WOSSNAME - FEBRUARY 2008 - PART 4 of 5
- WOSSNAME - FEBRUARY 2008 -- PART 4 OF 5 (continued)
====Part 4 - THE RETURN OF WEIRD ALICE, CONTINUED
25a) THE CLACKS LOG OF WEIRD ALICE LANCREVIC Pt 2
25a) WEIRD ALICE, LOST IN SOME QUIRM OR OTHER
Going on the plan of get gig first, then find lute to gig with, I
stopped at the first likely inn. It was called The Pride of
Oolskunrahod, which also rang no bells with me - all I knew of
Oolskunrahod was that it was some tiny place in the Hubland
mountains, not too far from the foothills of Cori Celesti and
neither remarkable in any way or known to possess anything to be
proud of. The place was empty, even for that hour, and the landlord
was waving a cloth unenthusiastically around the bar top. The
conversation went something like this:
Me: Looking for a gig. I play the lute and sing. All kinds of songs,
especially comical ones.
Him: Are you in the Trade, then? You don't look like you're in the
Me: The Musicians' Guild? Of course. I'm a licenced Bard!
Him (with shocked look): Shh! You know that word's forbidden! If
you're in the Trade, where's your official robes and lightning bolt?
Me (puzzled but getting worried about the uppercase T in Trade): Um,
I left it in my other dress? I'm just looking for a little work to
pay my passage to Ankh-Morpork...
Him (with even more shocked and very suspicious look): Pourquoi? Why
d'you want to go there? Nothing there for decent folk. Here, you're
not one of them Porkians now, are you? The Watch is very interested
I beat an even hastier retreat than I had from the Clacks office,
and retired to a quiet park to think. Of course there's nothing in
A-M for decent folk -- that's half its appeal -- but what were
Porkians? And why did I need official robes and a lightning bolt
(whatever that meant) to play music? And what was RPI? And where
were all the tourists? After thinking for a while and getting
nowhere much, I found the local library and spent the afternoon
reading history books.
That was when I started to get very, very worried. I'd never known
Quirm as such, but this wasn't the Quirm I'd never known. In fact,
this wasn't the *world* I knew! Everything looked and sounded pretty
much the same, same flora and fauna, same sky, same bone-deep
knowledge that this was my own world and that Great A'Tuin was
swimming along cosmically somewhere far below us, but something was
deeply, disturbingly different. I came to the horrible inescapable
conclusion that some hole in the multiverse, deep in that gnarly
ground, had opened up and thrown me into an alternate Disc. Here was
the bad news, in short: the continent of my birth was under the yoke
of a mad theocratic dictatorship that had never existed on *my*
There, back in my own reality, Oolskunrahod was and still is an
unregarded dot on our Mapps; here, it's the once-unregarded dot that
gave birth to a warlike theocracy with grand dreams of empire that
came true when the RPI, otherwise known as the Republic of the
Provenance of Io, took its proximity to Dunmanifestin seriously and
declared Ionism the One True Religion and came boiling out of the
Hubland wastes with bad theology and bad food and fanatical armies
that conquered pretty much everything they could reach. I was
currently in the Satrapy of Quirm, and Ankh-Morpork wasn't the
great, teeming, throbbing hub of international commerce and
culture...no, it was mostly a smoking ruin, home to downtrodden
peasantry (all right, not much change there, but the downtrodden
peasantry of *my* A-M aren't living under armed guard and taken away
to unspeakable prison camps for the least excuse) and not a lot else
apart from a small and eternally endangered anti-RPI revolutionary
movement known as the Porkians.
I was a long way from home, in a foreign country in a foreign
universe and barred from my normal means of making a living. And it
was obvious that there was only one thing for me to do. I was going
to have to contact the Underground.
Memories are making me thirsty, so here endeth this post.
Second Clog: "Going underground"
It took me a long time to accept that what was happening was real
and not a bad dream that I'd wake up from any time now (then?). Even
many years later, in over-there time, I'd wake up sure I was in my
own bed in Lost Wages after a good session at The Sore Loser, and
then face the day with a quiet scream when I realised that Lost
Wages *here* had long since been flattened by the RPI and replaced
with Ionist temples and OolsTacky Fried Albatross franchises...
Anyway, I got on with it and soon found a small circle of Porkian
sympathisers who kitted me up with local money and identity papers
(Allys ap Gwynwynllyth from the least populated part of Llamedos, a
general drudge and not a Bard at alll) and got me a job in the
kitchen of an inn where the owner was happy to look the other way
every time certain small groups met in his cellar. And they also
found me a sympathetic wizard. I'd long since realised that there
was no point trying to use the Clacks because there was no-one to
receive any messages apart from RPI Security Provosts, but
Marquescal le Wizarde experimented on my behalf, tinkering with
necromancy spells in the hope that I could somehow contact "my"
young wizard in my own universe. We tried every week for years
before I gave up. At least I know that a couple of messages got
through! But since I knew of no way to get back, eventually I
stopped trying to communicate.
The world I was apparently going to have to spend the rest of my
life in was a drearier place than my own familiar one, but it could
have been worse. At least Other Quirm, as I thought of it, was
mostly as boring as Real Quirm. The Dowager Duchess had given in to
the invaders very politely and converted the country to Ionism, so
there were almost none of the burnings and executions and
destruction that marked the fall of most other nations. Quirmians,
for the most part, took to all the new regulations with good grace.
