Hello Blogatious Buds!
I have decided to release my book, THE DOVER STONE in a fun way here at my CFFS HQ Blog. Because it is self-published and the Mega Corporation Wiestworld Productions has a VERY slim advertising budget, this (self-described) sci-fi delight is languishing and lonely in the deep cyber wilderness of The Amazon Reign Forests…
(dot-com that is…virtual gold, Bezos tea.).
So let’s put an end to this poor ol’ tome’s unsolicited solitude right here-and-now! (insert cheer sound here)
Here’s what’s up:
For the next 20 weeks, I will release one story every two weeks with a video blog synopsis-teaser and the corresponding track from CONCERTO FOR FOLDED SPACE. (Fear not, you can still purchase the fine paperback or Kindle editions by clicking right HERE. You can even get an autographed copy by clicking HERE. I know right?!) At the end of each V-Blog (or “Vlog” as the hipsters say) installment, I welcome comments and conversation about each story.
Prelude and String Theory
V-Blog #1: “Prelude and String Theory Synopsis”
“Prelude and String Theory” from CONCERTO FOR FOLDED SPACE:
The following is an excerpt from the novel THE DOVER STONE
- ISBN-10: 1491202645
- ISBN-13: 978-1491202647
I have some questions:
How long have we wondered if we are all there is in all of the cosmos?
Weren’t there dragons and fairies and all sorts of beasties wandering about in ancient times?
Where did they go?
How is it possible that there are so many stars and so many galaxies in an infinite universe that is so very old and that we here in the suburbs of the Milky Way Galaxy circling a relatively young star are the only people in all of creation?
Because we don’t hear our celestial brothers and sisters does it follow that they aren’t trying to call us?
Because we can’t hear them does that mean they don’t exist?
Have they been here before?
Did they ever leave?
Are we really alone?
The first thing that you, the dear reader from the 21st Century, would notice in 1157 would likely be the silence— a total lack of engine noise that is deafening in its completeness. We denizens of the fossil-fuel-addicted league of engines can hardly imagine what a world without combustion-sound would mean. The first thing you would probably hear would be a mad rushing or whooshing sound. This would be your own blood flow, the sound of which was so commonplace in our early history as to not even be acknowledged on a day-to-day basis, but lost to us who have constant mechanical incidental decibels.
The second thing that would come to you with enough power to cause you to weep would be the air itself. The atmosphere of the twelfth century is of a purity and sweetness that we cannot even begin to fathom. There are simply no pollutants except the mercurial remains of wood fires for cooking and warmth. But those momentary zephyrs of man-produced irritants bring their own delicious smells to justify their existence. Even the earth itself fills the air with fertile happy aromas. Each breath produces a riot of sensual delights.
However, the medieval years in England are not all-pristine and clean goodness— hardly. There are plentiful signs of the many, many dirty fingerprints of mankind especially as you near a village, hamlet or “city.” The open sewage ditches that line the streets of any gathering place are particularly impressive in their persuasively pungent warnings. The complete and total lack of hygiene of any kind is also evident at a glance—here is a bittersweet land of quick death and brief but lusty life.
But the observer from the year of our Lord 2015 would also see with great surprise the presence of “others” among the human folk. For the people of the 12th century weren’t superstitious as much as they were worldly beyond our modern grasp, actually “worldly” and cosmopolitan on a galactic level. They were aware of and accepted the presence of beings from other worlds in a way that the xenophobic, government-conditioned fragile citizens of “modern” times simply aren’t capable of. We “superior” people of the Post Information Age scoff at the primitive folk of medieval times and their belief in Fairies, Trolls, Grindylowe, Brownies, and Elves. What would we self-righteous people think if we were to find out that these beings of ancient times were not mythical creatures at all, but instead denizens of other worlds— aliens— who carefully used to live among us?
But they were here, as they were in the time of Gilgamesh, in the time of the Pharaohs, and in the time of the glory days of Greece, they were present and guiding the house-of-cards that we call the human race. And nowhere was this medieval zone of extremes more evident than in Dover, Kent at the tip of southeast England.
