There is a bell
That signifies freedom
It has a crack in it (ya know, so the light can get in).
So nobody dares touch it
But here’s the thing
It may have another good ring in it
Occasionally when Remo feels expansive he goes to the mountains and listens to the universe.
Occasionally when Remo feels hopeless he finds a tavern and poses as a bard.
He stands on the stage until he finds something to say, or is removed.
One night he told the following tale three times.
Nearby there exists a world like ours in almost every respect. It holds our towns, our lakes, and all of our joys and sorrows.
The only difference is that miles below the surface it has a cavern that our world does not.
The cavern has an underground stream and a stone cannon that were not crafted by any sentient being on that world.
At seemingly random intervals, the ground rumbles slightly, and the cannon ejects a creature.
These beings are like adult humans in almost every respect. The only differences are that they average three feet in height and their heads are shaped like mushrooms.
Their heads are shaded. One third of the creatures are red, one third green, and one third are purple. The mushrooms all have white circles.
Most of the time, the creatures come out with enough speed that they smash their skulls against the cavern wall, dying moments after they appear.
But seeming randomness when mixed with extreme time scales can produce strange results.
So sometimes the room fills with corpses, and one of the humanoids will have its emergence cushioned by the bodies, and instead die a prolonged death, crushed by the weight of those who have come before, unable to maneuver.
For some reason, this never happens to the red headed mushrooms.
But, the room also contains a stream. So occasionally the creatures will spawn in just such a way that their is a padding in one space, but the flowing water has cleared away the debris elsewhere.
Occasionally one survives.
Even more rarely, more than one survives at the same time.
And they will begin to make sense of their surroundings together, and tell stories about the Gods.
They will perform cleansing rituals on the carcasses of their fore-bearers before eating them, and drink the fresh water provided by the stream. They will fantasize about the day that a red topped one will come and lead them to a new home.
As she lies dyeing of malnutrition, lacking the leafy greens needed to fight off disease, one named Boh will use her finger to write the story of her people in the flowing water.
She will record their fears, their triumphs, and the games they played.
The echo’s of her movements absorbed by the water.
Without making any obvious changes, the first time Remo recounted this, the moral was: Each skull is imperceptibly expanding the room as it slams into at the cavern ceiling.
The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.
The second time: Although it may seem hopeless, notice that despite all odds Boh’s story made its way to us.
By the third time he recounted the tale, it was closer to dawn than midnight and the crowd was no longer feeling indulgent.
The coda was: Sometimes the universe just wants to take a long time to say “fuck you”
On the morning of his birthday, as the first light made its way through the dense foliage and into the cave camber, Narch stared at the empty wooden table and thought about cake.
Marline, one of his few female friends, had recently introduced him to the concept of birthday cake. He had made it a long time without, but now that he knew about the possibility he really wanted one.
But how? By temperament he was a recluse, an inclination only exacerbated by the fact he was a cottage sized cybernetic spider and so was usually attacked on sight.
Marline, a witch, had been an exception.
One of the peculiarities of living over five millennia is you accumulate a number of highly unlikely experiences.
But she has been dead for over a century now, and besides she had never been good at baking.
Narch felt the loneliness begin to build. He noticed that he was beginning to search his memories for clues about how he’d been brought into existence. The hope was they would help answer the question of why he should bother continuing.
Catching himself, he turned his mind to Carlile the wisdom dragon, who had showed him that sometimes his thoughts did not have his best interest in mind.
When Carlile disappeared, Narch had taken his revenge on the Kingdom of Farl. Geopolitics being what they were, this had led to a confrontation with the entire Southern Alliance, and their God, a nasty deal making wind spirit whose name escaped Narch.
Was it even worth the effort of leaving the cave?
Driving them from the coasts had sent the entire region spiraling into chaos. It hadn’t been that long ago… and without the autocratic monarchs propped up by a conniving false God, would there be enough infrastructure left to support a civilization?
Slowly the memories came back. The Zeglans had regarded him as a hero, and had even shown up at the Battle of Great Falls to support what they called his March of Freedom.
They were eager to try their had at a “new” system of economic self determination combined with a robust social safety net.
For Narch, the question was: Could such Utopian visions create the conditions for a worthwhile bakery? Would they have heard of cake? Or was the concept lost to time like dal’lesh.
Ever the optimist, after a time he gathered his massive frame, and left his abode in search of fleeting joy.
came back to nothing special
such as waiting rooms and ticket lines,
silver bullet suicides,
and messianic ocean tides,
and racial roller-coaster rides,
and other forms of boredom
advertised as poetry.
– L. Cohen
Let the record show that I took the time to share this with you. Note: the demo from Wonsaponatime,
Kylo, Poe and Han Solo stop off in a seedy bar following rumors about the whereabouts of Luke.
As the camera pans the room, the audience sees a variety of bizarre, but strangely familiar alien forms.
Without warning, Hans face explodes. The music stops. In shock, the group is too horrified to respond when an alien walks up to the table holding a blaster. He stares at Hans slumping corpse and says “Message from Greedo, ‘How about a ‘heads up’ next time.'”
I think about this video often. This is how I want to respond to the unfamiliar. Like Mr. Rogers responded to breakdancing.
“Music, uniquely among the arts, is both completely abstract and profoundly emotional. It has no power to represent anything particular or external, but it has a unique power to express inner states or feelings. Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation.”
I am sucpicious of the idea of “guilty” pleasures. But here are two things that bring me more joy than I can find any reasonable explanation for.