“You’re sure about this?” asked a squat figure enrobed so completely all that was to see of him was his voluminous robe.
“Do we have an alternative, brother?” said a tall figure. This figure also sported a robe, but the way it hung off him was reminiscent of the caricature of Death, a caricature that deeply annoyed Death herself, because for starters, people seemed to think Death was a he. She, Death that was, wouldn’t be seen dead in a drab robe. Why opt for something so boring and shapeless when there was an abundance of vibrant and quite frankly shocking attire to go at. Death had had a scream in the sixties and then the seventies had happened to her and it had kept on happening to her, for when it came to sartorial elegance, that was the decade for her, and no other even touched the heel of her platform shoes.
The squat figure, who now, with us having been introduced to the taller figure, and inevitably compared the two, looked for all the world like the larger version of himself, only with a slow puncture, well that one was quiet for a moment, but quiet in a way that conveyed the process of thinking, “I just think it’s a bit cruel,” he said eventually, “they don’t seem equipped for this. It doesn’t suit them does it?”
His companion stifled a harumph at having been made to wait for what he considered to be a lacklustre comment, “life is cruel,” he reminded his fellow brother of the order, “and then they die.”
Not we. Never we, because the two figures were brothers in The Order of the Endless and they didn’t make a habit of considering death. This was not because they were immortal, they were not in fact endless, but they had a life span that extended so far out into the future that Death did not bother them. Interestingly, the actual reason that Death didn’t bother them was because there had been a clerical error at Head Office and The Order of the Endless had been missed off Death’s roster. This error had occurred over five thousand years previously and the people responsible had moved departments since. There was a lot of that at Head Office.
The shorter of the two sighed, he just didn’t think it was fair, “definitely the Ceremony of Truth then? Only you know how these lot are with their emotions.”
These two knew only too well how driven by their emotions this lot were. Everything started with emotions and these people seldom moved on from there. They were wired up all wrong. Their thoughts were routed through the emotional part of their brain first. The plumbing was sending the brown stuff in the wrong direction and that would always lead to no good, how they managed to function at all was nothing short of a miracle.
The two brothers of The Order of the Endless had done a test run two thousand years ago. A localised dose that led to a man speaking the truth with mixed results, the highlight of the mixed results being that those around the speaker of truth turned on him, nailing him to a cross and executed him for causing them offence. Nothing much had changed over the ensuing two millennia, in fact it had gotten worse, there had been huge wars that, when it came down to it, were as a direct result of that awfully bad plumbing and heightened irrational emotions leading to an exaggerated and homicidal sense of offence.
Despite the gaping flaw in the construction of this strange race of overdeveloped, poo-flinging monkeys, the taller figure nodded and the nod remained in the locale of his head, the rest of the robe held fast. The shorter figure resented this. When he nodded nothing happened. He couldn’t resort to any gestures because the stores had issued him with an oversized and ill-fitting robe. Oh, they said there was only the one size and banged on about one size fits all and even made him feel like he’d been economical with the truth to achieve the minimum height requirement to join The Order, but he knew there were different sizes, there had to be. The other brothers of the order had robes that suited them. But then he’d always had a problem with clothes. It wasn’t that clothes didn’t fit, it was that they looked all wrong on him, he thought he probably had an allergy to clothes. Clothes eczema was what it was. Thinking about this ordeal of his made him feel itchy, so he scratched himself. Scratching was a gesture that did transmit through the robe, but during transmission something sordid occurred. The taller fellow averted his eyes until the sound of scratching subsided.
“Will you do the honours, brother?” said the taller of the two.
There was a croak from the other. Now he was annoyed, he spent quite a bit of his life in a state of mild annoyance, but as his companion was the senior of the two and this was actually his job, the turning of the sacred valves, he knew he could not wheedle his way out of this next act.
Silently he went to the large, red cylinder with TRUTHE writ large on it’s side. In his induction the tradition of adding an E to the end of words of power and significance had been explained, but it was such a long time ago he no longer recalled the why of it. What he did know was that he didn’t like this version of the truth, and he didn’t like it one bit, and worse still he had a bad feeling about all of this. Something was wrong here, only he couldn’t put it to words and doubted he could persuade his brother not to go on with the ceremony, even if he did.
He made a show of checking the pipework and he tapped the tank itself with the ceremonial spanner. This hadn’t been a requirement of the ceremony, but he had added it way back, and it had stuck and was now his thing, so he always did it and with an increasingly grand and flamboyant flourish.
Carefully placing the ceremonial spanner on the Nut of Truthe, he awaited the words that his brother would now speak.
“The Truthe will set you free! Do it, brother!”
After all this time, the brother tasked with setting the Truthe free still thought the words his fellow brother uttered to be a little, well not to put a finer point on it, crap. In The Order of the Endless, it was not uncommon to sit through day long services with three hour sermons and yet, when they performed the Ceremony of Truthe, this bit was a terrible anti-climax, more so as it promised to be the prelude to such a remarkable worldwide change. Not for the first time did the shorter of the two wonder whether his fellow was being economical with the words of truth, cutting them down to a curt utterance in keeping with his personality.
The brother of The Order of the Endless, who was responsible for releasing the Truthe, turned the ceremonial spanner with some degree of angst and trepidation, for he still had a bad feeling about this, and as the valve opened, the atmosphere of the planet began to change as the Truthe seeped into it.
Now that the Truthe was out, nothing would ever be the same again.
“Bloody flies!” raged Tarquin as he swiped at the annoying buzzing near his ear.