Known as “The Key to England”, Dover has always been a place of significance. Situated at the top of the famous white chalk cliffs there was first an Iron Age hill-fort, followed by twin Roman Pharos (light houses), a Saxon fortified settlement, Earthworks by William the Conqueror and finally, the great Dover Castle built by Henry II, King of England. Placed as it was at the doorway to the kingdom and as a guardian of entry, Dover was also a gathering place for British, Celts, Gauls, Continental Europeans of all stripes and non-humans—one of the many galactic melting pots of the medieval world whose membership has been lost in the mists of time and “mythology.”
By his 25th year, Ethelred was a journeyman member of the Free Mason’s Guild and under the employ of King Henry’s famous architect “Maurice The Builder.” Hard at work on The King’s great effort to atone for the murder of his fallen friend Thomas Becket (as well as a proper hall to show off his superior court to all important visitors), the great keep that would be the centerpiece of Dover Castle and Maurice’s crowning achievement was underway. Part of Ethelred’s duties consisted of daily councils of study with the secret mentor and advisor to the Masonic Guild, Hyp Zoon-ee. Hyp was an Urisk, specifically of the Urisk-Zoon-ee race. Brilliant well beyond all human capacity and a virtuoso raconteur, Hyp was also “afflicted” with the condition that kept his kind forever in the shadows: profound ugliness.
To gaze upon an Urisk-Zoon-ee is to look into the face of everything frightening and repulsive in the collective imaginings of humankind. It is difficult at best to read Urisk emotions due to the huge permanent smile that bristles literally from ear to droopy scar-encrusted ear. Because of the whip-like small appendages that regularly clean their huge teeth, UriskZoon-ee grotesque grins seem to always be alive with writhing worms. The Zoon-ee voice is impossible to describe. The closest humans have come to it is “an army of crabs scuttling across a cold stone slab…in the basso profondo register.” Whenever they do open their cavernous mouths to speak, three black tongues unroll and droop below their long scimitar chins while a tube-like thing twirls straight forward out of the depths of their oral cavity like a New Years Eve noisemaker (“part of some kind of monstrously complex vocal mechanism suite” is the current best guess as to this twirling mystery tube’s purpose.)
And their skin! Perhaps the most disturbing part of the Urisk-Zoon-ee visage (to humans anyway) is the texture of their skin. Ever undulating below the surface of their purple and green mottled outer covering is a network of bones and sinew that busily move about on some unknown Uriskian anatomical mission giving the impression that their bodies are thoroughly corrupted with maggots. The eyes of the Urisk-Zoon-ee are large saucer-shaped affairs that are pitch black and weepy with silver flashing orbs that zip about giving the impression of irises looking in all directions. Topping off this nightmare is an explosion of hair-like fingers that are the true repository of Urisk Zoon-ee emotional communication. When irritated, the Zoon-ee’s “hair-fingers” stretch out to full length, fully erect. And when a Zoon-ee laughs (which is quite often) the fingers crumple tight against the top of their heads and then pop rapidly upwards one at a time, creating a perfect “wave” formation.
Weighing in at a substantial 550 sloppy pounds and anywhere between 6’5” and 8 feet tall, with a penchant for flamboyant dress, the Urisk Zoonee are singularly impressive—and to humans—frighteningly repulsive beings. All of this meant very little to Ethelred Mason however. As a young initiate into the rites of Masonry, Ethelred had met Hyp Zoon-ee on the day of his acceptance as an apprentice. Upon being introduced to the alien being that it was said “could curdle milk with a single glance” Ethelred merely accepted that this was a proper look for a creature from an entirely different world. Hyp could sense this straight away, and was from that day on Ethelred’s greatest benefactor and closest confidant, as well as his Guild Mentor.
