Storytime: Inspiration.

December 20th, 2017

Once upon a time there was a peasant and a sling and an empty stomach and a rabbit sat temptingly within range.
The rabbit wasn’t as unaware as it looked, the peasant was more careless than he thought, and the far side of the ridge the rabbit ran down was a lot steeper than you’d assume.
Still, once the world stopped spinning and the feeling crept back into his spine, opportunity presented itself. Particularly once he saw what was lying underneath his spine.
(it was another spine, a very elongated one, tapering to a tail-tip)
And what it was attached to.
(it was large, and scaly, and sleeping soundly)
And then he had a very, very crafty idea.

Once upon a while there was a minor noble.
On his eighteenth birthday his father took him into the dungeons of the family keep and showed him the thing they kept in irons there, and the blood they drew from it.
And then he chugged a big mouthful, belched, and wrote an astounding treatise on economic thought in five minutes, pausing only to freshen the ink.
“Someday, son,” he told him, “this will all be yourgkughug…uhr. Ahrgh.”
The minor noble cleaned up around the place and considered what to do with his newfound power. Preferably in a way that wouldn’t end with him in a similar yet crucially different situation as the one he’d just manufactured, someday.
So he sat down, made sure he had a sharp, fresh quill handy, and chugged a big mouthful of blood.
And then he had a very cunning idea.

Once upon a ways there was a tremendously wealth heiress.
This was normal in her family, and almost below-par, which she resented dearly. Any fool could make a fortune, or a few fortunes – at least, any fool with the right-sized cup and the right code to the family vault.
It was keeping the peace long enough with your relatives to make sure they put their codes in too that was the trick.
She was out of luck with uncle Edward. He favoured little cousin Edith these days. And grandma Victoria had hated her for years. And mom and dad only gave out their codes in exchange for open promises, which the heiress despised.
There had to be a better way than this, stultifying under the weight and approval of generations of insular aristocrats and their petty judgments. There had to be a way to break down the barriers. There had to be a way to get her hands on some inspiration. More than the cupful she had left. She’d been thinning it, making it last, mixing it with a lot of wine (expensive wine, but still a watering-down).
She downed the last of her cupful neat.
And then she had a wonderful idea.

Once upon a long ago there was a captain of industry.
Or well, brewery. Which relied on industry, and rhymed with it, and so was near enough. Besides, as her mother had often reminded her, just try and imagine the city’s elite without liquid inspiration. You’d have to start over from first principles, rubbing two gears together and hoping they fucked.
So industry it was. The valves and pipes and boilers and thumpers and kettles and bells and whistles and walls and wails somewhere buried under it all, attached to a particularly heat-proof set of tubes, was what everybody worth being anybody treasured most in their gin, in their throats.
And, more importantly, in their heads.
A lonely, lonely position she stood in, now that mother was gone. But as mother had always told her, that was best. The family would slow you down. Better to run alone. A good idea, one of many thousands mother had kept with her.
(She’d never asked what mother had done with the family. She’d heard ‘dynamite’ muttered in the old women’s last hours, and figured that was enough)
The city hummed outside her window. It hummed to her tune, the vibration in the blood in the booze in its belly. Resonant, tickling the brain cells.
Now if only sales would go up a little more this quarter, she’d be set.
Now if only this city’s elite would screw a little more often, and have a few more kids every five years, she’d be set.
Now if only this damned document her lawyer had handed her would make sense, she’d be set.
Now if only the traffic weren’t so loud, she’d be set.
Now if only her daily glass hadn’t curdled in her gut and left her brain numb instead of buzzing, she’d be set.
Now if only this damned empty pit under her clavicle would go away, she’d be set.
The captain of industry realized she was doodling with her pen. So she got up and threw it through the window. It was a cheap thing, anyways. Gold foil pretending to be plating.
And then she watched, just for a moment, and saw a man walk by, pick it up, and smile with the genuine warmth of those who believe themselves to be truly fortunate.
And then she had a fairly clever idea.

Once upon a last week there was a guy, and his name was Nicholas Forwards, and he was a playwright, and he was hard stumped for inspiration.
So he went down to the bar and ordered three pints. Low-calorie. Light. Gluten-free. Butane-free.
And then he drank it down and threw up and bought another three and drank it down some more and after he’d dropped the local booze level a good eight inches he lit up and lit out and ran into the street yelling “I’VE GOT IT I’VE GOT IT I’VE GOT IT” and was hit by a car.
It was the driver’s fault. Yes, he’d been running, but she should’ve been paying attention. She’d been distracted by thinking about circuit designs. Never mind that she was a carpenter, she’d had a circuit design stuck in her head for six weeks straight. If she’d been able to explain that she might have gotten off, but as it was all she did was try and explain circuits to the judge, which was poor luck anyways because the judge hadn’t been able to deliver a verdict that wasn’t a monologue on fork design in eight months.
People had a lot on their mind, these days. Even if it was just a little.
Walking into traffic and driving into the sidewalk, forgetting to eat and forgetting to stop eating. A lot of the infrastructure had become exostructure overnight, sometimes explosively.

Except the brewery.

In its guts, in the basement under the basement under the basement on the building plans, fighting through a keyring, is the great architect, the heir to the empire. He’s been down here for three days, living off his own urine and whatever bugs come too close, and he’s almost found the right key. He would’ve had it two days ago if he hadn’t spent most of the time trying to come up with a phylogenetic tree for keys.
Can’t complain, though. He knows he’s more put together than most folks these days. Which is what he’s hoping to fix. Because heeeyyy, after five hundred years of exploitative theft and greed, which you personally benefited from your whole life… well, ‘I’m sorry’ can’t hurt, right? It’s got to help, right?
Oh there’s the key. He knew he’d almost found it.

Finding the lock took another hour though.

Click clack clunk and the old vault scooches open, and inside, bound by iron and steel and odd little symbols etched onto every link, was
a three foot goanna.
“I uh, I release you from, I’m, uh, I’m sor. I’m sor.”
It blinked at him, reptile-slow. The blood-milking tubes hung limply at its side. They must’ve been running dryer and dryer for…ever. When had it got so small?
He cleared his throat again.
“thhhhhhhhhh” it said.
“y,” he concluded. And shrugged, limply.
He unchained the goanna anyways. It bit him and ran out of the room. A small squeak announced that the city’s rodent population had a new, hungry problem.
The heir to the empire examined the red dripping out of his palm, and wondered if his clearing head was from pain or something else, more fundamental. Maybe it was alright. Maybe the fuzz would stop. Maybe he could sit and rest, without worry, without thought.
He licked his hand experimentally anyways. Just in case.

It didn’t give him any new ideas, but it did contribute to his death a few days later.
Blood poisoning.

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