Thursday, October 31, 2013

The cutest thing you've heard since the last time you heard a cute thing

A while ago a little girl accidentally left her happy meal toy at my house, it hadn't been opened and since I have always intended to return it in the condition it was left I have not opened it (and this time I swear I'm going to remember to return it.)

Anyway, the cute thing is what she said when she pulled out her toy and got a look at it:

It's Yoda!
Wait... no.

It is, in fact, the Wicked Witch of the West.  "Get you my little pretty, I will.  Dropped a house on my sister, you did."  That Wicked Witch of the West.

I'm not sure what gave away that it wasn't Yoda.  It might have been the broomstick that you can't really see in that picture, here's another angle:

Or it could just have been the hat.  Or the lack of pointy ears.  Whatever.

Snarky Twilight: Jealousy

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]
[Did you know that it's apparently been three months since I did a present tense Snarky Twilight thing?  Far too long.]
[As a reminder, bold is original dialog, or, for actions, unembelished description using as close to the original words as possible.]

Bella: You seem more . . . optimistic than usual. I haven't seen you like this before.
Edward: Isn’t it supposed to be like this? *smiles* The glory of first love, and all that. It’s incredible, isn’t it, the difference between reading about something, seeing it in the pictures, and experiencing it?
Bella: I was referring to you not running away after I threatened to kill you, but as to your questions: Never been in love, wouldn't know. How it's supposed to be I also wouldn't know because I'm not a mind reader who's been around for decades compiling, even if unwittingly, a database of what first love is like. I'd have to find such a person and ask them, I wonder where one might be...
Edward: I'm going to ignore you and keep up with my lines.
Bella: Suits me, just do it quickly and then get out.
Edward: For example, the emotion of jealousy. I've read about it a thousand times seen actors portray it in a thousand different plays and movies.
Bella: Experienced it vicariously by reading a thousand different minds.
Edward: Let me finish.
Bella: And I thought it was "pictures", not "movies". Next it'll by "talkies".
Edward: Stop.
Bella: And when you say "a thousand" is it precisely a thousand of each, or one thousand two hundred twenty four there, nine hundred eighty six here?
Edward: Shut Up!
Bella: Touchy?
Charlie: Bells, I heard shouting.
Bella: It's just a vampire, I'll be fine.
Edward: He's not supposed to know I'm here.
Charlie: You sure?
Bella: Yup.
Charlie: I'll be checking to make sure you're sleeping well in in three pages.
Bella: I won't be.
Charlie: See you then.
Edward: Can I finish now?
Bella: Will you refrain from bothering my dad with your shouting?
Edward: I only shouted because... fuck it. (quickly, as someone who is afraid they won't have time to finish.) Jealousy. I believed I understood that one pretty clearly. But it shocked me . . . *grimace* Do you remember the day that Mike asked you to the dance?
Bella: When you were obviously eavesdropping? Yeah. As I recall you started talking to me again when that very class ended.
Edward: I was surprised by the flare of resentment, almost fury, that I felt -- I didn't recognize what it was at first.
Bella: But now you see it as a sign of a controlling attitude and are going to a therapist to get help.
Edward: No.
Bella: Damn.
Edward: I was even more aggravated than usual that I didn't know what you were thinking, why you refused him.
Bella: It's none of your business at all, but I'll indulge you: I did not want to go to the dance.
Edward: You're not supposed to interrupt. This is a monologue.
Bella: That goes on for almost exactly a page. It's too long to listen to you drone without a break.
Edward: AnywayWas it it simply for your friend's sake? Was there someone else? I knew I had no right to care either way.
Bella: Good.
Edward: tried not to care.
Bella: Better.
Edward: And then the line started forming.
*Bella scowls*
Edward: I waited, unreasonably anxious to hear what you would say to them, to watch your expressions.
Bella: Stalker.
Edward: I couldn't--
Bella: Wait. How is this in any way trying not to care? It doesn't sound like you were trying at all.
*Edward ignores her and restarts his sentence*
Edward:I couldn't deny the relief I felt, watching the annoyance on your face.
Bella: Ass-Hole. Seriously, me annoyed makes you relieved? How fucked up can you be?
Edward: I--
Bella: And I note that even after I was annoyed at being asked out twice you forced me to be asked out a third time by starting a traffic jam. And then asked if you could go to Seattle with me in a way that seemed like you were asking me out for time number four.
Edward: I really don't--
Bella: And do you also remember me talking about rail spikes that day
*Edward flinches*
Bella: Look on the desk over there.
*Bella points to a rail spike*
Edward: Moving on.
Bella: Oh do please.
Edward: That was the first night I came here.
Bella: I am totally getting bear traps.
Edward: I wrestled all night, while watching you sleep, with the chasm between what I knew was right, moral, ethical, and what I wanted.
Bella: Like wanting to invade someone's bedroom and knowing that's a serious violation?
Edward: No, not that.
Bella: Also you can't really wrestle with a chasm. Your metaphor is a chimera.
Edward: (In the tone of someone insisting things get back on topic) I knew that if I continued to ignore you as I should, or if I left for a few years, till you were gone, that someday you would say yes to Mike, or someone like him. It made me angry.
Bella: There are not words to describe how fucked up that is. I shall not even try.
Edward: And then, as you were sleeping, you said my name.
Bella: Did I indeed?
Edward: You spoke so clearly, at first I thought you’d woken. But you rolled over restlessly and mumbled my name once more, and sighed.
Bella: Was it a sigh of, "Damn is it going to be hard to come up with a way to kill him"-ness?
Edward: No. It wasn't. Damn it, this is romantic.
Bella: (sarcasm on full) If you say so.
Edward: The feeling that coursed through me then was unnerving, staggering.
Bella: So I'm not the only one who has the freakish reaction to hearing your name.
Edward: And I knew I couldn’t ignore you any longer.
*a moment's silence*
Edward: But jealousy . . . it's such a strange thing. So much more powerful than I would have thought.
Bella: So when I tell you I'm thinking of asking out Jessica...
Edward: You Wouldn't! You Can't!
Bella: (calmly) I'm not.
Charlie: Bells, I heard more shouting.
Bella: Still a vampire, no need for concern.
Charlie: See you in two pages.
Bella: (to Edward) I'm not interested and Jessica already has two suitors that I know of. Three if you count Mike, but who would?
Edward: Mike! Exactly, Mike. That can get us back on topic. So, Jealousy: strange, powerful.  And irrational! Just now, when Charlie asked you about that vile Mike Newton *shakes head angrily*
Bella: Mike is you with less potency. If he's vile, and he certainly is more often than not, think about what that makes you.
Edward: Can we change the topic?
Bella: Ok. I should have known you'd be listening.
Edward: Of course.
Bella: Because it is blatantly obvious that the expectation of privacy in a conversation with my father in our own house is completely irrational. You, the stalker, are like a force of nature such that when you do something awful the only response can be, 'Of course.'
Edward: It's ROMANTIC.
Bella: It's ILLEGAL.
Bella: My dad asking me if I was interested in someone you know for a fact I'm not interested in,That made you feel jealous, though, really?
Edward:I'm new at this; your resurrecting the human in me--
Bella: Only if "human" has been redefined to mean "creepy ass".


