Image by Ellie Bozmarova
This story is a fiction piece, and it was created from my imagination.
The Awful/Awesome Present
Today, December 21, 2020, marks history. Two of our foremost Bay Area astrologers, Cydris Plimpkin and Curlie Moz, turned into large orange pumpkins as they looked at the Saturn-Jupiter Conjunction (also known as the Great Conjunction) through their hillside telescopes.
“We were side by side when it happened,” Moz said through the little green stem coming out of their head.
“When we had sides!” Plimpkin chimed in through his, shaking a little.
Moz continued with a most terrifying story. “There they were, Jupiter and Saturn, coming closer and closer together, until they formed a slightly larger looking bright spot in the sky,” Moz paused here because they had fallen over and needed the interviewer to set them aright. “And I felt a deep excitement—I mean, Plimpkin and I have been waiting for this day since our parents first got us telescopes. How could this have happened?”
Moz and Plimpkin spent their childhood summers at the same Lawrence Berkeley Lab summer camp. There, they ran through sealed hallways under fluorescent lights, shadowed scientists wearing head-to-toe hazmat suits that were not available in child sizes, and learned how to make their own aspirin.
“The telescopes at Chabot did it for me,” Plimpkin said, all muffled-sounding. “It was like someone opened the doorway into, well, space. And it was good.”
Moz and Plimpkin, Plimpkin and Moz, became best friends when they discovered their shared love of space. The duo then went to UC Berkeley and studied astronomy. Somewhere along the way, the two discovered astrology.com and their love for stars expanded into the ancient practice of tracking patterns of stars and their deeper influences on the lives of those below.
“We’d heard in school about the Great Conjunction, how it’s been 800 years since the last one, or 20 depending on the source,” Moz said. As children, the two used paper towel rolls and pointed them directly at the sun during eclipses. Their eyesight has been impaired, but well-loved. “We knew we had to see it. We expected to love to see it. We knew huge changes were afoot for all of us.”
Since the start of the pandemic, Moz and Plimpkin have been cozied up in their hillside tower near Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, California. With tears streaming down his pumpkin ridges, Plimpkin shared the two were co-authoring a book about the science of astrology when the change occurred.
“Words can’t describe how strange it feels to be a pumpkin,” Moz said. “It’s like I finally see how impermanent life is, how things are constantly changing.”
“Exactly,” Plimpkin started, as if he was catchign Moz’s brainwave, “It’s like one minute, you’re a human being with your eye to a telescope, and the next, you’re an actual pumpkin.”
No other individuals have reported being turned into pumpkins at this time.
Where to Go from Here?
In terms of future career plans, the pair of scientists is facing a dilemma. Whereas when they were humans they had a general sense for how long they had left on planet earth “before we become stardust again,” Moz said, they no longer do.
“How long do pumpkins live for?” Plimpkin asked wistfully. “For so long, humanity just hasn’t cared at all about that question.”
According to NPR, a pumpkin that was healthy when picked lasts eight to twelve weeks.
“Have we been picked?” Moz asked. Her stem is unattached to any sort of root system. The interviewer and astrologers were silent for a time.
Having faced their likely death, the two have decided to finish authoring their book on the science of astrology. “The Great Conjunction will be the start of our posthumous careers,” Plimpkin said sadly.
With the unprecedented event of turning into a pumpkin upon looking through a telescope at a solar event, isn’t it possible that the two, in a Freaky Friday-esque scenario, can turn back into people?
Moz was the first to speak. “Unlikely. The next Great Conjunction isn’t until 2080, or 2040, depending on the source. We’ll be dirt by then.”
“Definitely stardust,” Plimpkin gently corrected through his green stem. He continued. “It is possible, but there’s only one way I can imagine it happening.”
The Hopeful Future
After a series of mini-Zoom conferences with other eminent experts in science, squash, and stars, Moz and Plimpkin had their gameplan in place.
Because they had fallen down (having shrunk all of the feet) after turning into pumpkins, they did not have a chance to witness the Great Conjunction de-conjunctioning, with Saturn and Jupiter moving away from each other in their respective orbits once more.
Two scientists held up the rather heavy pumpkins to their favorite telescopes in their hillside lab where they thought maybe their eyes were.
The entire lab, now filled with scientists, well-wishers, freelancers who didn’t know that the Great Conjunction was a thing until everyone started talking about it two days before, and amateur astrology buffs, was silent.
All that could be heard was the scientists’ strains and groans as they held the pumpkins to the lens.
“I see something!” Moz said. “Do I have eyes again?” It was true—where there once were no eyes, there was now a pair of googly-looking eyeballs on the pumpkin’s “face.” “Put me back up to the telescope!” Moz said.
Plimpkin, too, was transforming, now with a human/pumpkin-looking pair of nostrils. “Being a pumpkin smells wonderful,” he said, momentarily distracted from the space/pumpkin odyssey he was experiencing.
All of a sudden, a scream was heard in the lab. “The Conjunction is complete!” someone shouted as the two scientists formerly holding pumpkins were crushed (but still alive) under the weight of Moz and Plimpkin’s scientist bodies.
“We’re human again!” They shouted as they hugged each other.
“Well, it was like a dream, I guess,” Moz said in our next interview. They had dyed their hair orange to memorialize the moment.
“I think we’ve decided one thing for sure—no more telescopes during celestial events. We’ll just Google it.” The scientists said.