Bookwyrm, Part 7

Day 72. 46 pages, 18,279 words.


Not without their reservations, Predericon, Gyden and Lelhmak stepped through into Segment Eleven.

“Hello?” Lelhmak called after they’d traversed the adjoining chamber, which wasn’t noticeably different to the others they’d crossed. “Destarion, can you still hear us?”

By way of answer, the mouth of service channel one closed up without a trace, and a door opened in the opposite wall.

“For some reason this reminds me of that story you used to tell,” Gyden said to Lelhmak in a low voice. “Do you remember? The one about the boy in the forest?”

Lelhmak grunted. “Not entirely sure why this reminds you of it,” he said, “although I don’t know if anything would compel me to close my eyes in here.”

“What story?” Predericon asked, more to fill the silence than anything else. They stepped into another smooth white passageway, the doorway sealed, and Predericon felt a familiar but very subtle shift in her equilibrium that told her the passage had shifted in orientation and was now leading them downwards. If the term had any meaning whatsoever.

“There was once a young boy lost in a forest,” Gyden said. “He heard a rustle in the undergrowth, and he squeezed his eyes shut in fear.

“‘Who are you and what are you doing?’ he called out. ‘I should warn you, I’m a dangerous man and I have an axe!’

“‘I am a dragon,’ a voice replied ‘and I’m sneaking through my forest to my lair. I have great big claws and great big teeth, and my back is plated with armour and my belly with poisonous spines. I breathe fire and I can tear down the mightiest tree in this forest with my bare hands.’

“‘If you have great big claws and great big teeth,’ the boy asked, ‘and your back is plated with armour and your belly with poisonous spines, and if you breathe fire and can tear down the mightiest tree in this forest with your bare hands, why are you sneaking?’,” Gyden gave Predericon a grin. “And the voice replied, ‘If you are a dangerous man and you have an axe…’”

“‘Why do you have your eyes squeezed shut?’” Lelhmak and Gyden concluded together.

“I am truly blessed,” Predericon noted, “to have the pair of you as company on this mission into the deep mechanical subconscious of the Destarion.”

The passage wasn’t long, and they stepped out into the antechamber to the Elevator’s Demon-brig.


– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while sitting in the carpark.

About Hatboy

I’m not often driven to introspection or reflection, but the question does come up sometimes. The big question. So big, there’s just no containing it within the puny boundaries of a single set of punctuationary bookends. Who are these mysterious and unsung heroes of obscurity and shadow? What is their origin story? Do they have a prequel trilogy? What are their secret identities? What are their public identities, for that matter? What are their powers? Their abilities? Their haunted pasts and troubled futures? Their modus operandi? Where do they live anyway, and when? What do they do for a living? Do they really have these fantastical adventures, or is it a dazzlingly intellectual and overwrought metaphor? Or is it perhaps a smug and post-modern sort of metaphor? Is it a plain stupid metaphor, hedged around with thick wads of plausible deniability, a soap bubble of illusory plot dependent upon readers who don’t dare question it for fear of looking foolish? A flight of fancy, having dozed off in front of the television during an episode of something suitably spaceship-oriented? Do they have a quest, a handler, a mission statement, a department-level development objective in five stages? I am Hatboy.
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6 Responses to Bookwyrm, Part 7

  1. did you mean “Not entirely SURE why…”?

    Also, and I realize you might be paraphrasing the source material of that story (cuz I’ve read it before) closely enough that this is not YOUR problem, but if the–whatever it is–can see the boy’s eyes are squeezed shut can’t it already see he’s not a man with an axe? XD

    • stchucky says:

      Yes, missed out a “sure” there, well spotted.

      As for the rest (I’m paraphrasing the platform’s own story that she tells when she meets Z-Lin for the first time, well spotted again), well yes. That’s the whole point of the story. The whatever-it-is is already looking right at the little boy and knows exactly what he is.

      • Oh, my apologies, I thought that story or something very similar was from Earth folklore…like our Earth, I mean. Fair enough!

        I got the point, of course, I just think it’s a little funny, but I don’t really have any suggestions. It’d just be a matter of preference how to pull off that punchline, I recognize that.

    • stchucky says:

      And indeed, knowing this, and knowing the Destarion repeats this story later, we know she’s listening right now even though there’s no sign of it. Sort of a parallel with the folk tale.

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