Plastic

Once upon a time, the Mother of All Foxes decided enough is enough. Her children had been killed for their skins too long. She spoke with the Mother of All Minks, and the Mother of All Minks agreed: it’s time for this to stop.

The Mother of All Foxes and the Mother of All Minks went to the Spiritlessness of Plastic Empty Void, and asked that the Spiritlessness of Plastic Empty Void turn itself into finely spun hairs for making fur for greedy humans. As it had already turned itself into so many other things previously made from something living.

The Spiritlessness of Plastic Empty Void gladly agreed. It happily spun itself into the softest of furs to clothe humans. Just as it made itself into the fluffiest of things to replace feather pillows and coats. The nicest of cloths for making clothes. The prettiest things and most practical.

And the Spiritlessness of Plastic Empty Void filled the earth. And the Spiritlessness of Plastic Empty Void was everywhere.

It turned into the smallest particles of itself and entered water. It entered food.

And the children of the Mother of All Foxes choked with Spiritlessness of Plastic Empty Void. And the children of the Mother of All Minks died with Plastic in their bellies.

And the Mother of All Foxes and the Mother of All Minks cried. But, at least, their children no longer died for their skin.

I would not begin to tell you it is good to kill a living thing. To raise them in cages for Death.

But neither would I welcome Plastic with open arms without thinking of how to remove it safely once it is here, and here it is.

Please recycle.

Or at the very least burn.

Vile

Once upon a time, in the woods there lived a creature most vile. It had made itself a home from stone piled on stone that was somehow nearly as ugly as the creature itself.

The creature had scales that flaked. Three pairs of legs and four arms, all with the sharpest of talons. Horns that were covered with blisters. Crooked and pointed teeth that had something green and gross growing on them. Sixteen eyes that each fell out at random moments and took weeks to grow back. A tail that is best left undescribed, except to say that it was disgusting.

The creature was vicious and cruel. It hated everyone and everything at first sight.

It never changed its mind about that hatred either. Never took the time to become acquainted with anyone or anything, to give them a chance to prove worthy of not hating. Always either ate them, or otherwise destroyed them at once, if they came close to his ugly pile of stones. More often than not, scared them away from a distance.

This was not a creature you would wish to meet. Nor a part of the woods it made sense to be in. For the creature did occasionally leave the immediate vicinity of its home, and go for a stroll in the woods. Kicking at the stones it did not eat. Barking at the trees it left standing. Eating everything and everyone it could.

So is it not the strangest thing that one day, a beautiful fairy fell in love with this revolting creature? Instead of flying away all frightened like everyone else, it chose to stay. It flew just a little bit too far for the creature to catch and eat it. A touch too fast for the creature to crush it with a club, or even hit with a stone. And it absolutely refused to leave the creature all alone.

The loveliest of fairies wanted nothing more than to feast its eyes upon the ugliness of the vile creature, and give it every happiness. While leaving the creature alone would’ve made the creature a little bit happy in the short term, this delightful fairy knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that if it only persevered, and remained by the creature’s side, someday its happiness would be far greater.

What an annoying turn of events for the ugly and vicious creature. No matter how it tried to rid itself of the offendingly pretty and happy little fairy, it simply could not be got rid of.

Blargh.

Eventually the creature had no choice but give up its attempts to eat, kill, or chase away the fairy. That could not be done. So the creature ignored the fairy as best it could, and went on with its angry and hate-filled existence.

Only now, something was different: Every time the creature kicked at something, or growled at something, or tried to eat someone other than the fairy, it sprinkled fairy dust on the creature’s head. And we all know what fairy dust does to a being, don’t we?

The creature found itself flying and feeling insanely happy. Again and again and again. And pretty soon it no longer really wanted to destroy or eat anything or anyone. It only went through the motions of looking as if it tried to do so, for the sake of having another sprinkling of fairydust.

Oh, the high!

And since the beautiful fairy was the only one who would ever give the horrid creature this sparkling dusty form of happiness, of course the creature began to love the fairy back! Oh, how wonderful!

Soon all the beings of the woods, both magical and non, gathered together to celebrate the wedding of the fairy and the creature most vile. A happy ever after was fully believed in by all.

