Brick Fishing (3 of 4)

[The Island of the Centipede – Chapter One]

There’s a simple fishing rod leaning against one wall. It’s made of white birch. The line makes relaxed loops like a backwards B as it travels the fishing rod’s length.

Martin threads a newton onto the hook.

“You’re probably wondering,” he says to the imago, “why I brought you here.”

The imago is silent.

“I wanted to explain to you, before anything big happened—like Sukaynah eating the tower and the sea and the sun or you coming out of your cocoon or someone bumping the Roomba’s End of Everything Button—just how very much I want to win.”

Outside the sky is blue and the clouds rush by.

Martin whips the fishing rod forward and with a sound like scree-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee the cookie falls down towards Sukaynah’s maw.

Continuing the story of Martin, Sukaynah, the imago, and the Roomba (1, 2)

“People are unfinished,” Martin says. “They’re rough and raw and they look like the blobs that kids in elementary school make when they learn pottery in art class. They’re hopeless.

The line stops descending. Martin pauses a moment.

“It hit the oak,” Sukaynah says.

Martin sighs. He reels up the line. He pulls the cookie back. Then he casts again.

“It makes me so angry,” Martin says. His face is just a little bit red. “Like, they’ll figure out that something is wrong and the first thing they do? They do it louder.

The line stops descending. Martin pauses.

“The house,” Sukaynah says.

“Oh,” Martin says.

“You’re really bad at fishing,” Sukaynah says.

“It’s not my fault you’ve got a house in your snorkel,” Martin says.

“No,” Sukaynah admits.

Martin reels the line back up. He looks critically at the fig newton, takes it off the hook, and replaces it with a fresh one. He glares down into the hole. Then he braces and casts again.

“Mind the werewolf,” Sukaynah says, and Martin’s hands jerk and he almost drops the rod and in any event the cookie hits the wall.

“I am trying to fish and explain how awful people are,” Martin says.

The imago is silent.

“They’re also sloppy,” Martin observes. “And ugly! And the really young and really old ones are all wrinkly. And they’re always leaving their things all over the place. And they hurt each other. And they poison the earth. And they don’t eat their vegetables.”

He casts the line out with grim determination. It falls, falls, falls towards Sukaynah’s maw.

There is an angry bark.

“And some of them are werewolves!” Martin says, as if this were the capstone to his argument when in fact it is the smallest of incidents.

Time continued to pass and still Sukaynah was not fed.

She cried, “Feed me fruit! Green apples! Strawberries! Figs! Oh, feed me fruit and I shall sink to the depths and trouble you no more.”

But there was silence, and for a long time she was left there, to gnash her teeth and bewail her fate, until one day Martin came.

Sukaynah breathes: ho-ha, ho-ha. It stirs the dust on the floor. It blows back a lock of Martin’s hair.

“What would it mean,” she says, “If I may ask? Your victory?”

“I would sweep away the kingdoms of the world,” Martin says. “I would tear down all the monsters. I’d make a pile of their bones. I’d dispose of the people who couldn’t evolve. I’d rend the world, I’d cull it down to a remnant, and from its ashes I’d build the most glorious of Heavens.”

“Ah,” says Sukaynah.

Martin begins to reel back the line.

“And the gibbelins?” Sukaynah asks.

“The gibbelins?”

“Would you tear them down and make their bones a pyre?”

“You can’t punish the dead,” Martin says. His face is blank. “That’s like putting pebbles in your soup.”

“Then I do not think,” Sukaynah says, “that you should win.”

Martin finishes pulling up the line. The hook is empty. The werewolf has savagely eaten the fig newton.

He shakes his head irritably.

He sighs.

He rebaits the hook.

“I know,” he says. “I shouldn’t. I can’t. I wish I could. Thinking about it—it’s tremblingly nice. It makes my fingers warm and my toes curl. But I’m not going to.”

He casts the line. It falls, falls, falls.

His face, with no one looking at it, is almost open.