“How are you progressing on your masterpiece young Ethelred? asked Hyp, One would hope that you are not unready!” (For the thousandth time in his young life, Ethelred smiled in stoic acceptance of the humorous reference to his ancient royal namesake, “Æthelred The Unready” while Hyp’s hair fingers exploded rapidly in a frenetic variation of the “mirthwave.”)
Using words from one of Hyp’s own lectures, Ethelred began “Masters,” quoth he, “here now is my advice;” (actually, using Chaucer as a Middle English reference, it would have been spoken something like: “Lordynges,” quod he, “now herkneth for the beste;” but let’s skip this tiresome, albeit melodic, verbiage of the 12th Century in favor of a smoother ride.) Ethelred finished the Hyp Zoon-ee advice quote: “…render something both artful and practical as your masterpiece.”
“Therefore,” Ethelred continued, “I have chosen to create a scale design of a defensive right-turning helix staircase to be used in the castle.” “Excellent! said Hyp as his follicle-like digits waved merrily across his scabby mottled head.
“With such a design, a defender could run down the stairs with his sword arm free to move about while an attacker would be pressed against the newel wall thus restricting his movements and giving the advantage to the castle defenders,” concluded Ethelred.
“Brilliant!” said Hyp as his hair fingers seemed to be trying to form themselves into an ironing board-type of shape while quivering frantically. “I am most confident that the Masters will accept your work and welcome you into their fold.”
“Not everyone will welcome me, I’m afraid, said Ethelred.
“Oh, and who, pray tell, would not welcome a bright light such as you?”
“That damned Yates Lufeless,” said Ethelred.
“Ah, your beloved fellow Masonic Brother.”
“Not much to love with Lufeless Mr. Zoon-ee, said Ethelred, the man is infuriating! He seems to be talented, and I believe he may be brilliant, but a more socially awkward soul has never graced Our Lord’s good Earth. A grunt is all he favors one with as he passes us all by on the worksite each day with his nose high in the air. Yates fancies himself better than we mere mortals and declares himself to be the rightful next addition to the ranks of Master. And if it ended there, all well and good, but the man is out to destroy me! Every thing that I can accomplish, he finds a way to either diminish in the eyes of the Masters, or to undermine—he is insufferably jealous of all that I do.”
“Sounds as if young Yates is your Nbynk,” said Hyp.
“What is a Nub-Yunk?” asked Ethelred.
“We are all interconnected young Ethelred, said Hyp, all of us are made up of incredibly small particles that themselves consist of even smaller particles. On and on goes these regressions of size until we reach the sentient strings of energy fiber that connect us all. My people have learned to harness this string energy and use it to open the doors between Here-n-Now where our universe exists and That where you and I are now speaking. Indeed, the race we call Urisk-Zest and you call Fairies can tap into this infinitesimal world at any time. I firmly believe that one day your people will learn to understand String-Foundation as well.”
“What do strings and fairies have to do with the vile troll that is Mr. Lufeless? asked Ethelred.
“Ha!” said Hyp as his finger hair performed an extraordinary happy-dance, “Young Yates is hardly an Urisk-Grundy, or as you say: Troll.”
“How many races of Urisk are there?” marveled Ethelred.
“It is said that there are as many different kinds of Urisk as there are Strings in the Foundation,” said Hyp.
“But what of this Nub-Yunk business?”
“Simply put, young Ethelred, a Nbynk is your mirror-teacher—a soul that we all encounter at important points in our lives who will teach us some of our most important lessons. It is, by nature, extremely difficult to learn from a Nbynk because it is the natural way of things to be repulsed by all that we perceive as evil or abnormal. A soul’s Nbynk is quite often one’s opposite in all subjective life-preferences, and more often than not, a Nbynk can be a real threat to their student’s way of life.”
“You describe Lufeless perfectly Mr. Zoon-ee.”
“Your challenge young one, is to find out why your Nbynk is the way he is, to pity his plight, to understand him fully, and then to love him truthfully and completely. Such a resolution usually takes an extraordinary act of purely honest selflessness to achieve. Anything less than this will waste a great opportunity for growth.”