And if the vile creature was eaten by the beautiful fairy at the end of the wedding night, well… It never was a very nice creature to begin with, was it now? And it’s not like it will be missed.

Witch and Frog

Once upon a time, there lived a Witch in a cabin in the woods. She spent her days casting spells and cooking potions. Her nights dreaming the world into being.

She was happy. Mostly. But just a little bit lonely from time to time.

Oh, she had her familiar: her cat. And she had all the creatures, big and small, that live in the woods and fly above it. That inhabit the earth underneath.

They were all interesting company, each in their own ways. But they were not human, like the Witch mostly was.

She did have human clients coming to her cabin from time to time, of course. Asking for potions and spells. Almost all a little afraid of her. Of the powers that she had. They never stayed longer than it took to receive what they wanted from the Witch. And that was fine. She did not want them sticking around.

She loved her life in the woods. But sometimes she did wish she had someone with whom to share it. Someone she could love in an individual, romantic kind of way. Not just in the general, loving all that is, but also in the (inter)personal.

And so one night, she dreamt it.

One day, a Frog hopped its way to the Witch’s cabin in the woods. Quite some ways from the nearest pond where frogs lived.

It jumped up upon her table, and croaked: “Sorry. Can you help me, please? I’m meant to be a human. My father cursed me in this form.”

Of course the Witch helped. After all, that is what witches do. Mostly. They help.

“Who in their right minds ever curses anyone?” grumbled the Witch, as she went out to gather ingredients for curse-breaking brew. “Don’t they know it returns to them tenfold? Ach… People.”

The Witch boiled the curse-breaking brew. The Frog drank it all. But the Frog remained a frog.

“Not that, then,” said the Witch, and tried another brew.

The Witch made potion after potion, brew after brew. The Frog remained a frog.

The Witch cast spells. Word after Word, spell after spell, language after language, she tried them all. But the Frog remained a frog, not changing form.

The Witch was at her wits’ end. She knew no more spells and no more potions that could help one lift a curse. Or even to transform.

Had the Frog lied about having been cursed, the Witch could’ve easily changed it into human form with any number of spells and potions. Alas, none of those did a thing. The Frog was firmly stuck in the shape of a frog. It could not be transformed.

Not knowing what else to do, what else to try, the Witch went to bed, having told the Frog to stay one more night, and not give up.

At night, the Witch dreamt the solution of how to turn the Frog back into human form. It was simple enough a solution, but when she woke, the Frog was gone.

In spite of the Witch having asked the Frog to stay, and not lose hope, sometime in the night the Frog had decided to leave the Witch’s cabin. Feeling disappointed, dejected, completely devoid of any hope, the Frog had begun to hop its long way back to the nearest pond. There it would croak its sorrow out, and most likely spend the rest of its miserable existence in amphibian form. Eating flies and other insects.

This was unacceptable. The Witch now knew how to help the Frog. There was no way she would leave it to croak its little heart out feeling hopeless. Of course the Witch went after the Frog.

The Frog had a several hours’ head start on the Witch. Flying would have been a faster way to catch up with it, but for some unfathomable reason, when the Witch tried to ride her broom, it completely refused to cooperate. Either it did not rise at all, or if it did, it flew up and down, and every which way but the one where she wanted to go.

In the end, the Witch was forced to walk.

By now, the Frog’s head start was so great that it reached the pond and lost itself among all the other frogs there long before the Witch could reach it. By the time the Witch arrived at the pond, it was late, and well more than a hundred frogs were all croaking their evening song.

The Witch called out to the Frog. “Come! I know how to fix it now! I can make you human again!” But in the din of all those frogs croaking, she could not tell if the Frog could hear her.

Almost all the many frogs looked an awful lot alike. The Witch waited, but when nothing happened, when her Frog did not come out of the pond, she looked to the sky and cried out “Heaven help! Please don’t make me have to kiss every single one of these frogs!”

That is when a large, solitary raindrop fell from the sky and on the head of a certain frog. The Witch waded in the murky water amid all the many croaking frogs until she reached that one.

She picked it up, and kissed it on its mouth.

Poof! Lights of lovely colors. Smoke and sound.

The Frog turned into a beautiful Princess. The most beautiful Princess the Witch had ever seen. All curves, and large and lustrous eyes. Long, long, partially braided, black and curly hair, with golden jewelry.