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The wondrous world of tar sands politics

If you come to my part of the world for a bit you'll see about fifty bajillion signs telling you to say no to the WPO.  They won't tell you what the WPO is or why exactly you should say no but if you don't say no it will sink our port (I come from South Portland, across the river is Portland, the port kind of sort of matters) complete with a picture of a sinking ship, and it will mean there will be no jobs EVER in the entire fucking state.

Ok, so, what is the WPO and why won't those opposed to it speak it's name.  Is it the Wealthy People's Oligarchy?  The society of Wizard Patrolling Outcasts?  Working Penguins Opportunity?  Well, no.  It's the Waterfront Protection Ordinance.  Which doesn't sound that bad.  I guess they don't want to say the name because it doesn't sound that bad, but for my part if you just told me that there was something called, "The Waterfront Protection Ordinance," and nothing else I'd assume it was designed to make sure the waterfront wasn't protected because I am used to Orwell-speak names.

As it turns out the Waterfront Protection Ordinance really is to protect the waterfront.  Whether that protection is moral or physical depends on your exact reasoning.

Basically the people who last year said that they'd never try to use the pipeline to pump tar sands (or tar sands derived oil or anything involving the words "tar" and "sand") into here instead of overseas oil out of here are this year saying that reversing the pipeline to deliver tar sands crap through our port will totally create jobs in the entire state (I guess pumping stuff onto ships requires a lot more people than pumping it off of ships... apparently) but will in no way be different or more complex and thus be not at all more dangerous.  (Follow the reasoning: It will be exactly the same as what we're doing now in all ways that matter to you little provincial people so therefore it will employ shitloads more of you little provincial people than the thing we just said it is no different from.)

