This morning I opened my sachet of Spasmo-Nemigron powders and found the creature depicted below - caked with pinkish dust and trying desperately to fly free. It would have succeeded too, had there not been something badly amiss with its organs of flight. It landed, apparently deceased, on carpet worn of pile by the restless soles of ten-thousand junkies. Inquisitively, I crouched down too see. The glistening young pharmacist was suddenly alert. He leaned over the counter, peering …
- Strange bug, I commented.
- Oh? he said, with surprising interest.
- Don’t worry. You won’t have to summon the exterminator.
- Oh? Oh, good …. he mumbled, clearly working to suppress any appearance of curiosity. Give it here. I’ll have it … disposed of.
I shrugged. It was already safe in my pocket as I strode from the pharmaceuticals outlet.
Of course, the image below is larger than life. The bug itself - I am reluctant to call it an insect - is about half the size of a cicada and radiates an aura of health and … fleshliness is the word that suggests itself. Though it appears dead, I am not wholly certain this is the case.
Does this representation bring to mind a name? A name frequently associated with extreme science? And with life-saving medical advances? A name as often cited by the journals Science and Nature as by Saucer Kooks and Pyramidiots?
Need I go on?
It bears the signature of that most estimable of human beings. Spasmo-Vizier Mercurius. His work is unmistakable.
The wiles of fortune – whether for fair or foul – have brought me into possession of a genuine Mercurial artifact.
Now I must ask if this is truly a creature and not some unimaginably complex clockwork automaton. No wonder I could not construe the principles it employed to achieve flight …
And, knowing its provenance, I may safely make some inferences …
Was it free to fly the magnificent spaces of his laboratory-dacha, [said to have been built by Peter the Great for one of his lovers?] Was it a fugitive? Or was it mere biological refuse, not quite dead or de-energised? Was it under examination when it strayed into the automatic units used by Mercurius to manufacture his elaborate compounds?
These units are hermetically sealed to prevent the Magister’s arcane recipes straying into the hands of a race unprepared for technologies of such sophistication.
So how did the bug – which I shall hereafter describe as a filbert*– get in?
Did Mercurius place it there himself?
And if so, why?
Often, I feel humbled that I am fated to consume the fruits of the uber-man’s labours. Who cares that they make me dead tired for ninety percent of my waking hours? Who cares that I no longer derive an emotional response from music? Who cares that my libido is massively reduced? Who gives a toss about the unknown havoc it wreaks among my organs …
This is Spasmo-Vizier Mercurius we are talking about!
So how to proceed? What to do with this iota from the hands of the Magister? I would never be so foolish as to sell it … but might I not, safely, reveal its existence ... to some close friends and associates...?
Such as you?
* see Shakespeare’s The Tempest