Archive for July, 2016

Storytime: Lost.

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

My city is lost.
It was right nearby when I last checked. It can’t have gone too far.
I’m putting up posters, and I’m sure it will come right back. It’s very distinctive; cyclopean masonry; timeworn slabs of stone; the dust of ages piled in every over-spider-webbed corner and cranny and crevice. There will be phone calls by the morrow.
You should have a look-around too, it would be worth your time. It’s got a diamond mine, or a gold mine, or something like that. A plunderable place to be sure, a conquistador’s wet dream without all the inconvenience of owners to deal with in barter and blades and bacteria and bloody thoughts. A convenient place, wasn’t it? I thought so. I thought so.
But it won’t mean a thing if I can’t FIND it. I need to find it. It’s been a long time, yes, but that long?


My civilization is lost.
Have you seen it? Can you help me find it? It was here, just a minute ago. I put it down and walked away; I just let its hand slip from my grasp for a moment; I swear it was right there, I’m certain.
Now it’s gone and crawled away under the tectonic floorboards, buried itself in a subterranean cyst and sunk down into the abyss. Are there impassable mountains? Plateaus? Deserts? It could be under them or in them or even above them. I just don’t know where it’s gone.
There could very well be something in it for you, if you must know. It was a Great and Glorious civilization indeed, which almost goes without saying; whoever heard of losing a Small and Modest civilization? It’s unheard of! Unthinkable! There will be fabulous riches, trust me. Fabulous.
Please, you MUST come with me and look for it! It’s very important – it’s so important! It invented everything you’ve ever heard of and everything they’ve been trying to keep hushed up. It’s the reason for the pyramids and the other pyramids and the Nazca lines and the JFK assassination and the Mars landings they pretended were on the moon. It can’t have gone far, the evidence is right under your nose. All the answers are right there, waiting, yearning, stretching up to reach past our assumptions and into our minds.
But they won’t mean a thing unless we FIND it.


My world is lost.
Can anybody see it around here? It seemed large at the time, but the planet’s much older and bigger than I’d thought and now it’s rolled away into the crowded bustle of nations. It might be one of them, for all I know. Can I describe it? I’m not sure what size it was.
It was filled with fronds, that much I’m certain. It’s choked with ferns and damp and steam; except where it’s a parched volcanic badlands, or a green and alien sea. The things that call from cliffs – always cliffs, never trees – aren’t birds, I can assure you. There’s a ruin in there somewhere, but we never found out who built it; it was architectural litter, not from us, or the snakemen, or the lizardmen, or the apemen, or the troglodytes.
It was an island – no a valley – no a mountain – no a continent – no a great cavern – no it was hiding right under your feet. Unless it was on Mars. Always Mars, unless it’s Venus.
I don’t understand how I could be so STUPID. I was distracted, and things moved on, and now it’s so old and everything else is so fresh and new. I hadn’t dusted or cleaned it in ages; it was rank with rot and fat and thick, bloated flabs of grossly morbid eugenics. It’s an heirloom, it’s not mine, I’ve only got amateur interest, it’s full of historical value. Don’t look at me that way; it’s not my fault!
It doesn’t mean a thing. It doesn’t mean a THING!
I can show you, I can show you, I WILL SHOW YOU
But first I need to find it.


I am lost.
Can you tell where I am? Where I’ve been? Where I’ve gone? I’ve called and called for help but I’ve heard not a single answer. It’s a wilderness out there, undoubtedly untrammeled and bereft of a single familiar voice.
Please, won’t anyone come find me? Anyone like me. I’m not meant to be lost, you must understand. Other places are lost. Other places are meant to be found. I am always found. That’s how I do my finding. But now I’m lost and lost and lost, and all that’s between me and everyone else is my four stone walls.
These walls are high and thick and tall and I will never take them down. They keep me safe from whatever’s prowling around out there, stomping in that jungle (it must be a jungle, it’s always a jungle) with its spears and its teeth and its hot terrible breath that smells of raw meat.
I am lost here, behind my walls, my strong walls. They are crumbling now, but they always have been. I made them that way on purpose.
Let you others take down your walls and rove and roam and romp.
I am safe. I am safe. I must be safe behind my old stones and old words and old thoughts.



I wonder.
I wonder who will ever find me?

Thudmaker and the Sea.

