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.
“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.