The Princess and the Witch fell in love. They went on kissing in the pond for quite a while before they realized just how cold the murky water was in the darkness of the night. Then they made their way back to the Witch’s cabin.

The Princess and the Witch were married. If not in the eyes of a particular head of state, who just happened to rule that Kingdom, and also be the father of the Princess, then at least in the eyes of all the world.

Who cares for the opinions of a mere king, when every flower, every bird and every bee agreed: married they were, indeed. And every wolf and every bear, and every lion too, promised to tear the king to pieces if he ever threatened in any way the happiness of their Witch and Princess.

For happy they truly were. Happy ever after. And they lived all the rest of their lives together in the Witch’s cabin in the woods.

Little Girl

Once upon a time, in a land far, far, far… Oh, hang on a minute… That’s actually right next door to you, isn’t it? What a small world this is!

Well, anyway… Once upon a time, right next door to you, there lived a little girl, who was a boy.

When all the other little girls dreamt of riding horses, s/he wanted to be a cowboy.

When all the other little girls dreamt of pretty dresses, s/he loved wearing jeans.

When all the other little girls dreamt of being kissed by a Prince, s/he wanted to do things and go places. S/he wanted to rescue helpless people, not be a helpless thing.

When all the other little girls wanted to grow up to be mothers, to have babies of their own, s/he did not.

It wasn’t easy being so different from all the rest. No. Not easy at all.

When all the other little girls were spoon fed a story of how they should be, and were unable to vomit it out, only s/he stopped to ask “But why?” and “Why not instead?”

What became of this little him/her?

They grew up to be whatever it is they are.

(Either that, or died. Somewhere along the way.)

Right next door to you.

Other Story

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, all things grew, and there was gold, silver, diamonds, other precious stones in the ground. If you wanted food, or fruit, or something else, all you had to do was pick it up.

But the people of that land were oppressed. They were poor, starving, suffering, in the midst of all this incredible abundance.

Their rulers did not care that the people suffered. They only cared about pleasing Other Gods. Gods that did not come from that  land. Gods that were Someplace Else.

These Other Gods were of the strangest color. Pink. And blue. Red. And a kind of peculiar beige that was really hard to describe.

As far as the people of the land could tell, these Other Gods created nothing. They did not make it rain. They did not cause the crops to grow. They didn’t even make the metals or stones that were in the ground. But they sure did appreciate all the fruit and food, and all the precious things that were taken away from the people of this land, and delivered to them.

Just why their leaders worshipped these Other Gods, was a bit difficult to tell. Sure, the Other Gods shared some scraps of wealth with the leaders, but the land would have shared so much more with them, had they not worshipped Other Gods.

The people thus supposed it must have been fear that ruled their leaders, and made them worship Other Gods. Since greed alone could not explain it. But what was there to fear?

Sure, the Other Gods could kill them. That much was clear. But when children were dying from having their mothers’  land raped for the convenience of Other Gods, surely even leaders must see that it would be better to give up one’s life, than spend it serving Other Gods.

Whether the leaders saw it or not, the time was coming, when the people of the land had had enough.

Crawling on empty bellies to be killed by Other Gods was better than kneeling in the dust and dying in their mines.

And so, one day it changed.

Millions upon millions gave up their lives, and Other Gods were finally forced to give up their stranglehold of the people of this land. A hold they had had for the longest time, even from afar.

What happened to the people then, we do not know. That story is yet to be told.

What happened to the Other Gods?

Even that we do not know, until that other story unfolds.

Blueskin

Once upon a time, in a land surprisingly near where we live, everyone who was anyone tattooed their skin blue.

If you did not, for whatever reason, or if you could not afford the expense of so doing, you were free game. You would be ridiculed. You would be mocked. Taunted, teased and bullied. You could be hated, beaten, hunted for sport, and killed.

There were no repercussions to blueskins for killing nonblues. Not so long as the blueskins remained within their annual allowed taking of 15 nonblues shot with a firearm, another 20 with bow and arrow, plus an additional 25 trapped and killed with a knife.

Torture and release of nonblues was a fun recreational activity that required no keeping tally of how many one tortured and released. After all, it was only a bit of harmless fun, and the nonblues even got to live afterwards.