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

The day started early, but the breakfast was late.
The little Thudmakers found it at last – the biggest two did – in the back of the bottom of the end of the crooked cupboard hidden in the corner. They shared it with their siblings, quietly, and took very small bites apiece.
“I guess it’s time again,” said Thudmaker.
Out came the yellow hat, out came the brown boots, out came the overalls. And out the front door, shutting it quiet as a mouse, came Thudmaker, sixteen feet tall and going on sixty, headed down the street to look for work.
But looking high, there wasn’t any. And looking low, there wasn’t any. And nobody looks in between, but Thudmaker looked there too, and there wasn’t any.
There was one more place, though. It wasn’t any of those things.
It wasn’t anywhere at all.

And so Thudmaker headed down to the docks. Oh, woah Thudmaker, scars and muscles and old burns and new callouses and such a sight on the shining Main Street. Parents covered their children’s eyes; cars drove by a little faster. You don’t look at Thudmaker, they knew. You need, but you don’t look. And you don’t speak.
Down by the way of damp smells there was an older store that Thudmaker squeezed into and came out with a battered old sou’wester that was bent a little too far to the south. And a block farther down there was an even older store that Thudmaker couldn’t fit into at all, where a man had a boat that was half tin and half wood and you couldn’t tell the two halves apart if your life depended on it. Nobody wanted it and nobody would pay for it.
It fit Thudmaker, that boat. Like a glove. And it came with a little pair of oars.
Thudmaker dipped them into the water and pulled up and down and along and along.
Thud, thud, thud.
Out to sea went Thudmaker, with nobody watching from the shining streets. And they felt just a bit relieved to not see what they saw.

So Thudmaker rowed out to sea, over waves blue and green and strange, looking for fish with a battered old rod in a battered old pocket. And by and large there were things shimmering in the water, but a hook hauled up nothing, nothing, nothing.
“What’s this?” Thudmaker asked.
“A good question,” bellowed a passing voice. Thudmaker looked up and met eye to eye with a cargo ship, long and cold and steely-iron, a smooth cylinder covered in bulky boxes. “It’s plastic. Scrap plastic. Microplastic. You get a lot of it out here, from over there.”
“Over where?” asked Thudmaker.
“Everywhere. It all washes out, you know.”
Thudmaker dipped a paw in the water and came out with nothing, but a very special kind of nothing; thin and filmy and indestructibly tiny. “Is it safe?”
“Of course not, but it doesn’t matter. There’s nothing out here, you know.”
“I thought the sea was out here,” said Thudmaker.
“Yes, well, nothing real,” said the ship matter-of-factly. “I thought you’d know that, being a sailor.” And it pushed on, idly tipping a container over its side as it went.
Thudmaker fished there for a while, watching shoals of plastic and schools of rubber duckies drift by under the line. But there was nothing at all, and so down came the oars again.
Splash, splash, splash.
The plastic swirled around the bow.

Then Thudmaker went a little farther out to sea, under skies of blue and grey and black and white, until the boat went aground with a crunch and a crack and a tinkle and a rattle. But mostly a crunch.
Thudmaker got out and waded around to check the bow. It was dented, but that was normal.
“Whew,” said Thudmaker.
“Careful,” said some tourists. “Mind the coral.”
“Coral?” asked Thudmaker, looking at the tourists. They were covered in swimsuits, wetsuits, and cameras of very interesting kinds, and they were all wearing cages as they swam around Thudmaker’s ankles.
“Yes, the coral. The white, crumbly stuff. There’s not much left, you know.”
Thudmaker looked at the coral. There didn’t look like there was much left, it was true. It was practically bleached.
“Now would you please move?” asked the tourists. “We’re here for a shark dive. It’s very exciting and dramatic and thrilling and natural, and it might not be here next year.”
“Why?” asked Thudmaker.
“Well, the coral sure won’t be,” said the tourists. “Now beat it or you’ll get in the way of the chumming.”
Thudmaker beat it back into the boat and watched as the water turned red with filleted former fish and the fins appeared, nosing for treats and bumping cages that flashed and clicked and hummed with pent-up excitement. Some of them came and bumped Thudmaker’s boat too, but all Thudmaker’s pockets were empty except for crumbs.
“Will they be alright next year?” asked Thudmaker.
“Who knows?” said the tourists. “Who cares? It’s the sea; it’s big, and there are always plenty more fish in it and plenty more of it, no matter what happens. We’d think you’d know that, being a sailor.”
Thudmaker thought about fishing there, for a while. But the sharks were so small, and they looked so hungry, and in the end the hook stayed tucked with the rod and line and the oars came out again.
Splish, splish, splish.
The corals whitened behind the stern.

