Friday, November 15, 2013

Found story

About a year ago I started to write a story for children.  I didn’t finish it though because I was busy and it wasn’t very good.  I found it on my disk the other day when I was looking for something else so here it is. What the hell. Hopefully I’ll finish it one day and no one will read the finished article either.

­­The woman who stole the stars

There was a little girl, once, who grew up to be the woman who stole the stars. She probably didn’t mean to, at first. Who would? But she’s the reason there aren’t any stars any more and she was an agent of chaos who ended up forgetting what chaos is and why she wanted to steal the stars in the first place. It’s a strange story and much the stranger for being true.

The woman began as a tiny thing, something you could hardly believe had a person inside it: a baby. We know better now, but in those days we thought that babies were stupid and didn’t know anything. This was forgivable: babies hardly ever made any discoveries in those days and their wars – which have always been an indicator of advanced civilisation – were mostly waged on the basis of things that are comforting to bite. It was a more innocent time. For all of that, babies were wiser in those days. They didn’t wear suits back then. Instead, they wore nappies so that they could poo and wee in situ while going about their daily business. It was an elegant arrangement and historians have long associated the fall of humanity – and the eventual stealing of the stars – with the abandonment of nappies as standard and stylish wear. They might be right for all I know, but that would be an exception. Historians are hardly ever right. They deliberately forget and erase from history many inconvenient things. Historians will tell you that there have never been any stars. They’ll tell you that historical babies knew no cosmic secrets and never, ever invented any such thing as the Star Hammer.

The Star Hammer is the dark, spikey shape that crosses the moon every nineteen-and-a-bit days. We call it The Stammer now and we’ve forgotten why it was made and what it did. I think – people like me think – that we forgot about it because all the historians are babies and the babies don’t want us to remember what their kind did.

People like me? There aren’t many of us left, now. We’re the people who know the truth about history. We’re custodians of knowledge and the keepers and tellers of stories. Back when telling stories was allowed, we were called sciencers and our stories were all about how the world worked. We had a trick – a method – of knowing whether our stories were true. Or at least whether they were provisionally true, which meant that they fit with what we knew about the world at the time, but might turn out to be wrong later on if we found out more. For example, the sciencers once thought that the world was made out of things that were a bit like springs. The springs were there so that things could interact with each other. When you push something, it pushes you back. When you walk around on the grass, something is pushing you down and stopping you flying up into the air. The sciencers thought this was done by something a bit like springs. It made sense at the time. But later on, some sciencers realised that there weren’t really any invisible springs. The world, they realised, didn’t really work as if there were springs everywhere causing everything to work. They crossed out that story and that’s how we know now that everything works by something that’s a bit like elastic.

But the point is that the sciencers were made to forget how to tell whether stories are true and their powers were reduced. All they – we – can do now is tell the few stories we remember and for the reasons you already know, we hardly ever dare do even that.

The woman who stole the stars is a story. A story is an account of real or fictional people and the things they did. We’re not allowed to tell stories these days, but lots of people do it anyway. Well, that’s why you’re here, isn’t it? That’s what drove you to find the cave and the citadel and my office. You want to know about the woman who stole the stars.

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