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Dear Dr. Eldritch,
Crop circles are showin' up in my fields! Are we in danger?
T'other day, my brother Bubba was headin' out to rotate the crops when he comes runnin' back inside howlin' like a hound dog after a peck of possums. Seems he found the corn all pushed over in a big circle with four little circles around it, and no footprints or nothin' anywhere nearby. He calmed down when I said it was probably just city boys messin' with our field, but they've been showing up more and more! We've been sitting outside all night with a big flashlight, hoping to jacklight ‘em and scare ‘em off, but we never see nobody comin' or goin'. And the circles keep showin' up! They're getting' bigger, displayin' complex sequences like logarithmic progressions and Fibonacci spirals and stuff.
Doesn't this mean aliens are usin' our fields to send messages to each other for an invasion? My other brother Little Clem says we should head for the hills. Is he right?
-- Big Clem, from Boondock, Kansas
Dear Big Clem,
Let's think about this for a moment, shall we? An alien race, with sufficient technology to traverse billions of miles of empty, inhospitable space, can't think of a better way to communicate than flattened plants? Oh, sure it's possible they've overcome the huge scientific challenges of interstellar travel but haven't invented the walkie-talkie. I suspect Little Clem has been listening to too many late-night AM broadcasts, the kind one can hear coast to coast, if you know what I mean. I don't think aliens are your problem.
Agroglyphs are a rarity; they started as a mundane phenomenon but became a supernatural one. They began as a prank, thought up by bored engineering students in 16th century England. References in source documents are scarce, but scholars generally agree that a group from the Kensington Institute of Technology grew tired of debating whether the size limit of stone bridges would ever break the One-Rood Barrier, and decided to play a joke on local farmers. They were going to make a large square, but armed with the most advanced scientific equipment of the time (a long piece of string), they quickly realized a circle was easier. News of this mysterious "Circle of Croppes" spread, but was eclipsed by the discovery that bubonic plague was caused by "Ill Humours Rising from Dampe Earth."
Undaunted, these students made several more agroglyphs before graduation. The public generally lost interest, but crop circles caught the attention of a more curious fan base: Ancient creatures that live in the Earth. Little is known about these primordial beings, they're so old they don't even have a name. They're huge, amorphous, and don't possess solid bodies. They move through the ground, not like a fish swimming through water, but more like a lump of oatmeal moving through a big bowl of oatmeal, only the oats themselves don't actually move. The point is, these entities liked crop circles so much, they started making them too.
While generally harmless, back in 1734, an unfortunate combination of crop circles accidentally formed a thaumaturgical rune that initiated a uncontrolled power vortex. This caused the big hole in the Earth, the one that Geophysicists call "The Big Hollow Spot." This was discovered by a Dr. Ashe, a geologist with a sense of humor who wanted to name the giant hole after himself. Geophysicists who didn't find that funny chose the more mundane name.
So, Big Clem, your crop circles are probably either just the artistic pursuits of pranksters or ancient subterranean creatures. Whatever the source, making your agroglyphs a tourist attraction may offset the losses to the harvest from crop damages. You know the old saying: If Life gives you lemons, sell them to someone who wants lemons.
Good luck, and let me know how it comes out!
-- Dr. Eldritch