“Instead,” he says, “I’m trusting Jane.”

12 thoughts on “Brick Fishing (3 of 4)

  1. Interesting characterization of Martin, some in the “culling god” aspect of him (Has that aspect of Martiness been mentioned before? If so, I don’t recall. In the past, he seemed more focused on suffering than destruction), but even more so in how he relates to Jane.

    -Eric

  2. In the past, he seemed more focused on suffering than destruction

    I’d dispose of the people who couldn’t evolve.

    The rending of the world seems to be his idea of transformative suffering.
    I don’t think he has been this explicit before about how he would carry out his plans though.

    One part I don’t get is this exchange:

    “Would you tear them down and make their bones a pyre?”

    “You can’t punish the dead,” Martin says. His face is blank. “That’s like putting pebbles in your soup.”

    “Then I do not think,” Sukaynah says, “that you should win.”

  3. I think Sukaynah wants everybody to take the big fall, even the dead ones. I think Martin might not be absolute enough for her.

  4. One thing that’s always puzzled me is why Martin trusts Jane.

    Is it because she created the wooden world, which was pretty much a world of suffering?

  5. Perhaps this is painfully obvious, but if fruit will cause Sukaynah to trouble the world no more, and sweets will cause her to destroy everything… a fig newton seems an especially interesting choice on the part of Martain.

  6. Didn’t Sukaynah get an apple already? Fruit and fruit and cake.

    I think Martin trusts Jane because if he believes that perfection comes by transformative suffering, he’ll do well to check his plans by someone who’s been transformed through suffering. Jane knows things he doesn’t.

    I don’t think I’ve seen Martin suffering himself. Let me know what episode I missed. hey: trusting Jane helps him avoid suffering. To want something tremblingly nice and be able to turn away? Impressive.

  7. I think that Martin trusts Jane for two reasons.

    First, Martin doesn’t seem to fully trust himself, with reference to inflicting suffering and trying to change the world thereby. He knows that that makes him only a little different from monsters, in some ways.

    Second, (and this to me is the big one), Martin knows Jane. Knows her awfully well. I think he knows she can be trusted.

    (As for suffering, Martin’s suffered a lot, mostly in the underworld. He turned someone he loved to dust, was continually reminded of his own nonexistance, and he had to give up the thing he loved most.

    He hasn’t suffered as much as Jane. But very few people have.)

    -Eric

  8. Really, in some ways, I think Martin trusts Jane more than he trusts Martin.

    -Eric

  9. One thing I think worthy of mention is the “cull to a remnant”, which echoes the destruction of Sodom in The Flower. Which destruction of course stands at the back of everything that has happened in all of Hitherby.

  10. Very interesting continuation of The Rent in the Fullness of the World. Martin has never stopped trying to remake the world to his specifications, but his ideas on how to go about it have changed in the past eight years.

    So far, there have been many allusions to culling in Hitherby, the prominent ones being the culling of Sodom in The Flower, but also the repeated references to the Flood and the Ark. I find it really interesting that we’ve seen so many versions of the Ark in Legends. We’ve seen a whimsical one weathering the storm and continuing to cull the unwanted animals (The Flood), and we’ve seen the dark and ominous Ark that is really a trap (Sellurt and Morgan).

    From those Legends, and others with apocalyptic or post apocalyptic themes or settings (the Bainbridges and the Jacks, the Articulation, House of Saints, Countdown to Annihilation, etc), I’m getting that Martin is fashioning himself as both the culling and the Ark. He (and maybe Jane too?) is mulling over how the world should be rent and remade to suit his purposes without creating a crop of woglies instead.

    The biblical God’s method doesn’t seem to have worked out so perfectly for God. Perhaps Martin has concluded from his exploration of annihilation through the Legends that there needs to be another way, and that is why he is trusting Jane?

  11. I’ll try to remember to answer these thoughts when I pass through here again, cleaning up the current chapter III.

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