November 30, 2005

Nat'l Novel Writing Month Short Story Challenge, Day Twenty Four

Today's suggestion is from Tiffany Morningstar: "Macaque attack"

People who say a cannon is a dumb thing to drag through the dense Mexican jungle are either the same people who say the natives should not be subjugated and converted to Christianity, or they’re the people dragging the cannon. And in our case, the cannon is being dragged by some already-subjugated-on-their-way-to-conversion natives, and I cannot understand a word they say.

To those who doubt the cannon I say this: the natives must upon first contact be made to understand the breadth of Spanish might. If you give them an inch, they will take whatever is their godless heathen equivalent of a mile. That is what the cannon is for. But then immediately upon being brought to heel by the impressive armament, they must come to understand the superiority of the European way of life. This is why, behind the cannon, we are dragging a full-size cottage populated by an actual happy Spanish family.

When I say happy, I don’t mean they are naturally satisfied being dragged through the wilds of deepest Central America in the stifling heat with very little food. I mean I am forcing them to be happy, so that when the natives see them for the first time, it does not seem like a front. If there’s one things I have learned about the natives, besides that they will silently attack your party with poison darts and disappear into the woods as swiftly as they came having never been seen once and driving the survivors slowly mad, it’s that they can sense insincerity.

Once the natives see our sincerely happy family, they must be made to understand that this happiness was achieved under a system of belief very different from their own, whose deity I believe is a macaque in the perpetual state of raping a virgin or something. That is why, behind the full-size cottage, we are dragging twelve Biblical tableaus staffed by real actors.

The actors are forced, much to their chagrin, to hold their positions as we march from sun-up to sun-down. They protest that they could just strike their poses once we encounter the natives face to face, but I counter that the natives are soaking in the Biblical narratives little by little as they peer through the brush as they take aim with their blow-darts and spears. Why, it may take three or four attacks for them to comprehend the tableau of Job alone (The actor playing Job was initially a pre-flood Noah, and the actor Job’s family was initially Noah’s family, but there was a blow-dart attack, so we worked with what we had: now he plays Job and his real dead family plays Job’s dead family.) The actor playing Jonah complains that the whale he must climb into each day is beginning to smell (we caught it on the sea-journey here six months ago), and the jostling of the carts must play havoc on our crucified Jesus’ hand and foot wounds, but I am constantly reassuring them that when it comes to subjugation-and-conversion-of-natives, an ounce of prevention is worth whatever godless heathen equivalent of a pound of cure.

They do not always seem reassured, but I am the one with the cannon.

Posted by DC at November 30, 2005 03:44 PM
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