A Feeble Fable of the Fantasmagorical by Miss Renfield Stoker-Belle, Noted Supernaturalist Featuring an Appearance by Judge Jasper P. Montague, Quillemender And a Futile Forward by Leila Allison
It’s a fallow and disconsolate world in which we live. Even here at this side of reality populated mainly by Pen Names, Imaginary Friends and Fictional Characters, you’ll find more Juggalos per square inch than persons with sustainable IQs contributing to the gene pool. The pain of it all becomes clear on the day you look in the mirror and correctly suspect that the best years have gone by. You gaze into the reflection of your suddenly cautious, peering avatar and wonder what happened to the footloose, laughing face who had been looking back at you every day up through yesterday. It seems impossible that this paradoxically “new” used you has ever had an interesting thought in her life; or that she had even at one time tolerated the Juggalos–as long as they stayed upwind of her location.
They say wisdom comes with age. I’m wise to the “They say” scam. Everybody who bases their philosophy on unattributed sources are vacuums soon to be filled with shit. Tell me, They, why are aging and gaining wisdom worth the transformation into a shit filled vessel parroting nonsense rejected by the fortune cookie industry? And how come your sagacity is heavy on paranoia and shy on humor? No, all we get in the end are mirrors full of cautious, peering avatars.
And this is the same They that call harrumphing older men minus social skills curmudgeons. Allegedly, there is something endearing about curmudgeons. Yet when a woman of a certain age displays an attitude inconsistent with that of a motivational speaker, she’s branded an Old Bitch. Granted, in the narrowest of contexts, identifying yourself as a bitch can mean something defiantly positive, but that’s off when the Old is added.
Looking back, I detect the slightest whiff of bitter cynicism wafting off the preceding paragraphs of what was originally intended to be a jocular introduction to a light hearted Feeble Fable of the Fantasmagorical written by Renfield. But a recent event has allowed me to see all worlds as they really are, and no longer as I had wished them to be. My angst stems from a discovery made by my Great-to-the-fourth-grandfather (and curmudgeon), Judge Jasper P. Montague, who for over a century has been a Quillemender Spirit centered in a ceremonial gavel presented to him upon his retirement from the bench. The gavel has been passed down through the generations by the Montague side of my family, and I’m currently in possession of it.
For the benefit of those of you who do not know it, a Quillemender is a type of ghost who is able to enter and then edit (or “emend”) text. They used to be confined to the manipulation of ink, but the Quills are one of the Spirit classes who have evolved with the changing times. Over the years they learned how to reset type, and nowadays they know how to get inside stored computer files. It was while on a trip through the files in my Chromebook that the Judge came across an elderly file unopened since 2014. The name of the file is “Master Concordance.” That’s a swank term used by “would be” literary stylists who seek to keep records of their characters, such as birth dates and backstories. Such a thing is called a concordance. It is the only file in my Chromebook written by my “Employer”–The shady creep I’ve been Chief Pen Name to since that mist enshrouded year of 2014.
The Judge told me that I am in the Master Concordance. The stuff that the Shady Creep said about me in it pissed me off on general principle, but after I considered the source I let it go. But there’s one item in it that I can’t get out of my head: “Allison, Irene Leila. Born 1989.”
I went wild with rage, and my ire increased when the Judge told me that he and I were the only persons in it who had established years of birth (which is necessary for the Judge, since he’s a ghost who “lived” from 1820-1912). And I cannot adequately express the blackness I experienced when the Judge informed me that the character that I based Renfield on had no birth year, she was, according to Shady Creep, “Eternally young…25. 27, tops.”
“That cold hearted rat fink has made me a calendar slave!” I screamed. “In ‘14 I was 25, but now I’m thirty-fucking-one!”
“Now, now, you must look on the bright side of things, oldest Granddaughter,” said the Judge. “Although back in my day unmarried women who survived to your grand age were either nuns or spinsters, I’m almost certain that attitudes toward that sort of thing have relaxed. I recall an astonishingly homely maiden cousin who, at your lofty age, moved to another village and invented a deceased husband. You could purchase a ring…”
“I’m merely attempting to be helpful…”
That was how my yesterday went down.
