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Κεφάλαιο 1ο
Στη Διαμαντοστρωμένη Ακρογιαλιά

Το μοναστήρι των ξωτικών με τις ψηλές του στέγες σαν μεγάλα πολύχρωμα κοχύλια κάποιου μαγικού γιαλού υψωνόταν στον λόφο λουσμένο στην αστραφτερή φεγγαρόσκονη, που το ζωηρό αεράκι είχε παρασύρει από τον κοντινό καταρράκτη. Αστραποβολούσε τυλιγμένο στη μυστήρια και αέρινη εσάρπα της νύχτας με τα χίλια μυστικά.
Πολλές άυπνες νύχτες είχε περάσει πετώντας πάνω από την απέραντη και ονειρική θάλασσα του ροδόνερου και τώρα, καθώς στεκόταν στη διαμαντοστρωμένη ακρογιαλιά βλέποντας τους κατάλευκους ελαφόκυκνους με τον μακρύ λαιμό, τα γεμάτα χάρη φτερά κύκνου και τα πελώρια κλαδωτά κέρατα να τον παρατηρούν με τα λαμπερά, γεμάτα περιέργεια, σκούρα μπλε μάτια, ένιωθε πως το ταξίδι του πλησίαζε στο τέλος του και ίσως ένα νέο μεγαλύτερο ταξίδι γεμάτο συγκινήσεις να άρχιζε.
Ποιός ήταν αυτός ο μυστήριος ξένος με τα μακριά εβένινα μαλλιά και τα ανεξιχνίαστα μάτια, που σκίαζαν το χλωμό του πρόσωπο σαν δυο σκοτεινοί ουρανοί, τον γαλάζιο χιτώνα με τα ασημένια σχέδια, που θύμιζαν αρχαιοελληνικά γράμματα, και τα μεγάλα πανέμορφα φτερά σαν εξωτικό νεραϊδοπούλι; Γιατί άραγε είχε έρθει να ξεκουραστεί στο νησί των γαλάζιων πιερότων; Γιατί στεκόταν σαν χαμένος ανάμεσα στις ζωντανές άρπες εκείνου του γιαλού, που τραγουδούσαν απόκοσμα, καθώς ηχούσε η βαριά καμπάνα του μοναστηριού καλώντας τα στοιχειωμένα καράβια με τους διάφανους κουρσάρους-φαντάσματα να προσαράξουν στην ακτή, για να ηχήσει η γνωστή βραχνή φωνή του αόρατου καπετάνιου, όπως γινόταν αιώνες ολόκληρους.
– Εμπρός λεβέντες! Ρίχνουμε άγκυρα και γραμμή για το πανδοχείο «Βελανιδιά», όπου μας περιμένει ο υγρός αμέθυστος, γλυκό νέκταρ βγαλμένο απ’ την καρδιά του «Μη με λησμόνει!» και πρόθυμες δεντροτσούπρες, για να καθίσουν στην αγκαλιά μας.
Όταν οι υπερωκεάνιοι πειρατές-φαντάσματα με τα μακριά μπερδεμένα γένια, τα κερασφόρα δίκοχα, τις χοντρές γούνες γύρω από τα πόδια και τα μπράτσα φεύγανε, τα τρικάταρτα καράβια επιβλητικά, με τα ακρόπρωρα φορτωμένα μυστήρια σκαλίσματα, σαν γαλάζιοι ίσκιοι του Αχέροντα, μένανε πίσω να χορεύουν ανάλαφρα στο βιολετί κυματάκι.
Ο ξένος τους κοίταζε, καθώς χανόντουσαν στο επικίνδυνο και ανεξερεύνητο δάσος με τις φεγγαρολαμπίδες, τις μικρές συλφίδες του φεγγαρόφωτου, που κατέβαιναν κάθε βραδιά στο κοιμισμένο νησί, για να φωτίσουν με τη μυστήρια φεγγαρένια αναλαμπή τους τον δρόμο του κατάκοπου ταξιδευτή λούζοντας σαν μικρά παγωμένα κεράκια τα πάντα γύρω μ’ ένα φως γαλάζιο και ασημένιο.
Τι γυρεύει εδώ, σ’ αυτόν τον παράξενο τόπο, ένας άγγελος χωρίς φωτοστέφανο, χωρίς την κορώνα των αιθέριων κατοίκων του ουρανού, που φωτίζει και οδηγεί τον νου και ζεσταίνει τις κρύες καρδιές των ανθρώπων που έχουν χάσει τον δρόμο τους; αναρωτιόταν ο Σιρεφά. Θα πρέπει να είμαι τρελός, για να ξεκινήσω μοναχός ένα τέτοιο μακρινό και δύσκολο ταξίδι.
