Anger fed on him, burning through his whole being, controlling almost everything he did.
It was anger that destroyed his chance at recovering his lost job. He couldn’t face all the stupidity of the office grind and still remain calm. There had been a time when keeping up with the games of office politics had seemed fun. Those days were long gone, lost to the sea of anger that led him to neglect all his carefully cultivated relationships and pools of favors.
There were times when he had been tempted to leave, but had always stayed out of some sort of misplaced loyalty. Loyalty that has been repaid (or so his anger tells him) by abandoning him in his time of need. The way they swept him out of their lives felt entirely like betrayal. And fed his anger more.
His anger led to his failure. Failure as a businessman. Failure as a husband. Failure as a father. Failure as a provider. Each one of those failures became as a lodestone, dragging him down in the river of anger. He was drowning in it.
The headwaters of that river were a lake of placid indifference. Something must of broken the dike, released the water, and washed him away. Nevermore to be calm in the face of the world. Nevermore to hold his dog. Nevermore to hold his daughter.
For the anger fed on him, burning through his whole being, controlling almost everything he did.
The stick was just sitting there, but when I picked it up, I heard a quiet growling noise.
I put it down.
The growl stopped.
I couldn’t just let it lie there, so the battle of minds between owner and cat got underway.
The stick had a string with a feather bob on it. The cat was attached to the feathers, and unwilling to let go of his prey. He clearly knew that anyone picking up the stick was going to attempt to take the prey.
As the game continued, my gaze wandered among the knickknacks collected where they were safe from the cat. A plasma ball. A line of Hummels. A magic eight ball. And in its own alcove, a lava light. The slow circulation of the waxy goo was hypnotic. It drew the eye and held it there while the background music (and the cat) did their work.
The cat was still growling.
The door opened, and one ear twitched as if to confirm that the right person had arrived.
He was dressed slightly oddly, as if as displaced in time as his tchotchkes, but his suit was also somewhat threadbare and worn.
The he held his hands out in seemingly empty space, and the most hauntingly beautiful music appeared. The slightest wiggles of his fingers were translated into audible liquids that washed over us.
The orchard was peaceful this morning. A few ducks were picking around the roots of the venerable trees looking for treats. The wind was whispering among the leaves, and just a few fruit remained from the recent harvest. It was a perfect spot to sit in a morning coat and enjoy the view, while planning for the day’s adventure.
A pot of tea close at hand completed the picture of luxury.
Surely many in the world would envy his position, and his job.
For this was his job. To sit and admire the view, and occasionally take note of a new ship that happened by.
Then in a shocking instant, the world changed.
That island across the way was no longer there. The shockwave broke every one of his windows, and left him deaf for a few minutes after. The tsunami washed the harbor clean.
He stared at the keys in dismay. For a time, Roger could hardly move, for fear that movement would serve to make it all real. It couldn’t be real. It couldn’t be happening. He couldn’t take the kind of world where this was allowed to happen. It was all gone. Everything. His masterpiece was no more. And the infernal machine was to blame.
Finally, he lifted his gaze.
The window was right there, offering a ten story drop to the rocky beach…
The next thing Roger knew, the window was standing open and the infernal machine was nothing but a speck vanishing in the distance as it flew and fell into the waves.
The cleansing surf washed away what little was left.
And it carried with it his anger, his rage, his emotions.
The plan seemed like a good idea at the time. Fell a tree at night, when it isn’t nearly as hot out. All it would take is some time, a few lanterns, and a sharp axe. And the ability to use the axe, of course.
We marked a likely tree with a blaze in daylight, then tried to come back after dark to fell it.
We didn’t reckon on how different the forest is at night. Lantern light just highlights all the hazards without lighting enough of the surroundings to find your way. We must have walked in circles for hours looking for the blaze.
Eventually, we gave up and tried to find our way back to the farm. By that point, however, we had crossed a ridge line without quite noticing, and had no idea where we were. We lost the axe head somewhere along the way when it got hooked on some undergrowth. And we almost walked off the edge of a gully before the sound of running water from below caused us to stop and look.
We never did find out if actually felling the tree would be easier in the dark.
But given everything the forest did to prevent us from trying, I bet it would not be as smart as it seemed by daylight!
It was an age old problem. They kept breaking. It was long past time to find a proper solution and prevent this from happening.
But I won’t be the one to solve it.
By all rights I should be. My people have been in the business as long as anyone can remember. It is our livelihood. We all believed that one day one of our descendents would solve it. That may well still be true, but I know now that it won’t be me.
I am in love. That isn’t a complete shock, I’m sure. But my love is not approved. In fact, some will call me traitor for my love. For the fact that I cannot raise a hand to against her people any longer. And solving this problem, it would most certainly be an act against her people.
So I will not solve it. I am adrift, a castaway, broken by my unrequited love.
I’ve Little use for a knife in a sock, especially with nearly all the threats handled. Of course, one never knows what might leap out from a dark corner. This castle is a large, dark, and mysterious place. And it doesn’t approve of visitors.
People who wander around here go missing. It is that sort of place.
Weapons aren’t going to be useful. What I really need are tools.
Unfortunately it is nearly impossible to make any sort of useful tools out of a butter knife.
And also unfortunately, the kitchens in this giant hunk of rock are not automated.