So some people have concerns about safety.  The pipeline was designed for the sole purpose of piping one thing with very specific properties in one direction and one direction only.  Now people are planning on trying to pump something similar, but different enough that the pipeline wasn't designed for it, in the direction the pipeline was designed to never ever send things.  And the only people saying this is safe are the ones who said last year that they'd never ever do this and are now trying to do it, so when they say things will never ever go wrong it doesn't ring true.  "Never ever," when said by these people apparently means, "Next year," after all.

My understanding of tar sands is limited at best, as is my understanding of one-way pipelines.  So I honestly have no idea if it's at all dangerous to flip things into the reverse the pipeline was designed not to have and put in a different form of muchly decayed plant matter.  And honestly, I don't much care either.  I'm talking about politics here.

For other people it's simply a moral opposition to tar sands.

So that's what's going on.

Apparently if we don't ship tar sands through our port every ship will spontaneously develop a hole in the bottom and sink (I know, I've seen the pictures on the signs) and the displacement caused by all the ships being totally underwater (no doubt with trapped air pockets and whatnot) will cause the water level to rise and sink the port (I know, I've read the words on the sign) and the stigma caused by this will cause all the jobs to evaporate from the state, they'll move the Appalachian Trail somewhere else and everything (I know, I've read the words on the other sign.)

That's part of what the "Vote no" people are saying.  But wait, there's more.

Firefighters, I've counted three so far, have been hired by oil companies to say that... well actually let me start with the hired by oil companies thing.  Though our current governor probably isn't aware of it, there are things called laws.  Not only do all the Federal laws apply here, but so too do specific state laws* and in both cases disclosure is a fairly big part of things.

So if you're calling on behalf of the Firefighter's Union you've got to say that, "Hi, I'm [name] and I'm calling you on behalf of [local firefighter's union]..."  Unions pull that all the time.  During the three way race for Governor I was in the same room while members of a union were phone banking because two out of the three candidates were virulently anti-union.  (To give you an Overton Window in that election, the "moderate" independent was the one who cast teachers in teachers unions as literal demons.)

That's not what's happening now, when I'm being called it is not, "Hi, I'm [name] and I'm calling you on behalf of [local firefighter's union]..." it's, ""Hi, I'm [name] and I'm calling you on behalf of [oil companies]..." and then after the disclosure of who the call is for, it all suddenly becomes about firefighters and vague existential threats to our existence and --the reason the firefighters have been hired in the first place-- the idea that regulation to keep tar sands away from the port will prevent port businesses from making renovations and as a result those business will burn down.  Seriously.

If you don't vote pro tar sands the port businesses will burn down.  That's why three firefighters have agreed to take part in the oil company's pro tar sands campaign.

Unintended consequences do happen and I would find this claim concerning if not for the fact that there are no local businesses saying the regulations will prevent them from renovating.  I'm by the port all the fucking time.  Depending on which bridge I take sometimes I'm over the port.  To get to some appointments I have to walk along most the port (which is largely not oil based, there's fishing, dining, tourism galore, shipping containers being offloaded from ships and stored while they wait to be put on trucks, tug boats to help other boats, charter boats, places to dock your boat, more fracking tourism, places to buy the fish that other people make their living catching, hotels and parking garages.)

There are only two businesses that have put up pro tar sands signs that I have seen.  One is an oil company.  The other is a car dealership nowhere near the port that sells gas guzzlers.

If port businesses are going to be so screwed over by the WPO, why are none of them calling me?  Why have the oil companies found none of them willing to leave annoying messages on my answering machine?

Generally businesses that know they're about to be screwed over by an ill thought out regulation make some noise.  Not a peep.

But the big thing is the money disparity.

I told you you'd see all kinds of "No on the WPO" signs.  So many they end up getting in their own way in places were signs can freely be put up.  Likewise no individual that supports it has just one sign in their yard, they have so many signs that it makes a fence.  The gas guzzler seller who supports it?  The signs are so densely packed that it may be impossible to measure their number.

