Thursday, June 8, 2017

A City of Two Tales, by K B Constantine

A City of Two Tales

These tales remember the recent and distant past of a famous city. Two friends try to retrace their steps from the previous evening, meanwhile Prof. Masaryk mulls over the current state of society.


A City of Two Tales

Part I – Remembering the Recent Past

The rich light of the early Brno afternoon streams through the window bathing Tam's rainbow horn in a soothing warmth. After a tired yawn and a stretch of his sturdy limbs, he slowly starts to look around his room. With great effort he swings his legs off the bed only to hear the unmistakable clink of empty beer bottles. The noise seemed particularly abrasive and Tam wonders just what kind of night he has endured. With a wobble he manages to land on all fours and heads into the kitchen, following the trail of Bohemky[1] crumbs, stumbling through a few doors in the process. The window is open and the appalling fragrance of hops from the Starobrno brewery permeates the room. What is normally a much welcome aroma makes Tam dry-heave…

Drako, Tam's new friend, greets him unceremoniously before taking another long drag on his freshly lit cigarette, and pauses to study Tam before bursting into fits of laughter.
Drako, laughing heartily, comments on Tam's weak stomach, stating that horses should generally be much stronger. Tam proceeds to correct Drako, blurting adamantly that he, Tam, is a unicorn and even a stupid crocodile should know that… He lets his last comment hang in the air, much like the silver smoke surrounding Drako's snout. Drako, between puffs, retorts that Tam knows fine well that he, Drako, is a dragon...and not just any dragon, a Brnensky Dragon[2] with a capital D. Tam gives his new acquaintance a quizzical look and wonders just how they ended up at his apartment and just what exactly the previous night's adventure entailed. Drako agrees they should try to find out.

The odd pair survive the descent to the front door and saunter along the uneven pavement. Tam, wondering what time it is, glances at his 'u-watch[3]' only for his attention to be drawn by a bracelet stamped 'Fleda'. They agree to head there and see a poster for 'The Beatles – Revival' upon their arrival. A sea of memories comes flooding back; the band, the stage, the bright lights, the drinks… They make a decision not to linger there any longer, drink-related memories being bad for their stomachs, and so they walk past Stara Pekarna to Luzanky Park. Behind the bracing breeze they decide to heat up with a snack. While checking for loose change, Tam finds a receipt for a boat ride. He shows it to Drako who confirms talk of a boat ride yesterday but also a visit to the castle.

The castle is closer so they amble up the hill, passing Weasel political party posters, to the castle and take shelter from the biting wind in the café. From the café they see the planetarium in the distance and Drako recalls a dice game played with Kometa[4] fans, which they called comet-yahtzee[5]. He remembers looking for asteroids, shooting stars and the like. Tam does not recognize the planetarium but informs Drako the café brings back more memories of the previous day. Stomach rumbling, Tam orders a raspberry drink and strudel. Drako opts for ice cream despite the weather. The waiter returns with their orders, however on the table he also leaves a book, stating it belongs to Tam. It looks brand new and clearly has not been read. Tam sees the author of the book and freezes. It is one of those Masaryk books, and he has yet again failed to complete his university assignment on time...

Part II – Remembering the Distant Past

Professor Masaryk of the Theological Biology Faculty, cleaned her glasses and sighed deeply. Most famous for her discovery that the barbarian inhabitants of Brnopolis from the 2000s (then called 'Brno') did not descend from Adam and Eve, but in fact from the country's forefathers - Karel Gott and Jaromir Jagr (known for their proud Czechtopian heritage and Alpha-wide fame) – she was set for life. Another discovery she made proved that these barbarians used to walk around without any clothing – documented by an old journal which appeared to be from a metropolis bearing the name Erotic City. It was common knowledge that World War VII back in 2500, when the Beta-planet fleet had wiped out the last of the barbarians, allowed the animal uprising to take place. No longer were Professor Masaryk's great-great-great-great...great-great grandparents confined to the ghettos the barbarians referred to as “zoos[6]” (presumably a reference to a mythological barbarian god from the Olympus crater – once a mountain as legend would have it). The animals had come on leaps and bounds since then, especially the rabbits who were responsible for the Brnopolis vitality project. They adapted barbarian technology – notably a small black space shuttle (Professor Mendel stated it was once a barbarian clock – but such a laughable claim ended his career) in the centre of Freedom Square at the city's centre. The vitality spray, injected into this black object, is spurted out into the atmosphere (with the thrust mechanism reversed) which prevents global warming and the decay of the surviving barbarian architecture. A UNicornESCO trust campaigned for years to have a unicorn statue restored in the city. Presumably there was a horn there before but it had been melted off during wartime. The same trust campaigned to have the insulting barbarian removed from the statue's back, presumably a late form of barbarian protest at their impending demise. Brnopolis was the capital hub of Alpha-planet. Many citizens of the planet made the pilgrimage to the hub, much in the way barbarian monks of the Erasmus order, called 'Erasmus Students', did in centuries past…

Professor Masaryk sighed. She was known for many behaviours, traits and characteristics – from her fondness of barbarian history, to her love of little barbarian ornaments which lined her window sills, her oversized shoes which she frequently tap-tap-tapped when mid-thought, her high-pitched sneezes, tilting her head to one side when advising students which could be seen as both sympathetic and/or condescending, but not sighing. Especially not deep ones. Once she was seen sighing when buying her nephew a birthday present and seeing the price, but that was as shallow as sighs come. No, this sigh was one which emanated from the soul. She continued to notice more and more parallels between the current society in Brnopolis and that of the time of barbarian life. Were us animals any different from those primeval 'barbs'? The government and police forces were starting to arrest innocents for protesting against the ruling Weasel regime, those who rebelled were met with force, animals wanted bigger and bigger pens, bigger apartments, bigger gardens, more possessions – just like those barbarian savages, and worst of all, only recently did she witness a unicorn and a crocodile so blindly drunk and swaying from side to side – she could have sworn they were imitating barbarian life…

[1]     Bohemky – Bohemia chips/crisps are a mainstay in many a household – a staple party food
[2]     A Brnensky Dragon is a dragon of Brno descent. It is widely known that this type of dragon likes to party.
[3]     The must-have fashion accessory for any self-respecting unicorn this season
[4]     Kometa – a popular ice hockey team
[5]     Comet-yahtzee should not be confused with the similar sounding Komet'áci – the local name for Kometa fans
[6]     Zoos had the alternate spelling zeus. The commonly accepted Brnopolis contemporary version is used in the text.

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