Previous Page Next Page

UTC:       Local:

Home Page Index Page

A Desperate and Despicable Dwarf: Section Twenty One

       Last updated: Friday, July 16, 2004 00:32 EDT



Magrit, et. al. - Chapter Two

    "The realm of words." Only humans would come up with a name like that. Sounds majestic, doesn't it --the "realm", no less. And -- oh! so refined! -- "of words," no less.

    Let a salamander tell you the truth.

    The "realm of words," at first sight, is nothing but a barren desert stretching in every direction as far as the eye can see, and that's very very very far indeed on account of there is no actual horizon in the "realm of words" due to the fact that (as it might fairly be called by a clear-headed amphibian) Blatherland is flat. You heard me. Flat -- as in, not round; as in, not a sphere but a table.

    How far does it stretch? Who knows? Who cares?

    There is neither day nor night, since there is no sun. Light is provided by the Great Lamp in the Sky, which may either be fifty miles high and five miles wide or fifty miles wide and five hundred miles high or -- your guess is as good as mine. No doubt the windbag would have performed experiments, but none of the company I was with was so inclined.

    At second glance, the barren desert is not entirely barren. At a great distance, we spotted some mounds. Since they were the only thing visible on the plain, we headed off in that direction.

    As we got closer, the mounds resolved themselves into great piles of letters. Great piles of the letter O, to be precise, stacked up in pyramids:

         O            O            O
        OOO          OOO          OOO
       OOOOO        OOOOO        OOOOO

    After we'd been staring at these piles for a bit, trying to figure out what they were, we heard a whimpering noise coming from underneath one of them. We investigated. (Rather: I watched; Magrit bossed; Gwendolyn and Les Six rummaged around.) Soon enough, Gwendolyn crawled out from under the pile holding two little p letters and one big one that looked kind of scarred up, like this: P. The little ones were wailing and the big one was blubbering "don't kill us, don't kill us!"

    "I'm not going to kill you," growled Gwendolyn. That set them all wailing even louder, which isn't surprising if you've ever heard Gwendolyn growl.

    "Ridiculous!" snorted the first.

    "Preposterous!" seconded the second.

    "Absurd!" chimed in the third.

    "Not even that," qualified the fourth.

    "'Twould be better to say 'impossible'," added the fifth.

    "On account of there's no method known to man by which to slaughter a letter," clarified the sixth.

    "Is too," sniveled a little p.

    "You chop 'em wid a knife," sniveled the other, "just like the one the big mean lady has."

    "Just like happened to everyP else," sniveled the P.

    Taken by a wild surmise, we stared at the piles of Os (fuck it; looks silly; I hereby declare that the plural of O is Oes) -- Oes.

    "You mean -- " exclaimed Magrit.

    "It was the Horde what done it!" cried out the P. "Massacred 'em all! Made a pyramid of their heads! Me and the little ones is all that survived, because I hid them under me and the Horde thought I was dead."

    A sad tale, a sad tale -- but then! Will wonders ever cease? Of a sudden, all the piles of Oes start quivering and jerking around and suddenly collapsed into a great disgusting mass of Oes squirming and squiggling all over the landscape.

    "Look! They're not dead!" shrieked one of the little ps (fuck it; looks silly; I hereby declare that the plural of p is pees) (fuck it; looks obscene; I hereby declare that the plural of p is pese) -- pese.

    "Ghosts!" shrieked the other.

    "Oh, stop that!" snapped one of the Oes. "We're not ghosts, we're Oes."

    It seemed to examined itself (I think; hard to tell; no eyes).

    "Yuk!" it exclaimed. "How are the mighty fallen!" Then, philosophically: "Could have been worse, I suppose. They might have split us lengthwise and made us all into Fs." A shudder (a nauseating sight, let me tell you, watching an O shudder). "There's a fate worse than death!"

    "Look on the bright side!" exclaimed another of the newly-revived Oes. "They always say vowels have more fun!"

    In an instant, the cry went up, and before you knew it the whole teeming mass of Oes were -- what? Let's just say they seemed to be having an orgy and leave it at that. Hard to tell, actually.