The tiny, fly sized spaceship of the brothers of The Order of the Endless cartwheeled and careened across the croquet lawn, righted itself and then sped upwards to a higher and safer level from which to observe the effects of the Truthe. There was the sound of grumbling within the tiny spacecraft before it sped away, but this was not audible to dear Tarquin’s ears.
“Did I tell you about why I hate flies?” said Tarquin swinging his croquet hammer around in a casually dangerous manner that would have a health and safety officer choking on his insipidly hued tea.
“No, I don’t think you ever did,” chuckled Rupert, “not that I would have cared or listened, old chap. You’re as dull as ditch water and I only tolerate you because I’m intent on bedding your sister. I’d have a crack at your mother as well given half a chance!”
Tarquin’s complexion did a merry and intriguing dance, going from very pale to an alarming purple hue via an impressive array of reds, “what did you say?” The spinning of the croquet mallet had ceased and now he brandished it like the weapon he obviously intended it to be.
“Well, I never!” chuckled Rupert, “I appear to have furnished you with the pure and unadulterated truth of it, old bean!”
“Yes,” Tarquin was nodding about as aggressively as it was possible to nod, “yes you have, and now I’m going to do to you what I have done to countless flies. You see, I hate flies because they are alive and I hate every bloody living thing in this gods’ forsaken land. My career of ridding the world of pointless living creatures had until this very day only gone as far as flies, all the insects I’ve ever encountered, dogs, cats, I particularly hate those feline blighters, then there were the foxes, badgers, ducks and peasants.”
“Surely you mean pheasants, my good man?” chuckled Rupert.
Rupert’s chuckling ceased in a sudden and rather violent manner, punctuated with the full stop of a swinging croquet mallet against his temple.
“No, I meant peasants,” said Tarquin who stood over the prone and stunned figure of his once-friend, “you’re my very first Lord and I intend to do the entire bloody aristocracy before this day is out.”
The mallet swung down, then it repeated a similar arc a number of times more than was strictly necessary to make Tarquin’s point for him.
Indoors, the constant hive of industrious activity that was the ancestral seat of the now deceased Lord Rupert had broken into another form of activity, as the inhabitants of the stately home were compelled by the Truthe to speak their very own truth.
Emily, the object of Rupert’s lustful attentions, was sitting with her face embedded in her soup bowl. She had been a little too forthright about the seasoning of the lobster bisque and paid the ultimate price, being only the second person to have drowned in that particular flavour of soup. Other flavours of soup were much more popular when it came to death by drowning in soup, surprisingly cream of tomato was only currently second in the league, with leek and potato in the number one spot. That was all about to change over the next twenty four hours. Most of the change was currently occurring and only a fraction of the original population of this planet would see out the first hour of the era of the Truthe.
At that very moment, Smithers the family butler ran through the dining room and past the sad tableau of the once beautiful and quite alive Emily. That Smithers was running at the ripe old age of eighty two, and with his hips in the state that they were, was nothing short of remarkable, but this wasn’t the most remarkable thing about him at this very moment, for Smither’s was on fire and jammed atop his head was the perfectly cooked carcass of a goose.
Things had obviously gone awry in the kitchen, and that was a room that was best avoided, what with its sharp and pointy implements, heavy and blunt objects and plentiful access to heat, fire and boiling liquids. The room was positively vibrating with culinary carnage.
Things just happened to be going awry everywhere else in this world as well. Consequences were occurring all over the show. Violent and fatal consequences as a result of people speaking the Truthe. People couldn’t handle the Truthe and The Order of the Endless should have known this. They did know this, of course they did, but the fall out on this planet was unprecedented and shocking. Silent orders of monks, were even now, bashing each other’s heads in and doing really unpleasant things to each other with finger cymbals.
“Well that wasn’t supposed to happen,” said the taller of the two brothers of The Order of the Endless as they observed the aftermath of the administering of the Truthe.
“What just happened?” asked the shorter of the brothers as they both stood agog as they observed the effect of the Truthe on this planet.
The taller brother shrugged, “bad batch?”
“Really?” said the shorter of the two, he was getting annoyed by his brother’s flippancy. The people down below them may be insanely emotional, but equally, his brother’s lack of emotion was of increasing concern.
The taller brother reached a sleeve into his extensive cowl and although hidden, his hand was obviously rubbing his chin in thought and some consternation, “The Truthe sets people free and everywhere we have visited with the Truthe has made those worlds better places,” he said with less conviction than his shorter brother had ever heard emanate from him.
“Then what has happened here?” asked the shorter brother, “this doesn’t seem at all right. Or good. Or any of the other really nice things that are writ in the Book of the Endless.”
The taller brother shrugged, and his shorter brother hated him for it, “they must have changed the recipe.”
“When you say they…” began the shorter of the two.
“Head Office,” cut in the taller.
The shorter, having heard this, walked over to the large Truthe cannister, on the end of which was taped the delivery manifest, “erm brother? This isn’t from Head Office. It’s from the Other Place.”
The taller brother strode over, unwilling to believe his fellow, but there it was, in writing, “oh gods!” he gasped.
“This is bad isn’t it?” asked the shorter, stating the obvious, having only just witnessed the very embodiment of bad upon the planet below their tiny spaceship.
“Worse than bad,” said the taller as he tore off the manifest and waved it meaningfully at his companion, “we’ve been using the wrong version of the Truthe.”
And that was when the shorter brother saw what it was they had bestowed upon this planet of oddly emotional people, this version of the Truthe was the premo stuff. Full strength, pure and unadulterated and worse still, unfiltered.
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