In Brief— With apologies to the Brothers Grimm, the author spins a fantasy that may look like reality except it takes place in a parallel universe we might easily mistake for our own.
We Aren’t in Kansas Anymore—
Once upon a time in a universe much like our own there was a rotund little king who fancied himself as able to turn straw into gold. His mother christened him Tremulus to reflect his fear of reality, but when he grew up and inherited the throne left by his father—and because his first name didn’t reflect the greatness of his self-image—he was known throughout the realm as T.Rumplethinskin.
Now, T.Rumplethinskin was quite proud of his small hands and beautiful orangeish tresses. Unfortunately, birds occasionally built nests in his sumptuous hair and could be heard whistling “Tweet, Tweet” although nobody could understand what those tweets meant. Sadly, T.Rumplethinskin had a bit of a weight problem, but he compensated for this—some say “overcompensated”—by letting his tongue run away with him, particularly when a comely maiden happened to pass by. He, of course, felt that since he was the king who could spin straw into gold, it was his right…droit du seigneur, so to speak.
According to legend in the parallel universe, T.Rumplethinskin claimed he could spin straw into gold. Because he was the king and his word was law, his subjects trusted him regardless of what the throng of non-believers said. Even a few of his subjects harbored fleeting doubts about his claimed ability, but hope is often blind.
Among his staunchest supporters were the Sycofantians, a group recognized by having two faces, both looking backward. The Sycofantians led by Lyin and Weekchin were rumored to be building a wall to keep out the disorganized hordes of the Statusquocrats and anybody who looked different regardless of their intelligence or beliefs. Strangers who looked different, spoke a different language and had different beliefs were considered dangerous. That was gospel.
T.Rumplethinskin, not noted for his perspicacity although he had beautiful hair and handsome small hands, believed that he could appoint anybody he wished to any post in the kingdom even though his appointees lacked knowledge of their assignment, of the employee vassals who labored to make the kingdom run, of the wishes of his subjects or the strange people across the Great Sea. What counted was what T.Rumplethinskin believed.
One day, T.Rumplethinskin was called upon to spin straw into gold. Believing he could do that while maintaining his extensive holdings, he sat down at the spinning wheel, sang a magic song in his really great voice, pumped the treadle and fed straw into the wheel. Straw in, straw out. No matter how hard he tried despite the huzzahs of Lyin, Weekchin and the Sycofantians, despite the tweets of the entranced birds, the straw remained straw.
T.Rumplethinskin’s devoted believers remained convinced he could do as he claimed. Surely, they said, gold must be accumulating in the kingdom’s treasury. Gerbil News TV proclaimed that gold was certainly accumulating in the treasury and that the opposition was spreading malicious propaganda. T.Rumplethinskin’s believers, devotees of Gerbil News TV, joined the chorus of adoration.
Of course, this took place in a parallel universe and couldn’t happen here in our exceptional universe. It couldn’t happen here…could it?