Αν ο νάνος με το κόκκινο ημίψηλο δεν είχε πεί ψέματα, εδώ, σ’ αυτόν τον τόπο, θα έβρισκε τη χαμένη ανάμνηση και θα θυμόταν πώς είχε χάσει το χρυσό του στέμμα από ατόφιο φως. Από πού όμως έπρεπε ν’αρχίσει την αναζήτηση;
Ίσως να μάθαινε κάτι, αν μιλούσε στους ψαράδες πιερότους, που ξεκινούσαν κάθε νύχτα από το κεχριμπαρένιο λιμάνι με την πορσελάνινη αποβάθρα, στολισμένη με ψηφιδωτά από αστραφτερές γυαλόπετρες, για να ψαρέψουν μεγάλα χρυσόψαρα στη θάλασσα του ροδόνερου, στις βάρκες τους που θύμιζαν βρεφικές κούνιες, και να επιστρέψουν με την ανατολή, που σ’ αυτό το μέρος του κόσμου ήταν πιο πολύχρωμη και μαγευτική από κάθε ηλιοβασίλεμα.
Οι καλύβες παγόδες τους, γεμάτες πλουμίδια και χρωματιστά σχέδια, ήταν λίγο μακρύτερα, με καμινάδες που καπνίζανε απλώνοντας γύρω μια ομίχλη πορτοκαλί καπνού με μυρωδιά ζεστού σταφιδόψωμου και κανέλας. Εκεί οι κολομπίνες περίμεναν υπομονετικά οι πιερότοι τους με τις φαρδιές γαλάζιες πυτζάμες να επιστρέψουν με τα λαχταριστά χρυσόψαρα. Ίσως αυτές μπορούσαν να του δώσουν οδηγίες. Χωρίς να το πολυσκεφτεί, πήρε το δρόμο για το χωριό με τις παγόδες και τα αειθαλή μοβ δέντρα, τα αθάνατα γιακαράντα, κατευθύνθηκε στην πρώτη καλύβα και χτύπησε τρεις φορές τη δρύινη, στρογγυλή πορτούλα.
Ένα προσωπάκι με μικροσκοπική μυτούλα, μεγάλα μάτια και ροζ χείλη φάνηκε για ένα δευτερόλεπτο πίσω από την τούλινη κουρτίνα, αλλά μια ματιά ήταν αρκετή, για να δείξει στον άγγελο ότι αυτή η πόρτα δε θ’ άνοιγε εκείνο το βράδυ. Αντί γι’ αυτό, μια άλλη πορτούλα, λίγο μακρύτερα, άνοιξε και μια αστεία κοντόχοντρη γριούλα με κόκκινα μάγουλα σαν μικρά ώριμα μηλαράκια και χείλη σαν ρουμπίνια φάνηκε στο κατώφλι και προσκάλεσε τον Σιρεφά στην καλυβοπαγόδα της πολύ φιλικά με μια ιδιαίτερα ψιλή και αστεία φωνούλα. Δικαιολογημένα έκπληκτος και χαρούμενος ο Σιρεφά μπήκε στο πολύχρωμο σπιτάκι, χωρίς να το πολυσκεφτεί.
Μόλις μπήκε, η γριούλα έδειξε μια αλλόκοτη πολυθρόνα, που έμοιαζε τόσο απαλή και άνετη, ώστε ο άγγελος, που έτσι και αλλιώς ένιωθε την κούραση του μακρινού ταξιδιού που είχε κάνει να βαραίνει πάνω του, δε δίστασε.
Όταν βούλιαξε σ’ αυτήν την απίθανα μαλακή κι αναπαυτική πολυθρόνα, κατάλαβε αμέσως ότι δεν ήταν γεμάτη τσόχα ή μπαμπάκι ή ακόμα και πούπουλα αλλά από κάτι πολύ πιο περίεργο και εξαιρετικά αναπαυτικό, που σου γεννούσε την επιθυμία να κλείσεις τα μάτια, ν’ αφεθείς στην ευχάριστη μαγική αίσθηση και ν’ αφήσεις τον νου σου να ταξιδέψει σε μέρη ακόμα πιο φανταστικά κι απίθανα κι απ’ αυτό ακόμη το απίστευτο νησί, αν μπορούσε να υπάρξει κάτι τέτοιο.