Now Thudmaker came farther out to sea yet, under wind and sun and cloud and over water, nothing but water, as far down as could be imagined and further still.
Thudmaker looked high, and there wasn’t anything there.
Thudmaker looked in the middle, and there wasn’t anything there.
And Thudmaker looked low, and saw the sea.
There were words for it, but they weren’t small enough to fit inside anybody’s head, let alone their mouths. They were too big even for Thudmaker’s; a skull that could split stone with a jaw that could crack walnuts. But there were things about it that could be grasped.
There were waves.
Thudmaker’s boat bobbed in the blue on top of them, like a cork that had seen the worst side of a corkscrew. The rod was fished out.
There were fish.
Thudmaker could see them down there, deep and fast and thick, all shining and wide-eyed. The line was fished out.
It was real.
And that was what hit Thudmaker like a calm slow stroke of lightning, sliding up inside from boots-to-hat. The hook paused mid-threading.
The sea was real, and it was there, and it was all around Thudmaker, edge to edge as far as could be seen no matter how high Thudmaker reared up into the horizon.
And they were alone together.
Thudmaker looked down at the little fishes. The sea looked back up at Thudmaker.
And the oars dropped down into their locks.

It had been a good day, a busy day, a day for making things and building things and trading things. A long, productive day. And so the lights kept going as the sun turned itself out, because if there’s one thing that a day like that needs it’s a bustling night.
Everyone bustled appropriately, pushing papers, hauling girders, checking and filing and bending and breaking and they were so busy that they almost didn’t see Thudmaker come back in, down at the docks.
But they heard it when the road groaned. And they felt it when the air changed. And when the smell of damp and more came in…
That’s when people, even when they know they’re not meant to look, have got no choice.
And that’s when they saw them. The two of them. Filling the road and overflowing it, side by side, hand in hand, each leaning on the other after a long, tired journey.
Thudmaker and the sea.
Some people stared, shut-eyed. Some people screamed, quietly. And some other people ran, clumsily.
But none of that seemed real, not real at all, as the bright lights turned soft on the glimmering bodies of small fishes, as those two walked together up the shining Main Street.

There wasn’t much for dinner.
The youngest two little Thudmakers found a can; the oldest two found an old paper bag.
But it was enough for them all, and for one more. And that was all they needed.

Storytime: Fit for a Queen.

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

In the twilight of her reign, it was accepted by all – grudgingly or not – that there had never been such a queen as Cen.
She had moulted early, fed deeply, and sprung skyward while others were waiting for their wings to dry.
She had seized the far shores from the fierce men-of-many-arms (at least, above the tidelines, which was all the land worth having) and defended them.
She had transformed, through patient agriculture and wise appointment of drone-ministers, some of the poorest fields of the land into rich, verdant fields whose nectar overflowed beyond abundance.
And she had hatched three daughter-queens, a number unheard of.
But a queen, though long-lived, is mortal still. And so among all that Cen had done and commanded to be done, her pilgrimage to the lone half-pine was perhaps the least-noteworthy of her deeds. In fact, it was nothing more or less than expected. She made the journey in orthodox garb: bare wings, empty-legged, in humble posture, and she petitioned the flightless martyrs upon its trunk for entrance, and once inside she made all the correct venerations towards the Endless Rings of the lone half-pine’s interior.
It was all in complete accord, as it had always been, until the very moment of her departure, when Cen, queen of queens, halted on the very stoop of the sacred halls. Her escort, a great hulking labourer, nearly stumbled over her abdomen.
“Pilgrim?” she inquired of the queen.
Cen turned, and although her mien was still of utmost humility, and although she did not raise her voice, and although there was no hint of force, aggression, or threat in her words, when she stated “I must see the high abbess immediately” there was simply no question of anything but.