    "Don't watch, children!" hissed the surviving elder P, shepherding the little ones away.

    "Now what?" demanded Gwendolyn. She glared at Magrit.

    "What are you glaring at me for?" snarled Magrit.

    "Who else is there to glare at so maybe they'll come up with an idea for what to do next?" She glared at Les Six. "The Beerbelly Boys?" (They looked offended.) She glared at me. "The Tail That Talks?" (I'm sure I looked nonchalant.)

    Magrit threw up her hands. "I'm a working witch, dammit! I'm not some kind of philosopher! I can't make heads or tails out of this place!"

    Gwendolyn got a wild and wicked look in her eyes.

    "What the hell, why not?" she mused.

    It never fails to amaze me how fast that woman is, I swear. I mean, even though she looks sort of normally attractive in a female human way except that she's oversize, Gwendolyn can benchpress 600 pounds. So you wouldn't think the monster could move like a mongoose but she can. Oh yes she can.

    The next thing I know she snatched me off of Magrit's shoulder and tossed me high (way high!) up in the air. Spinning and twirling around! Of course, I landed on my feet (cats have got nothing on salamanders), but even so I was outraged. Incensed!

    I made my feelings clear, but Gwendolyn ignored me. Rather, she ignored my words. She was scrutinizing my tail.

    "That way!" she announced, pointing along the direction my tail happened to be lying.

    The whole idea was idiotic, but nobody saw any point in arguing. Not even me. (Actually, after a while I decided to be flattered. After a little while longer, I decided there was a profound lesson here: a salamander's tail is worth more than eight human heads.)

    On and on we trudged (they trudged; I rode on Magrit's shoulder). On and on they trudged. On and on they trudged. On and on -- you get the idea.

    After who knows how long, the landscape started to change. Say better -- there started to appear the resemblance of a landscape, since you can't hardly call Pure Flat Flatness a "landscape." Not much, mind you -- just the occasional stone here and pebble over there, until finally we came across some ruins.

    Ruins of what? Don't ask me. Ruins of ruins, looked like.

    Then -- a sepulchral voice.

    "Save the runes," it moaned. "Save the runes."

    A rune came out from the ruins.

    "Save the runes," it moaned again. "You can start with me. I'm ƒ·."

    "Who?" demanded Magrit.

    "ƒ·." It seemed to shrug. "If you want to be formal about it. My friends call me ƒ·rank. Or ƒ·ran, depending on what sex I am."

    "Which sex are you, then?" asked Gwendolyn.

    "What are you, stupid or something? If I'm ƒ·rank, I'm male; if I'm ƒ·ran, I'm female. Once I had a friend who needed his soul saved, so I was ƒ·ra. Which reminds me -- " Here it started moaning again: "Save the runes, save the runes."

    "Save you from what?" growled Gwendolyn. She was starting to get testy, I could tell.

    "From extinction, what else? What are you, a moron or something."

    Definitely testy. "How about I call you ƒ·rankfurter," she cooed, fingering her cleaver.

    "Nay, lass!" protested the first.

    "'Tis low! 'Tis low!" disapproved the second.

    "Haute cuisine -- that's the ticket!" exclaimed the third.

    "ƒ·ilet Mignon!" enthused the fourth.

    "ƒ·illet of ƒ·ish, rather," opined the fifth.

    "Properly ƒ·layed and ƒ·ried," qualified the sixth.

    Magrit intervened hastily. "Easy there! ƒ·rank doesn't mean any harm, do you now, lad? It's just his way, that's all."

    ƒ· apparently decided to fall back on his stock in trade.

    "Save the runes! Save the runes!"

    Magrit waddled over and patted the creature. "There now! There now! It's all right. You can tell me all about it. Save you from what, exactly?"

    Terminal idiocy, it seemed. Immediately the rune lipped off again.

    "What are you, another moron? From -- "

    It got no further, of course, because Magrit gave it one hefty wallop and knocked it ƒ·lat. (Sorry. I couldn't resist.)

    "Don't get ƒ·resh with me, you little ƒ·reak!" she bellowed. "Keep a civil tongue or I'll turn you into ƒ·lapjacks!"