When it comes to "Vote for the Waterfront Protection Ordinance" you'll see maybe two.  If you know where to look.  People from the area cannot compete with multiple multinational oil companies when it comes to funding a campaign.

As if to drive this point home when an anti tar sands sign went up, about the size of a smaller yard sign you'll see in various political campaigns, the pro tar sands side bought one of those road work signs that spells out in lights whatever information pertinent and can display multiple messages, hauled that in directly behind the small opposing sign, and now has it going 24-7 (even in the middle of the night when you can't read the other sign) telling you to disregard the humble sign and vote no on the WPO.

Whatever your personal feelings on tar sands, this is the most lopsided campaign I've ever seen around here.


* Which sort of fucked over NOM and co. when they poured money into the state to stop marriage equality.  Don't get me wrong, they succeeded and it was another three years before marriage equality came to pass, but they also got their asses handed to them in court because they didn't obey disclosure laws.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Trading Places, Athenian style

This is a sort of followup to my post earlier today in response to those who push an untrue, envious, and extremely ill throught through idea of welfare.

We see bizarre backwards envy all over the place.  The rich envy the poor, those who can find jobs envy those on unemployment, one particularly egregious example was when Fox found out a church group (as I recall) decided to buy school supplies for the poor children of prisoners because the prisoners weren't really in a position to do that and a pundit said something that amounted to, "I wish I were in prison so my kids could get free school supplies."  Sure you do, pundit, sure you do.

Well, we are not the only culture in history to have to deal with someone saying, "That person has it better than me."

In Ancient Athens when something needed to get done a rich person was tapped to finance the job.  Sometimes the rich person would say something like, "Look at Xeno[I can put almost anything here and it will sound Greek based on the Xeno at the start], He's way more loaded than me."

And at this point Xeno could say
"I totally am.  I'll finance the project."
"No, I'm not, that other guy has it better."

If the second was chosen the two of them would trade places.  Each would get all of the other's stuff.

This was a powerful incentive for you not to claim someone who was worse off than you had it better because you'd be giving them the chance to get everything you had while you'd be stuck with their crappy lot in life.  But if you really thought someone did have it better off than you then by all means speak up because either they have to do what you were going to have to do, or you get their better off position.

Sometimes I feel like we should revive that practice.

Jerk: "It's so fucking hard being rich, you poor people don't understand."
Soceity: "Ok, here's a randomly chosen poor person, do you agree that you should have to pay higher taxes so that Jerk doesn't have to, or would you rather get Jerk's entire fortune (and not just the monetary portion)?"
Poor Person: "I'll take the giant gobs of money."

Do that in a few high profile cases and maybe people would stop voicing their envy toward those who have less than they do.

Maybe all of the working people who complain about having to support welfare should be put on welfare and all of the people on welfare (save those with disabilities preventing them from working) be given their jobs.  See how much, "I wish I were screwed over enough to be on welfare," bullshit there is once that started happening.

About Welfare

So there's this repeated meme going around, but before we get to that I'm not just helped by the government, I'm helped by the kindness of others which is letting me stay in my home for less than half the going rate of rent.

But anyway, meme:
So that's why I work so many hours, so you can collect welfare, wear pajamas in public and have an iphone*.

First off, this would have been a perfect place to use an oxford comma and whoever wrote it didn't so 50 points off to Slytherin.  Second, as someone who is on welfare, I have a personal response.  There's a general response here, but I have a personal one.

Ok, let's start at the end: phone?  What is this phone you speak of?  I have a landline with no bells or whistles (or long distance) because damned if I could afford more than that, but a phone you carry with you?  Where in fuck would I get the money for that?  I have to borrow one whenever such a thing is needed.

Pajamas?  Surely you jest.  If I were rich enough to buy an entirely different set of clothes for when I was sleeping then I wouldn't be on welfare, now would I?

Now to the meat of the matter:

I will gladly trade places and work your "so many hours".  You take all of my disabilities, and in return you will get $550 dollars a month to live on.  Be aware that rent here tends to run at closer to $868 a month so that's an income of negative $318 a month unless you can find someone to give you a place to live at far below rent.  But worry not, you also get $200 dollars a month that can only be spent on food.  (Try to spend it on something else and the order will automatically be declined.)

So I will gladly make the trade you seem to want.  You take all of my disabilities and in return get $550 a month plus $200 for food in a place where rent costs over a hundred dollars more than both of those combined (and you can't combine them because the 200 is for food only) and I take your long hours at work.

