Once upon a time there was a happy little village called Petrolia.
The people of Petrolia were well fed and well dressed, because their village was blessed with a great lake of bubbling black Goo.
The black Goo must have been magical, because the people of the village were able to fashion it into all sorts of wonderful things.
Using simple machines, the Goo was easily transformed into useful substances of all sorts, shapes and colors. Most of the villagers were employed in the Goo industry, and every aspect of their lives was intertwined with Goo.
They used the Goo to build their homes,
to make their paints and brushes and combs,
They used the Goo to fuel Goo cars,
and make Goo-plastic tupperware jars
Their clothes were all made out of the Goo,
From fancy hats to the soles of their shoes.
They used the Goo to make toys and tops,
And even to feed their growing crops.
The Goo was used in creams and soaps,
Plus to make pipes and chains and ropes.
They used the Goo to make milk and cheeses,
And tissue to cover their noses from sneezes.
The Goo was used to build benches and tables,
And posters and sticky-backed envelope labels.
They even made medicines using the Goo,
It seemed there was nothing the Goo couldn’t do!
But one day the villagers were alarmed to see that the lake of Goo was starting to get smaller. It was slowly shrinking, and they did not know what to do.
“How will we survive?” they cried. “How will we live our lives without Goo?”
Every day the villagers saw the lake of black Goo get smaller and smaller. Soon they called a meeting in the village square to decide what to do.
It seemed everyone had a different idea about the right solution.
Some of the villagers wanted to travel to the next village and see if they had any Goo.
Others wanted to dig holes in the earth all around the town, to try and find another lake of Goo underground.
Still others said the lake wasn’t really getting smaller at all, that it was simply an optical illusion caused by shadows and the sun.
They talked and debated all through the day, and as evening came the villagers were no closer to agreement.
As the Sun began to set, there appeared in the village square an odd little man, wearing bright, well-fashioned clothes of red, green and gold. In his hand he held a long waterpipe of shimmering glass.
“I can solve your Goo problem,” said the little man, in a strange, high-pitched voice. “But what will you pay me in return?”
“Anything,” cried the villagers.
“Done and done,” said the little man. “I shall return on the morrow to solve your problem.”
The villagers were excited and wondered amongst themselves how the little man was going to refill their lake full of black Goo.
When the morning came, the little man appeared again in the village square, and he was sitting on a great round barrel.
“This barrel contains the solution to your problems,” said the little man, tapping it with his shimmering glass waterpipe.
“Is it full of Goo?” asked the Mayor.
“One barrel of Goo won’t even last us a week!” cried the villagers in dismay.
“This barrel does not hold any Goo,” said the little man. “It is full of seeds, seeds from the world’s most wonderful plant.”
“Seeds?” cried the villagers. “But we use Goo to make the fertilizer which grows our plants!”
“Not to worry,” said the little man. “This plant grows well without any Goo fertilizer. And from this plant you can make everything that you currently make from the Goo.”
The villagers had many questions, and they all spoke at once.
“Can this plant provide clothes, from my head to my toes?”
“I don’t wish to be rude, will this plant grow us food?”
“This sounds pretty rough, a plant to make stuff?”
“You must be a fool, no plant can make fuel!”
“So what is the deal, can this herb help us heal?”
“Is it really, really, truly true? Can this plant do all that Goo can do?”
“Yes this marvelous plant can do all of that,” replied the little man, hopping down from the barrel. “And more.”
“The first thing you should know is that this plant makes many seeds.
You can press them for oil that will meet so many needs.
“You can eat this oil for its fine nutrition,
You can burn it as a fuel to meet any ambition.
“What’s left of the seed can be used to make cake,
and other fine foods which you also can bake.
“If you press the seeds differently you can make milk,
and cheeses and yoghurts that taste smooth as silk.
“The stalk of this plant is made of two parts,
to separate them is the simplest of arts.
“The outer part is fibers long,
used for fabrics, very strong.
“The inner stalk is a pulp called hurd,
the best darn stuff in the whole round world.
“The hurd can be used to make paper and plastic,
plus fuel as well, it’s truly fantastic!
“It grows in all soils and it helps clean the earth,
I tell you this plant is beyond any worth!
“Everything you do with Goo,
This wonderful plant can also do!”
The little man smiled as he spoke all these words. “I hope that you’ve listened to all that you’ve heard!
“I have yet to mention the spectacular flowers
Which have such miraculous curative powers!
“These flowers can also help open your mind,
ideas and insights anew you will find.
“You don’t need the Goo any more,
This plant can do what the Goo did before!”
Some of the villagers smiled and looked pleased, but a man with a thick mustache and a fancy Goo top hat stepped forward.
“But if your magic plant can make all of that stuff,
some of us simply will not earn enough!”
“What about our Goo factories, should we just shut them down?” said the man who owned the biggest Goo factory in town.
“What about the Goo workers, what would they all do?” asked the head of the Union of Workers With Goo.
“You say this plant’s seed can make milk? That is scary!”
said the man whose job was to turn Goo into dairy.
“If this plant can help heal then how’ll I earn my fee?”
said the man who made Goo-pills for the town Pharmacy.
The little man smiled as he answered their cries,
“Using this plant would truly be wise.
“Some of you may have to learn different skills,
but this marvelous plant can cure all of your ills!”
“This plant sounds wondrous indeed,” said the Mayor slowly. “Perhaps we should consider its use. Pray tell us good sir, what is this plant called?”