    "Yes, ma'am!" squeaked the little twit.

    "Good. Let's try again. Save you from what?"

    The rune snuffled. "Extinction, that's what. They're rounding us all up and turning us into" -- a shudder -- "scrap. And then they're melting down the scrap and turning it into" -- a wail of horror -- "common ordinary letters!"

    "Who's doing this?" demanded Gwendolyn.

    "What are you, a -- " It paused, found wisdom. "The Captains of Industry, that's who. And their goons."

    Les Six started to ask who the "Captains of Industry" were but before they got well started the rune jumped up, exclaimed "too many questions! too many questions!" and started scurrying off to the -- east? -- west? -- whatever. After a moment it stopped, turned back, and shouted: "I'll show you! I'll show you!"

    And so it was that eight human idiots and a salamander down on his luck found themselves trailing after a lippy rune across the "realm of words" for what seemed an eternity until eventually we came to a slight rise in the "landscape" from the "top" of which we were treated to the vista of --

    -- a vast jumble of giant factories, stretching as far as the eye can see.

    "'Orrible!" croaked the first.

    "A vision of Hell itself," groaned the second.

    "No vision!" countered the third.

    "Hell itself!" mourned the fourth.

    "Don't mourn!" cried the fifth.

    "Organize!" bellowed the sixth.

    And with no further ado the half dozen halfwits charged down the slope, capering and cavorting like so many tots in a toy store.

    "I'll take that one!" cried the first, pointing to a huge, smoke-belching factory bearing the proud logo I. G. Sprechenindustrie.

    "I'm for General Words!" hallooed the second.

    "I've a yen for Nouns R Us!" hollered the third.

    "Me for Microspeak!" cried the fourth.

    By the time the fifth and the sixth added their bits to the round, they were too far off to hear. But, judging from the directions they were taking, I thought the fifth had set his aim for the huge International Business Mots complex and the sixth seemed to be wavering between General Linguistics and LTVerbs.

    "Idiots!" screamed Magrit. "Morons!"

    "Them, too?" asked ƒ·.

    "Now what?" wondered Gwendolyn.

    "Save the runes," moaned the rune. "Save the runes. Look! Over there! See what I mean!"

    In the distance, we saw a long train of wagons hauling up before a huge stockade. Within the barbed wire compound I could see a bunch of grimy barracks and what looked like smokehouses. With the nonchalance of long habit, burly guards were herding little runes out of the wagons and through the gate, above which hung a giant sign. "ARBEIT MACHT FREI," it said, whatever that means.

    "What are they handing the runes?" asked Gwendolyn.

    "They say it's soap!" cried ƒ·. "But it's a trick! It's a trick!"

    Suddenly, one of the smokehouse chimneys belched a great plume. ƒ· shrieked. "They're melting us down! They're melting us down!" It clutched Magrit's leg.

    "Save the runes," it moaned, "save the runes."

    I could see it coming a mile away. I tried to whisper sweet reason into her ear but the old witch was getting her dander up. And who was there to help me advance the voice of sanity?

    Gwendolyn? Hah! Hah! The Agitatrix herself!

    "You know," mused the damned lady wrestler, "maybe Les Six have the right idea. And besides, what else have we got to do?"

    A moment later she was striding off. "I'm for that one!" she announced, pointing to a great ugly heap of a factory.

    "As for us," said the witch, "it's the stockade. Let's see what these bums are up to."

    "Us?" I cried. "Us?" I spoke several phrases which were utterly obscene. "What have I got to with this madness? I'm an intelligent amphibian -- the pinnacle of evolution! What natural selection hath wrought!"

    Unheeding, Magrit waddled down the slope. I would have jumped off her shoulder and hid somewhere but I hate to walk and, besides, where was there to hide? Not a mousehole in sight.

    Behind me, I heard ƒ· moaning: "Save the runes, save the runes."

    I twisted my head and glared back. "Fuck the runes! And the horse they rode in on!"

    Turning around, I could see the stockade looming larger and larger.

    "Save the salamander," I moaned. "Save the salamander."

Home Page Index Page




Previous Page Next Page

Page Counter Image