The abbess was a little surprised to have guests. Her last had come nearly a year ago, on the same day as always: a lone flightless apprentice, wings only just started to wither in their bindings, bringing news and her yearly meal. She had lived out nearly half her life at the very top of the half-pine without any other visitor.
But she was a good host, and made a place for Cen to sit upon the floor of her cell; and an excellent listener, and made Cen a silence to talk into.
“I am old,” said Cen.
The abbess nodded. In truth, the two were of similar relative age, though not absolute. Cen had ruled when the abbess’s grandmother was young: the span of a queen was no small thing.
“I am old, and soon will die,” said Cen.
Another nod. This was factual. Of course, from the abbess’s perspective everything was due to die fairly soon after its birth, but she understood many people, especially the powerful, did not comprehend this of themselves until it was almost too late.
“I am old, and soon will die, and when I die,” said Cen, “I wish to be embedded among the crypts of the martyrs.”
The abbess tried to nod and freeze up and jolt at the same time and fell over with the shakes. Cen politely did not move or speak while she composed herself.
“The crypts of the martyrs,” she continued, “are holy and unviolated. Ten thousand thousand bodies lie there, in amber, and there is room yet for ten thousand thousand times that again. I know it is prohibited for one with wings to lie among such pious relics, but I must request it of you, abbess, for a very simple reason.”
The abbess, freshly re-seated, nodded successfully once again, although somewhat shakier than before.
“I have three daughter-queens. One would consume me, and be of no fret to mind. Two would battle equally, and to the victor, the world as seized from my innards. Three is unheard of, and for years now I have considered its consequences. One will band together with another to destroy the third, and each will betray her conspirator, and in the end, there will be no victor capable of eating from my carapace. My throne will hold only corpses.”
Cen raised her head, and for the first time since her approach to the sacred half-pine she carried herself as a queen. A quiet queen, but a ruler nonetheless. “But if my body is placed beyond reach, there is no prize to squabble over, solely a kingdom to rule, a mantle to shoulder. And without the ichor that flows within me, it will be a taxing enough job to fulfill three daughter-queens fully. One ruler in three parts.”
“Then you must go to the crypts,” said the abbess in a high, dry, shaky voice that had not been used in over forty years. And Cen said no word in return, but simply touched antennae in the fullest thanks possible.

And queen Cen returned from her unexceptional, expected pilgrimage as if nothing had happened. And nothing did happen for a further year and forty-six days, until the night her body cooled and never warmed again.
Six flightless martyrs descended upon her chamber from hidden means, and took her body upon hidden paths, and after walking in silence for a long week while the land mourned around them, unknowing, they bore her up the winding heights of the lone half-pine and placed her in the smallest, humblest cavity in the grand chamber of the crypts of the martyrs.
The sap covered her within the day, and hid her precious corpse forever, as she had wished. And then the six martyrs sealed themselves as well, for they knew full certain that this was a secret that should not be spoken of.

Cen’s daughters did not kill one another. Cen’s daughters did not hate one another. But Cen’s daughters were not best pleased with the governing of the land.
The eldest, Can, was displeased, as she was sure she was the mightiest of the three, and would have triumphed in the struggle for their mother’s body. The middle child, Cin, was displeased, as she was sure she was the craftiest of the three, and would have been able to trick the other two into duelling to their dooms. And the youngest, Cun, was displeased, as she had always felt that their mother had liked her the most and would have bequeathed her remains to her.
One thing they did have in common: they all were sure they were better rulers than their sisters.
“What foolery are you engaged in, pressing the men-of-many-arms into the tideshores themselves?” Cin would demand of Can. “The land is useless to use! It is a waste of time and effort!”
“Why have you been meddling with the drone-ministers of the heartland?” Cun would demand of Cin. “They were mother’s choices, and your dismissal of them before their lives had ended casts unfavourable light upon yourself in the eyes of the people, no matter how apt their replacements.”
“How do you expect to get anything done mooning endlessly in the royal chambers?” Can would demand of Cun. “Mother left no word to us beyond do-as-we-see-fit; what do you think to uncover with all your furtive searches? A notice of your inheritance? Insolence! Connivery! Idleness!!”
And so the days wound by, bitter and bickerer, until fifteen years had passed, when each of the three sisters made a discovery.
“Sisters,” said Can, “this morning I woke with aches in my joints. And I see by your faces you two have felt this. Without mother’s body, we will not live to her age.”
“Sisters,” said Cin, “this morning I finishing combing the archives. No queen has ever produced daughter-queens without first consuming her mother. Without mother’s body, the kingdom will lie without heirs.”
“Sisters,” said Cun, “this morning I found a loose bit of flooring in mother’s chambers. Behind it lay a dusty and disused passage, and in that passage I found an old, old speck of pollen. It came from a half-pine.”
And the three sisters agreed that it was right and necessary that they retrieve the body of their mother – to split equally among themselves, of course – and Can didn’t mention that her body had ached from battle, and Cin didn’t mention that her studies had also suggested that consumption of a fellow daughter-queen would serve as an adequate substitute, and Cun didn’t mention that she had found the passage ten years earlier and had been considering the proper way in which to exploit this.
And none of them mentioned what they already had begun to plan for the others.