– Είναι συννεφοπολυθρόνα, εξήγησε η αστεία γριούλα. Όταν πλέκω σ’ αυτήν και με παίρνει ο ύπνος, βλέπω τα πιο λιχουδιαστά μελένια και σιροπιαστά όνειρα. Απ’ έξω είναι από νεραϊδοΰφαντο μετάξι και μέσα είναι γεμάτη με τα πιο απαλά λευκά συννεφάκια. Σκέψου πόσα πράγματα είχαν δει στο ουράνιο ταξίδι τους αυτά τα συννεφάκια, πριν οι ζαχαρένιες δροσονεράιδες τα κλείσουν σ’ αυτήν την πολυθρόνα. Σίγουρα ακόμα έχουν μέσα τους όλα αυτά τα ουράνια ταξίδια, γι’ αυτό κανείς θέλει ν’ αφήσει τη φαντασία του ελεύθερη, όταν κάθεται ή ξαπλώνει σ’ αυτά. Τι να σε τρατάρω; Θα ήθελες ένα ποτηράκι λικέρ από ουράνιο τόξο ή ίσως ένα λουκούμι τεσσάρων εποχών; Είναι υπέροχα.
– Τι είναι το λικέρ ουράνιου τόξου; ρώτησε ο Σιρεφά.
– Είναι λικέρ φτιαγμένο από απόσταγμα ουράνιου τόξου, δάκρυ φεγγαρολαμπίδας και πρωινές δροσοσταλίδες. Η γεύση του είναι απερίγραπτη.
– Και τα λουκούμια τεσσάρων εποχών; Πρώτη φορά ακούω κάτι τέτοιο.
– Αααα, έκανε η γιαγιούλα μ’ ένα λιχούδικο χαμόγελο. Υπάρχουν πέντε γεύσεις. Τα λουκούμια της άνοιξης είναι γεμάτα αρώματα λουλουδιών, γεύση ώριμων φρούτων και ήχους από χαρούμενα κελαϊδίσματα πουλιών. Τα λουκούμια του φθινοπώρου έχουν τη δροσιά βροχούλας κι αρώματα πεσμένων φύλλων. Τα λουκούμια του χειμώνα είναι σαν απαλές χιονονιφάδες, μυρίζουν Χριστούγεννα, αλλά στο βάθος τους έχουν μια καρδιά από ζεστασιά και ιστορίες κοντά στο τζάκι. Εμένα μου αρέσουν πολύ και τα λουκούμια του καλοκαιριού. Έχουν σχήμα κοχυλιού με αρώματα από θαλασσινό αεράκι, ξέγνοιαστα παιχνίδια στην αμμουδιά κι όλη την ελαφράδα μιας μικρής βαρκούλας που λικνίζεται στον κατάλευκο αφρό. Τα πιο μυστήρια όμως είναι τα λουκούμια της πέμπτης εποχής. Δροσερά αλλά και ηλιόλουστα, γεμάτα αρώματα και γεύσεις ζουμερών φρούτων και υπέροχων λουλουδιών, που δεν υπάρχουν σ’ αυτόν τον κόσμο. Μη με ρωτήσεις πώς φτιάχνονται! Η συνταγή τους είναι μυστική και περνάει από γιαγιά σε εγγονή.
– Θα ήθελα να δοκιμάσω, είπε ο Σιρεφά. Ευχαριστώ πολύ.
Η γυναίκα έφυγε, για να επιστρέψει μέσα σ’ ελάχιστες στιγμές μ’ έναν κρυστάλλινο δίσκο φορτωμένο μ’ ένα μικρό μπουκαλάκι, που στο υγρό περιεχόμενο του έβλεπες όλα τα χρώματα της ίριδας να χορεύουν και να παίζουν, κι ένα πιάτο με τα μαγικά λουκούμια.
Αντί για ένα χρώμα, όταν κοιτούσες αυτά τα λουκούμια, έβλεπες μέσα να αχνοφέγγουν σαν υπέροχο όνειρο σκηνές των τεσσάρων εποχών, που συνέχεια εναλλάσσονταν, τόσο μαγευτικές, ώστε κανείς δεν ήξερε αν έπρεπε να φάει αυτά τα υπέροχα γλυκίσματα ή απλώς να τα παρακολουθεί να μεταμορφώνονται και να αποκαλύπτουν τα γοητευτικά μυστήρια της πανέμορφης φύσης, που πάντα ξαφνιάζει τον άνθρωπο με την τόση της φαντασία και μεγαλοπρέπεια.
Το λικέρ και τα λουκούμια ήταν ασυνήθιστα, αλλά η γεύση τους ήταν ευχάριστη όσο κι η παρέα αυτής της γλυκιάς γριούλας, που ρωτούσε όλο ενδιαφέρον, αλλά χωρίς ενοχλητική περιέργεια, να μάθει για τον Σιρεφά και για το τι τον είχε φέρει στον μακρινό και ονειρικό εκείνο τόπο.
– Ψάχνω μια χαμένη ανάμνηση, εξήγησε ο άγγελος. Γυρεύω να μάθω πώς έχασα το φωτοστέφανο μου. Μόνο άμα το βρω, θα γίνω πάλι αληθινός άγγελος.