After the Judge got out, I began to compose this introduction because I had promised Renfield I’d do it. All which stands above this sentence has taken 18 hours to compose. Mostly, I find myself gazing at my cautious, peering avatar reflected in the black plastic which surrounds the screen. I considered ordering a shawl online, but the rheumatism which has suddenly developed in my fingers prevents me from doing so. Instead I wearily tap away at the keys, aimless, and running the number 31 over and over in my head. It’s the “1” that gets me. It not only substantiates the atrocity of 30, but more than hints of the crooked numbers to come. Then, not long from now, if still alive, an obscene 4 followed by a nullifying 0 will happen, and at last all will be silence and darkness…
“Versatur Circa Quid!” It is I, the splendiferous Judge Jasper P. Montague, here to save the reader from more of my kin’s lugubrious prose and to, perchance, steer her back toward the object of this introduction.
Although I find it distressing that the reader most likely arrived at the solution to Leila’s problem that the author herself seems unable to realize, I have taken the matter under my competent control. After it became evident that Leila preferred to indulge in self pity instead of critical thinking, I returned to the Master Concordance file and emended it. After all, I am a Quillemender, and to quote the modern idiom “It’s what I do.” For whatever reason my beloved ancestor prefers rage and self pity to useful action. I suppose that “It’s what I do” runs in the family.
We Quills can emend any extant text, but we cannot create an image different in size from the original. Bah! ‘Twas such a trifling bit of Quillemending that it’s hardly worth the bother to make mention of it–But I do and will make mention of it for years to come. That line she found so hard to come to terms with in her Employer’s Master Concordance has been emended from “Born 1989” to “Born 1993.” This, of course has not only shaved four unwanted years from Leila’s age, but, obviously, will require yearly emending. Again in your delightful modern idiom, “That’s what we call job security.” Now, you’ve probably asked yourselves, why didn’t she go into the file and change it herself. The short answer is she can’t. It’s a little advertised fact that Pens cannot access files unless they are of their own creation–especially those written by their Employers. Bah! We Quillemenders may go wherever we please.
It is now the expressed wish of myself and Miss Renfield that our ever curmudgeonly Lady Allison get on with the original purpose of this introduction. Now that she has once again successfully pouted herself into getting her own way, and, without doubt, will recall and repay (every year) the debt of gratitude she owes me.
Never before has the tenet of Versatur Circa Quid! Sounded more clearly.
Oh So Effectively Yours,
Judge Jasper P. Montague, Quillemender
Me again. Something tells me if I can’t show gratitude that I ought to fake it. Anyway, thank you Great Great Great Great Grandfather Jasper. Jeepers, it’s sure swell to be 27 again. Sure happy that you did that for me out of the goodness of your pure, ulterior motive free heart.
Anyway, a Zephyrling is a good natured Water/Air Spirit who can create cool breezes when it’s hot and warm winds when it is freezing. Theirs is a fairly simple act in concept, yet it is deceptively hard to do. Thus the Zephyrling can create only small yet sustained bursts of such, which are enjoyed by small animals. Zephyrlings seldom do people, because, by and large, so I’ve been told, people (real and otherwise) are ingrates. Zippy is a Roborovski dwarf hamster. Although he is as fierce as an EF-5 tornado, he knows how to say thank you.
Time for me to go say thank you to the bottom of a glass until I get the taste of the Judge’s buns out of my mouth.
Zippy and the Zephyrling: A Feeble Fable of the Fantasmagorical
By Noteworthy Supernaturalist, Renfield Stoker-Belle
Zippy the Roborovski dwarf hamster was in a tizzy. He was working out his rage in his busy wheel, occasionally taking sideways glances into his sister’s habitat. The offending object was still there. Whilst Zippy had slept, that witch Lucrezia had plastered some clover leaves and timothy grass with Robo-spit onto her side of the bullet-proof clear plastic which served as the wall between their habitats. The leaves and grass spelled out a message writ in the Roborovski dwarf hamster language (a lexicon which features only nouns and adjectives). It said: “Zippy Wimpy.”
Although Robos average less than three inches in length and seldom break the ounce mark in weight, nature has never produced a more ferocious creature. This rightfully nicknamed “The Scourge of Asia” is the animal kingdom’s toughest thug and is the main reason why the so-called “Murder Hornet” has vacated Asia for gentler vistas. (The author has been informed that Robos are found in Asian in deserts and steppes, while the bug sticks to forested areas. So what? Both are Asian and it’s not like someone put up a giant wall over there someplace–Right?)
