Flame Shirt

The Space Elevator That Could

Chapter 1: Genesis

There once was a small antelope with great aspirations, but a small trout. This trout was dependant on the antelope as they lived in the sub-Saharan desert and the antelope had to spend all of his days fetching water for the trout. To say the trout was ungrateful, would be an insult. However, the days had passed certainly when the trout appreciated precisely what the antelope had given up for him – especially moving to the sub-Saharan desert. But these days, the water was running dry. And the trout’s flesh was becoming crusty.
“I’m sorry, trout”, spoke The Antelope with a lugubrious expression dominating his usually boyish demeanour.
The trout flopped with indignation.
“The nearby well has been sucked dry by the elephants; they’re dying too. You shall have no water to swim in.”
The trout paused and then thoughtfully continued to flop.
“I gave up my scholarship to be here, you great trout. We’ll get through this together.”
Moved by this display of compassion, trout’s heart swelled and he began to flop at roughly the same rate as before (but maybe slightly quicker – it’s tricky to tell). The antelope’s shell had become rough and sticky due to the high exposure of the sun, though lately this was getting significantly worse. Antelope knew on some level that his days were numbered despite his lack of knowledge of the Gregorian calendar. Trout was well aware of this but kept this well hidden; sometimes when Antelope had gone to bed he would just awaken to flop in the despairing silence of a lover beginning to die. His own condition was what he concerned himself more with though – for ultimately he only loved Antelope as his provider. He flopped.

The Antelope

They wander through the desert at night to keep cool and come across a textbook merchant.
“This could be our chance, trout! If we buy a textbook and come across an idea, we might be able get your water back.” Trout flopped in exasperation.
“I don’t see you coming up with any ideas, now do I?”

The Textbook Merchant
(she is a tapir)

“Have you any need of a textbook, good sirs?” said the Textbook Merchant in an ostrich accent.
“Oh yes, we will trade you something!” Antelope searched around desperately for anything, anything, of value. Trout was flopping furiously, twisting back and forth, and slamming his head off the fish-bowl. Antelope searched his bag, rummaging through the various bric-a-brac one collects on a bohemian’s travels.
“I’m sorry good sirs, if you don’t have anything to trade, I’m just going to have to eat you”, the Textbook Merchant smiled.
Antelope fixated on the little castle in trout’s fish bowl. Something boiled up within him; perhaps it was the years of sexual repression; maybe a desperate yearning to be noticed by Trout-sempai, in a world filled with ignorance and sexual assonance. Antelope placed the bowl on the ground and before he knew which way was up, he had dived into the fish bowl, donned his scuba suit and swam for days and nights to reach the foundations of the great castle of the Fish Bowl. He pulled at the castle, trying to unlock the door and reach the Great Halls, but they were steadfast. Next he tried to hoist it up brick by brick to be reassembled on the surface, but the castle was cemented by a seamless opaque fluid which all of his best attempts could not penetrate. His recourse was to put the castle on his back and take its weight forwards toward the sunlight.
Arriving back into the dulling sunlight, the patient Tapir smiled a knowing smile and said “an excellent castle sir, but how could I sleep in such a place?”
Antelope placed the castle within his hoof and pointed out “not a single sound could wake you within these walls.”
The tapir deliberated with itself and laughed, “For such a price, I shall give you every last one of my textbooks!” Tapir walked towards the castle, stripping herself of the textbooks that clothed her, leaving the accumulated knowledge of engineering, physics, politics, economics, mathematics and computing behind her, until she was small enough to squeeze through the doors, which slammed behind her, and sank beneath the sands as if it had never existed.
Chapter 2: Exodus

Trout did not flop. He stared vacantly, his mouth somewhat ajar. Antelope collected the textbooks into one large pile with a sheepish grin on his face. Trout did not flop. Antelope’s grin fell off his face.
“Trout, I was just trying to…”
Trout interrupted him by not flopping. A gentle tear began to roll down Antelope’s chin, a tear which Trout jealously desired. His thirst made him flop and flop and flop until Antelope could take it no longer. He screamed, knocking over the bowl. Trout began to flop abreast the textbooks in what could only be described as a kind of mockery, punctuated by a certain kind of resentment which is reserved for pigs and paedophiles, blood beginning to spill over the front page of “Civil Engineering”.
“I’m so sorry, I’m sorry!” Antelope scooped him up, and placed him back in the bowl, and began to dig as far down as he could.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”
Trout and antelope were fast asleep. Trout had flopped when antelope had attempted to clean his cuts, and so his bowl had turned a deep red colour which concealed Trout’s body but for his two blinking eyes.