“It is known by many names,” replied the little man. “In Africa it is called Dagga. In China it is known as Ma. The Arabs call it Qunubu. But in this part of the world it is best known as Hemp.”
“Hemp?” shouted the mayor in surprise.
“Hemp?” cried the villagers in dismay.
“We know that plant,” spat the Mayor in disgust.
“We hate that plant!” cried the villagers in anger.
“That is a plant we officially hate!
Just hearing its name makes us all quite irate.
“That plant used to grow all over this town,
everywhere you looked it sprang from the ground.
“It’s true that this plant has a few paltry uses,
but it also contains some most dangerous juices.
“That plant has the world’s most terrible flowers,
they can make moments seem as if they’re lasting for hours!
“This plant improves music and heightens the senses,
thus bypassing all of your spirit’s defenses!
“Even if you just used them so you could unwind,
these flowers still put some strange thoughts in your mind.
“This is the plant that corrupted our youth,
when they used it they questioned our version of truth.
“We told them to drink booze instead of to toke,
they laughed at us as if it was all just a joke!
“They started to think instead of obey,
so we banished this plant far, far away.
“Your suggestion to start growing hemp is outrageous!
We would never allow this bad plant to save us!
“We will never use this plant!
Begone! Begone! You must recant!”
“I tell you again, in full truth, this plant will solve all your problems,” said the little man firmly. “You have replied with nothing but ignorance and bigotry. I fulfilled my side of the bargain, and now I demand payment.”
“We will pay you nothing but a cell in our prison,” replied the Mayor. “We have laws against Hemp in our town. Possessing even the seeds of this plant is forbidden, and so today you have become a criminal.”
The villagers seized the little man, and they threw him into the prison. Then they took away the barrel of Hemp seed, and burned it in the village square.
“Oh ho,” said the little man, sitting in his prison cell. “So this is the way it must be? Very well then. Now you shall see what I can do.”
So saying, the little man placed some fragrant Hemp flowers into his shimmering glass waterpipe. He lit a match and inhaled, drawing the smoke deeply into his lungs. In an instant his eyes became as red as an open-faced cherry pie.
As the Pie-eyed Piper piped his pipe, something strange began to happen. The gurgling and burbling of the water began to sound as loud as a crashing wave, and great clouds of swirling smoke came out of the bong.
The clouds spread over the whole village, covering every garden, filling every home, sliding into every nook and cranny, slipping into every crack and crevice.
Soon every single villager had breathed in the Pie-eyed Piper’s smoke, and they all felt their minds opening to new thoughts and ideas. Yet although every person was touched, each was affected in a different way.
Some of the villagers cried out and wept openly, while others wished only to be left alone with their new thoughts. Some laughed and sang and danced, while others began jotting down new inventions on crinkled pieces of paper. Some pulled their lovers close, while others began playing games with their children. Some began to play music, while others looked to the sky in wonder. Many of the sick felt improved and began to eat, while the elderly smiled and felt their aches ease.
Then the Pie-eyed Piper piped upon his shimmering glass waterpipe a second time, and a second great wave of clouds rolled through the village. Some of the villagers raised their heads as this second smoke touched them: the most creative, the most musical, the most clever, the most wise, all stood as if heeding a secret call, and then they followed the smoke to its source.
They came for the Pie-eyed Piper, and they freed him from his prison cell. The guards did not even try to stop them, for they were lost in dreams of jails without doors.
The Pie-Eyed Piper piped upon his shimmering glass waterpipe a third time, and more clouds issued forth, now filling the village with a fog so thick that none could see their hand in front of their face.
The smoke swirled and curled and then stretched out like an arm, forming a trail that led away from the village.
The Piper cried out to the smoke-inspired crowd, “Come friends, let us follow the sweet-smelling cloud!”
They filled the whole length of the road, all of the best and the brightest of Petrolia. They walked and danced and skipped and laughed, their minds filled with the Piper’s smoke and reeling with visions of a better future.
“Stop!” cried the Mayor, shaking off his stupor.
“You can’t leave us!” cried the many mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters who were being left behind, lost in the fog from the Piper’s pipe. But their cries were ignored, for the Pie-eyed Piper and the chosen villagers followed the smoke trail out of the village and far, far away.
In this new place the Pie-eyed Piper and those who had followed him planted the seeds of Hemp. Then they built themselves a new village out of the Hemp, and soon they were living even more comfortably than they were before, so they called their new village Hempton.
As the lake of Goo grew smaller and smaller, the remaining inhabitants of Petrolia had to make do with less and less. As life became harder, the people of Petrolia began to leave their village.
In ones and twos, in the dead of night, or other times when none were watching, they followed the Piper’s trail to the new village.
When the lake of Goo had finally been reduced to a puddle, the Mayor himself slipped away to live in Hempton, and Petrolia was no more.
Once upon a time there was a happy little town called Hempton. The people of Hempton were well fed and well dressed, because their town was blessed with a great field of fragrant green Hemp.
The Hemp must have been magical, because the people of the village were able to fashion it into all sorts of wonderful things. Using simple machines, the Hemp was easily transformed into useful substances of all shapes and colors, including food, fuel, fiber, plastics and medicine. Most of the villagers were employed in the Hemp industry, and every aspect of their lives was intertwined with Hemp.
The Pie-eyed Piper was elected Mayor, and he sat on the roof of the tallest building, piping the Hemp flowers within his shimmering glass waterpipe, filling the streets with a fragrant smoke which inspired and guided the villagers, as well as healing the sick, comforting the elderly, and bringing peace and goodwill to all.
Illustrations by Chris Wright