 

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On the planet of the jesters

When a whole system is battling against innocence, it’s difficult to say which social factor is the most harmful for the child’s soul being the delicate inner body with sensitive antennas, able to perceive beauty, or psyche as we say in Greek, the family or the school environment? The set of values they impose slowly but surely is constructed like a thick medieval dungeon around a living child, in order to turn it to a living dead grownup, who lives in servitude of his or her primal instincts striving to survive but caring not whether he does or does not truly Exist. This set of restrictive values with financial success soaring lightly like a bird at the top and existential fulfillment sinking at the slowly receding sand at the bottom, with outer appearances playing a major role in every aspect of our lives, while the very substance of our entities is provocatively and constantly being ignored, is a detrimental plague to our true purpose. It’s a delicate but extremely serious issue and our dealing with it cannot be postponed for much longer. Why does our system, cruelly and harshly enforced upon the child, while it is so sick to its core continues to advance in our lives? And if that is the case, then what have the grownups, the mature adults, so to speak, truly done to prevent it from engulfing to its murky depths the whole of humanity? Children have always been and always will be the healthy biological cells of the universal being, and, if we want to direct our very humanity to the life-giving essence from which we arose, instead of the agonizing existential death we all must suffer, if we continue to walk upon this crooked labyrinth of dilemmas and moral choices, we have to protect them with every means available to our disposal. How is it that when we ourselves, instead of following the one and only path to fulfillment, unbreakably connected to our true will, and the divine guidance, doomed to orchestrate our own extinction, not only biologically as a species, but also, as valuable spiritual beings and foundational entities intricately connected with the universal consciousness as the cosmic crowning jewels of the material and immaterial creation, do not see that our only salvation is the youthful uncorrupted being of every age from the newborn baby to the young adult . The books I strive and labour so hard to right have the sole purposeful intent of underlying and promoting the dreamy and magical qualities of fairytales in our lives, while at the same time aiming to postpone the unavoidable corruption of the human being in a system which blinds us to beauty and deafens us to the truth. That is and always will be my purpose and I hope that I can at least be fairly successful at it if not triumphant, not because I strive for my own glorification, but because if this matter is not addressed, soon, it will probably never be addressed to our own fall and detriment. Through music sounds, stories, and images one cannot only reawaken the soul, so that it is reconnected with a desire for beauty, but also go deeper to the very substance of our being, in order to lead us back to the life-giving connection to the essence which flows like life-giving water in the barren desserts of our lives centered around our survival but not our actual existential presence in this world.

….What impressed me in this little girl wasn’t its determination to find out whether I was haunted or not. What really impressed me was the strange charm that I obviously possessed when seen through her innocent eyes and I have to admit that I also had liked her since our first encounter to that day.

I could see a lot of Grandma Henrietta in that little girl. And I was under the impression that she could see things through her own pair of invisible glasses that made all things look exciting, even the scary or unpleasant ones.

That was perhaps the reason why I chose not to alert my monsters and not to inform them of the investigation that was afoot and of course I would never have ordered them to scare that sweet little girl. I was however curious to find out how she would react, if she discovered one of my monsters. And there was still another reason much more important that made me act the way I did.

Since I had decided that old Signora Henrietta would be my first permanent human tenant, I knew I had to accept her family too and, in order to do that, I needed the trust and help of an ally inside that family. That little girl could be that valuable ally since, even if she were to find out my secret, she couldn’t reveal it to anyone, as most grownups don’t believe their children, even when they say the absolute truth.

So, to make the long story short, when Bianca climbed the stairway to investigate the attic I hadn’t said a word about it to my monsters yet. Most of them were boogeymen that immediately knew someone was coming and ran to hide in their usual hiding places. Rot however was chewing beetles, spiders and other similar dainty little treats near the heater and was too busy enjoying her disgusting lunch to notice anything else.

Kruntch, kruntch her heavy jaws full of huge teeth were snapping grinding and chewing in the darkness.

‘Dr. Watson,’ said Bianca trembling with anticipation, ‘I think we’ve discovered our first monster. Walk carefully because the floor is squeaky and, most important of all, don’t you even think of barking!’

With slow, careful steps the two detectives started circling Rot depriving her, like brilliant generals, of any escape route. My monster was hiding behind old mattresses and all sort of junk like hangers, old shoes and everything else that gives to an attic its familiar abandoned look.

The girl approached without making a sound, so much so actually, that Rot didn’t suspect anything till it was too late.

‘Coo coo,’ screamed Bianca and jumped in front of her.

‘Mammy,’ shouted the Abomination and Piko started barking full of joy.

‘Busted!’ screamed the little girl. ‘You are a monster, a real monster! That’s so cool! No it’s more than cool, it’s awesome.’

I don’t need to tell you that Rot nearly had a heart attack. Not only she wasn’t feared by that little girl, but Bianca didn’t even seem the least bit appalled by her ghastly, nauseating look. She thought she was awesome! Who could have imagined something so unbelievable? Even most of the other monsters in the house found the Abomination revolting and now…

‘Where is this world coming to, when the most appalling monsters can’t scare a little child?’ she thought.

After the first shock though, something like a pink shade appeared on her scaly cheeks. It might be because she was ashamed that someone had discovered her hiding place, but it might also be that she felt a little flattered by the reaction of the little girl. It’s not every day that a monster so disgusting as her hears someone say that it is awesome.

‘I knew it, I knew it,’ screamed Bianca dancing around the Abomination, ‘it’s a real haunted house! But tell me, are you the only monster that lives here?’

‘I’m afraid not,’ said Rot gloomily, ‘things would be much simpler, if I were. That stupid skeleton, Bony, also lives here and that snobby Draculeta, the vampire, who has recently discovered love or something and won’t leave us a moment of peace and that big ne’er-do-well Slimetooth and the demon Redpaw. Then there is of course Gorge and a bunch of other rascals.’

‘Yippee!’ shouted exited the little girl.

‘Now, be honest! You must fear me a little,’ said Rot a bit  offended. ‘Look how ugly and repulsive I am!’

The little girl didn’t say anything, she only looked at the Abomination once, before giving her a little peck on the chick.

Now Rot from green like poison became for a moment red like a lobster.

‘Now that we are friends,’ said the little girl ‘tell me! What is your name?’

‘I am Rot the Abomination.’

‘Great name,’ said impressed the little girl, ‘I wish I had an impressive name like that. Then children at school would come to me and say their name and I would say: I am Rot the Abomination. Yuck, they would say and they would run away and leave me alone but then of course I’d have also to look like you or it wouldn’t work.’

‘And why would a nice girl like you want other children to leave her alone?’ asked Rot.

‘Because they are stupid. The boys won’t play with me because I’m a girl and girls are just silly.’

‘Yes, but you don’t run away when you see me. Why is that?’ inquired the Abomination.

‘Because I’m crazy about monsters,’ explained the little girl. ‘The comics I read are full of monsters and my toys are also monsters. Everyone says my room doesn’t look like a girl’s room at all. Mom would like me to play with ballerinas and princesses but I don’t want to. And now that we’ve become friends, Mrs. Rot Abomination, tell me: When are you planning to eat me?