The trail was well-hidden, by care as much as by age, but the three daughter-queens had access to the finest scouts in all the land and they traveled hard on their heels with a great winged vanguard of labourers commanded by drone-generals of great size and girth. Less than ten days after the meeting in the morning the army of the realm swarmed outside the trunk of the lone half-pine, and the three daughter-queens hovered above the wingless martyrs that guarded its gates in a most intimidating and superior manner.
“Hail, pilgrims,” said the captain of the guard, although she did so entirely out of ritual for the martyrs were wingless, not blinded. “For what do thee seek entry?”
“Our mother’s body,” said Cun.
“There are no bodies here but those of the martyrs. The crypts are holy,” said the captain.
“The trail we have followed here tells a lie, then,” said Cin. She hurled a mouldering lump at the captain’s feet. “As does this pollen.”
The captain drew back. This was her mistake. It was just a half-step, but Can had been itching all over since the lone half-pine drew into sight, and it was all the excuse she needed.

The wingless martyrs were fearless, impervious to pain or fear, fiercely disciplined on their home ground, and utterly devoted.
They were, however, still wingless. Though they held firm in the winding tunnels inside the lone half-pine, they had posted no guard on the long ramps that led towards the lofty crypts of the martyrs – who would ever dare strike there, or ever wish to? – and when the enemy surged up them they were unable to pursue at more than a crawl, bombarded endlessly from above.
The sisters broke down the door themselves – out of fury more than need, for it was wholly decorative – and as they looked at the ten thousand thousand tombs, they knew their search would be hopeless without guidance.
“Fetch the abbess,” Cin demanded, and in only a matter of moments the venerable holy woman was dragged down from her cell above the crypts between two strong labourer-soldiers.
“Where is our mother?” Cun demanded. “Where have you hidden her corpse?”
The abbess tried to explain that only six wingless martyrs had ever know the location of queen Cen’s body, and that those six had ended their lives solemnly years before, and that even if the abbess knew of its location she would be bound to honour their sacrifice and say nothing, but between the stress and the fury and the fear and the great, stifling bulk of the labourer-soldiers her barely-used voice could manage nothing more than grunts and wheezes.
Can cursed and decapitated the wizened old thing. Spinning to face the glares of her sisters, she spat in contempt and seized a lantern from the nearest labourer.
“I will melt them out,” she said. “One miserable little prison at a time.”
“A waste of time when I knew mother best,” said Cun. “I could recognize her, dead, alive, or frozen in amber.”
“Nonsense,” snapped Cin. “Have drones search this place; they have the brains to recognize a queen and the lack of interest to prevent them from seizing it.”
“Do you say I am stupid?” said Can.
“Do you say I am treacherous?” said Cun.
Cin’s eyes darted from one to the other, and her hands fell to her sword-stinger. “Alliance? Battle? HERE?” she said. “You are simple in truth!”
Can struck first, but not with her still-bloodied blade. Instead she hurled the torch, and as Cin ducked from the blaze, she slammed her to the ground. The middle-sister cursed and clutched and scrabbled to rise, but she couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. She had landed on her own sword.
Can rose, but clumsily, lurching. Cun’s blade was buried in her thorax.
And Cun herself, panting with fear and triumph, turned to face her mother where she knew she must lie, buried in the endless soaring wall of the crypts, and saw only a towering vortex of flame. Can’s torch had set the sap alight. Blackened, ancient bodies withered in their cavities. Amber burst molten, followed by frozen eyes.
“Mother?” she whispered, as the first screams and sparks reached the army.

