Magical Bears in the Context of Contemporary Political Theory, page 1
Magical Bears, in the Context
of Contemporary Political Theory
Jenna Katerin Moran
Copyright © 2010-2015 by Jenna K. Moran
All rights reserved.
Cover art by Elizabeth Sherry
All characters in these stories are fictitious or heavily fictionalized. Readers are advised against drawing conclusions about or regarding persons living or dead based on this material.
Portions of this material have appeared previously on imago.hitherby.com.
Karl Friedrich Borgstrom
for teaching me the joy of sailing
And with special thanks to
People die. People die in droves. There’s horror and cruelty and hunger and disease. Little children lying in piles with hands twitching. Dogs locked up in basements until they starve. Stuff like that.
“Let’s visit everyone in the universe and fix their lives!” Jane says.
“I’m busy,” Martin says.
In Nebraska, Brandon Teena is violated and murdered for the audacity of claiming a male identity. In a specialty program for difficult teens, the staff force a recalcitrant boy to lay still, face down, for six months. In Gibbelins’ Tower, Jane hops from foot to foot outside the visit-everybody door.
“Come on,” she pleads.
“I’m busy,” Martin explains.
Statues of the Buddha crumble. Soldiers torture prisoners of war. An angry and desperate crowd razes a museum.
“Now?” Jane asks.
“. . . no.”
Jane shoulders off her backpack and lets it thunder to the ground. She sits. She sulks. “Sometimes I don’t think you want to fix everyone’s lives,” she says.
“I don’t,” Martin says. “I want to make their lives hard. I want to push people until they break. It’s cool. Sometimes it makes them better.”
“But what about the dead?”
Table of Contents
Stacking Mammals and Sid
The Cut-Off Man’s Father
At the Cherry Tree
The Bride of Transgression Bear
Sympathy for a Stranger
Why Don’t Ducks Have Hides?
Rainbow Noir: the Case of Mr. Dismal
The Land Where Suffering is Only Remembered
Great Mother Horror
The Filibuster of the Sailor-Senator
If Animals Had Elemental Powers
The Alphabet Game
No Actual Bears Were Harmed in the Assembling of this Short Story Collection
No Crutches for an Angel
Rainbow Noir: the Mountains and the Sky
Salwa and the Bears
It’s a Real Town
Stacking Mammals and Sid
Gelling agents are often made from various emotions. It is very inefficient to use happiness as a gelling agent, while sadness is extremely effective. That is why Jell-O jiggles so often and so tragically. However this story is not about jiggling or gelling, but rather about stacking mammals and Sid.
It is possible to stack mammals to achieve almost any desirable effect. This requires sticky mammals, such as sticky goats and sticky elephants. These are sticky mammals because they adhere to one another and they bear live young. Sometimes this is a consequence of pregnancy and at other times a consequence of inappropriate stacking. Always read the assembly instructions before stacking mammals!
Not every mammal is naturally sticky. You can test this out. Attempt to stack a cat on a dog. They may cuddle happily, or they may completely fail to adhere. That’s because their natural stickiness isn’t adequate to the task of stacking. You can also perform this experiment with cats and easily surprised pandas. Take note of the fact that this will surprise such pandas.
In order to make mammals stickier one can use a gelling agent. This renders the mammal in question into a gelatinous mammal. Gelatinous mammals are always sticky.
Some gelling agents are made with glue. Others, with happiness.
In the Valley of Happy Gelatinous Mammals there are many mammals made gelatinous with joy and stacked into useful configurations. There is a stack of mammoths that forms the local government and end-to-end opossums that provide advanced communication services. Always the mammals there are happy, and their land is full of rainbows and gumdrops and singing.
Among the mammals move the shimmer-things, which are things that manifest as visual distortions, or, shimmers. Some of the mammals think these things are angels. Other mammals hold different characteristic beliefs regarding the shimmer-things.
Sid is a gelatinous ostrich. He lives in the Valley of Happy Gelatinous Mammals. It is the default consensus in scientific circles that ostriches are not mammals, but there are many specific objections that serious researchers have raised to this classification. These include the very real possibility that the “ostrich eggs” sold on the open market are in fact buffalo eggs. If you have ever savored a hearty buffalo steak over fried ostrich eggs and hashed platypus then you probably understand why many important culinary institutes support this theory. That is, anyway, the basis on which the shimmer-things made Sid gelatinous and stacked him in the Valley with the rest.
“Can you make it rain?” Sid asks the shimmer-things.
The shimmer-things stack the mammals appropriately to make it so. The sky glooms. Thunder rattles. Then lightning spears down and rain drums against the earth.
Sid hides his head in the ground. That’s how impressed he is!
Then he pulls his head out. He looks sly.
“Can you make China untether the yuan from the dollar?”
The shimmer-things form a swirling vortex of indecision. Then they whisk about restacking happy animals.
“Whee!” shouts a lemur, as it is rapidly rearranged relative to various wildebeests.
“Grmf,” grumbles a gelatinous bear.
(It is a magical bear, thereby tying this story to the theme of the collection.)
“In a move that could trim the trade gap with the United States, China revalued its currency higher against the dollar Thursday,” CNN explains.
Sid hides his head even deeper in the sand this time. He’s very, very impressed.
But after a while, he pulls his head back out.
“So,” says Sid slyly, “if I wanted to see what being unhappy was like, you could just restack some mammals and I’d know. Right?”
The shimmer-things rotate in a fanblade array.
“Hm?” challenges Sid.
“No,” say the shimmer-things.
Sid looks blankly at the shimmer-things.
“If we’d wanted to make gelatinous mammals unhappy,” explain the shimmer-things, “then we could have stacked them much more efficiently in the first place.”
Thus ends the story
“Stacking Mammals and Sid.”