“Or I could kick him boldly in his meager man parts and follow that up with a knee to his sanctimonious visage,” said Ethelred.
“Or you could do that.” replied Hyp while his hair-fingers seemed to be anxiously discussing something with each other.
As was their tradition, the Masons or as they were called collectively “The Lodge” would meet as a group at the end of every workday on the southern side of the worksite where the stones of their shelter would be warmed during the daylight hours. As the site of the new castle at Dover was only in the early stages, such a “Lodge House” had yet to be built, so for now they all gathered around a cook-fire to take their meals. In truth, Ethelred preferred this. There was something mystical and wonderful about a fire made in the out-of-doors that had always fascinated him. Perhaps it was the way that sap in the logs would pop causing sparks to fly into the air and seemingly mix with the stars themselves that he loved. Or maybe the contemplative state that one achieves staring in reflection at the murmuring shades of red and orange that dance about the coals that form underneath the flames. Sometimes, his fascination would be inspired by the collective music produced when the crackling of the fire harmonized with the intermittent tinkling sounds that the occasional fairy (or Urisk-Zest as Hyp would say) would make as it playfully winked in and out of existence batting the star-sparks out of the air.
On this particular evening, he noticed a very unusual fairy, however. Usually a bit on the oafish side and quite male looking, this particular UriskZest was undoubtedly female. Her skin was of a rainbow hue that reflected the fire in an explosion of sparkling colors. As she batted playfully at the star-sparks, her long blond hair followed her movements just a space behind the beat in much the same way as the tail of a kite. Her glances towards Ethelred as he sat hypnotized by the fire seemed personal and captivating in a very pleasing manner. What a delight!
Into the midst of this happy cook fire reverie strode the notorious Yates Lufeless himself, he of recent Nbynk fame. Feeling nothing but irritation at the fairy display, Yates lashed out to swat the female Urisk-Zest as if it were a bothersome insect. Caught completely unaware, the fairy plummeted into the fire itself and instantly flew straight up into the air obviously injured and winked out of existence. “Mason,” Yates said to Ethelred, “Shouldn’t you be working on your “masterpiece” rather than staring blankly into the fire as if it will magically take care of your responsibilities for you?”
Sickened by Yates’ heartless and casual attempt at murder with the fairy, Ethelred was instantly plunged into a barely controlled state of rage.
“Ah, our good friend Yates,” Ethelred said between clenched teeth, “how nice of you to favor us with a full-blown and intelligently constructed sentence rather than your customary primordial grunt.”
This brought a hardy round of appreciative chuckles from the other masons seated about the fire.
“Such a sharp tongue for such a dull mind, said Yates. For your illumination, I am near completion of my masterpiece and will no doubt be a Master myself within the month. I, for one, take my work and this craft seriously. As should you Ethelred.”
Ethelred jumped to his feet at this affront to his dignity and instantly felt himself careening into extreme thoughts of violence.
Seeing the look of anger in Ehtelred’s eyes, Yates triumphantly began:
“Wouldst Thou strike me Ethelred? Behold the young mason Oh Lodge…not willing to work for advancement; Ethelred is more than willing to incite violence to deter others who are in the midst of honest endeavor. Think twice, all ye present, before inviting such a one as Ethelred Mason to advance to the highest ranks of this fellowship.”
With a grotesque and strangely unnatural smug look on his face, Yates turned around with a flourish and walked away from the fire. Ethelred, realizing the trap he had so boldly walked into, plopped down in defeat.
“Pay him no mind,” said Geoffrey Williams, a fellow journeyman and member of the present cook fire company. “I’ve known Yates since we were both wee lads and he has always been this way. There’s more than meets the eye to young Lufeless.”
