We slept through two alarms this morning. That’s unusual, because the alarms sound like a raging mob of quacking, blood thirsty ducks stampeding into the room to eat our eyes, and we tend to respond to that proactively. Our exhaustion from the events of the past several weeks has finally overcome our very real fear of imaginary ducks.
Normally, I would argue this is a good thing, as we obviously needed the sleep, but today we had plans. Today, we were going to Wurstfest.
If you aren’t anywhere near central Texas, and you didn’t bother to click on that link I provided as reference, you might be wondering what the hell Wurstfest is. In short, Wurstfest is the real Oktoberfest event of Texas. There is beer, there is meat, there is polka, and there are old ladies wearing drindls. And German-style baked goods.
I should point that a) I’m a vegetarian, and b) my partner doesn’t drink alcohol. This absolutely was a great idea. And we absolutely did not know that we would be pawns in a game stretching all eternity for the very fate of the world.
It was cold and damp outside. We drove for about an hour and a half through a thick mist that hid the hills and draped the distant downtown buildings of San Marcos and Kyle in a surreal fog. The mist also made us go briefly insane, as we decided to turn off of the interstate into San Marcos in search of an ATM that would not charge us the crazy fees we knew we’d encounter at the festival. Half an hour of trying to match information on our bank’s website to the varying opinion of Google Maps (who decided overnight to totally change up their Android UI, WHICH DID NOT HELP) left us feeling that paying an extra four bucks for convenience wasn’t that big a deal.
Finally, we arrived in New Braunfels, and decided to turn off the Maps app and follow the gigantic signs spanning their cute downtown area. Then there was the ordeal with trying to figure out which parking areas were scams and which were legit. After driving around some more, I threw ten dollars at the problem, and we started trudging through the mud and the mist towards Landa Park where the festival is held.
Having never been there before, I was not prepared. It’s gorgeous, with the Comal River flowing through the grounds. It was so cold that big puffs of mist for rising up off of the water and floating out into the road.
There’s a waterfall. I realize it’s just a spillway, but it looks nice surrounded by the old buildings and the trees.
After we were done gaping at the spillway, we made our way across the bridge to the Markt, where most of the food and beer is, as well as the warm and generally safe Wursthall. And of course there’s the traditional art celebrating the mass consumption of sausage and general practice of blood sacrifice to the elder gods. That’s what this is depicting, right? I can’t imagine any other reason that anyone would pain this:
We were starving, but we don’t actively worship the elder gods, so the mass consumption of animal flesh all around us had not yet become an influence. We had some traditional soft pretzels instead. They were, at that particular moment, the best thing ever. Little did we know that we were following the grand schemes of the elder gods…
And oh yes, from above, the Old Ones were watching us.
We found our friends we were meeting. Pretzel cravings having been satisfied, we thirsted greatly now needed drink. But to get drink one must have drink tickets. To get tickets, one must pay the beer gods, beneath their great spinning wheel, which I think throws children out into space or the mouth of a space wyrm, at least. Either way, they took our money and we bought a pitcher of Dunkels.
We then made our way to the Wurst Hall, which is warm, dry, and full of polka. There are rows and rows of tables full of people who generally seem to be at ease. Some people wore traditional hats, some wore drindls. Many of them danced polka out on the floor. It was grand demonstration of the sway the elder gods still hold over the general populace, with this great festival of mass consumption of flesh.
So much polka…
And we drank.
Even Reed drank, when we realized that they have non-alcoholic St. Pauli Girl.
But as we drank, our pretzels ran out and we began again to hunger. Yet still, no sausage had been consumed. From above, we felt their eyes on us, unsatisfied…
The temptation grew stronger, but I held on for a while longer, when I realized that one can buy a dollar’s worth of Pepto Bismol from the vendors. A reminder of the price of service to the Old Ones, and the inevitable, terrible transformation one’s very insides are subjected to.
But suddenly we were across the festival, standing before a glorious sign for the Edelweis Deli, and its terrible deer head that had summoned us through our hunger and weakness.
The deer head was speaking to us. Whispering of saurkraut and good spicy mustard, and the taste of meat. Horrified at the thought of ingesting the remains of something with an advanced nervous system, I tried to turn away, but it was too late.
They had Reed.
True love knows no bounds, and there was no way I was going to let him get pulled inside out until his consciousness was in another dimension without me. The thought of dealing with the sticky, grumpy, gaseous thing left in his place turned my stomach even more than the task now before me.
Smothered in saurkraut and mustard, memories of the old ways and another life rose up in my mind. Of good bratwurst eaten greedily and ignorantly, the twisting horror of my insides simply what was normal. It was such an easy thing…
I took four bites before I handed it over to Reed. But the Old Ones had won. They had won, and they knew it, celebrating above us the mass consumption of flesh.
Horrified, I bought the healthiest, least harmful thing I could find, and inhaled the most delicious apple strudel I have ever had. I could feel its powers fighting against the darkness trying to take hold. I had hope again in its sweet, cinnamony goo filling.
The drive home was long, and dark. I’ve locked myself away in this room, confused by the strange sounds coming from the kitchen. Water running, dishes clinking, broken occasionally by what could only be described as the deadly vapors of the Elder Gods’ powers being released into our dimension. My boyfriend washing the dishes has never been so terrifying.
As for me, the battle inside has been raging between those four bites of wurst and the strudel. The sounds… oh, the horrible, terrible sounds, like a transdimensional whale trying to rip its way through the fabric that separates our reality from theirs. Their powers will only grow…
At least I understand what’s happening. There’s a transdimensional battle for the very soul of our Universe every time I eat meat. But damn, that bratwurst tasted good. None of the blissfully ignorant will ever know what I really gave up to save the world from being consumed by some dread immortal monster from the Netherworlds.