Cloak my biddings in Mist & DARKNESS

from The Headflux Chronicles, Book 1, by Will Lorimer

5

THE NEW CAPITOL

The New Capitol of Bigger was not based in any specific location. Revolutionary advances in technology had freed architecture from the gravitational restraints that had held it shackled since civilization was initiated by the erection of the Great Omphalus of Ancient Ma’at in the Chord, a testament to the genius of the original Foundling Fathers of Tumpty.

Such advances in technology also meant that the heritable descendants of the Old Natural Order no longer needed the support of laboring masses. These elites of the New Natural Order were symbolized on the great Seal of Bigger dollar bills by the radiant crystal cap of the Omphalus. Conversely, the laboring masses were represented by the truncated masonry below, supporting the said crystal cap featured on the same Great Seal — all of which meant that the mass of nanos were now redundant.

Simply put, civilization had reached its goal and would go the way of the dodo. Henceforth, the Numpty elites, freed from all restraints, would wander the Whole Natural aboard fortified floating N-class carriers such as the New Capitol, the first of a new genus, which in addition to armaments, contained a replica Capitol, complete in every detail, a Library of Congress, a Senate, and a shining granite Omphalus, identical in every detail to the old Worthington Memorial, towering over a new Scalphouse, where the Imperator, or the ‘Imp’ as he was more generally known by friend and foe alike, looked out onto broad lawns and cherry trees. It was the perfect end to a great dream that had been, for the majority of nanos since Foundation Times, a protracted nightmare.

THE ROAD TO NIPPY (#2)

‘Who’d have thought it?’ Tamson reflected, regarding the familiar outlines of the Citadel in the distance.

After centuries in the City of Westminton’s shadow, Auld Nippy was now the Capital of the Wayward Isles. Its new legal status had been confirmed by the decision of the Wayward Congress to ‘up sticks’, as the Speaker of the Old Congress had put it, ‘accept the inevitable’, and move to the vassal country that ironically had been granted notional ‘independence’, only a year before the catastrophic floods left much of Mingland submerged.

This tragedy was marked on daily newscasts by the sad stump of Pig Pen, which in beer times had towered over the old Houses of Congress in Westminton. Nowadays, however, only the upper portion of the clock face showed above muddy waters, which were still giving up the dead of the drowned city in tangled rafts of bloated bodies, buoyed to the surface by gaseous escapes from below.

Mud; there was so much mud about the lands of the new South, following the magnetic reversal of the Poles and their subsequent shift from their former positions, the loss of such a weight and depth of ice elevating the shoreline around Dreedland, sinking low-lying Mingland, which now lay to the new North, and generally destabilizing the tablets in their orbits. All three (or four if Sumpty was added) now swung closer to the Eye of the Makkar, which these days, rose in the west and set in the east, and burned so much more brightly in the sky. Its heat was searing and only partially alleviated by the n-centric shields stationed in fixed orbits above densely populated areas of Dumpty, Rumpty, and Tumpty, leaving desert areas such as the Chord all but uninhabitable, igniting brush and jungle fires across great swathes of territory.

The resulting pall of smoke, releasing vast quantities of carbon into the atmosphere, had kindled a revival of religion among born- again billions who believed that the Day of Tamson, as prophesied in the penultimate book of the Metshatsur (the Holy Book sacred to the three principal faiths), was now at hand. Everywhere, Foundationism, or Religious Literalism as it was also called, was on the rise. Sacrifice of animals had been reintroduced into Xtian kirks. Wigs preferred dreadlocks and the conservative dress style of their remote sheep-herding ancestors. Even moderate Knotters were hirsute in everything they did.

Children, segregated by faith into separate schools run by Wig, X-tian, and Knotter Blind Scholars, were inculcated in the three C’s — Creationism, Catechism, and Catastrophism, leading to an outbreak of catatonia among adolescents during hot afternoons in seasons that had turned into one long summer.

‘Tamson,’ Honour said, interrupting his reverie, ‘what say you to a little detour?’

‘Where to?’

‘The Royal Museum of Dreedland.’ ‘Any exhibit in particular?’

‘Yes, a recent find.’

‘Let me guess,’ Tamson said, side-winding the Skeet through thick traffic, past the security barriers being erected in preparation for the expected mass protest of penguins at the new Congress building later that day.

‘The ah ... famous beardie dolls,’ he said, taking the Chambers Street turn-off.

‘Manikins, Tamson, manikins.’ ‘I don’t know what you mean.’

‘Yes you do. Who was the sorry manikin of legend?’

‘Oh yea,’ Tamson smiled, ‘the children’s story. Or was it an opera?’ He frowned. ‘I’ve got it.’ He hummed, his forefinger marking time to the beat, ‘the Apprentice’s Emissary was a sorry manikin and a sorry manikin was he ...’

‘That’s enough.’ Honour winced.

‘What I want to know is why there were only twelve dolls and yet thirteen coffinettes?’

‘Coffinettes?’ Honour laughed. ‘Is that what you call them?’

‘Well, the lead boxes were scaled to suit the wee fellows,’ Tamson said, slotting the Skeet into an empty parking bay, conveniently placed before the wide steps leading up to the imposing entrance of the museum. ‘Obviously, you didn’t read the same paper.’

‘No,’ Honour said, dryly, reaching for her old hat and coat on the back seat, ‘I only read the broadsheets.’

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This is a satirical SF novel in the tradition of Swift, with footnotes that give an alternative history of the world.

Will Lorimer is a multi-media artist and the author of a number of books.


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