The Town of Dunwich was recently ordered by the Colony of Massachusetts Bay to show progress in eliminating the production of greenhouse gases by switching over to renewable energy sources. As the only engineer in town, or for that matter, the only person familiar with the decimal point among the denizens of this benighted hellhole I was ordered by First Selectman Cthulhu to, “make that happen.” And since, as in all things ordered by Cthulhu, the penalty for failure is being eaten alive by a 100-foot-high squid-headed flying dragon, I got to work right smartly.
What I discovered was that currently 100% of our electrical energy supply is generated by burning sperm whale oil. It’s a little known fact that Dunwich, along with certain Inuit tribes is allowed under treaty to hunt sperm whales and since the market for whale products long ago dried up we utilized the carcasses as a source of fuel. The carcasses are hauled up on the shore and trucked to the power plant where the oil is drained off. Then the meat is turned into Dunwich’s world-famous blubber chowder. And the bones are packaged for resale to Dunwich’s werewolf (or for the politically correct term, lycanthrope) population.
I contacted the DEP to see if this treaty allowed for our whale oil to be grandfathered in as a green energy equivalent but, alas, there was a whale-lover on the staff there so, no soap. I began to get panicky so I called in a consultant to see what other towns were doing. The consultant described the latest scams that currently passed for “green” energy. The favorite was “converting” natural gas to hydrogen to use in a fuel cell. After looking at the material balance I could see that this process produces almost the same amount of carbon dioxide as combustion does. When I questioned him about this inconsistency, he waved his hands around for a few minutes while claiming that the science was settled. Anyway, the price tag for the installation was so high I realized there was no way we could switch over to this particular scam.
I asked him if he had a cheaper scam that we could invest in. He looked disappointed. I guess most of his clients aren’t as primitive and poor as Dunwich. Finally after dejectedly checking through his inventory he noted that he had several generators that were reclaimed from some wind turbines that had fallen down and been carted away as scrap. He could let us have those for a pittance. Out of desperation and to buy time I ordered the parts and sent him on his way.
Then I had an inspiration. We had some old caterpillar treads left over from some heavy machinery that had broken down and some other odds and ends. I had the maintenance crew rig these up into a gigantic treadmill and hook it up to the generators. I had the highway crew dig a pit out near the bicycle path that runs through the scenic area of the ghoul haunted forest. And I had them catch and imprison the biggest shoggoth they could find in town. It was a big, ugly, smelly, hungry one. I think we might have lost a couple of the crew that caught it. Oh well.
The next part of the plan was the good part. Along the side of the bicycle path, I put a sign leading over to the pit that said “Contribute to Green Energy.” Over the pit I had built a sound-proofed shed with a revolving door that led into a dark room with a pit trap. When someone falls into the pit it raises a panel that separated the shoggoth from its dinner. Once the shoggoth starts moving toward the victim it turns the caterpillar track and begins powering the generator. As long as the green power enthusiast is able to run on this treadmill and stay ahead, the shoggoth continues to pursue. But when the friend of Gaia tires, the shoggoth will get its lunch and the treadmill will stop and the power will go out in town.
Of course, this is a problem. I’ve come up with some improvements. To improve the reliability, we now run a bicycle race daily in town. And I’ve hooked up a battery system as a form of uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for the town between shoggoth meals. But uninterruptible is probably an overenthusiastic claim.
But the important thing is the First Selectman is pleased. He’s grown fond of the project and has named the shoggoth Tesla. He’s tasked me with setting up a similar treadmill for his personal use. He says he needs the exercise and donating some energy to the town is patriotic. Also, the town is making a nice profit reselling abandoned bicycles found along the road.
Who knew going green would be this much fun.