 

 

You can read for free granny’s haunted house on INKITTGranny's Haunted House

Excerpt from “Granny’s haunted house”

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The knight hesitated. How could he, as fragile as he was, get out of his castle of rainbows? A single stone was enough to break him and now he was to face such a formidable foe. Impossible! On the other hand how could he leave without assistance his beloved butterfly?

Finally he reached a great decision. For the first time after centuries he would leave his castle and embark on a great adventure like a true warrior.

– But how can I reach the moon? He asked turning to the Soul. I don’t have wings like you.

After some thought she answered

– There is always the pearl road.

– What’s that? Asked the knight full of curiosity.

– Since the olden days it has been a well known fact that when the moon people are in danger the champion chosen for the purpose of saving them can travel from the earth to the moon and return from the moon back to the earth via a road of pearls. But as to when and where this road appears I cannot say. You have to look for it.

– I will, said the knight. I will save the moon people or break in the attempt. I swear.

And with those words the knight bid Soul farewell and went forth to seek the road of pearls.

He walked and he walked till he reached a river bank. There he filled his flask and continued on his path. Beyond the river there was a forest and from there forth came a terrible banging sound. It was like an avalanche or like a thousand rocks falling from the sky to the ground.

The knight was terrified. He had read about that place. From that very river bank the forest of the hammer-trees, feared by every warrior, stretched as far as the eye could see. There lived the dreaded tree giants with their enormous hammers. They pounded  the ground all day and all night and crashed like a bug whoever dared try to pass through.

Our hero shook at the very idea that he was, whether he liked it or not, to pass through that horrible place. He sat at the shade of the harmless trees outside the horrible woods, to think matters through. He had not walked further than a mere few miles when he noticed a walnut tree that looked as if she hadn’t been watered for some time. Without much thought, the crystal knight opened his flask and emptied it to the roots of the thirsty tree. At that very moment an amazing transformation took place: the tree suddenly became green and lush and full of walnuts.

– It’s not the water that quenched my thirst but your kindness, said a strange voice, accept this gift in return! The knight felt something falling on his head. It was a walnut. The walnut had dropped one of her walnuts on his crystal helmet

 

Excerpt from “The Crystal knight”

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Once upon a time near the caramel waterfall, far away in the otherworldly forest stood a magical hut.  In this hut lived two sisters.

The first sister, Silena, was queen of all the fireflies and, extraordinarily enough, she herself was bright like a big firefly wearing a crown of pure silver. When she wanted to summon her subjects, she would go to a nearby clearing, she would start dancing and thousands of fireflies would fly to her and create a bright cloud of strange lights and shimmers.

The other sister was the ethereal, iridescent fairy Lilidrin. Her dress had all the colors of the spectrum and her wings were white as the snow. If she wanted, she could make rain fall, create a rainbow and slide on it as if it were an actual slide. 

The two sisters envied one another and quarreled over nothing almost all the time. Their favorite toy was the wondertree, in the heart of the forest, only a few inches taller than an ordinary pear tree. Its fruits had tough skin like painted glass and in them danced an eternal flame. You had only to break one of those glass fruits and one of your heart’s deepest desires would come true.

Extract from the book “Searching for the Wondertree”

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Somewhere in a remote galaxy, on the planet of the red jesters, in the colorful and picturesque city of Gibberia, where everybody speaks fluent gibberish, there were many strict laws that no one dared defy, unless he was ready to receive ten to a hundred whacks as a punishment.

The most important gibberian law had been enacted by Great Ridiculous himself, the city founder, and could be summarized in the following phrase:

Laugh at all costs!

That doesn’t sound so bad, will think many of you. After all, is there anything healthier than laughter? But, if you think carefully, you will soon find that things aren’t as harmless as they may seem at first glance. “Laugh at all costs” means you have to laugh even when you are not in the mood to do so, when you are sad or something awful has happened to you or to your friend or to your neighbor and certainly everybody can see that is not so nice.

Now some of you will think that great Ridiculous, who had come up with this law, must not have been right in the head, but then what successful jester is completely sane? None whatsoever. People don’t call them fools for nothing.

As if having to laugh all the time wasn’t enough, there was something even worse, something absolutely dreadful you had to endure if you wanted to continue living in Gibberia: crying was forbidden on pain of death. Even baby jesters weren’t allowed to cry and so, if they needed to be changed or fed, they had to giggle and they giggled in such an annoying nerve racking way that their parents ran as fast as they could to satisfy their every need, great or small.

In Gibberia there lived the hero of this tale, a jester who answered to the name of Giggles Ticklefoot. Giggles found it extremely hard to comply with gibberian laws and for that reason he had been punished numerous times with hundreds of whacks with the cane. He hadn’t received them all at once of course, but still it was not a pleasant business. Giggles never laughed as much as the authorities would find adequate, when a flower pot dropped on someone’s head, when someone fell down or generally when something unpleasant happened to another jester.

It’s no wonder that the most popular shops in Gibberia where those that sold pranks and all kinds of materials for practical jokes: chairs with nearly sawed off legs, so that whoever attempted to sit on them would fall clumsily down, candies and treats tasting like red hot chili pepper, exploding cigars, books titled ‘A hundred fun ways to make someone trip’ and other similarly ill tasted jokes. Such tricks were extremely popular in Gibberia and jesters used to buy cartloads of them to mess with their friends and laugh their hearts out.

A store such as this was owned by Giggles’s best friend Beansprout Eggpeeler. He always advised him to laugh all the time. Idiotic laughter, he used to say, is a matter of practice. The more one laughs without serious reason, the easier it becomes to laugh at each silly little thing and spare oneself unneeded beating with the cane.

Giggles did his best to follow his friend’s advice. He tried to giggle foolishly, even when nothing even remotely funny occurred, but such a thing proved impossible. The funny thing was that it was easier for Giggles to laugh when something bad happened to him, than it was when it happened to someone else. One of the rare moments he could laugh for real was when others pulled a prank on him and he fell for it. For that reason he sought to become an easy target for all sorts of tricks and jokes. Though laughing wasn’t as easy for Giggles as it was for other jesters, he had never reached the other extreme, I mean crying.

Crying was an unforgivable act of defiance that led to certain death. In fact, even when a jester was beaten with a stick, he was forced to laugh and that naturally made the punishment even more inhumane. It’s to be expected that, when something so natural is so strictly forbidden, one has a constant desire to do it, but since no one was eager to be punished in the severe way dictated by this cruel law, they suppressed this completely natural urge to cry and indulged in all sorts of sadistic pranks and practical jokes targeted at their fellow jesters.

Giggles would probably do the same, but unfortunately for him he had a gentle character, well disposed towards others, completely out of place in this harsh, unfriendly environment. So Giggles craved a good cleansing cry and I don’t mean a light drizzle of a cry, I mean a cataclysmic cry, full of sobs and a waterfall of tears. All this years of suppression had made him almost incapable of crying, as if the muscles of his very soul had atrophied. That’s not particularly strange, if one considers that, since he was only a defenseless baby he had had to giggle, chuckle and laugh when he needed something, instead of crying like those lucky earth children.

One day not different in any way than the others Giggles woke up by the characteristic shrieky voice of his landlady, Mrs. Jokerin Happyprankster.

‘Ticklefoot, wakey-wakey, he he he, it’s already eight o’ clock; come down – why don’t you? – and taste your yummy breakfast!’

Giggles opened his right eye, only to close it again right away. He was in no hurry to get up and that is quite normal, since life in Gibberia was such a nightmare. Anyway, in a few moments he opened his eyes for good and, still bleary, yawned and stretched; then he went over to the door to open it.

‘Be good now! Don’t forget to wash your face!’

‘Why doesn’t she mind her own business?’ said Giggles annoyed.

But, as he reached for the doorknob to open the door, a bucket full of cold water fell on his head from the top of the door covering him completely with its ice cold content. Mrs. Happyprankster had come during the night and had placed the bucket in such a way that her tenant would enjoy a refreshing shower gibberian style, when opening the door in the morning.

Hearing the cry Jokerin laughed her heart out.

‘Now wasn’t that refreshing?’ she screamed ecstatic. ‘I warned you that you should wash your face, didn’t I? Cleanliness is a virtue of kings.’

 

Excerpt from “On The Planet Of The Jesters”

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