frosted country, an indefinite scale and unknowable time.
[[Go back->fields]].When the turnip hits the soft man’s bare back, he flies through an array of notions almost immediately.
As his nerve endings struggle to make sense of their sudden activation, he rapidly thinks through shock, confusion, concern, and anger.
He comes to a loose [[conclusion]] that an employee had assailed him with a stone from a distance.He quickly swivels an about-face and stoops to pick up the missile, but finds nothing but a hole at his feet. He feels through the grass, and even shifts some loose dirt around at the base of the shallow pit, but there is nothing there. Confusion creeps in again.
He stands up and feels at the smarting spot on his back, and discovers a tremendous bump.
A bump with what feels like rough, hairy pores and long sagging leaves.
At last it has found a home.
Learn more [[about]] this game.He has a shaggy black coat and a very waggy tail. You’ve been best friends since you first adopted him six years ago.
[[Go back->lunch bell]].<div id="intro">
A hypertext flash fiction piece by <a href="https://jpentangelo.commons.gc.cuny.edu/" target="_blank">Joseph Pentangelo</a>.
Click the turnip to begin.
[[<img src="https://i.imgur.com/gCfVRQh.png" width="200" alt="Turnip">->1]]
</div><h1>About the Turnip.</h1>
This is an adaptation of a short story I wrote in 2016. I could never find the right place to get it published, but I thought it was fun, so I used Twine to turn it into an IF piece on November 20th, 2019.
Although there are some short tangents, the story is linear, and ultimately only one ending is possible.
This game has been playtested by my wife, Rebecca.
This game’s cover image features <i>Self-Portrait with a Black Dog</i>, a painting made by Gustave Courbet in 1842.
Be good to dogs and neighbors.
© 2019 Joseph Pentangelo