Snippet: And Who Has Honey?

Since you’re not going to believe me anyway, I’m going to exaggerate. Once upon a time, there was a village and a castle.. The village was called Wildberry, after the luxurious berries that grew in brambles all along the valley (although the berries were too bitter to eat without honey, and who has honey?), and the castle was called The End, because it was the last habited place in the mountains that the sun struck before it set.

The village (with other nearby villages) was ruled by the castle; the castle was supported by the villages. But the lord of the castle doesn’t matter; none of the villagers ever saw him. Or her.

The person who mattered was the Mayor. The Mayor of Wildberry lived in a house just like every other house in Wildberry; the only difference was that her doors were guarded and her windows were barred with iron bars. Her husband and children were ghostlike figures that stared from the windows. They never came to church. The church, too, was a house like every other house in Wildberry; the only difference was that the walls were decorated with gold, so everyone could see that the village of Wildberry loved God above all things. But the Priest doesn’t matter; none of the villagers ever saw him. Or her. Without the heavy robes.

One day an edict came from the castle (or so said the Mayor herself) that the lord wished all the houses in Wildberry to be inspected. No home must be dirty; no home must be in disrepair; no home must contain any weapons; no home must contain large stores of food (because of the rats). And so the Mayor knocked on the doors of all the houses and announced, “One day, I will inspect your home. You’ll never know when I’m coming, and you’ll never know when I’ve been here. If your home isn’t up to standards…that may be grounds for…”

“For?” the residents would ask.

“Expulsion!” The Mayor said. “Explusion from every one of the villages controlled by the Castle Bourne. You’ll be turned out of your home quicker than…quicker than…”

“Quicker than that?” The head of the household would snap his or her fingers directly under the Mayor’s nose, because nobody liked the Mayor, even if her house was just like everyone else’s house.

Except for the locks.

And so the Mayor went around town, sometimes in the small hours of the morning, opening the doors of the residents and inspecting their possessions. No one was expelled, but everyone was threatened.

Everyone assumed that the Mayor herself conducted the inspection of her own house, which was just like everyone else’s.

You’re assuming that something’s going to happen here, aren’t you? That a small child is going to sneak past the guards and slip into the house while the mayor’s away, and discover that the husband and the children have been chained to their beds. Or they’re slaves. Or the Mayor is hiding something dangerous. Something forbidden. Perhaps the Mayor is stealing things from the other people’s houses, clothing, toys, knives. There will be a revolution! The villagers will lock the Mayor in her own house, they will lock the Priest up with her, they will free the husband and the children, they will charge up the hill to find the castle deserted, empty, unspeaking.

You’re wrong.

Things go on.