Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Nones of July

It has been a while since I posted here, as I have been busy. But since today is the Nones of July, which means I have now made a total of 2*3*3*3 = 54 orbits around old Sol, I am watching "Tron", with all its wonderful and deep mystical - and very Chestertonian - allusions...

"It is the purpose of every Program to know and serve its User..."
"If I don't have a User, who wrote me?"
"User requests are what computers are for."
"All that is visible must grow beyond itself and extend into the realm of the invisible..."

Of course I cannot recount the whole script here, so perhaps you ought to watch it for yourself. I do recommend it, as its insight into the larger truths of my own profession is profound, and I advise it if you are curious about computer science - or about Chesterton; "It is between light and darkness" is just as true on the Game Grid as it is in our world of Users.

And in the realm of fantasy, meaning the things Users write when we are not writing Programs. It is as Tolkien points out, the work of sub-creation. And so I thought you might like just a taste of what I have been working on. It is part three of The Three Relics! That part, called The Horrors in the Attic, is the sequel to The Creatures Who Live in the Walls, itself the sequel to The Black Hole in the Basement. Unfortunately if you wish to read the rest of that saga, and learn about the Order and its very curious coat of arms, you may have to wait a little longer. But it is in production, and I will let you know as it proceeds.

Finally, it is a most special day for me to express my gratitude for those who have done so much for me - I shall not here enumerate those whom I must thank, but ask God to bless them always.

--Dr. Thursday.

Blazon: Sable, a mullet radiated argent; a double tressure flory-counter-fleury Or.
Motto: ouk eimi monos [Jn 16:32] "I am not alone"

Bernie Brown (born on July 6) and Marty Felsen (born on July 8), two of the best of all the best friends in Quayment, had been celebrating "their" birthday all day. Joe Outis and his friend Andy had taken them to lunch at Ray's, and then to Weaver's to poke through the books. Then they drove out to the jetty to watch the falling rain and the waves on the beach and see the lighthouse. Later in the day they had gone to the home of another friend, Mike Tronder, whose wife Bridget had made them dinner and a birthday cake. Full of food and bursting with the happiness of twelve-year-old friends, they had gone back to Bernie's for talk and an evening movie with Bernie's brother, Stever. But before they made their movie selection, Stever had gifts for them. (Older by three years, Stever was a friend and mentor to them - as long as either could remember, he had been giving them special tasks or odd duties, as if they were in training for some grand adventure or mysterious exploration.)

Up on the second floor of the Brown home, these two young friends were admitted to the most off-limits place they knew of - after the rooms of their sisters or their parents. But when they came in, it was mostly dark - Stever had only his desk lamp on, and it was turned so very little of its light could be seen. Curious things seemed to be hanging on the walls and ceiling, there were shadowy shelves of indiscernible objects, and an unusual though invigorating smell (Bernie guessed Stever had bought some aftershave, even though as yet he barely needed to shave.) Even the carpet felt odd. But Stever was there, shoving some old papers into his desk drawer - he was almost as hard to see as the rest of the room. Then he wished them both a happy birthday.

"I got something special for you guys," he said in a low voice as he handed them two identical packages. "This is the next part of your training."
They tore them open - it was a paperback book - no pictures! - a book called Kim. "You'll be surprised," he went on. "It's a great story about a kid - an Indian from India - who gets trained to be a spy... he's part of a secret club." The two made the usual noises of awe, and Stever went on.
"You see this shirt?" He pointed to the one he was wearing, the blue one with the logo he had worn at Weaver's. They nodded. He handed them something soft. "Now that you're twelve, you have to begin wearing it..."
"All the time?" asked Bernie.
"No. Just on the Nones of July."
"What's that mean?"
"It means the seventh of July. Today."
"Can't tell you that now. But I will, maybe soon. And yeah Marty I know you're not 12 until tomorrow. But you can put 'em on now."
They pulled on the new shirts - they fit perfectly - someone knew Marty was smaller than Bernie. They smelled fresh, and had a neat color, and the logo was cool... it was almost like joining some secret club!
"Is this a club? Do we... get to swear?" Bernie asked. "In blood?" added Marty.
"It's not time for that yet. But we can't talk about that part now. That's why you got those books. You have to have training... so you'll be ready." Stever sighed, but they didn't notice - he had been training them for a long time. He had his instructions, but most of it was a mystery to him too - he was only three years older than them. "That book is important. You'll start reading it soon, OK? "
"Right," they chorused, tingling with excitement.
"And no talking about any of this. You were never here, OK? You got it Marty?"
"Good. You got it Bernie?"
"Good. Happy birthday, guys. Go pick out a movie - I'll be down in a little while."

The audience was over; the special forces were dismissed. They went to Bernie's room to savor the intensity of the experience before they went down to select a movie which could prolong the thrill.

But Stever closed his door and lay down on his bed and buried his head in the pillow while silent tears poured out. Just fifteen years old, he was charged with a complex task - a task specified on a few scribbled sheets of horribly incomplete notes left to him by a man now dead - a gigantic task perhaps beyond even the abilities of grown men - one he longed for with the intensity of a heroic young man, and yet one from which he knew he would be forever excluded...

In Uncle's living room, Uncle and Auntie were weeping openly as they watched the secret session: behold, at long last, there were three, bearing the logo of the Order on the Nones of July! Then they got up to hug each other before they contacted the Dean with the good and terrifying news.

Half a world away, the bells of the cathedral again called the residents of the College to prayer. It was no burden to them, but a joy - for what member would dare to work in the Field without knowing this huge reservoir was always ready to pour out its power when bidden by the Dean?

[excerpted from The Horrors in the Attic, Part III. Text and artwork copyright © 2009 by Dr. Thursday]


At 17 July, 2009 15:07, Anonymous Paul S. said...

Kim was interesting once the story gets started. It's too bad Kipling didn't put more into the spy storyline. The ending seemed lacking..
But it was about 2 summers ago since I read it last.

Anyway, I can't wait for more of your stories.

At 18 July, 2009 11:29, Blogger Dr. Thursday said...

I re-read Kim since I posted it, and yes, unfortunately the ending does seem on the weak side - but there are many good parts. Another story of this vintage, well worth reading, is Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps, and its sequels - which reminds me, I still have one more to read, but no time just now for it!

Just to update you, I am in the home stretch of HIA (that's my internal id for this third part of the saga) and hope to have it ready very soon...


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