Barely noticing the kind and intriguing words of support from Geoffrey, Ethelred was still in a dark place. “How easy it is, he mused, to let one’s basest primal instincts prevail. How effortless it would have been for me to pummel Yates senseless with my bare hands just then.” In his heart-of-hearts Ethelred knew how wonderful such a primitive course of action would feel, for in the depths of his soul-well lurked the murderous monster that lives in all men’s hearts. Revenge, hate, anger, brutality, the entire repertoire of the original animal forever paces the uneasy gates of every mind. “Let me lose,” it croons, “for I will make you manly—I will consummate your righteous fury in a celebration of blood that will be put to song and memorialized for generations to come!”…how easy…how very easy it is to be evil in the final analysis—and yet…what was it that Master Zoon-ee had said about the Nub-Yunk?”
“Geoffrey,” Ethelred said as he returned to reality, “what was it that you were saying about knowing Lufeless for many years?”
“I grew up in the same village as that unfortunate soul,” said Geoffrey.
“Unfortunate soul!” exclaimed Ethelred. “Rather the rest of us who must suffer his foolishness on a daily basis be thought of as unfortunate.”
“Perhaps, replied Geoffrey, but hear me out. Yates’ childhood fate is a sad tale that happens all too often these days. His mother died in childbirth and his father blamed him for her death. Raising Yates as his personal slave, Tom Lufeless beat the boy mercilessly telling him to remain silent at all times in his presence. In truth, I never heard Yates speak at all until our 13th year. By that time, I realized that he suffered under some sort of demonic disorder that had been compounded or perhaps even created by his grief blinded father.”
“Demonic disorder?” said Ethelred.
“Aye. Yates is as bright and intelligent as the day is long, but simply does not fit in with the human race. He is painfully introverted and has been given the “loving paternal gift” of profound insecurity on top of that. And along with all of this, the demons restrict him to a level of social understanding as is possessed by a toad or a mossy stone.”
“Well said my friend,” commented Ethelred with the beginnings of a smile.
“I’m afraid you misunderstand me Mason, replied Geoffrey. To the rest of us in the outside world, Yates seems to be haughty, indifferent, ill-mannered, short-tempered and a generally well-rounded awful sort.”
“Hear, hear!” said many who were still at the fire.
“Be that as it may my friends, Geoffrey continued, in truth Yates is a pitiful lost soul— a very intelligent and talented person without the ability to relate to the world. Doomed forever to be shunned, hated and reviled; kept in constant befuddlement by a legion of demons. Let us attend to the logs in our own eyes as Our Lord and Savior would admonish us to do, and leave the splinter in poor Yates’ eyes alone.”
“You’ve missed your calling!” commented another cook-fire Lodge member. “You would have made a first-rate priest.”
“Alas, replied Geoffrey, I have a deep liking for the female of our kind.”
With this, the discussion fell into the typically bawdy fare of an evening repast, leaving Ethelred alone with his thoughts of all that “Father Geoffrey” had said.
Yates Lufeless was indeed working on his masterpiece. Actually, he had stolen the idea from a discussion he had overheard between Maurice The Builder and King Henry’s son Richard Plantagenet, already known as “The Lionheart.” Young Richard, only a year from becoming the next in line to the throne at the death of his brother, had just returned from France where the royal family spent most of their time.
“I was recently made aware of a new building technique called the arcboutant, are you aware of it? asked Prince Richard.
“I have heard some talk of it My Lord, replied Maurice, there is an abbey of the Burgundian order in Cluny that I believe uses something like that as a support innovation.”
“Yes, one and the same, replied Richard. I have also heard that the new cathedral in Paris is using the arc-boutant to achieve amazing heights of construction. Do you know how this works? I wonder if we might use it in one of our projects.”
“Alas, I have no working models My Lord, replied Maurice. Perhaps after some more research we can look into it.” Lufeless was hooked. If he could learn how this arc-boutant technique worked and then fashion a scale model, he would be guaranteed Master status! But how would he learn this new method if even Maurice did not have the knowledge? Hyp Zoon-ee! He would consult the dreadful Urisk beast and learn the secret of this technique.