The Mound which cover this knowledge had gently fallen down through the sand, as it had sunk, in the night and began to grow. Antelope was woken by low, gentle creaking beneath. Antelope watched for the eyes of trout, but they didn’t seem to be watching him. Curiosity was upon him but he told that silly Mars Rover to get back to Mars, because that is where he lived, not the sub-Saharan desert. He sat in silence listening. He pawed at the surface, and then erupting from the ground and shaking the whole desert came a gigantic space elevator, constructed from books. In a panic, Antelope waited to see if trout had awoken, but such a thing would usually not disturb him.
Antelope’s prying nature commanded him to towards the elevator and the opportunities it promised. He silently galloped up into the door at the base of the lift entrance. Inside, he found only two buttons.
Antelope brayed. Home had brought him misery and ungrateful trout; so fear surely meant somewhere worse. He had only one option. He pressed HOME. The lift shuddered and rose. Antelope’s heart began to pound in his chest, as he left the deep red fish bowl behind. Stars subtly changed their configurations as he ascended.
Following a trail of blood through the pearly gates, emblazoned with the words “Sex and Death”, which awaited him in orbit, he found the floating, glowing familiar sight of Trout.
Chapter 3: Leviticus

Trout flopped grandiosely on his golden throne among a chorus of angelic flopping trout. Antelope approached an altar to stare upon the face of trout, the one he knew the most and therefore the least in this world. Antelope was bewildered and a deep anxiety chilled his blood.
“What?” stammered Antelope. Trout bowed floppily.
“But why has it come to this?” Antelope looked at trout, who gave a dismissively leftward flop.
“Why did you not help yourself when you could? Why did you let the elephants drink your water and nearly kill yourself?”
But he had crossed a line. The chorus turned sour, and the milky soft tones which they sang turned bitter. Trout rose from his throne, but Antelope didn’t stop, he wouldn’t stop, he couldn’t stop.
“Why did you let them die? Why are you still letting them…”
Antelope knew it was wrong, but this was worse than anything he could question. He raised his voice and started to quiver.
Antelope shuddered and the Kingdom around him turned cold. The clouds upon which he stood began to solidify, and he watched as it became a river, which dragged him towards trout. His mouth opened wide and antelope fought against the rapids, but couldn’t escape. They were too strong, he was going to die, he was already dead but now his body would follow, and a horrible fear overtook him. The chorus screamed as they were dragged headlong into the gluttonous mouth of Trout as he consumed the clouds. Antelope grabbed the altar just before he entered mouth as trout sucked and sucked. Antelope kicked his eye, and trout fell back and flopped. Antelope swam to the bottom of the river, and began to fall through the air back to the desert. He was falling faster and faster and faster and the rain began to follow him, and suddenly he was plunged under the sands.
The air around him disappeared and he was thrust deeper and deeper underground until again he found himself upon a smooth glass base. And he slid backwards and down, before falling through a hole, to find himself in a new place. A new place he had never feared could exist. A new place which was filled with the horrors of the real world above him. Lines of dead elephants littered the ground and there was Tapir, naked and exposed and cold and too small to help defend herself against the cascading sands that fell upon them. Antelope tried to run but was drowning.
Drowning in the sands of time which were consuming his body, and as he slipped towards the blistering hot grave of the sun-bitten sands he mouthed with the last ounce of energy he had, at the cost of swallowing the fiercely hot salt, the name of his only beloved trout.

Shadows of Broken Dreams

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