In Search of Civilization

Once upon a time, there was a monkey. This monkey lived near an old hermit who hid from society in the forest, speaking only to animals. The monkey listened to the hermit’s tales of civilized lands with fascination. More than anything, the monkey wanted to see civilization for itself.

One day, the hermit grew very sick. They told the monkey that it should follow its dream and search for civilization, then fell asleep, never to awaken.

The monkey grieved for a time, then took the hermit’s spare robe and their straw hat and set out for civilized lands. Disguised in this way, the monkey left its forest home.

Exiting the forest, the monkey found a dirt path, long and wide, which stretched far to the north and to the south. Knowing from the hermit’s tales that paths tend to lead to places, the monkey began following the dirt path north.

Before long, the monkey met a traveler, going south. “Hello there!” said the traveler. “Where do you journey to?”

“Civilization”, said the monkey, keeping the brim of the hermit’s straw hat low.

“Why then, you go in the wrong direction, my friend,” said the traveler. “The northern road leads only to the city of Verra, which is far from civilized. Go south!”

So the monkey turned and began traveling south, and the traveler soon left him behind, for monkeys have shorter legs than men.

It wasn’t long before the monkey met another traveler, this one going north. “Hello there!” said the traveler. “Where do you journey to?”

“Civilization”, said the monkey, keeping the brim of the hermit’s straw hat low.

“Why then, you go in the wrong direction, my friend,” said the traveler. “The southern road leads only to the city of Londe, which is far from civilized. Go north!”

The monkey considered this. ‘If the civilization I seek is not north, and it is not south, than perhaps it is east,’ it thought. So the monkey left the road and traveled east, away from the forest where it had once lived.

The monkey soon came to a great city standing by the edge of a lake. It was told by a passerby that this was the city of Yorn, the center of the civilized world. The monkey entered and gazed about it in amazement.

But the monkey soon discovered that civilization was no place for a monkey without money. Unable to buy food, turned away from inns and taverns, the monkey was forced to find an alley to sleep in for the night. But when it awoke in the morning, it found that the hermit’s straw hat had been stolen right off its head!

‘This civilization is not as civilized as it ought to be,’ thought the monkey angrily. ‘I understand now why the hermit left it!’

And so the monkey left the city of Yorn and returned to the forest, to live out the rest of its days happily, and never again thought of the wonders of civilization.

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Beauty and Promises

Beauty. Beauty is a vast arc of colors, splashed across the sky as though a scenic painter had, in a single sweep, added the finishing touch to the heavens. Beauty is a rainbow of colors, six or seven of them depending on who you ask, curving gently across the wild black yonder in a perfect band, startling in its stark contrast against the darkness of the night sky. Beauty is a double rainbow, two perfect, clear, bittersweet reminders of the promise to all mankind, the covenant that He made and then broke.

Promises. Promises are supposed to be sure things, things you can trust. From pinky promises made with your best friend in the back of a school bus to solemn vows sealed by breaking a wineglass underfoot, you should be able to trust a promise. You should be able to trust someone when they say that they’ll be with you until the end of the world. But I guess that if the world ends, promises like that don’t count for much anymore.

The world is ending now. The sky is already darkening in nuclear winter, save for the slowly fading light of the bomb. My partner is gone. They were working where the bomb fell. I survived, but I have no hope of living for long.

And why did I live? Is it because I’m one of His Chosen and my partner isn’t? No, that can’t be, no just God would do such a thing. But then, no just God would go back on His promise, either. And yet, there is the rainbow, still a reminder of the covenant that He made with Noah and all mankind, that He would never again destroy the Earth.

God wouldn’t do this. He made a promise, a beautiful promise, a thing you can trust. The only way that this could have happened is if we did this to ourselves.

The Narrator’s Folly

Once upon a time, there was a boy named Peter. He was a simple farm boy who lived with his mother in a small farm house.

“Why do I have to be a boy?” said Peter. “And it’s pretty redundant for you to say that I’m a farm boy and that I live in a farm house.”

…once upon a time, there was a girl named Petra. She was a simple lass who lived with her mother in a small farm house.

“Now it sounds like you’re saying I’m stupid!” Petra protested. “Come on, get it right.”

Why don’t you do it then?

“Alright then, I will.”

…Petra said smugly.

…Once upon a time, there was a young girl named Petra. She was a farmhand on the duke’s plantation, where she lived in a small home with her mother.

“How was that?”

mumblemumblemumble

“What was that?”

Just do the whole thing yourself, why don’t you? Clearly you don’t need me.

“Alright then,” I said with a smirk, “I will.”

This is the story of Petra, a pen, and the power of words. The place: the plantation of Duke Parker. The time:

Hm…

“Hey, when are you writing this thing, anyway?” I asked.

Aren’t you writing it now? said the Narrator sarcastically.

“Yes,” I said crossly, “and now I’m about to write you answering this question. So fess up.”

It’s 2016 as this story is being written. Will you stop confusing the readers and get on with things?

“They’re smart, they can figure it out. Now, where was I…”

The place: the plantation of Duke Parker. The time: a long, long time ago…

Dave Really Just Wants to be Normal

Dave was drinking in his favorite bar, idly considering starting a game of pool with some other regulars, when he noticed a hooded figure sitting in a dark, shadowy corner. ‘That’s odd,’ he thought, ‘this place has never had dark, shadowy corners before.’ He turned back to his drink and took a sip.

A few minutes later, he became aware that the hooded figure was watching him. Dave turned to glare at them and said, “that only works on people who want to get involved in whatever you’re offering. I don’t.”

“You are already involved, whether you know it or not,” intoned the shadowy figure in a voice that seemed equally likely to have come from a man, a woman, or a lizard.

“No, I don’t think I am,” Dave said. “Look at me, not being involved.” He turned back to his drink and downed it in a single long draft. He slammed it back on the table and saw, in the mirror behind the bar, that the hooded figure was now looming behind him. It seemed to have brought the shadows which had collected in the corner with it – the air around it was filled with a dark, swirling mist.

“You have no choice,” said the figure. “The Dark Lord is already-”

“I’m not sure you understand,” Dave said. “I’ve been involved with too many of these schticks. Defeated dark lords, rescued princesses, slain dragons, saved galaxies. I’m really quite over it. And if this Dark Lord of yours-”

“He is no Lord of mine-” protested the hooded figure.

Dave held up a finger. “I don’t care. I don’t care. If this Dark Lord wants to do whatever he’s doing, fine. I’m not involved. Find some naive kid to be your hero, that usually works.”

“The prophecy demands that it be you.”

“I seriously doubt it’s that stringent. Or even correct, prophecies are usually bunk. Just grab…” Dave glanced around the bar, looking for someone he didn’t like, “John over there. He’d love to rescue a princess.”

The hooded figure continued looming.

“John! Get over here, let me introduce you to hooded figure here.” While John approached, Dave slipped past the hooded figure and fled the bar. On his way back home, he dodged a group of even more ominous hooded figures, gave a pair of rather short young men directions to the bar, and hid from a mysterious old wizard in a trash dumpster.