Spending time with the abomination that the Guild called Chief Mentor or Master was ultimately worth it, because Zoon-ee had given Lufeless the knowledge he needed to get to work, or at least just enough to cause him grief. Hyp called this wonder of stone a flying support, or buttress. But how maddening! How could such a spindly, thin structure hold up a wall whose stress points pushed out? Try as he might, Yates could not perfect his model.
The challenge began with his choice of the pointed archway as the heart of the piece. Due to the ingenious placement of stones, the pointed archway sent all of its stress out and down and therefore could be built thinner than the bulky standard rounded arch. This was an advantage in the new so-called “Goth” art of modern cathedral building, which was just coming into vogue. Allowing an incredible amount of room for glass and therefore stunning amounts of light, the arc-boutant and the pointed arch were the heart and soul of Gothic construction. However, such arches had a bad habit of stressing their neighbor walls and columns. Lufeless reasoned that this “flying buttress” concept might alleviate the flaw. But each time he placed his arc-boutant, the standing arch ultimately collapsed. Knowing that the hateful Ethelred was no doubt nearing the completion of his piece, Yates worked feverishly day-after-day in the hopes of solving the stress riddle. How his father would have loved this conundrum!
“You’re wasting your time boy!” The deceased monster would have enjoyed saying. “With a mind as dull as yours, you’d be lucky to keep a job as a dung sweeper rather than indulging the ill advised farce of Master Mason.”
And so, Yates carried on— if only to spite his damned father whom he pleasantly hoped burned in Hell’s eternal fire.
The day after the cook fire episode, Ethelred had a bad taste about the whole thing in his mouth. “Perhaps I should go to Yates’ shop in town and speak with him,” he thought. Being the Sabbath, no work was scheduled, so Ethelred decided to walk over to Yates’ Stone Masonry in Dover.
It was part of being a journeyman to establish one’s own business while belonging to the Guild proper. As Yates’ shop could hardly qualify as anything more than a hopeful wish wrapped up in a optimistic dream, the building itself served not so much as a thriving business as a place to live during the construction of the castle. A dreary little abode lost in a community of equally cheerless small hovels on Market Street (a more proper name would have been “Stench Alley”), Yates’ Stone Masonry was devoid of any occupants when Ethelred arrived that morning. “Lufeless must be attending Mass,” mused Ethelred with more than a tinge of guilt at sleeping in that day.
Seeing that the door to Yates’ Stone Masonry was not only unbarred, but also standing ajar, Ethelred cautiously leaned in. “Yates, are you here?” he called. Hearing no answer after multiple attempts, he stepped inside. The interior of Yates’ shop was cold and Spartan to say the least. With an array of stone works in various stages of completion and a few practical sticks of furnishings—all arranged in an obsessively neat pattern on a meticulously swept dirt floor, the cold scene before Ethelred seemed neither inviting nor homey in any way. Indeed, the sad little display in Yates’ place of business seemed to shout: “Behold, I am lonely, and no manner of lavish orderliness will help me.” In the midst of this “museum of the forlorn Nbynk” however, one item was conspicuously dominant. “This must be Lufeless’ masterpiece,” thought Ethelred.
And indeed it was: standing in the center of the room was a pointed archway some three feet in height with peculiar curved braces on either side. As Ethelred watched, a troupe of fairies winked into existence on the very top of the archway and began moving into a comical formation one on top of the other, as a group of performing athletes would do at a tournament. Laying their wings flat and bending into shapes that were humorous to the extreme in their design, the Urisk-Zest troupe made an arch of their own on the highest point of Yates’ piece. Suddenly, a female fairy winked into existence and stood proudly on the shoulders of her topmost colleague. One of her beautiful legs was wrapped in a glittering cloth of some fantastical Uriskian type, but was obviously a dressing for a wound. Ethelred was sure that he was staring into the eyes of what was no doubt the same hypnotic she-fairy he had seen Lufeless swat into the cook fire!
