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Story on a Quarter Page – Malthus

July 4th, 2005

(An Odyssey Journal)

Malthus: you all know his name. They call him the Da Vinci of his time, the Newton of his idiom. But it wasn’t always so.

Malthus’ neurosis was he had to have all his witches in a row. If he couldn’t kick out one plank and have the whole line of them drop into the drink like corncobs shot off a log, then he wouldn’t kill witches at all. He played a lot of a game called “Domino Rally”–too much for his own good, by all accounts. Learned it in the dungeons, from a former time-traveling wizard, then condemned. Played the wizard for his life, and won. Showed mercy, too–beheaded him instead of burning!

Even then old Malthus was sought after. Wasn’t just his clients loved his work–his victims too. Not an easy thing, in the hooded man’s profession. But after the Domino thing, he got on the wrong people’s nerves. A wise man doesn’t cross the Inquisition. Not in this trade.

Day they caught him up was the worst of his life. High noon: killing time. They handed him sixteen goat-hoofed, forked-tounged hussies of the Hornád Man himself, one two-fathom wooden ducking tub, a ladder, thirty ells of rope, and an oxcart.

We all figured they’d got his goat. Either he’d have to sink them Satan’s Midwives one by prick-devouring one until the sun went down and the crows came home, or he’d be laughed right off the block and never work again. But not old Malthus! Oh, no. Cool as the very chop-block, quick as ax-fall, Malthus rigged up then and there the one and only infamous patented Witch-Stretching-Pendulum-Plunger–ox-powered, deadly efficient, pure beauty to behold, and economic too! Them witches was stewed before you could denounce the seven names of Satan.

After that, Malthus pretty much ran the Inquisition himself. Changed the whole profession. Revolution! Made it into an art, a religion–turned that Witches’ Hammer into a Bible all its own. God bless him!

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