The Court of Outsiders, a #FairyTaleFriday story

In Abyssinia, no-one ever says how nice it is to see you.
No-one ever compliments you on how good you look today.
Nobody has ever said “I’ll be seeing you.”

In the darkness of the abyss, far below the lightline where the last photons of sunlight smash into the fissure wall, there is no mention of sight because it serves no purpose.
The abyss is the land of the Hearkeners, and Abyssinia is their capital.

Tuflos sits in the Court of Outsiders, in the high backed chair of the Master Judge. Every day, people travel to Abyssinia to have their cases heard in front of him. His is the ultimate arbitration. In the sharp focus of impenetrable blackness each liquid drop of sound can be weighed and considered. There are no lawyers in The Court of Outsiders – just the plaintiff and the defendant – each of them telling Tuflos, in their own words, what happened. Each of them telling Tuflos more than they know as he listens to the thud of a carotid pulse making harmonics on vocal cords, or the double thrum of a nervous eyelid flutter.
He rarely asks questions, and when he does it is often about the person and not about the case – checking his understanding of their emotional baseline, not meddling in so called facts. Facts are so mutable, turn one in your hand and it changes shape and temperature. People though do not change. People are constant, steady, reliable. It is only what they do that is changeable, what they are you could build a house on.

Today Tuflos is hearing the case of a man who tried to bring electric light to Abyssinia. Basilias the ruler himself is standing before him arguing the case. In the defendant’s chair sits Thomas, a scientist and inventor. A dreamer, whose only hope was to make progress. The ruler is angry, demanding, untrusting.
“This fool brings light to our world, light we cannot use, light we do not trust, light that will diminish what makes Abyssinia special and different and great.”
“And you Thomas,” says Tuflos, “How do you respond ?”
“Being special and different is not our source of greatness your honour. Our power comes from our willingness to listen – imagine the power we would have if we could hear AND see !”

Tuflos heard the impassioned sincerity in Thomas’ voice and the fear and defensiveness in the ruler’s.
He spoke.

“Thomas you have done no wrong. But you are wrong.
Basilias, you have done wrong bringing this case, but you are right.
“We cannot use light here. No man listens willingly, we listen because we must, and light will kill the imperative.”
“Basilias, you must pay for Thomas to travel to where his passion can be used, and Thomas, you must find a world that can survive you.”

Tuflos rose from his chair and left the court smiling inaudibly to himself.
Truly, he thought, justice is blind.


A 100 word #SmallTales story on the subject of Benefits

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Hubris, Icarus

500 words for #FairyTaleFriday from the keywords Hubris and Icarus

Hugh loved a good circumcision.
The flick of the blade, the twitch of the father’s eye, the deep sense of religious duty done.
This one, he thought, was about an eight.
The chanting was rich and melodious, the infant’s mother was particularly fervent but Dad barely flinched, which kind of spoiled the snick. Maybe they had older sons.
He settled down in the window light, warming himself as he wondered at the skywalking dust sparkles that sauntered across the shaft of sunlight above him. Like all holy places, this one smelt of dust and polish – both wood and brass polish here. It was a smart joint. The kind of joint that attracted rich families and their babies – or poor families who wanted to mix with the rich and be thought of as wealthy. So pretty much everyone really.
The dust just walked around in mid-air – never seemingly in a rush, no particular place to go. Just mooching. It always seemed to get somewhere in the end; at least the old widows and their dead husbands’ torn up shirt dusters always seemed to find some. And flick, smear, brush – off it had to go, and however much seemed to be stuck to the cloth, there was still an inexhaustible supply of particles flying right back up into the light to pace the air.
Hugh wondered if you could eat dust. Someone had told him once that all dust was tiny flakes of people’s skin, and if it was skin from an animal it was basically meat. So it stood to reason that if you ate enough of it you were pretty much eating steak. When he tried it though, it just tasted of holy places with not a hint of sirloin.
I don’t suppose you should think of eating dust in a holy place what with all the dead people that came through it, but meat is just dead animal so …
Hugh shrugged and took off to the front of the place where a new family had gathered for their first born son’s bris. Hugh took a good long look at the father. This one was practically crawling with anticipatory dread. Flinch city. Excellent.
Old Rabbi Jacobs was as professional as ever – some mellifluous chanting, some words – some of them in the holy tongue, some of them not and then the flash of the blade and WHAT A TWITCH a full face cheek clench from the father and the mother was positively reeking with righteousness. “Ladies and Gentlemen,” thought Hugh, “we have a ten.”
He grinned the bold grin of a moth who has just watched the best show in town and didn’t have to pay for a ticket and set off up to the top table. What joy ! What a twitch !
What’s that gorgeous light ?
Hugh was awestruck – the flickering, dancing flame seemed to call him and up, up he flew to meet it. To meet the light. The candle flame engulfed him and he flared out.



100 words for #SmallTales

Mrs Fawlty’s cat Vincent had a voracious appetite for small prey.
Anything small, juicy and easy to catch. Birds, fish, rodents of all forms.
Try as he may her husband Basil could not persuade her that Vincent was anything other than a saint.
It was her unshakeable belief in her cat’s self-control that persuaded her it would be fine to buy a hamster. A hamster who lasted one hour before Vincent ate it.
“Basil ! What have you done with my hamster – you foolish man ! You’ve lost him.”
“I most certainly have not.” her husband replied, “He’s in Vince Sybil.”