Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story.
Here’s the story so far. The story continues:
The Fates and the Nuclear Bombs
(Containing a woeful tale of a world without the Fates.)
Before you is the last tale of Al the Average, a tragic tale of his tragic third journey to the mysterious planet Earth, a planet with no happy endings, no magic, and no Fates.
John the Cute, Al the Average began to tell the tale of his third journey, my third journey was nothing like the first two. It is a tale of woe.
More years passed for me in Bambooville, as I waited to be carried once more to the magical land with my friends Gladys and Charley. I am a big believer in the Fates, and so I did not worry that I did not know the way. I trusted the Fates to find a way to bring me back there.
And so, after five more years passed in my world, I once more found myself in that other strange world, not knowing how I got there.
In my wanderings, I found a man on the street, crying.
I asked him what was wrong.
“It’s a long story,” he said.
“I like long stories. Please tell me your story. Maybe I can make you feel better.”
And so the man told me his tale.
His name was Mister Jobs. Mister Jobs’ job was delivering something called ‘nuclear missiles’ to a place called a ‘military base’. A nuclear missile, John the Cute, is a special bomb they have in their world. One bomb has the power of hundreds of dragons breathing fire at the same time. It is a small missile but when it lands, it destroys a city as if a giant fell on it.
In this other world, when one country gets nuclear missiles, its enemy country also gets nuclear missiles. That way they can threaten each other with nuclear missiles, but they also know that if one will use the missiles they will both be destroyed. So they try to avoid using that weapon as much as they possibly can. Which is what they claim is the purpose of the weapon. I must say, I found it very strange, to build a kind of weapon that is meant not to be used.
In any case, Mister Jobs’ job was to deliver all the new nuclear missiles to the military base. Earlier that day, he had just delivered ten new nuclear missiles and was heading out when an alarm sounded and all the doors closed.
He looked around and saw everyone in panic. A machine called a ‘radar’ was showing that the enemy country has just launched their nuclear missiles, and those missiles were heading towards their capital city. Everyone was in panic, and the commanders ordered to launch the brand new nuclear missiles that Mister Jobs had just brought to the base.
The military officers began their thirty-second countdown. But then the commander noticed that the missiles about to be launched were still covered by nylon bags. The commander stopped the thirty-second countdown and began to yell at Mister Jobs. He yelled at him that he was not doing his job well, that he had not unwrapped the bombs’ nylon wrappings when it was clearly his job to do so. Only after the commander completely humiliated Mister Jobs for three complete minutes, did he order the thirty-second countdown to continue.
But by then the radar had shown that it had made a mistake, and that the missiles launched at us were actually a flock of birds. No one had launched any missiles. And so there was no reason to launch missiles in return.
And now Mister Jobs was crying and feeling sad because the commander, mean as he is, had a point and Mister Jobs and performed his job poorly.
I listened to his story, John the Cute, and when it was over I told him my opinion of it. “You should be happy, Mister Jobs,” I told Mister Jobs. “If it wasn’t for you not doing your job, nuclear missiles would have been launched. You saved your country. You saved your enemy’s country. You saved the world. Do you not see that the Fates made you do it?”
“Yes. I am a big believer in the Fates. The Fates directed you because the Fates wanted you to save the world. And today that is what you did. You saved the world.”
Mister Jobs thought about it and suddenly smiled. Now he felt a lot better.
At that second I thought the story was over, but the fact is, John the Cute, that what I have told you is just the beginning of another story.
“Another story, Al the Average?” King John the Cute asked.
Yes. Please listen.
Just as I left Mister Jobs, I ran into my old friend Gladys. I was very happy to see her. She looked like she hadn’t aged a bit, even though I have aged five years. And yet, her face was filled with sadness.
“Al! Al! I haven’t seen you in three months!” she said.
I chose not to mention the fact that it had been five years for me in my world. Instead, I asked her how she was.
At my question, she cried and could not stop.
“What happened?” I said, hugging her.
“Al, it’s awful. Charley is missing!”
“What?!” I was shocked. “What do you mean?”
Then, between cries, she told me the story of what had happened.
Two and a half months ago, she went out with Charley to get some ice cream. Charley was very happy then, and nothing seemed wrong. In fact, he was happy retelling her all about me and the night I killed five invisible dragons.
Gladys came back into the house with the ice cream and heard silence. When Gladys looked around, she discovered he was missing.
“He hadn’t been seen since, Al!” Gladys cried. “The police has searched for him everywhere! We don’t know if he was kidnapped or if he is lost or… I don’t know what happened to my son, Al! It’s been two and a half months!”
It was a terribly sad story, John the Cute, and all I could do was hug her. Then I said, “I understand that it’s very sad, Gladys. But if it happened to me, I wouldn’t worry.”
She wiped away her tears and looked at me. “Why not, Al?”
“I’m a big believer in the Fates, Gladys. If he has been kidnapped, then maybe he will save his kidnappers from a greater harm and save the world as well. If he has vanished, then he will probably return in a time that would save your life. The Fates always make sure that somehow, magically, there is a happy ending.”
Gladys broke down in tears again. “Al,” she said. “There is no fate, there is no magic, and there are no happy endings. Life is terrible!”
I knew that she was wrong, but I knew that she would not listen while her child was gone.
I wanted to vow right there and then to prove to her that there are Fates in her world and that things do turn out for the best. I even recalled the story I had heard only minutes before, about how the Fates had saved the world using forgetfulness and nylon bags.
But I did not have the heart to say such things to a friend in such sorrow. I did not have the strength to vow, because deep down I was afraid I was wrong and that something awful has happened to Charley.
And so I said nothing, John the Cute. I sat there and hugged her and said nothing. After a few hours, she fell asleep in my arms. I still held her. And then, between one blink and the next, I found myself suddenly sitting on another bench back in Bambooville, the bench the evil witch had sat on a few years previously.
And near my lap was this book, a book that belonged to Charley, the book your Minister Vazir took from me.
And that is the last story of my last journey to a land with no magic, no Fates, and no happy endings. This has also been the woeful story with no happy ending, John the Cute, about how my friend Charley vanished from his mother’s care.
(To be continued on Sunday…)
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