Of course, everyone knew that the hunting limits were more of a recommendation than a hard and fast rule. If it had been an actual proper rule, then it would have to have been monitored, and policed, and anyone caught killing more than their share of nonblues would’ve had to have been judged and punished, and ain’t no one got time for that.

It was much better to just look the other way, and understand that blueskins will be blueskins, and it’s all the nonblues fault anyway, so they’ve really no right to complain…

I mean, if you were not a blueskin, whose fault was that? – Yours. Yours and yours alone. Nobody else’s. Of course. And if you said you cannot afford to tattoo your skin blue, well that was  obviously your fault as well. Being too lazy to do what it took to earn the kind of money that gets you blue skin was no reason to blame others when you got treated like the lazy, nogood nonblue that you were.

All this talk about nonblues not being paid fairly for the work they do, that was just bull. Nonblues were being paid exactly what they deserved, and if that was only a fraction of what blueskins got paid for much easier jobs, that too was exactly as it should be. After all, blueskin time was worth so much more than a nonblue’s time, it was only natural that employers had to pay for it.

And come to think of it, your parents should never have had any children in the first place, if they could not pay for the proper blue tattooing of their child at the appropriate age.

All was as it ought to be for the longest time. Oh, there was some grumbling among the nonblues, and the occasional blueskin even bought into the madness of “human rights” from time to time. But all in all, the system was quite impervious to any attacks upon it by disgruntled nonblues.

The voices of misguided blueskins did occasionally attempt to unsettle the natural order of things. No real change ever came from any of these attempts, though. It was easy enough to find ways to intimidate into silence anyone who threatened to become too loud. Usually all it took was pointing out all the many privileges they themselves would lose if nonblues began to be viewed and treated the same as blueskins.

But then something strange happened. Almost… miraculous.

A child was born with naturally blue skin. No need for tattooing. The prettiest of blues anyone had ever seen!

That child was treated like royalty. Every privilege and every benefit was given to the child. All their needs were met. More or less all their wishes as well.

Teachers and tutors saw to it the child had an easy path through the highest education system in the land. The cushiest and most comfortable, highest paid leadership position was created just for this child when they grew up.

And then the unthinkable.

As the born blueskin matured, this most privileged individual in all the land began to question the system! They started asking all sorts of uncomfortable questions, briefly summed up as “Why?” They began to speak out against what they viewed as injustice.

This, from the happiest of happy individuals. The bluest of the blueskins. The very one who had the most to lose if things were ever changed!

It was unbelievable. It was… unfathomable. A mystery.

Why would someone who was born to every privilege speak out against a system that provided them that privilege?

Why???

This caused a stir. A scandal.

It caused a great deal of civil unrest. Nonblues, emboldened by the support they perceived in the bluest of blue individuals, began to march and riot.

All riots were swiftly put down.

Saddened by the loss of so many (worthless) nonblue lives, the born blueskin, the bluest of the blue, did something extremely strange. As a protest, they had their own beautifully blue skin tattooed all black.

That was the end of that. The born blueskin was clearly insane.

No one in their right minds would give up such beauty and such privilege. Even nonblues could see that.

The civil unrest died down. Born blueskin, poor dear, was committed to an asylum, and given the very best of care.

Decades later, when they were declared healed, or at least as healed as they ever could be, they were released from the asylum, and quietly disappeared. Never to be heard from again.

Such was life… Such is life, in that land where everyone who was anyone tattooed their skin blue. A land surprisingly close to our own.

Bear

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away, in what must have been truly the remotest corner of that land, there lived a man who dreamed of flying. Not flying with a machine, like inside an airplane, or with a hang glider, jetpack or hoverboard, (none of which had been invented,) but flying himself. Either with wings, like a bird, or without them, by the simple expedient of magic.

He lived all alone, in a cabin near the top of a mountain. The mountain itself was situated in the middle of an ancient forest so difficult to traverse that the man never saw any other humans at all.

His only companions were the animals of the forest. The bears, the deer, the elks and the birds. The snakes, insects and the spiders as well, but for those he did not have quite the same fondness.

It was quite fortunate that this part of the land was so steeped in old magic that the animals were able to talk. Otherwise the man would probably have forgotten all about language in his solitude.

He would see his friends, the animals, when he climbed down the mountain to meet them in the forest. Only the birds could repay his visits from time to time. The mountain was simply too steep for the rest of them to climb all the way up to his cabin.

He quite adored the freedom of the birds’ movement through the air. How easily they made a journey that was, for him, a difficult climb.

This is how it started. He watched the birds, and wished he, too, could fly.

The wish came into his dreams, and every night he dreamt of flying. Flying down the mountain. Flying across the sky. Flying into a great, big city, where he would meet a woman who would become his wife. Flying her back to his home, the cabin on the mountain in the forest far from all. Flying with the children she would have with him.

The dreams began to fill his every waking thought. He wanted to fly. He wanted to find that wife and children his dreams promised awaited him, if only he could fly.

But how?

While the mountain and the forest was full of magic, he himself had no aptitude for using it. He knew no spells, no potions.

How could he learn to fly?

When the man finally spoke of his wishes with the birds, they told him to talk to the bears. This seemed to him a strange bit of advice, for what did bears know of flying? Still, he did as he was told. He climbed down the mountain and went into the forest to meet the family of bears that lived nearby.

The mother bear only looked at him, when he spoke of wanting to fly. She shook her head, and turned to leave, but her children spoke out: “But mom, what about Old Brown’s Son?”, “Yes, mom, why don’t you tell him about Old Brown’s Son?”

The mother bear shushed her children, but the damage was already done. The man now knew there was something to be known, and the mother bear could hardly pretend not to know it.

She had to tell the man about Old Brown’s Son.

“He lives in a cave some two weeks’ journey from here. His whole line has always been particularly strong with magic. If you kiss one of them, you will fly. Well, if you kiss him, since he is the last of his line.”

“Kiss a bear, and then I’ll fly? How is that a thing?”

“I don’t know,” said the mother bear, “but it’s always been that way, as long as anyone can remember.”

“Has he kissed many, this Old Brown’s Son?”

“No one, to my knowledge,” replied the mother bear. “And he might not be inclined to do so now, either, for magic like that always comes with a price. But his father, and his uncle, and his aunts, they all kissed someone while they lived. That someone flew. I saw it myself when I was but a little cub.”

“Then I should meet this Old Brown’s Son,” decided the man.

“Are you sure?” asked the mother bear. “For as I said, that kind of magic comes with a price to pay.”

“If the magic helps me find a woman to marry, and have children of my own, then it will be worth it.”

“You don’t know what the price will be,” replied the concerned mother bear. “No one ever knows beforehand. Not even Old Brown’s Son.”

“It will be worth it,” repeated the man. “Even if it is a bit strange for a man to kiss a bear…”

“For him to kiss a he-bear,” giggled the cubs.

“Hush, children,” admonished their mother. “A he-bear, a she-bear, what difference does that make? We’re all bears, and every bit as kissable the lot of us.”

“Eeeew, don’t kiss me, mom!” cried out the slightly bigger cub, as the mother bear gave his cheek a lick.

The cubs ran away. The mother bear shook her head and sighed the word “Children,” in that way all mothers know. “Still, I suppose I cannot blame you for wanting your own human cubs. The need to procreate is built in, in most of us, I think.” The mother bear looked at the man with some sadness in her eyes. “If you are certain, I might send word with the birds. Old Brown’s Son could meet you at a clearing halfway in the forest, if he is willing to at least talk with you about this. And the birds will let you know if he is not. So you’ll not have to walk two weeks in vain.”

“I would much appreciate that,” replied the man. “And yes, I am determined to do this if at all possible. I must fly. Fly to find my woman.”

“So be it then,” replied the mother bear.

And so it was that messages were sent forth and back with birds. Some more explaining of the man’s motivation for his wish to fly was needed, but eventually he received word that Old Brown’s Son would meet him halfway between the mountain and the cave. The man set off on his difficult journey in the ancient forest. One week later, man and bear met where agreed.

Old Brown’s son was a fairly large bear. Not the biggest ever lived, but impressive enough at close range. He had the most soulful eyes.

Exactly why Old Brown’s Son agreed to the man’s request of a kiss remains unknown. Perhaps he too felt a desire for cubs of his own, and could thus empathise with the man. Perhaps it was something else. In any case, after making certain the man truly understood that there would be a price to pay for the magic, agree he did.

Bear and man stood face to face. Bear taller than the man.

Bear bent down his head, and the man leaned in. Their lips met. The bear licked with his tongue.

Almost as soon as the kiss was over, the man could feel his feet rise in the air above the ground. He flew.

He laughed, and thanked the bear for his help.

He flew in the air so free. Above the treetops. Up the mountain to his cabin. Away from the mountain towards the to him unknown.

He flew into a large city, where he did, indeed, meet a woman. She fell in love with him, and he fancied himself in love with her.

They married, and had three children. But their happiness was far from perfect.

His wife had no wish to leave a city she loved. She had no desire at all to live in a cabin near the top of a mountain in the middle of an ancient forest far away from everyone and everything else. So they lived in the city, where he found work, but the man very much missed his home.

He missed his solitude. He missed his friends in the forest, the animals and the birds who knew how to talk. He missed his cabin. But that is not all he missed.

He could not stop thinking about the bear, Old Brown’s Son. The feel of his hair. His lips. His tongue.

He wondered if Old Brown’s Son ever thought about him, the man that he had kissed.

He dreamed of flying home with his wife and children. Of meeting Old Brown’s Son in the forest.

He began to dream of returning without her. Of meeting Old Brown’s Son… in the forest, in his cave, near a river, in his own cabin.

When he began to dream of Old Brown’s Son coming to his place in the city, the man knew it was time for him to leave. To return to his true home.

His children were aged nine, eight and six, when he kissed them and their mother goodbye. They all watched from a window as their father flew without wings to leave them. Promising to come visit them from time to time, but never to live in a city again.

As the man approached the ancient forest in the farthest corner of the land, his heart was pounding. Was Old Brown’s Son even alive anymore? How long do bears live? (Magical ones.)

He flew to the cave where he knew Old Brown’s Son had lived, but there was no one there. No signs of a bear having lived there, not for the longest time.

The man felt crushed. When he finally left the cave, his flight towards his own cabin was halting. Weighed down by grief and regret.

He decided to visit the spot in the forest where he and Old Brown’s Son had kissed. It would be torture, he told himself. He should not, but he could not help himself: he had to see it. He needed to stand where they had once embraced.

When he reached the clearing, he found his heart flooded with joy, for he saw Old Brown’s Son! The bear had taken residence in that very place. Had even slept his winters under only some branches and snow, and magic to keep him from freezing. Unable to leave the place where he had once known joy in the arms of a man.

Old Brown’s Son had indeed been thinking of the man every bit as much as the man had been thinking of him. If not even more.

The man and bear embraced. They kissed again. They laughed, and cried. Above all else, they talked. About all that had happened since the day they last met. About all that they had felt since then.

The man and bear walked through the difficult forest towards the mountain. When the bear could climb no higher, the man was actually able to fly Old Brown’s Son all the way up to his cabin.

The cabin was well built. Even after all these years, it stood waiting to welcome them home, in need of only a thorough cleaning and some small repairs.

And strangely enough, the man was right: it was a price worth paying. For the love of the bear and of the man for one another may have stemmed from the magic, and caused much suffering in their years apart, but it grew to sustain them both.

In a cabin on a mountain that rose in the middle of an ancient forest, man and bear lived happily ever after.

Curious

Once upon a time, there lived an eccentric old man. He was always so excited about something or other.

He’d go on for months and months upon a single subject. Then suddenly he would just stop caring about it at all, and moved on to some other thing to be all excited about.

This is nothing unusual in and of itself, I suppose, but… Everything he was interested in would be collected in his home. Not by any action on his part, but apparently simply by interest.

His collection of books and papers was massive. His collection of earrings filled seven walk-in closets, and spilled out.

His top hats and colorful cowboy boots, coupled with clown noses, could have made fifteen armies look ridiculous all at once.

He was interested in leftwing politics for a while. Twenty two leftwing politicians took permanent residence in his house.

He was interested in rightwing politics for a bit. Twenty four rightwing politicians moved in, and never left.

The leftwing and the rightwing politicians engaged in daily arguments and fistycuffs inside the auditorium. The auditorium itself appeared inside the house in between the hours of midday and six pm, and was otherwise not to be found.

Nowhere else in the building were the leftwing and rightwing politicians able to meet.

The leftwing politicians entered the auditorium through a door on the right hand side of the auditorium. The rightwing politicians entered through a door on the left. This seemed inherently wrong to everyone, but any attempts to find the other’s door on the outside were doomed to fail. Any attempts to exit by the other’s door only led you to the outside of your own door, feeling intolerably nauseous.

For a while, the politicians all used the other’s door to exit in defiance of the nausea. As it became progressively worse with each exit, eventually they were forced to give up this practice, swallow their pride (since they could not possibly swallow that much vomit), and leave by the door they came in. A rather remarkable accomplishment, this acknowledgement of their own limitations.

Nothing else ever was resolved in any of the arguments or fights inside the auditorium. Their net total was only ever a share of black eyes and bruised ribs to go around.

One might think the politicians would eventually lose interest in these arguments, but no. To think so would be to not know the species of human called politicians. Every morning after breakfast, without fail, they queued in the hallway where their door to the auditorium would appear at exactly 11.59.59 (never a second later at exactly noon).

The old man’s home had room for everything, it seems. With every addition of a new subject of interest, the manor house grew, and grew, and grew. On the inside, I mean. The outside remained a perfectly rational-sized manor. Large, but not overly large. Imposing, but not threatening.

A perfectly pleasant place, with the loveliest of gardens and grounds.

Naturally, the gardens, the woods and the greenhouse also grew in accordance with their owner’s interests, but only on the inside. They all stayed within the bounds of the high walls surrounding the manor on three sides, and if the sea itself grew larger with the old man’s interest in sea creatures and sailing, well… No one was able to tell. Not from the outside.

The old man himself was quite certain that the shoreline, at least, had grown considerably much since the days he played on a small, sandy beach as a little boy. This would seem to imply that the sea itself had grown as well, since there was no shortage of waves lapping on the beach, the marina, the cliffs and the caves.

“Oh well,” thought the old man. “No matter. It is only home, after all, regardless of its size.” He then turned his interest to something else.

There never came a day when the old man lost interest in new subjects. There never came a moment he was bored. One day there simply came a heart attack that ended his tale.

The house was left as a legacy to an orphan little boy, who was insatiably curious about everything in this world, and beyond.

Mouse

Once upon a time, a viper in the woods met a mouse. It bit the mouse with its poison teeth, intending to eat well. But the mouse did not die.

The mouse turned into a mountain. Its rising shook the viper down and rolled it far away.

The mountain was a mountain for a century or four. Then mountain turned into a mouse, and ran.

The houses that humans had built on the mountain crashed into the ground.

A viper from the woods slithered between the remains of houses. It was on the mouse’s tail.

Catching up with the mouse that had stopped beside a river, the viper bit the mouse with its poison teeth, intending to eat well. But the mouse did not die.

Mouse turned into a bridge across the river. Viper fell from the rising bridge’s highest point into the water. Currents washed the viper far away.

The mouse was a bridge for a decade or ten. Then bridge turned into a mouse and ran, on the other side of the river.

The cars of humans driving across the bridge fell into the river and sank. The people drowned.

A viper from the woods swam past the falling cars, the sinking ones. It reached the bank where the mouse had run, and followed.

Catching up with the mouse that had stopped to enjoy the sun, it bit the mouse with its poison teeth, hoping to eat well. But the mouse did not die.

The mouse turned into a great big house. A home for elderly humans. The viper fell from the house’s roof, and slithered under a stone.

The viper waits for the house to turn into a mouse. The house awaits for the viper to fall asleep.

The elderly humans in the great big house that is a home for them, will either live, or die before then.

Either way, the chase is on.

Mr Lizard

Once upon a time, Mr Lizard was lazing in the sun, when Mr Cricket came upon him. The cricket asked the lizard “Would you like to hear some music?”

“Whyever not?” replied our Mr  Lizard.

Mr Cricket lifted his wings, and began to play. (Did you think I would say ‘violin’?)

Mr Lizard listened to the music for a bit. Then shot out his tongue, and ate it. Ate our Mr Cricket. Midsong.

Was the music bad, I hear you ask? Oh, no. Quite beautiful.

It’s just that in this world, a lizard will eat a cricket. It needs the protein.