The trouble got more serious a century later when Uriculous Wisehind (now known as Uriculous the Great) became the head archivist, high priest, and translator of the Thirty-Seven Really Good Ideas.
If you’re following my story, you may have figured out (especially if you’re Phasian and good at math) that we were down to just one idea – Number Thirty-Five. Now, in my early centuries I didn’t pay much attention to Idea Thirty-Five. Dirk thought Idea Thirty-Five was meant to be a joke and even told Uriculous Wisehind that he thought the entire Thirty-Seven Really Good Ideas began as a put-on. When a high priest of the Thirty-Seven Really Good Ideas is down to only one good idea, he’s usually not inclined to pass it off, but it did sound like… Well, you decide.
Idea Number Thirty-Five: Thou shalt not bugger the sheep.
Having the authority of translation, Uriculous Wisehind decided that the one remaining Really Good Idea had been garbled over time. He proclaimed that the true form of Idea Number Thirty-Five was (and now would be again); Thou shalt not bug the sheep.
The wool industry took a big hit that day. International Mutton had a convenient fire and collected a very lucrative insurance settlement that set the owners (but not the workers) up for life. Uriculous Wisehind, whose father sat on the board of Cotton and Linen Inc., made no apology to the thousands of displaced shepherds, spinners, weavers, and cleavers. “A translator’s job,” said Uriculous “is to find the truth and not worry about the economic implications.” Wisehind found his truth accompanied by three bags full of donations from Big Cattle, Big Fish, and Big Chicken.
Dirk figured that Big Pig must have stiffed Wisehind because there was talk of further translating Thirty-Five: Thou shalt not bug the sheep or the swine. People of any given generation will tolerate only so much revisionist translation. Wisehind wasn’t known for his discretion, but even he knew that people deprived of their morning bacon could get ugly. There was also pressure from politicians who were inordinately fond of their pork. Industrial animosity could possibly have been avoided by changing the imperative to, Thou shalt not pork the sheep, but the suggestion was vetoed, and The Idea remained: Thou shalt not bug the sheep.
Dirk didn’t like the new translation. For one thing, Idea Thirty-Five had always been (and “always” was starting to mean something for Dirk and me) his favorite idea to quote out loud at solemn occasions.
“Wise-hiney’s translation is no fun,” he told me.
“Maybe if you said it in a funny voice.”
“Tried it – it’s just not the same.”
“Who would have thought sheep could be so arrogant?” I asked Dirk.
“What kind of people do arrogant best,” he answered, “intelligent, or stupid?”
Farmers started losing their homes by mistakenly leaving their doors open near sheep. The wooly beasts just flocked to open doors and helped themselves to whatever they found inside – grain, wine, lingerie. Women’s unmentionables became the preferred headgear for sheep planet-wide. Efforts to remove the invaders were met with stiff punishment by the Ministry Of Innocent Sheep Toleration (MOIST), a suddenly well-funded police organization with license to maim anyone who so much as giggled at a lamb with panties on its head. MOIST organized massive wolf hunts, and the lupine species was nearly eliminated. Those that survived remained in hiding, except during political conventions, when ravenous packs descended from the hills and tore apart the more obnoxious politicians to the cheers of a grateful public.
Dirk never worried about giving offence to man or ram. When he felt like laughing, he laughed, but in spite of MOIST’s efforts, he proved very difficult to maim. He took to roaming the country-side dressed in wool, wielding a shepherd’s crook and a pair of clippers. Of course, he had to wander the country-side because the sheep, seeking a better grade of both liquor and ladies’ unmentionables, had over-run many cities. Phasian cities were spared. The mathematically gifted inhabitants simply fenced off all urban areas where there were no sheep.
Dirk was making himself a menace, poking wooly behinds with his stick and teaching impressionable children to laugh when they heard the sound, “Baah.”
So MOIST and Dirk began a war. Dirk played pranks on MOIST, like sewing wool linings into their coats when they weren’t looking. (Dirk is a really fast sewer. It’s nothing magical, just a skill he picked up.) MOIST unsuccessfully but continually attempted to sever Dirk’s arms, legs, fingers, toes, and… Anyway, I tried to stay clear of it. Unlike my brother, I’ve never been one to make waves, but I could tell that all the conflict was wearing on Dirk. Then the ancient and venerable high priest (and honorary head of MOIST) Uriculous Wisehind made this prophesy on his deathbed.