While he watched in complete fascination, the lovely fairy began to jump up and down on the troupe formation. At each jump, Ethelred noticed that one stone on each side of the archway began to tilt out and away from the arch formation itself. The twin flaws became more and more apparent until the entire piece collapsed gracefully with the outer lengths falling outward and the upper regions collapsing in upon itself. The fairy troupe flew instantly into the air tinkling in delight and then winked out of That and into Here-n-Now. Hanging back from the rest of her company, the female fairy flew straight over to Ethelred and up close to his face. Keeping completely still, Ethelred looked deep into her eyes and felt…joy? Mischief? Lust? As he thought about it later, he decided that it was all of these emotions all at once, felt in the extreme just as the she-Urisk popped out of our world and into her own.
Shaking off the bewitching stare of the she-fairy, Ethelred began to consider his situation. “I am standing alone in Yates’ home in front of his collapsed masterpiece…if found, I could say: “I am innocent! A group of fairies appeared and their female leader jumped up and down until the whole thing collapsed” and of course not a single soul would believe this story—“especially not my Nbynk; Yates Lufeless.”
So right then-and-there, he decided to rebuild the piece…and quickly! Two points worked in his favor: the arch had fallen into a convenient pile that suggested its rebuilding and Ethelred was blessed with a near perfect photographic memory. As he worked, he admired Yates’ level of craftsmanship in spite of himself. Each block fit perfectly against its neighbor and required no mortar or binding agent of any kind. The flaw in his design as Ethelred saw it, was that his remarkable “flying arches” had been placed too high. To remedy this, Ethelred removed a stone from each side of the straight portions of the braces. The resulting placement was amazingly strong and secure. Testing his workmanship himself by pushing on the top of the arch where the fairies had last conducted their successful demolition mission, Ethelred was satisfied that he had not only reconstructed Yates’ model, but also improved upon the original. Setting the two now superfluous stones in a bucket in the corner of the room, Ethelred left.
As he walked hurriedly away (Mass would now be nearly over) young Ethelred Mason resolved to wait a while before submitting his defensive right-turning helix staircase. “I suppose Yates’ could use some good news and glory in his life after all.” he thought.
Yates presented his flying buttress to the Master Masons and Maurice The Builder. Celebrated as an “English Genius” Yates was welcomed unanimously as the Guild’s newest Master. Having no idea at all why his model worked now after all those times where it mysteriously collapsed, Lufeless chalked it up to an intervention of The Almighty and happily accepted his promotion and newfound fame. Ethelred spoke about it one last time to Hyp Zoon-ee.
“And that, Mr. Zoon-ee is my story,” said Ethelred.
“I believe that you Sir, have learned a great lesson from your Nbynk, replied Hyp, and have become the true Master while Mr. Lufeless has many more miles yet to go.”
“I must admit, it feels very good at an extremely deep level to have weathered the storm of my own emotions and to have come out at the other end a better person,” said Ethelred.
“You are very wise my friend,” said Hyp as his hair fingers seemed to be marching haughtily across his mottled head. Of all the humans I have met over the decades, you have impressed me the most. What will you do now?”
“I think I will help build a castle,” said Ethelred as he took one of Hyp Zoon-ee’s undulating 8-finger hands into his and gave it a good shake.
As evening fell on the day of Yates’ ceremony, there came a ground fog across the glen that led to the famous cliffs of Dover. It was Ethelred’s habit of an evening to stroll over to the edge of the cliffs and ruminate upon the amazing view of the Channel. Tonight was especially stunning as the ground fog made it seem as though one was walking upon the clouds themselves. There was also a nip in the air as a slight breeze carried the first hints of autumn into play. As he gazed out over the water of the Channel far below, Ethelred was captivated by the fragile beauty of the stars, all the more brighter because of the crisp air, and the moon itself which spilled its light out onto the waters like paint from a brush that touches a watercolor wash.
