Monday, June 13, 2005

The Science of Magical Artifacts

Thanks to Philip the Pun, who offered the phrase "technological Mecca" for our first entry in the "Let Me Tell You a Story" series.

No one ever thought Mecca Nichols would amount to much. She had no aptitude for magic. While other children her age ran around the school-yard zapping each others' heads with spells that turned curls into masses of snakes that burst into flames, Mecca sat at a picnic table and drew maps. In science class, when the professor attempted to demonstrate the proper sequences for turning base metal into gold, Mecca sketched diagrams for simple machines.

“You will never be a mage,” her mother said. “You will never even be a mage’s apprentice. If you’re lucky, maybe you will become a mage’s dishwasher.”

“Even then, mages' dishwashers need to know the proper spells for mending broken plates,” her father said.

“Why not use glue?” Mecca asked. “Or better yet, why not just be careful and not drop the plates?”

Mecca’s parents agreed that these comments displayed an appalling lack of imagination. They resigned themselves to the probability that their daughter would never advance very far in life. Still, her parents agreed, they had a fairly good life overall. Just because they had a magically-inept daughter didn’t mean that they were excluded from the mage-parties. Of course, that was before Mecca ruined everything by discovering the science of magical artifacts.

It all began when Mecca rubbed two sticks together and made fire. No one was supposed to be able to create fire without the proper sequence of words and fancy hand-motions. The fire-mages needed to stay in business, after all. But when Mecca rubbed two sticks together, other children attempted to follow suit. Although they were unable to get the sticks to work properly (“It helps to have flint,” Mecca later explained), the damage was done.

Soon after, Mecca designed a series of pulleys that made it possible to dip buckets into wells and bring up water. No spells were needed at all. The water-mages were furious. “This must stop!” they said. But Mecca was oddly impervious to their outrage. Mecca’s inventions and discoveries grew increasingly controversial. When Mecca programmed a computer to function without having little elves running around inside the wires connecting all the bits of information, the mages knew that the time had come to stop the nonsense.

“This technological Mecca is ruining our business!” the mages said to Mecca’s parents. “We have no choice but to ban her from the city."

"So be it," they replied.

Mecca was undisturbed. She picked up her compasses and protractors, and walked out of the city. At the edge of the city perimeters, she tacked up a sign to a tree. It said, “Here be dragons.”

“After all,” Mecca said, “the poor people of this city should be protected from the rest of the world as long as possible. It is only a matter of time before the bulldozers come.”

1 comment:

Tony said...

very good. It's about 3 8ths Hitchkiers Guide to the Galaxy and 5 8ths Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrel.