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Deal 805

“Welcome, guests, to the Feast of Infinity. Know that all who partake of the feast shall know of the truth of the infinite. All who partake shall join the multitudes that recognize the truth of the infinite. Join with us and assist in our grand convergence.”

This week’s head priest spoke the welcome without a trace of irony. His recent ascent to the upper echelons of the hierarchy had been swift, and not without rumors. Rumors I must be quick to point out appear to be entirely baseless.

Of course, his order taught that mathematical truths were deeper and more important that human affairs. His confidence in his own certainty was a result of that background.

His concern was the other persistent rumor that the lost prince had been found, and might even be in attendance tonight at the feast. A prince that had been spirited away as a babe when the old kingdom fell under the sway of the rational order, and the old monarchy replaced by the priesthood.

For if the prince had returned and was recognized, then he surely would bring the people a revolution. And the Feast of Infinity would be a nearly perfect moment to return to the public scene.

His concern, of course, is valid.

I an here tonight, and I am the lost prince.

But for now, I am willing to hold my just revolution at a future time out of love of my people.

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Deal 804: Sock Bombed

Its origins are lost to history, but the name lives on: “sock bomb”. We aren’t even certain what a “sock” was, there are a number of possible explanations, but none have the ring of complete truth about them. We know what a “bomb” was, but the most common meanings don’t seem to fit the ritual either.

Today the Sock Bomb is a solemn ritual. We suspect that in the past it was more whimsical, but the orthodoxy is powerful and we don’t dare oppose its dictates too openly.

It most commonly begins with the selection of a place or person to be the recipient. This is usually someone notable in our town, but almost always not for an obvious reason. It is never the Mayor and rarely any one who with any actual say or power in town. The recipient is actually only notable afterwards, despite the traditional assertion that they were selected because they were notable.

The process of selection is secret. Even the participants in the process are secret. In practice, it is as if the whole town woke up one morning simply knowing who the recipient would be. And for all we can tell, that might actually be the method. We simply don’t know, and those who do know aren’t talking. One thing is clear, however, and that is that the selection is almost always effectively unanimous. Once selected, the townsfolk all agree that any other selection would simply not be right.

One quirk is that the recipient themselves is usually unaware of their selection, unless some well-meaning soul leaks the information.

So all who would participate bring their talents to the fore, and together visualize and manifest a collection of handcrafted items which are installed in and about the recipient’s home or person. The installation usually happens at a time when the recipient is not able to observe the transformation.

It is easy to imagine how this could have began as an act of whimsy.

It is also easy to imagine it being formalized to the point where all whimsy is lost.

This year, the participants are manifesting bright and colorful decorations for all of the hitching posts in town. The horses are ignorant, of course.

Next year, no one knows. Yet.

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Deal 803: Betrayed.

It was quite the party. The evidence was everywhere. Dead balloon animals. Party favors. A lost rubber nose, which we bagged for evidence in hopes of a serial number inside.

And the guests, or what was left of them, now they are just pieces scattered everywhere.

But no blood. That was the particularly weird thing that caught our eye. Body parts everywhere, not a blood stain in sight.

The table was set for thirteen, but only twelve plates were dirty. Someone was invited but knew better than to come, or came but knew better than to consume the food. It isn’t clear just now which is the better explanation. But it feels like there was a judas goat of a guest involved who betrayed a dozen others by leading them here but not becoming a victim themselves.

Hmm, it looks like there were name cards at the plates, but something happened that stirred them up just as much as the guests. And it is going to take the coroner’s people a good bit of time to determine exactly how many victims we had, and if we have all the parts. Aside from the blood that is missing, of course.

There is one gift-wrapped box in the corner, that growled at us when we approached. It is a fairly good sized box, so we’ve got animal control on the way before anyone disturbs it too much. That growl was viscerally menacing. Something that stirred the already on edge primitive urge to run away from a manifest threat.

And we’re all a little on edge here.

Except for the party guests who seem to be on all the faces of the room, with fairly even spacing on every wall, the ceiling, and the floor.

But aside from the array of severed parts, not a splash of blood. It almost could be the result of an explosion in an extremely realistic doll factory.

I’ve got to pull myself together and produce an explanation for this that will hold up before the Chief pretty quickly, before any of the usual crime beat reporters find there way here.

Oh.

I recognize that right hand.

And that head of hair.

Looks like at least one regular reporter beat us here. And likely did know at least briefly what was going on before it all went pear-shaped.

But unless they filed a story in that brief moment, all that does is get us an ID on one victim.

Which is still one more than we had when I arrived, so that’s a start.

After marking and tagging everything, and comparing notes with the team, we notice that we had a dozen heads, a dozen torsos, two dozen legs, two dozen feet, two dozen arms, and twenty five hands.

The fingerprint folks are going to enjoy being shipped a passel of fingers.

The animal guys arrived, and after a brief orientation to the crime scene, and a pause while they caught up with their dignity, they approached the growling box. It appeared to have been shipped directly to the party location that morning. There was evidence that someone had started to open the box, then thought better of it. Likely because of the noise it was making right now. Perhaps that was where the likely single missing hand ended up. But while it might explain a hand, it doesn’t explain the rest…

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Deal 802: Feast of Rat

With the longest night of the year, the Feast of Rat is upon us, once again. The time has arrived to serve punch redolent with cloves and oranges served among a variety of mixed grains treated in every way from toasted, boiled thick and thin, stirred in broth and cream, baked both leavened and unleavened, malted and fermented, or even distilled. Once prepared, we ceremonially extinguish all fires, except for a single flame in the town square.

We who attend do so in reverent silence, partake of the offerings in hopes of peace and prosperity for the coming year.

We bring our support in measures of grain or spices. Sometimes even new recipes brought home from travels as near as the next village and as far as the far side of the world.

As dawn breaks, all pass by the flame to light a candle from the common flame for luck in their household.