Smelly-Welly

Shama saw Zadam regularly walking around town, and after a while he no longer noticed his strange appearance. After all, Zadam had a head with all the right features, just in the wrong places on his face.

His mouth was where his forehead should be, his nose was in the right place but reversed, and his eyes were at the bottom. That’s why he kept his green coat’s hood pulled both up and down, creating a dark hollow. People only caught hints of features and were suspicious rather than afraid.

Shama also got somewhat used to backwards talking. He could follow Zadam’s train of thoughts if he concentrated, but he often lost track. He found it easier to stick to questions and answers rather than partake of long exchanges.

Shama saw him in the produce section of the grocery store, examining blood peaches. He was picking out ripe ones, heavy and juicy, smelling them and saying, “Phoo!” and putting them back. He selected unripe ones, hard and scentless, and licked his lips, saying “Yum!”

“Hello Zadam,” said Shama. “What are you doing?”

“I am smelling good fruits.” He handed Shama a peach that could replace a cricket ball without anyone knowing. It smelled like one too.

“But this has no scent at all.”

“My senses are reversed,” said Zadam, dropping the red skull-cruncher into his basket. “I smell things early and I know what they will become like later.”

“Is that just with fruits?” asked Shama, catching a blood peach hard enough to draw blood.

“No, I can do it with everything.”

Zadam’s olfactory receptors worked in overdrive. They bound to particular molecular features, exciting more or less strongly, the combination of excited signals from different receptors flipping and flopping, integrating and reverting, a thousand times over, creating his upside-down sensation of smell.

Shama didn’t like grocery shopping. Something about it really bugged him. It wasn’t just the high prices at the village store, almost double those in the city – but who’s going to drive two hundred clicks each way just to get their milk? It was also the vast amount of processing and packaging, wasting precious energy and resources.

He felt that he should be producing his own food. He had a dream of becoming a farmer. That wasn’t going to happen in the city, but it could happen here in Lucerne if he…

He noticed Zadam smelling potatoes, dropping a few in his basket and moving onto cheese, which provided some amusing reactions, and then meat and fish.

“What about packaged food?” he asked Zadam. “Can you tell anything about that?”

“I don’t eat it, but I can try.”

He picked up a packet of French onion soup, took a deep sniff and smiled. It went into his basket. He sniffed a tin of spam, which went straight back onto the shelf. He smelled a chilled lasagne, which he thought about, but then made an upside-down, screwed-up face and returned it to the chiller. He tried frozen food but said it was “too hard” to smell. He smelled some fashionable Superfoods and said, “Poo!”

Shama said, “Phoo?”

“No, poo! Your body will not absorb them. They come out in your poo!”

He saw a baby. The mother was reluctant to let this disfigured person hold her child, but then she softened and said it was OK.

Zadam picked up the child and took a deep sniff. He said, “Aahhh!”

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