I am up for this trade.  Let's do this thing.  Just find a way to transfer the disabilities from me to you and we'll get it set up.


* The iPhones in question are not, in fact, iPhones.  Oh sure, some people buy iPhones then get laid off, can't find a job, end up on welfare until they can, and so do in fact have iPhones.  But in reality the phones people are usually talking about are minimally functional phones that those on welfare don't even own.

You see, you need a phone to get a job.  So if you have no phone and are on welfare then you'll never get off welfare.  Most people who get on welfare do get off welfare, so one might wonder what is going on.  I'm on welfare for disability, so looking for a job is not something I'm expected to do (doesn't mean I won't try) and I inherited a landline.  Thus I'm twice removed from the people who get the loaner crap-phones.

But that's what it is, if you're on welfare, looking for work, have no access to a phone, and meet whatever the requirements are you get a phone that someone not looking too closely might think is an iPhone because for all the talk of apple's wondrous designs the iPhone design is pretty basic and a lot of things, including the crap-phones, look like an iPhone.

Once you do get a job and get off welfare (there's a gradation so that those two things don't necessarily happen at the same time; the gradation exists so that you never make less off welfare than you do on welfare, at least not with the checks, other assistance programs might throw a wrench into things) you have to give back the crap phone.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Narnia: If the heroes did their jobs (The Midas Pool version 3)

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]
[Not connected to any other story but I stole the Serpent's name from this story by Ncfan_1, and Octesian's backstory from this version of The Midas Pool incident (note that unlike this version Aslan could endure the goldmaking water in that one.) with the key change that the crew of the Dawn Treader actually did what it had been hoped they'd do.]
[The cast has found a pool that turns anything that touches it's waters into gold, and the only gold thing in it is the body of a man who, years ago, had the misfortune of diving into it hoping for a refreshing swim.]
"Why is the pool empty save for him?"
And they pondered.
"Dragons love gold," Lucy said.
"And they're immune to most magic," Caspian added.
"So they could snatch any gold from the pool unharmed," Lucy concluded.
"But then why is mister naked still there?" Edmund asked.
"Dragons don't horde the living," Eustace said, as if it were an obvious piece of common knowledge.
There may have been a moment's doubt here or there, but once they realized where the information must have come from, latent memories imprinted during the transformation, no one doubted his word. The long silence, then, must almost wholly be attributed to the gravity of those words sinking in.
Lucy was the first to break it: "You mean he's..."
"Why not?" Edmund asked. "We've seen people locked in stone."
There were three seconds of pause then a flurry of activity.
Within hours the better part of two crews had assembled at the pool and were trying to determine the best way to removed the golden man, but all efforts were hindered by the fact that any tool placed within the pool turned to gold.
Between attempts Edmund and Lucy spoke with Lord Octesian.
"Do you think he might be one of yours?" Lucy asked.
Octesian said, "It's difficult to tell. Whoever he is is face down after all."
"Of course," Lucy said.
"And I parted company with the other five before we ever made it this far. I don't know if any might have ended up on this island." He paused. "If it is one of the others then the fact he's alone troubles me. The others wouldn't simply abandon him, and this is not an island one would ask to be left on.
"Perhaps they attempted to rescue him and failed."
"Perhaps," Edmund said, "but we have more resources. Even in something as basic as manpower, we have the sailors Caspian brought and those we rescued with you. Two crews can move significantly more gold than one."
"Or perhaps they never found him," Lucy said. "Even the most dedicated search can't go on forever, and all he left behind was a pile of clothes and his body. If the sun were reflected off the surface of the pool one might not be able to find his body, and clothing is easy to miss if you're looking for something the size of a man."
"Clothes?" Octesian asked.
"All that was left was tarnished armor," Edmund said.
"But there were coins left with it," Lucy quickly added. "Narnian coins." She paused. "Those can't have been very common, does that mean anything to you?"
"It..." Octesian began then lost his voice. "It may," he said sadly.
For a time no one spoke.
"No one talked about it, for to do so would mean death, but Lord Restimar was a Narnian sympathizer. And not nearly so good at hiding it as he believed himself to be." Octesian initially decided to stop talking there, but then changed his mind. "I don't know for sure, but I always suspected that he never went anywhere without bringing a piece of old Narnia with him." For a moment he was lost in thought. "Coins, hidden away in a coin purse, would be just the sort of thing he might bring."
A skeleton crew piloted the Dawn Treader out into Serpent-deep waters, and there Eustace prepared to speak with the Serpent.
Adah found the shallow waters near the islands difficult and, more importantly, she had a vital job to do.
The Dawn Treader had become overfilled with humans, and even the occasional Animal. When she met them they were dangerously low on provisions.
The details she had were somewhat sketchy. It was hard to communicate with those who were still human. Her ears were meant to hear underwater, her eyes to see underwater, and neither intended to pick out particularly fine detail.
But what she had gathered was that the boy who understood her, who had been transformed into something, she hadn't caught what, and then --this gave her hope-- turned back had discovered some trinket that led them to an entire shipwrecked crew. Thus the boat had been overcrowded and understocked for some time, then, more recently, they'd rescued a group who had been enslaved but couldn't return them home. Something about fire and whatnot.
With so many mouths to feed by the time they had met her -- she was still angry they had opened fire on her but the boy had made them stop -- they were almost out of food.
Adah had been a Serpent long enough that she had become adept at gathering large quantities of food from seemingly barren seas. This, and a benefit of her transformation was that she could tell the difference between animals and Animals --something the humans could not do.
So she had stayed in the deeper water and gathered fish. Fish, and her crowning glory:` a wondrous surprise for the boy who had made them stop shooting her, a kracken. The fish she had been herding into smaller and smaller circles, so that the humans might cast nets to catch them. The kracken she'd had to kill and carry in her mouth.
Adah noticed the ship returning, a bit too soon it seemed to her, and hurried the shrinking spiral of her swim. The fish had to be in an area small enough for the humans to gather them.
Adah made out that the boy wanted to talk, but then another --Drinian was his name?-- said a word she could make out: "food" and the boy indicated she should continue with the fish.
Eustace had yelled to the Serpent, "Come over here, we need to talk!"
Drinian urgently contradicted him: "FOOD!"
And Eustace thought of the overcrowded ship. The people forced to sleep on the deck for lack of space. And the empty storerooms that no one wanted to say or hear were empty. He looked at the circle of fish the Serpent had gathered and shouted, "It can wait!" Who knew how time passed when one was turned to gold, but a little more would --hopefully-- be a small price to pay to stave off starvation.
Nets were cast. Fish were caught.
When the fish had been caught the Serpent approached the ship and spat out the largest squid Eustace had ever imagined. It proved too large to sit aboard the ship and rolled off to the side, shaking the entire ship in the process.
Eustace didn't notice, his eyes wide with wonder he soaked in every detail. "I have to get my notebook," he mumbled.
He prepared to to just that when Drinian asked, "Aren't you forgetting why we're here?"
Eustace had --in his wonder at seeing such an amazing creature. As the squid was lashed with sturdy cords so it could be brought to land, or at least shallow water, and there cut up into food, Eustace attempted to explain the situation to the Serpent.
Adah did her best to understand. Magic. She didn't like that. The last magic had stripped her of her humanity. Magic water.
Metal? Metal was not to be found in water except on ships.
Magic water that made metal.
Someone... who?
It was impossible to ask questions, she could not speak.
Someone in magic water.
Someone trapped? in magic water?
Could she help? The boy believed she could help. He was unsure, she could smell that he was unsure, but he believed it was worth trying. The boy who had stopped the others from hurting her when they could only see a monster.
Adah didn't understand --her ears were not human any more, her eyes were not human any more-- but for the boy she would try.
