Friday, August 27, 2010

Hotel Unacceptable

A young woman and I were traveling by boat down a river somewhere in a jungle, perhaps in Malaysia or India or another similar place. The woman was hardy and adventurous and looked something like Marion Ravenwood from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

We came upon a little village or town situated beside this river, and after we decided to stop there to rest for the night, some of the villagers warned us about the proprietor of the only hotel in the area. I don't recall his name now, but from their descriptions of him he seemed to be a sort of Moriarty type character, a devious and dangerous man to be avoided if possible. Nevertheless, we wound up not only at his hotel, but in his very company, as he himself sought us out, evidently finding us to be very interesting travelers indeed.

Mr. Moriarty told us that he wished to be honest with us. The rooms in his hotel, he said, were quite dangerous places. Each room, according to the man we still did not trust, was fitted with a lethal trap, and only with quite precise caution could anyone survive the night. In particular, he warned us of a special class of device known as a milktrap.

We told him that we'd been assigned room number X (I no longer remember the exact number), and he immediately suggested that room number Y would be a better choice (again, I cannot recall the number). The milktrap in room X, he said, was especially deadly. Room Y, he said, though also being equipped with a milktrap of its own, was much less demanding of its inhabitants. We would have a much greater chance, he said, of survival.

So we were to stay in the room of Mr. Moriarty's choosing.

In the interest of displaying true hospitality, Moriarty decided to show us the room personally. Now, upon viewing the room, I was unsure of whether this establishment was a hotel at all or if it was rather a prison, indeed, a veritable dungeon. The room's walls were of dank greenish stone, fitted only with a torch on either side of the room to light with dim orange glow the unsure pillars extending up from the dark pool of water far below to form a haphazard floor, whereupon we stood with ever growing anxiety.

Moriarty waved us over to a niche at one end of this depressing display of meager accommodation. Here, he informed us, was the milktrap.

The device was in two parts. There was a large gas engine or generator of some kind fixed to the floor and standing at about waist height. Attached to this engine was a series of glass or hard plastic reservoirs connected by tubes stair-stepping upwards and away into the darkness of the chimney above. Moriarty wanted to light the flame of the engine. My companion said that she was afraid that this would ignite gas in the room and cause an explosion, but the shady proprietor insisted that there was no chance of this happening.

The man activated the engine, and a little flame appeared, shooting out just an inch or two from the top of the device. Slowly, I noticed, milk began to travel up through the tubes, filling up the reservoirs with steady equality, despite the variation in their vertical positions.

The pillars began to shift with extremely subtle motions. They seemed to move about the room, and yet simultaneously their positions did not seem to change at all.

At this point, Mr. Moriarty confessed that he really did not understand the milktraps at all, neither their internal mechanisms, nor their overall function.

Suddenly, I witnessed before me an array of silver spoons, and I heard a voice in my head, saying, "Fill thy bonnie circle with my ground."

I could make no sense of this statement at first, but upon pondering it, I began to understand, or I thought I did.

I recognized the voice as my own, and I began to suspect that Moriarty intended to use the milktrap to transform my companion and myself into silver spoons. The bonnie circle would be formed by Moriarty's thumb and forefinger, and the ground referred to in the statement would be the shafts of the spoons.

The milktrap, I believed, had rendered me slightly more willing for this to be my fate.

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