At the edge of the cliff something that gave off a light of its own was dancing about in the night air. Intrigued, Ethelred walked over to get a closer look. It was the she-fairy! Just out of reach, darting through the air and giving off a phosphorus-like glow like some kind of multi-colored firefly. All at once, she turned her back to him and seemed to be undoing the front of her gown! As he watched, she coyly looked over her shoulder, then buttoned it back up spun around and flew closer to him, only to repeat the lusty dance again. Wanting to get a closer look at this strangely intoxicating carnal display Ethelred, with ground fog up to his ankles, walked even closer. The she-fairy turned her back to him again and dropped her gown off completely revealing a very shapely rainbow-hued naked back.
As she looked over her shoulder once again, she slowly began to turn, her arms innocently covering her breasts and seemed to be beckoning to Ethelred to come even closer. As he happily obliged and took one more step, Ethelred realized too late that he had actually stepped off the edge of the cliff itself and was thrown forward into the abyss 106 meters above the sharp rocks below. As he began to fall, he looked up and saw the she-fairy laughing at him and making crystal-like tinkling sounds.
As the old joke goes, the easy part is the fall itself. It seemed to take an inordinate amount of time for him to cover the 106 meters to the rocky shore below. As he was falling, he found himself thinking of silly things: who will feed my dog? I haven’t eaten dinner yet! He also thought of tragically sad things: I have yet to really fall in love. I will never have children. And he also thought of his entire life: my brother John, I loved him so. I miss my mother and father, I shouldn’t have shot our neighbor’s cat with that crossbow…did William cheat at our last game of knucklebones…
Suddenly, in mid-thought, there was a split second of searing pain as Ethelred’s body smashed onto the rocks and his head exploded against a tall boulder. Light flashed everywhere and sound suddenly took on other characteristics such as length and width and depth. A tunnel appeared with a fantastic bright light at the end. Ethelred could sense the presence of his long-lost family, his Nana and Grand Da, his parents, brother John! And also present and somehow known were an enormous army of Masons from time immemorial. His vision was becoming something… else. He sensed rather than saw with his eyes. He could tell above all else that he was still falling, he could feel himself getting smaller, infinitely smaller, passing through all understanding of size, becoming so very small that he soon began to feel huge! Ethelred could sense himself expanding as he neared the light. The illumination itself was joy as pure and right as anything he had ever known. Suddenly, Ethelred passed through the end of the tunnel and spread out among the strings that connect everything that is.
He had given up his opportunity to reach the highest levels of his craft but that day, Ethelred Mason became one with the threads that make up the foundation of all. Heaven—life after death; the energy that would one day fuel Earth’s entire civilization. Ethelred knew this was good and was well pleased.
Upon learning of the sad news of his friend’s death, Hyp Zoon-ee announced to the Lodge that Ethelred had himself been working on a masterpiece as well. Hyp presented it to the Master Masons and deemed it worthy of acceptance. Not only did Ethelred receive a unanimous vote as Posthumous Master Mason (In the ledger of the unanimous was the vote of one Master Lufeless.), but his defensive right-turning helix staircase was adopted into the construction of Dover castle, proved itself to be an ingenious defense mechanism time-and-again through the years, and remains a popular part of the castle to this very day.
How could Ethelred know that Yates Lufeless was living with a condition that hundreds of years later would be called Asperger Syndrome? He could not know such a thing. Hyp Zoon-ee knew, (although he used the Uriskian term Tymswat Gwee to describe this disorder) but realized that letting Ethelred think of it as being caused by “demons” would suffice for the times in which they lived.
And so, the universe is at it should be. People learn from their Nbynks if they keep their minds open and their hearts receptive to growth. The human race progresses, and somewhere deep down in the center of us all, Ethelred Mason waits happily for his time to power a stringer ship into the very cosmos itself.
More Cool Stuff About Things in This Story:
NOVA: Building The Great Cathedrals:
(A nice layman’s guide to cool Gothic Architecture)
King Henry II and Thomas à Becket:
A Roll Call of 22 Top English Mythical (?) Creatures
(Our boy The Grindylow shows up at 16:41)
Next Up on RELEASE THE DOVER STONE: