Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Wanderer to the Far City: A Parable

A man crossed into a country not his own and gazed upon the Far City, with its spires and columns leaning straight up into the sky. They seemed to be an indeterminate color. As he strode down the grassy divide towards that happy city in the far valley below, his busy mind attempted to identify the color, or failing that, to give it a new name of its own. He wasn't sure how to name a new color. Most colors seemed to take their name from things that were that color, but he had never seen anything this color except for these towers. He could hardly call the color "far city tower." No one would accept that as the name of a color.

The towers loomed ever higher as he strode down through knee-high grass. He smelled the air all around him: the rich odor of pungent dandelions, wildflowers and other weeds. He trod under gigantic toadstools, and trod tiny and regular-sized toadstools under. He knew the toadstools were not sentient, nor were they houses for tiny people. He had read the guidebook.

As he reached the bottom of the grassy divide, his feet came out on a wide road. It was made of shit bricks. The shit bricks had been treated so as not to stink or splatter - they were as stable as regular bricks, and would not stain the soles of your shoes, even when it had been raining. The man knew this, too, from the guidebooks. Shitbricksmithery was one of the many special arts practiced in this enlightened land, to ease the burden upon mother earth and make everyone's life a little cleaner, and everyone's mind a little easier - excepting some minor mental discomfort among the squeamish who would prefer the streets be paved with something other than shit bricks. Most of the squeamish were recent immigrants. The old-timers mostly laughed and shook their heads at such things.

The man strode out boldly into the road and bore right, towards the Far City. He was not squeamish in the slightest. He was a man of enlightened mind. The sun was hot, and the air sweet. His eyes drifted ahead and up, up the spires. Some were smooth gleaming tubes. Others were gingerbreaded with parapets and crenellations of the same smooth, gleaming material. All of the towers were that same indeterminate color. The man wondered why this unusual feature had not featured in his guidebooks. Surely others had remarked upon the remarkable color of these towers before? Or - as he strode forward, he peered with greater interest - had the color shifted ever so slightly? It could be the light, or a difference in atmospherics as he drew closer and closer to the city, but it seemed to him that it had.

He was so intent upon the towers, so bemused by his hueful musings, that he failed to notice the crowd of uniformed men and women on either side of the road until he was striding right between them. "Halt!" cried a musical voice. He stopped with a start, and looked about to find himself surrounded by an outlying field garrison of the Far City Guard! They were lounging by the roadside in the high grass, taking their ease between bouts of taking their exercise. The halted wanderer immediately began pulling out his papers, and turned to face the man whose ringing cry had brought him out of his reverie. The kind-looking fiftyish man - a deputy garrison marshall, to go by his insignia and indicia - came forward smiling warmly, but with a hint of caution in his eyes. He took the proffered papers and leafed through them slowly, still smiling.

"Have these been processed through Border Wall Town?" he asked innocently. "I don't see the invisible stamp."

"Ah, yes, well in this light that can be a problem. I assure you everything is in order, and the stamp is there."

"Hmm." The deputy scowled good-naturedly. "I'm afraid we'll have to take you into the tent for processing. The light's better in there."

"Oh dear," said the wanderer.


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