With a motion of her head she indicated for them to lead. She was thankful that they'd at least achieved this level of communication. If she had to go through the hours it took to get them to understand that motion the first time every time she made the motion it would drive her far outside the realm of sane.
The worst part was that she still understood English. Often she even thought in it. She could compose a sonnet if she wanted to. She could impress them with her rhetoric. If she could only communicate. But she couldn't speak, she could barely hear, and she couldn't see nearly well enough to read lips. Everything was guesswork.
The Dawn Treader led the Serpent to the cursed stream, and Eustace, with great flailing of arms, indicated to it that the person to be helped was up the stream.
Then they went toward the other stream to begin the laborious work of turning the fish and squid into food. Eustace alone left, rushing toward the pool. He alone was completely trusted by the Serpent, he alone completely trusted the Serpent. All knew that if the Serpent were to solve things Eustace should be there, because he might be required.
Adah disliked shallows, but she'd been in many and seen many an outlet, this one was strange.
Odd flakes of something pelted her hide. Not strong enough to hurt her in the least, but definitely not ordinary sediment.
As she approached closer the flakes became larger, their shape was strange, irregular.
Then Adah understood. Magic water. Metal. The stream's water was turning the ocean water to metal when the two touched, but not all at once. The larger flakes quickly dropped to the bottom, while the smaller ones were carried farther.
If the water turned what it touched to metal then she had to find a way to make sure she wasn't turned to metal.
She rubbed against the sea floor, coating herself in sediment and the strange metal particles. She did this again and again and when she was convinced she could make no more stick she charged at the stream, her eyes closed. The magic water hit the seawater within and surrounding the hodgepodge of material coating her scales and solidified it.
As she moved it warped and cracked, but, by repeating the process a few times she was able to create a shell around herself so the magic water would never touch her.
"And I am become Salmon, the climber of rivers," she thought to herself in a very human way. She would have smiled at remembering the quotation she butchered, but a disgusting metallic taste filled her mouth, she'd decided it was best to protect that from the magic water as well, which meant a layer of sediment and metal filled her mouth.
Eustace reached the pool before the Serpent. It was not as he had left it. Gold was good for many things, but there was a reason it wasn't used as a tool. Too heavy for its own good, entirely the wrong properties, a mess in the making. Ropes and tools of all sorts, now found themselves golden remnants on the pool's bottom.
Discarded around the side were other, similar things, some all gold, some half gold. some only slightly gold.
Everyone's faces were downcast.
This was the first time the refugees and the two crews had worked together as one and it looked to end in failure.
Eustace held out hope.
Lucy was the first to notice the golden Serpent blundering snakelike upstream. The stream had never been fit for such a great serpent, but the closer to the source it ran the shallower it ran. Every time the serpent moved the gold warped and cracked revealing the sediment beneath, which was quickly converted to more gold by the magic water.
By the time the Serpent reached the pool it seemed a great golden snake, and Lucy noticed its eyes were closed.
"Everyone to high ground!" Lucy shouted as she realized that the Serpent would likely breach the pool.
The various groups scrambled away and sure enough the Serpent did breach the pool, sending a flash flood down the path of the stream turning various things golden as it went. But the pool was still mostly full, the body still out of reach, as the Serpent slithered into it.
Adah wasn't even sure if she was in the right place. But it was a pool deep enough for her to be a Serpent again as opposed to some strange landworm. She lifted her head and, finally, opened her eyes.
The metal covering them tore apart with ease.
The boy was there, waiting. He motioned for her to look into the pool and there she saw a human figure, naked, made from the metal the water turned things into. Was she here to save that? Was that really a person?
It must be, for there was nothing else of value. Broken tools, frayed ropes turned to metal.
Her eyes needed to be covered again. The deadly water couldn't be allowed to touch her. She lay her head in front of the boy and closed her eyes.
He took longer than she thought he should to realize what he had to do, but soon he had caked them in sand and gravel.
Adah lowered her head into the water, a golden coating now protected her eyes, and she opened her mouth. She trawled the bottom, retrieving as many of the humans' lost objects as she could, and then closed her jaws on the prize. Rearing her head above the water she tossed the metal objects, including the body, onto dry land.
Then she prepared to make the journey back to the sea. But as she crossed out of the pool her lower scales scraped against the rocks and an opening was was made in her armor.
The magic water touched her and she had just enough time to writhe in pain before she was metal.
A village elder, Eustace didn't know her name, grabbed onto him after he screamed, "NO!" and tried to charge forward to help the Serpent.  Eustace struggled against her --not realizing she was saving his life-- hoping to reach the Serpent.
Then a voice rang out that resonated in the various souls of all those there. "Thank her, lad. Even I can't go in those waters." Aslan jumped onto a spot where the Serpent's coils were above the magic pool and started digging into it. He stopped a moment to say, "Fetch me a blanket."
It took an hour for him to tear his way to the center of the golden beast, but when he did it was minutes later that he emerged with a young woman, wrapped in the blanket he had requested. "My name is Adah," she said.
Then she looked at Eustace and said, "I'm afraid I couldn't hear very well, what's yours?"
"Eustace," he said.
"Thank you, Eustace."
Aslan had Adah climb on his back and lept to the dry land. Once there it was a much quicker process to revive Restimar.
"Lord Aslan!" He cried out. Then a moment later asked, "Am I dead?"
"No," Aslan replied.
"What's the last thing you remember old friend?" Octesian asked.
"It was a hot day, I decided to take a swim, I dove in... I dove in and... I don't even remember hitting the water."
"The transformation is more painful if your body is huge, I guess," Adah said.
Most of those at the pool made their way back to the ship where fish was served. Octesian and Restimar remained and spoke to each other for a long time. Eustace stayed to talk to Adah. Some of the younger people rescued from the slavers --five humans, a Squirrel, and two Turtles-- were entranced by a story Reepicheep was only halfway through telling about his exploits.
"Thank you," Adah said.
"For what," Eustace asked.
"For getting the others to stop shooting at me. For trusting me."
"I have some experience with what you went through."
"You were a Serpent?"
"I was a Dragon."
"Slept in the wrong place?"
"You too?"
"Yeah. Did you like the Kracken I brought you?"
"Kracken?" Eustace thought a moment. "The immense squid? It was fascinating. I wish we didn't need it for food because I'd love to be able to study the thing. It's positively amazing."
"I'm glad you liked it. I got it for you."