They never were much for travelling anyway, so they carried on with
their winemaking and their cheesemaking and their other rural
pursuits. They even accepted the dreadful Fried Albatross franchises
without too much complaint -- OFA meals being compulsory by law
after Octeday temple services -- although hardly anyone buys from
there when they're not forced to.
I stayed out of trouble; being in another reality was trouble
enough. I never stopped writing songs though, and I would practise
and play on a borrowed contraband lute down in the cellars of the
inn. Then after a few years, new Porkian agitators started to arrive
under cover of night, and trouble found me anyway.
I'd like to say that the next fifty or so years passed quickly, but
they didn't. I'm not going to give you a blow-by-blow description
here though, not least because I've got a life to live over again
and I want to get back to it! So here's the short form:
There was a rebellion. I was part of it. It took over twenty years,
but we won. Somewhere, in a faraway universe, I'm a Hero of the
Revolution. Isn't that nice?
And the slightly less short form:
One thing led to another, and I became a protest singer. And slogan
writer. And sometime agitator. And sometime field operative. And
ended up on the run, hiding in haystacks, travelling by night,
living off the land and on what we could scrounge from sympathetic
farmers...which was mostly cheese.Don't talk to me about cheese! It
will be a while before I can look a Lancre Runny in the face again,
and as for Quirmian cheeses...let's just not go there. There's only
so much cheese one person can bear, and I've had a lifetime's worth.
When the Famous Five (don't ask) went on their suicide mission to
the Hub to assassinate the mad Priest-President of the Republic of
the Provenance of Io, my songs were on their lips. I got a medal for
that -- one of the first struck in the rebuilt foundries of New
Protest songs being big among the Porkian cadres, I'm proud to say
that some of mine became quietly famous during my years there.
Here's one of their favourites. I based it on a well-known and well-
hated Music with Rocks In song from my own world. The lyrics are a
kind of code: when you sing them backwards, they contain dangerous
revolutionary messages. Yay me.
PATHWAY TO PARADISE...NOT
There's a lady who's sure all that Dwarfs love is gold
And she's buying a small farm in Hergen
And when she gets there she knows
That some bits are no-go
Like the Wyrmberg and fabled Chimeria
Oh oh oh oh oh
And she's buying a small farm in Hergen
There's a sign on the wall but she's not very tall
And she knows Quirmish thrives on misreadings
On a skull by a book there's a bird with black wings
Sometimes all Deaths of Rats need a raven
Woohhh oh oh oh
And she's trying a cafe in Hergen
There's a feeling of skank when you walk on the Ankh
And your sinuses cry out for freedom
In my thoughts I have seen shades of pure octarine
And the vices of Nanny Ogg's cooking
Woe woe, oh oh ohh
And she's frying a moray in Hergen
And it's whispered that soon
(Say, in Ick, Grune or Spune)
That the rat-piper plays until Hogswatch
And a new day brings crones, and shy standing-stones
And the forest will echo with small gods
And they make some blunders
Oh, and they'll make some blunders
If there's a scuffle in your hedgerow
Don't call the Watch, now
It's just a wizard on a spring-clean
Yes, there are two paths you can go by
But take the long one:
You'll avoid uncharted unicorns
And you won't get sundered
Oh, and you won't get sundered
Your head is thumping and it might blow
In case you don't know -
That's what you get for scumble-bingeing
Weird Lords and Ladies love the cold snow
And you should know:
Don't *think* of kissing the Wintersmith!
Oh oh, cold snow...
And as you wind on down the track
Procrastinator on your back
There walks a Duck Man, going 'quack'
Who begs all night and wants to know
Why mud's still tastier than gold
And if you lie still, patiently
Tooth Fairy comes with 50p
When all are Dwarfs, and you've got hole
"To be a rock" means you're a Troll...
...and she's buying a small claim in Hergen...
Pubs are open! Back soon.
Third Clog: "Bringing it all back home"
Right, this will be even shorter, because I'm getting emotional.
Also tired and emotional. Fifty years is a lot of living, and it's
going to take me a long, long time to write it all down. It's fading
anyhow, becoming more like a dream, and perhaps that's as it should
After the assassination, things started to get more normal, for my
own version of normal at any rate. I settled down, married a fellow
revolutionary, and yes, we did buy that farm in Hergen. I went back
to working as a Bard, in between having our daughters and mucking
out our pigs, and I never ate cheese again. And that was that. No
more excitement, no more travel to distant lands. I could have gone
back to Lancre but it wouldn't have felt right, and that had never
been my own Lancre. Some people can go home again, despite what they
say, but I wasn't one of them.
And now I have my life back. In the body I left. Which is the same
age as it was when I left it. Strangely enough, I'm not sure if I
want to go home -- now that I have a home to go to again -- or
continue on my Grand Sneer. Cert's being very good and very patient
with me, and he says that he's happy with whatever I decide, though
he'd like to visit *his* child in Bes Pelargic some day.
We're going to toss a coin. I won't be dedicating the toss to Io.
Here endeth this post, too.
So, how did I get back after all that? Simple. I died.
No, I don't understand it either.
It's good to be back.
Note for Roundworlders: the original lyrics for Stairway to Heaven
can be found at:
...not that they make any more sense than Alice's...
End of Part 4, continued on Part 5 of 5.
If you did not get all five parts, write: interact@...
Copyright (c) 2008 by Klatchian Foreign Legion