The lone half-pine stood apart, and burned apart. But when it fell, its height carried it leagues, and the rolling of its timbers farther still.
First the forests, then the fields, then finally the folk above them – soaring panicked from the blazing ground into choking skies.

When others came, years later, such history as they learned of the empty realm had to be pieced together, from scraps, from middens, and even from the old folk tales of the men-with-many-arms, who remembered the invaders from the Dry Above.
It was not a complete tale, but they knew one thing for certain: there had never again been a queen such as Cen.

Storytime: Ectotopia.

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

If we were all large, carnivorous reptiles, here’s how lunch’d have to be…
Well. It’d be simpler than what it is now, I tell you what.
Yes, we’d all be eating meat, not greens or grains, and that means LOTS of pastures, and all the pain-in-the-necks that entails. But we’d all be ectothermic! Low, low, LOW food intake requirements, comparatively. And since we’d be so big, we’d stay stuffed for ages. One or two good meals a year, maybe. Imagine how much time that’d save. Imagine how many more people we might be able to keep lying around. Shoot, if we’re not picky eaters, we could eat any old thing, and we could harvest local wildlife semidomesticated without the need for mass landscaping!
… Not that I’d know anything about that.

If we were all large, carnivorous reptiles, here’s how the day’d have to be…
Well, it’d be a lot slower than this rush-rush-rush hustle-bustle nonsense we all live with, you’re darn tootin’. We’d take it slow in the mornings – real slow, real smooth. Wait for the sun to rise and get our basking done, warming up those veins inch by inch. Then once the sun’s reasonably high, we’d get moving. Sedately. With a midafternoon break to avoid overheating, mandatory of course.
And we’d still have time to get stuff done for a good bit of the night, if need be. Once something big’s heated up, it stays that way for a little while. Some decent nightlife could be allotted.
… Not that I’m an expert on this.

If we were all large, carnivorous reptiles, here’s how wars’d have to go…
They’d have to be quick and decisive. You run around too much in a row you’ll get fatigued to hell, drop nigh-dead from exhaustion on the spot. Sustained high-stress activity for prolonged periods of time? No thanks. Any fights we’d pick would be even longer on long periods of boredom, even shorter on the short periods of terror. Short and sour, if not sweet. Like getting a needle or peeling off a bandaid.
Speaking of which, did I mention we’d likely have heavy scales at our size, which would surely protect us from many minor abrasions, cuts, bruises, and other tragedies of existence? War would no longer be hell, merely heck. Bad, but not horrifying.
… Not that I’ve run the numbers on it.

If we were all large, carnivorous reptiles, here’s how churches’d have to be…
They’d be very calm and quiet. Nobody’d have the energy to waste jumping up and down on their pews or whatnot, so they’d be sitting there calmly. Digesting, maybe. Or contemplating digesting something someday. Same goes for the priests. Speak softly, with maybe a slightly dry hiss, and leave the big stick lying there because boy who’s got the time for that. That’s work.
Most of the sermons would involve the virtues of lying very still and not moving unduly. This would resonate firmly with most people. Schisms would occur over the nicest sort of place to do this but would be broadly separated into those espousing nice warm places to help digestion versus proponents of shady cool places to lull yourself into a semitorpid coma.
Arguments would be resolved by pontiffs flickering their tongues at each other, since blinking competitions would be impossible.
… Not that I’ve got theological background or anything.

If we were all large, carnivorous reptiles, here’s how our governments’d have to be…
I say me you, they’d be a lot more straightforward. The head of state would be whoever grew large enough to consume his or her predecessor. Since all of us would grow continually throughout our lives it’d just be a matter of taking turns, and everyone would get a reasonable term since we’d all only eat a couple times a year at most as clearly previously mentioned by myself.
Decisions in office would be simple, slow, and in the mornings, revolve mostly around plotting out sunbathing parks and shady underground garages. Sometimes there would be beach zoning, to ensue all expectant mothers had fair and equitable access to big piles of sand for nesting with adequate anti-seagull netting.
After the midday break, heads of state would listen as underreptiles carefully reported the latest news from around the world. Most of it would be listening to how nice the weather was. The rest of the day would be spent asleep.
And that’s why I’d be king of the reptiles.
… Not that I’ve thought about that.