Friday, October 25, 2013

Narnia: If I could turn back time (The Midas Pool version 2)

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]
[Having discovered a pool of water that turns all it touches into gold (with the body of an unfortunate person trapped inside), Caspian has decided to become RICH and sworn everyone to secrecy on pain of death, Edmund has decided to angrily argue the chain of command, Lucy has decided to use sexism to assume that two boys being jerks means all boys are jerks, Eustace has narrowly avoided being turned to gold himself, and Reepicheep hasn't done much.  At this point, with bloodshed imminent, Aslan shows up.]

Aslan said, "The humans always do make a mess of things, don't they, Reepicheep?"
"Often times they do," Reepicheep responded. He noticed that the humans were all frozen in place.
"I'm thinking of rolling back time a bit and having a do over. You'll be protected from the effects but they'll be disoriented and suggestible. Do you think you can get them out of here before they screw up again?"
"I can do it in three sentences sire."
"Then that is what I will ask you to do."
"And what of the man in the pool?"
"I was hoping that the humans would take it upon themselves to save one of their own, but it looks like I'll have to get him out and revive him. Just like I did with Octesian."
"Sire, if I might inquire," Reepicheep said, "what did happen to Lord Octesian?"
"He gave away all of his possessions, one at a time, to the poor, the needy, and those who had distinguished themselves through tireless service to those less powerful than themselves. The last of his original possessions was a wrist bracelet he gave to a dying old dragon who had long defended the neighboring islands from pirates. He did this not long before you arrived and the dragon died.
"Unfortunately he became shipwrecked on a reef not far from 'Dragon Island' and, with his shipmates, was in need of a boat. I had hoped that finding the bracelet would cause the humans to start a search which would have quickly located the reef, Octesian, and his companions, thus rescuing them with minimum disruption.
"Instead I had to go to him personally and swim him to the nearest inhabited island. Then do the same for each of his companions. While I was doing that pirates exploited the absence of the dragon to sack a village, I believe you've been there."
Reepicheep nodded.
"Are you ready for me to roll time back?"
"Yes sire."
"Remember, if you don't act to change things quickly the timeline will remain the same."


[Not part of the story, but if anyone wants to know what happened after time was turned back, here is the original text which follows the above exchange:]

   Across the gray hillside above them—gray, for the heather was not yet in bloom—without noise, and without looking at them, and shining as if he were in bright sunlight though the sun had in fact gone in, passed with slow pace the hugest lion that human eyes have ever seen. In describing the scene Lucy said afterward, “He was the size of an elephant,” though at another time she only said, “The size of a cart-horse.” But it was not the size that mattered. Nobody dared to ask what it was. They knew it was Aslan.
   And nobody ever saw how or where he went. They looked at one another like people waking from sleep.
   “What were we talking about?” said Caspian. “Have I been making rather an ass of myself?”
   “Sire,” said Reepicheep, “this is a place with a curse on it. Let us get back on board at once. And if I might have the honor of naming this island, I should call it Deathwater.”