Testing, testing…

5 02 2010

As an exercise to check my brain power (I’ve been down with some sickness this week) I am going to write a story. The secondary goal of my exercise is to throw something together for NinjaEditor to critique. Yes, NinjaEditor has a name but I think of her as “NinjaEditor”, correctly capitalized and slightly deified in my mind. (No, not really deified. Her powers would extend at most to an ability to maintain beverage temperature with her mind or a few mind tricks similar to those emplowed by Jedi.)

The Ramilken Border
or
The Thin Red Line of Death

The Ramilken border moves frequently. Three years ago I thought no more of the phenomena than you probably do but that was before I was drafted. Now I consider the Border’s whimsical tendencies to be bordering on personal insult.

Aware as I am that our private Border issues are not the subject of multi-world discussion I find it hard to believe that there is a corner of the universe that has yet to hear our story. The whole blasted business consumes my life and affects the life of millions of our citizens. And yet, we are unique and known to be so. Bearing that in mind I will take the time to explain the Ramilken Border Problem to my less-persecuted audience.

On other worlds, I am told, border problems are the results of disputes over land. Often the area contested is in the middle of an area of bloody warfare. Apparently entire civilizations have wiped each other out over land. My culture considers the very idea of violence over land to be despicable. Our problem is of an entirely different nature.

About two hundred years ago an inventor (who’s hobbies ran to the raising of sheep and weaving of textiles and whose area of study was particle physics) discovered a way to manipulate the cellular structure of mountain yak-sheep hybrid wool to make the resultant yarn literally indestructible. The invention would have been harmless- except to the fashion industry which would have died when clothes no longer needed replacing, and the farms that raise wool-bearing sheep and the workers who raise the sheep- alright it would NOT have been harmless. But it would have been decidedly LESS harmful to ME if the darned inventor hadn’t met and fallen in love with a far-sighted politician. The aforementioned politician decided that it would be a grand gesture to surround our entire country with a thin red skein of the indestructible yarn. My civilization fell prey to our own sense of domestic pride combined with our rather over-blown whimsy.

Even the skein-idea could have been held down to reasonable proportions. A country surrounded by a literal border is silly, but not a major bother. The problems began when the rest of our politicians (who love ceremonial gestures) had about a hundred unfortunate years where they made all kinds of laws pertaining to the aforementioned red skein. Laws such as “No Citizen Shall Henceforth Plant Any Crop On Any Land Not Contained Within THe Borders of Our Graced and Blessed Land” or “No Citizen Shall Cross The Red Border Without Written Permission from Their Landed Lord or Mayor”. Pompous idiots, all but harmless. THey employed a lot of people who had previously filled roles like “vagrant” and “bootlegger” as border patrol which was a real service to all.

But on the hundreth anniversary of the Red Ramilken Border a mage-scientist from a rather surly neighboring country (surly because they had not invented anything but self-cleaning tissues and patented slippery-as-an-eel potions for three generations) figured out a way to make the border move.

Damn his eyes twelve ways from doomsday.

His spell was powerful but not perfect. It does make the border move, but not far and not frequently. Unfortunately our world is now governed by a Unity of Nations that demands we enforce and not change any laws for the next thousand years. (To preserve tradition). For a group who spout non-interference doctrine like Earth whales during a feeding frenzy they are the most interfering group on this world.

So now the group of border patrol’s main purpose is to find the Ramilken border every time it moves. What used to be a matter of form, keeping our people in and strangers out, has turned into the worlds most wretched perpetual goose-chase. No-one has signed up for border patrol in sixty years! I myself was drafted and I’ve spent the last four years on hands and knees in the same six fields carefully mapping the Border’s every whim.

Sometimes we Patrollers amuse ourselves by trying different and increasingly inventive ways of destroying the Border (when we manage to find bits of it). I myself lean toward the more spectacular attempts… Setting Fyreworms on it, or lighting blasting powder next to it. One of my Officers once tried to drown a bit of it, but he was drunk at the time so we don’t blame him too much.

Every year the Border Patrollers get one day off to hold an awards ceremony where the Patrollers with the most inventive new method for destroying the Border gets an award and a barrel of ale.

Sadly the original inventor of the yarn (did I mention he was murdered after completing the border? Sometimes I like to think that I time-travel and kill him myself) died soon after the border was completed. More sad still is the fact that he was good at his job. With no respite in sight from the Unity of Nations and no way of destroying the damned thing it looks like my country will be the butt of the universes jokes for centuries to come.

We’ve learned though. We no longer raise sheep.

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4 responses

5 02 2010
NinjaEditor

This made me laugh out loud several times. There were lots of little twists that I quite enjoyed, like the particle physicist who raises sheep, the names of the border laws, and having to find the border every time it moves. The last line especially is fantastic!

I wanted to address what you were talking about in your last post—about telling instead of showing. This piece is a wonderful bit of world-building and I’d love to spend more time in that world. However, there isn’t any conflict in the traditional sense; the story is all history, with the conflict in the past. It’s told in an enjoyable manner, but I really wanted to see the narrator go off and have some sort of border adventure. I’m not sure if you planned on writing a sequel or making this a series, but I’d love to read more! Bring on the fyreworms and ale!! 😀

5 02 2010
Jenny

I’m pretty certain you have one of the most amazing imaginations I have ever encountered… its so very wonderful.

5 02 2010
Jennifer James

I think we should compile a book, called, sillly short tales to tell at bedtime. Aaron told me a magnificent one the other night about a woman on stilts who falls in love with a man who won’t leave his house.

I liked this. You are creative. More please.

12 02 2010
Meghan

I love all three of you. Really.
And let me also say that I fully agree that lack of conflict=notarealstory.

Something else is coming soon…

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