Lovesick Over Obsession
After receiving reports of unbridled affection running rampant in the city of Amopolis, Dr. Mallomar, Petunia, Clio Flamingo, and Professor Zagora skirted the city in a surveillance van. Petunia hunched over a keyboard, typing furiously. “Just about got it,” she said.
The monitors flickered to life with grayscale video pulled from security cameras throughout the city. “Fantastic work, Petunia,” Dr. Mallomar said, leaning in for a better look at the grainy footage. People of all shapes and sizes in various stages of embrace and undress filled each screen. “It looks like quite the love fest out there. Reminds me of Havana back in ‘26. Wait, why are we here, again? I don’t see a problem, do you ladies?”
“Not at all,” Clio said, fingertips massaging her temples. “The city is wrapped in a great bubble of peace and fulfilment.”
Professor Zagora sighed and hit the brakes. “Dr. Mallomar, the city has come to a complete standstill. With all the businesses closed, who knows what the economic ramifications will be throughout the rest of the country? And worst of all, no one is eating or sleeping. Before long we’ll have a city of ghosts on our hands. What if it spreads?”
“Going out in a burst of love isn’t such a bad way to die, but you’re right, Professor. We can’t let these petites mortes become a grande mort.” She lightly squeezed Clio’s shoulder. “Clio, we need more information. Can you tell us what’s causing this indiscriminate love bubble?”
Clio adjusted her jeweled headpiece. “Certainly, but it will not be easy. I must enter a lovesick mind.” She pulled a series of brightly colored silk scarves from her sleeves, bangles clattering. “I’ll need you to restrain me in case I lose hold of myself.” Petunia and Dr. Mallomar made quick work of the scarves, tying Clio’s arms and torso to her seat.
A few deep breaths later and Clio’s eyes rolled back so far that only the whites were visible. “Ooooh,” Clio groaned. “Ahhh. So...much...love!” She squirmed in her seat, but the scarves held fast. “Oh my. Everything,” she said, gasping, “is so beautiful.”
“Focus, Clio,” Dr. Mallomar said. “Can you see what happened?”
“Mmmmm,” Clio said. “I am tingly, dreaming, warm sun. Tiny legs, gentle breeze. Buzzz.”
Professor Zagora frowned. “Actually, there is a species of insect, commonly known as the lovebug, that swarms around this time of year. But they’re nothing more than a seasonal pest. Perhaps there’s been some sort of mutation. Wasn’t there a major perfume spill in Amopolis just a few months ago?”
Petunia closed her eyes and plugged her finger into an ethernet socket, using her mental computer to telepathically access the worldwide web. It didn’t take long for her to find the story.“Yes! It looks like the ObsessionTM plant had a major leak, contaminating the Rio Corazon, which flows through the city and a nearby nature reserve.”
“It’s possible that the perfume soaked a brood of lovebug eggs, changing their behavior to favor humans. Clio, do you see any bugs out there?”
Clio smiled beatifically and nodded. “Yessss, bugs. Bugs in my nose, on my ears. We all love the bugs.”
“That’s it!” Dr. Mallomar cried. “You’re a genius, Professor Zagora. How do we get rid of them?”
“Well, the average lovebug is attracted to light colors and car exhaust. But this breed is clearly anything but,” explained the professor.
Dr. Mallomar shrugged, fearless as always. “Bug or human, you can’t escape your natural instincts, even when a powerful perfume is involved. I have a plan!”
A few hours later the gang had piled into a stretch hummer painted in all shades of pastel. Huge speakers had been mounted on the roof. They rolled slowly past the barricade and down the main thoroughfare of the city, swerving to avoid the mass of writhing bodies. “Hit it, Petunia,” Dr. Mallomar said, and Let’s Get It On wailed through the streets.
Nothing happened. “Are you sure about this, Dr. Mallomar?” Professor Zagora asked. “I don’t think–”
“So come on, come on, come on, come on, Baby,” Marvin Gaye crooned. “Stop beatin' round the bush, heeeeey!” At that moment, the sky turned black with a throng of excited bugs as they rose from the lovesick to descend upon the hummer.
Petunia hit the brakes. “I can’t see anything! What do we do now?”
“Relax, everyone,” Dr. Mallomar said, popping a bottle of champagne that she had pulled from a cooler. “Everything’s under control.” Below the sound of the music, they could barely hear the thrumming of helicopter blades. “Fire when ready, Dee,” Dr. Mallomar said into a walkie talkie. There was a mysterious whoosh and a thud, like the sound of a tent falling through the sky.
Dr. Mallomar pulled out a set of hazmat suits from beneath her seat. “Put these on.” When the four ladies had donned their new outfits, the doctor opened the door and stepped out into the dim light. An enormous translucent dome surrounded them, and lovebugs flitted through the air. “Welcome to the Love Dome,” she said, “our latest entrepreneurial endeavor. For a small fee, visitors can spend an hour inside the dome to experience entomological love. Once we get a few pillows and some mood lighting this will be the sensation of the summer.”
“Sounds fantastic,” Clio said as she removed her helmet. “I’ll be first in line.”