Actions

Work Header

Perceive and Observe Things Near and Far

Chapter Text

Jayms was a Houyhnhnms. With a whiney and a ney, he was mad, bad and dangerous to know. The other Houyhnhnms called him Bad Horse. He was the equine of sin.

Without an opposable thumb, he never left his home island, but then given the devilry he got up to with those nasty Yahoos, he didn't need to.

Jonn of the Lilliputians had an opposable thumb, but given his tiny size knew he'd never be able to sail the high seas as he'd have wished. Even if as a Beta, he hadn't been expected to stay home and provide for his sister's children. He looked up at the night sky and imagined finding a star to navigate by.

While Sheerlocc of the Brobdingnags scorned such obligations to her sister Mycrafft's growing brood. She scorned the court of the King. She turned her attentions to science. She lived her life largely alone in a tower looking at the light of the distant stars and was largely mocked for her ways. The King said, "There is nothing left to learn," and that's all there was to that.

Now one cold and winter clear night, when the stars seemed close and the moon hung so low that she actually reached up her hands to pluck it down, she gave a weary laugh at her own ridiculousness. "Everything in this world is relative, my dear Moon."

She spent that evening writing her perceptions of distant mountains that were merely hills and a world encompassing leaf when held close to her face. She wrote of the stars and the sky. She wrote of the earth and the sea. She wrote of what was inside and what was out. She was an omnivorous reader with a memory for the absurd and the grotesque. She ended by writing, "Education never ends. It is a series of lessons with the greatest for the last. SH" She folded that sheaf of papers into an empty bottle of wine, which she stuffed well with a cork at the end.

She tossed the bottle into the waves saying, "And that dear Moon is all the interest the world has in what I have to say."

She went back to her tower and withdrew in as dark a mood as she'd ever felt.

That bottle floated on the waves. It passed by krackens battling whales and mountains of floating ice. A current almost took it to the Houyhnhnms shore, but at the last instant, spun it west again to land on the island of the Lilliputians.

Now it wasn't unknown for great things to wash ashore there, but the Lilliputians felt there was not much that could be done about it. They'd only wash away again.

Jonn liked to visit these sorts of things when they came. So he set off in the morning, and by noon was standing in the clear shadow of the great bottle. It was vaster than any boat in the king's fleet. The writing inside the bottle, what Jonn could read of it thrilled him.

He acquired pulleys and tackle, because for all its great size, anything could be moved with enough pulleys and tackle. He pulled it some little ways away from the tide. He told himself it was to have more time to read the words. He brought an axe and made a small tunnel through the cork until he was well inside. He read what he could. He was fortunate that it was written on onionskin, but even as light as it was, it was very heavy.

Those words spoke to something hidden deep within him. They said, come if convenient, if not come anyway.

He told his sister that he was going on a journey. She looked at him as if he was insane, because where was there to go. But he set off. He brought food and water. He lashed wide flat rafts to both sides of the bottle. He pushed it into the waves and set off.

Now he wasn't a sailor, but the bottle didn't require much in the way of handling.

He figured he'd end up where he'd end up. Hopefully while there was still food and water.

Now as it happened, the currents didn't take him to the land of the Brobdingnags. A vast sea bird, the size of the bottle and three bottles besides picked it up and flew a long ways, until bored, it dropped the bottle on the floating island of Laputa. The bottle rolled and rattled and by some strange fortune, landed in the very bush outside of Sheerlocc's tower. She heard the noise and came out. At first, she didn’t see Jonn. He was very small and she was very large.

But she had very keen eyes for small things. She looked at the very little Beta in the bottle and said, "When all other contingencies fail, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

She uncorked her bottle and pulled out her own papers, and with them Jonn.

Now you might think that it would be difficult for them to communicate, but this wasn't the case at all for Sheerlocc had dedicated herself to observation of things near and far. Also, she had an excellent collection of magnifying glasses.

She said very softly, "How is it that you have come to return my papers?"

Jonn said into the sound tube she'd put next to him. "That's a long story." He grinned. "They were brilliant."

"Ah," she said, "That's not the normal reaction." She held out her hand and Jonn jumped barefoot onto the palm of her hand. She drew him very close to her face and breathed gently. His feet were very tiny and her hand was very big, but it takes only the smallest of things, something smaller than a cell in a blade of grass for one Beta to know another.

She smiled and he smiled, and so it began.

Their great work into the study of very small things with large effects and the perception of things near and far.