Monday, May 7, 2007

Smoking in Space

The Dragon, now free forever, sat at the edge of the belfry of the giant church. He managed to look a little like a gargoyle. In the modern urban space, life was a little strange and architecture a topsy-turvy avant-garde, so no one quite noticed him. He watched the millions of little humans, so ant like scurrying off to work and sighed, “Scenario one – I come screaming out and scare them all. Or Scenario 2, I turn into a human and prey on them. They don’t even make serious knights now! They turn into good obedient workers instead…sigh.”

The Dragon had been through centuries of warfare, but now it was dangerous to barge into human habitation, what with all kinds of automated shooters. A fire-breathing dragon could get the huffed up General, with a zillion stars on his shoulder to finally try his nuclear arsenal, who knows.

Of course, he would sometimes change forms and become human, and impersonate a general on the loose, trigger of a war and then move on. But that was not fun anymore, especially with the Cold War era ending, and the new enemy of the great state being the terrorist. It as perhaps the most boring time he had ever lived. The humans nowadays preferred staring into the television or intoxicating themselves with something or the other. He was seen either a hallucination or man in a dragon suit; the fire was taken to be advanced pyro-techniques, and applauded. Dull…

Ahead the Dragon looked into the building opposite him, in one of his metamorphosis he had worked there as an elevator man – you know pushing the buttons and reaching the people to their destination. A remarkable amount of people had got missing at that time, and then one bright spark began suspecting that it all happened inside the elevator. The Dragon, changed back….the metamorphosis was good while it lasted, gave him some time to think.

The building had an ad agency, nothing very major, a forgettable one. And it also had a real estate company, who were their clients. Together they created a whole load of nothingness. The time they spend together gaffing, scheming and brain storming, could have been put to better use, like fighting dragons and saving the world for instance. And the money they got paid…the mind boggled.

The Dragon had become a moneylender in one of earlier avatars in Venice. He called himself Cherie Locke, which had been later changed to Shylock. And he had a ball, asking for a pound of flesh from all those who failed to pay. Until of course a women came a ruined his game. “Women,” he thought, and she was a particularly pretty one.

Anyway, he dragged himself back to the present, and looked into the ad agency. Then flew in pretending to be a journalist, to chat with decaying shark teethed owner, they had quite conversation. He was easy to impersonate, so that’s what the Dragon did, only this time he did not eat him up, “too old, too gray, and bad teeth!” Instead, he locked him up in one of dungeons and let him sleep into oblivion.

After this he took charge of the system…his aim to somehow merge these two desperate businesses based on unrealistic aspirations and unsold dreams. “Darling,” he told himself, “It’s a question of space.”

Now looking like the ad agency head honcho, complete with the strange sharkish teeth and unseeming polish, he entered his office post lunch, in an appropriately pompous manner, condescendingly smiling at all those underlings. Some he could see swore under their breath, others ignored him and still others scraped their feet and semi-bowed, almost saluting the space he walked.

The Dragon gave a loud, “Good Morning – and let’s win the world today” and wondered whether employees made good meals. Then decided against it, never eat too close to home. A terrible line crossed his head, “Being a dragon in the twenty first century is a drag!” Yes!!!! He had the makings of a copywriter. And soon enough the real estate campaign was shoved down his nose,

It was followed by a visit from the boss-man of the real estate company. A truly smooth, corporate soul…you could eat him and replace with a robot, nobody would miss him. Then the dragon shook his head, better to go eat a chicken or a goat, inferior humans took their toll on the digestive system.

“I need a corporate image ad,” espoused the real estate space seller, “Every single soul in this city and across the internet should know that I am a man who wants to create healthy and happy spaces. Focus on the swings in the backyard.”

The Dragon smiled, “Go beyond the swing, and think people, think benefits, think trees! Let them think that every building you make is a favor.”

The youngish copywriter piped up, the line, “We change the geometry of the earth.”

“ ….And make it more square! Shh…speak only when you are spoken to!” the Dragon growled back. The young fellow popped back into his own shell.

Then growling again, Dragon smiled as he espoused, “The world order has changeth appease to the conscience - trees free, your soul flies like the wind! ….As the glacier melts; save the penguin from a cold…Make polar bears your friends, not jackets.”

The corporate real estate boss looked as if something cold had slid down his back… “I’m selling real space…money into millions.”

The Dragon smiled, his newly acquired shark teeth looked as if they had seen better days. “Exactly…All we need is a famous line, an attitude….and anyway who gives a damn – as long as they believe that they have got what they want.”

Then he leaned across the real estate boss, “We are all selling something that could disappear and have no meaning in real time.”

“Pshaw…rubbish, just plain bad philosophy….what’s with you today, you are my ad agency. I need ideas, not pontificating,” screamed the real estate boss, his corporate image slipping just a little bit.

“They are all just ideas; no space in any sense is real!” The Dragon said as softly as he could. Then he stared with his dark black fathomless eyes and something happened. It all merged into one, the real space, the new space, print, satellite based media, the internet - and the world outside, became a single dimensioned entity. The young copywriter tried to lance with his ballpoint pen, he could see the dragon regain his wild form. But, he was not a knight. Not even a particularly good writer.

The dragon saw the pool emerge –this dimension had lost its forms and had only one side left- a vast ocean. He went to sit out of it. There was no chaos - the three dimensions were over, even before global warming had come to fore… and there was finally nothing left to sell. As for the humans, there were where the dragon always wanted them, on the Petri dish, ready for closer disdain and observation.


Lord Jim said...

Utterly enjoyable...full of dark humour and deep insights. Great work really.
I detested talking dragons, till now that is....seems my opinion has changed.
Keep writing.

Nikhil said...

Indeed. I hate dragon talk too. But this changes quite a bit.

Now before I plunge myself into "Dungeons and Dragons" I compliment you again. Good going. :)