Sure enough, days, weeks, or years (when you live this long, you lose sense of time) after Uriculous’s death a Light Bringer arose. His name was Luxcurious Bidden. He had a great quantity of lovely flowing locks of hair, neatly trimmed, shampooed, highlighted, and stapled to his otherwise bald head. As the high priest/prophet predicted, flames, or rather a flame, two inches long sprang from his fingers – well, finger – his index finger to be exact, which he pointed continuously at Dirk, making confusing allegations.
I was relieved. I had feared what a Light Bringer might do to Dirk, but Luxcurious was obviously not a threat. Most of his accusations were garbled or downright inaccurate, and I just laughed in spite of the significantly vexed expression on my brother’s face. Finally Luxcurious said, “I think I have the highest IQ in this room,” in spite of the fact that we were outside at the time. I don’t know if it was the absurdity of his remark or what, but suddenly Dirk was seized into the air, spun several times, and disappeared.
There was much celebrating after that. Luxcurious was awarded several very expensive hair pieces by a grateful MOIST, and I might have been the only one to mourn Dirk’s passing into oblivion.
Then a couple hundred years later, there he was – my brother, in a new wool worsted coat and wool fedora, brandishing a new shepherd’s crook.
“Hey, Elmer,” he said.
He produced from his coat what he insisted were not magical shears, though when he pushed a button the shears made a buzzing sound and the blades clashed together repeatedly without any effort on Dirk’s part. Dirk brought his bellow, and I got out my scratchwing. The music of Fassentinker once again filled the air of Planet Two. A sheep came by to spoil the party, and Dirk used his non-magical shears to shave a creditable likeness of Uriculous on the animal’s behind. We had a fine few days together before a new Light Bringer showed up.
This Light Bringer was Lik’emall Busch. Lik’emall almost didn’t defeat Dirk. He seemed more interested in starting a land war in Phasia, but eventually a few of his aides put up a sign behind him that said, “Mission Accomplished,” and there went my brother back into oblivion.
I worried less this time, and sure enough, I saw Dirk a couple of centuries later. We had a nice couple of days until another Light Bringer – always with the initials LB – cast him back into oblivion.
It got pretty predictable. Sometimes my brother found me first; sometimes the Light Bringer did. Sometimes the LB tried to recruit me to the great cause. Sometimes he/she/it (I wasn’t sure with two of them) tried to cast me out first – either as a practice run, or maybe they were afraid I would team up with my destructive brother. I remained oblivion-free.
I always had mixed feelings about seeing a Light Bringer. I was happy because it meant I would be seeing Dirk soon, but by and large Light Bringers (and their MOIST hangers-on) were tedious people.
There was one exception. Lenny Bruise Light Bringer was alright. Dirk did his old trick of poking a cigar into the Light Bringer’s flame, only this time, he poked three cigars. He kept one himself, gave one to me, and the third to Lenny Bruise. They were funny smelling cigars. We all got to laughing after a while and my brother and Lenny started exchanging the foulest insults imaginable. I don’t think the MOIST officials appreciated Lenny Bruise’s methods, though one woman leaned in a bit where she could inhale the funny smelling smoke, and I think she started getting into it.
“I really gotta cast you out you…” I’ll spare you what Lenny called my brother.
“I could use a pizza anyway,” said Dirk.
None of us knew what a pizza was, but Lenny said, “Then go get one you dumb-f__k.”
There must have been power in that incantation, because my brother disappeared.
Lenny and I got together to smoke cigars a few times before he died. It was never the same. Dirk was missing – along with those strange cigars of his. Just the same, Lenny was one of the few of the millions I’ve seen die that I actually mourned.
It was just like Dirk to shake things up. Just when I got used to this into-oblivion-then-back routine, everything changed. I don’t know if I could say that I knew it was coming. I’ve always been cautious about saying I knew something ahead of time, but I could smell something in the air which was getting to be a challenge on a world with so many sheep.
It started on a day I went to get cigars and met the minions of the last Light Bringer, Lustavious Brachenhun.
I never liked that guy.
There! That's the end of Chapter One, so naturally the next installment will be Chapter 1.
What? Should 1 go before One?
As I mentioned in a previous post, this story is a satire. Any similarity between characters in this story and actual persons living or dead may or may not be intentional based on two factors
1) If it makes it funnier, then yes.
2) If it makes me get sued, then no.
Unfortunately, no one on Planet Two knew the secret password.