The Robo’s astonishing cuteness starts fights. A Robo will be bopping along the steppe and along comes some punk Murder Hornet looking to make a rep for himself. Sure, the bug has heard all the legends about the little mammals, but he thinks that is so much petrified camel shit on the sand.
”Oh, come on now, look at you,” the Murder Hornet said to the Robo. “You’re so relentlessly adorable. So coot and cuddly-wuddly. Dude, I’ll teach you tough.” There is no record of what the Murder Hornet said whilst he carried his head back to the hive.
The Robo’s natural ferocity is in no way diminished by captivity. In fact, it even escalates to the degree that they must live in separate habitats. The kindly, though misguided, idea here is to tame the little rascals; to somehow inoculate them with such false human concepts as respect and civility. Rightly or wrongly, Robo’s already know that others get hella more respectful and civil after you have ripped their faces off.
Poor Zippy had worked himself into an overheated tizzy on account of Lucrezia’s insult.
He got off his busy wheel and lay down to die on his back near the offending message. This is when a Zephyrling Spirit took pity on the little guy and provided a cool, refreshing breeze.
Animals are so keenly attuned to nature that they know when they have been contacted by a Spirit. Even a thuggish menace like Zippy considers Spirits friendly and even godly–although he has nothing but absolute contempt for living human beings. Moreover, animals see things as they are. They don’t disbelieve their eyes or go all Hamlet with self doubt. So an idea formed in Zippy’s eensey-weensey mind. After pantomiming Lucrezia’s insult with elaborate, lightning fast gesticulations, Zippy offered the Spirit a Brazil nut (which Zippy had thought to be a useless stone) to the godly being in exchange for a pox put upon Lucrezia.
Although the Zephyrling would no more put a pox upon Lucrezia than he would crown her Empress of the Galaxy, he decided to act as a diplomat who would parlay a truce between the warring siblings. The Zephyrling created a brief reverse wind which sucked the Brazil nut from the Robo’s paws, and he told Zippy “I’ll make it better.”
It is not the author’s desire to cast aspersions on any Roborovski dwarf hamster, but facts are facts, and located amongst the truth is the plain fact that Lucrezia is a great deal smarter than Zippy. Not only had she been stealthily watching the encounter between her brother and the invisible Spirit, she had also understood what Zippy had asked for, and that the Spirit had shined the little fool on. Lucrezia also knew the difference between a Brazil nut and a stone, and she was a big fan of the Brazil nut. This was why she had posted the insult. She coveted another Brazil nut but the Big Hand in the Sky only dropped those off once in a day, as a treat. Wimpy Zippy had five untouched Brazil nuts hidden in his habitat. The little rockhead thought they were stones. The little bozo thought he had found a way to get back at her by bribing a Spirit with an unwanted object.
Fortunately, the Zephyrling Spirit is about five-hundred thousand times smarter than Lucrezia and Zippy combined. Whilst in Zippy’s habitat he had seen her hiding behind her water dispenser, and he knew about her Brazil nut appetite. So he played it cool when he carried the nut up and out of Zippy’s habitat and took it to Lucrezia. Upon creating the smallest of tornadoes, the Spirit suspended the nut juusst out of her reach. In short order he promised her extra Brazil nuts in exchange for an opportunity to “alter” the sign.
Roborovski dwarf hamsters are not known for their long attention spans. They lead darting, hectic lives and, to them, ten minutes ago is the same thing as ten years. They live in a now that’s experienced in the express lane. They are, however, slow to forget insults. This all meant that Lucrezia couldn’t have cared less about the sign. If it was a means to gaining more Brazil nuts, so be it. She agreed and was immediately paid. Then the Zephyrling took a page out of the Quillemender’s book and puffed on the arrangement of clover and timothy grass.
He returned to Zippy’s side of the wall and was rewarded with one of nature’s rarest sights. Zippy was doing a happy dance. For there in big bold letters, clearly spelled out in the Robo tongue stood: “Zippy Pimpy.”
Moral: The Future Belongs to Those Who Rewrite the Past.
White faced Roborovski dwarf hamster – pixabay .com