The 200th Fable

by Adam Acidophilus

A creator called his designers together.

“Right,” he said, “I want to do a new planet. Something different. Something special. Give me your best ideas.”

“Well, we’d go for another mountain planet,” said the mountain experts.

“You can’t beat a good ocean,” said the ocean team.

“No oceans, no fish!” quipped the fish specialists.

“Hang the fish, you need forests,” snapped the tree and plant people.

“Well — ” said the creator — “in a way you’re all wrong, and in a way you’re all right. What I have in mind is a world of mountain, ocean, fish, tree, bird, ice and fire!”

“All on the one planet?” gasped the designers.

“Ice and fire?”

“Trees and fish?”

“Birds and oceans?”

“It can’t be done!”

“It can be done, and it will be done,” the creator told them. “All this and more. Take as long as you like — this is hardly a six-day job.”

The teams slaved and sweated and toiled. They weighed and they measured and they counted. They checked and they re-checked, sketched and projected, drew and redrew and, eventually, started.

The best core people worked on the core; the most experienced surface experts prepared the surface. The mountains were raised and the oceans were filled with water.

Slowly, the planet was populated: First, the microbes, then the moulds, then the lichens, then the worms and then the plankton. As the years rolled by, the creatures got bigger.

Then after some time — some considerable time — the creator announced a special conference of exceptional significance.

“Well, as you can see, the new planet’s going nicely. In fact, I’d say it was pretty damn perfect. And I have decided that it is time to announce my real purpose … Sure, the fish and trees are great, the new birds are a huge success — thank you bird desk — and I’m happy to put the big lizard problems down to experience …

“But, in fact, all along, I have had an ulterior motive, which up until now I have kept completely secret, and that is to launch an entirely new life form of near-equal intelligence to ourselves.”

A murmur went up around the table. Surely the creator was joking!

“You’re talking about a very big fish,” laughed the fish team. “A whale, with hands!”

“You mean a bird — ” said the bird desk — “that talks?”

“These tree beings … ” said the tree and plant people. “How will they move around — with roots?”

“Nope,” said the creator. “We’re going to base the intelligent being on the monkey!”

In the following hours, to increasing disbelief, the creator rolled out his plans. An intelligent monkey, which would rule over the new world. The land, the materials, the climate were already in position — it would live on grains and leaves, buried vegetables and the occasional fish.

Moreover, the monkey persons would be able to utilise the other materials on the planet. If they were cold, they would make clothes from the skins of other animals. If they were wet they would build shelters from the trees or the rocks. If they were bored they would sculpt furniture, weave cloth, or fashion technology.

They would float because they would build their own boats, they would fly because they would build mechanical birds, they would have language and art and culture — and live in perpetual happiness.

“It’s a stroke of genius!” remarked the designers. “But that mechanical bird bit is, frankly, ludicrous.”

And so the monkey persons were introduced, slowly, and in restricted numbers, and permitted to establish small colonies all over their planet. Some lived in forests, some lived on mountains — others roamed the grasslands. They raised families, developed languages, and were full of surprises.

Mythic tales of infinite variety sprang up in every place. Sport, which had no meaning, emerged in every culture. Foods and clothes made from natural materials, pottery and utensils. Things the designers hadn’t designed began to happen.

And though the whole thing went to plan — indeed, ahead of schedule — there was one huge and nagging problem: for the monkey people did not like each other.

“I don’t understand it,” sighed one of the most experienced heads of department. “They seem compelled to behave really unpleasantly. They shout, they snarl, they throw rocks at each other. They hit each other! And worse!”

“Instinct,” nodded the creator. “That’s what that is. All we need to do is to increase the food supply.”

So the tree and plant department came up with the most ingenious foods, and a new range of ‘fruits’ which could be picked from trees and eaten immediately.

“Look at this!” laughed the one who came up with the banana. “Its a balanced diet in a single item, pre-wrapped — and it tastes delicious!”

“And it grows on trees?” the other designers gasped. “You don’t have to dig it up?”

“I told you it would be a perfect world,” chuckled the creator.

But this didn’t make things any better. The monkeys fought for possession of the trees, and either stole each others’ fruit or used it as a weapon.

“We think it may be chemical,” the chemistry department announced. “Or possibly hormonal. Or maybe some other scientific thing we don’t quite understand yet.”

So medicinal plants were sown across the planet, plants that would heal and ease pain.

“Finished!” sang the creator — optimistically.

Following a bit of a quiet spell rumours began to circulate that all was not well with the monkey people. They were, by all accounts, misusing the medicinal plants. Either they were eating too many of them, smoking them instead of eating them — or else mixing them with fruit to create dangerous and intoxicating liquors.

At that point they then proceeded, in an inebriated state, to steal each others’ trees and chuck rocks at each other.

Another special conference was called.

“I’ve given this very serious thought,” said the creator. “The problem is that they have no incentive to like each other. So, we’ve come up with an amazing solution … We’ve decided to tweak their nervous cortex and bestow them with the most pleasurable reproductive process in the known universe …

“These monkeys are going to really want to like each other. Believe me, when they find out about this — they won’t care about anything else!”

The designers were dumbfounded by the ingenuity of this solution, and, through the adjustment of the next couple of generations, ensured that the monkeys would like nothing more than liking each other.

On the plus side this led to the invention of many forms of personal adornment, jewellery, hairstyles, music, poetry, soap — and cleaner monkeys.

On the minus side, there was still a tendency to expand the courtship rituals to include quite a bit of medicinal plant abuse and rock chucking.

“I’ve had enough of this,” said the creator. “Send somebody down!”

They sent somebody down — and the monkeys nearly killed him.

After reviving this traumatised emissary, yet another special conference was held to fix the matter of the rather violent monkey people — for good.

“They’re little bastards!” the emissary cursed. “They’ve got the hang of metals all right, but they’re using them to make weapons and hurt each other. You know, if they ever do get round to mechanical birds — I fear the worst. Really, I do. They’ll just drop rocks on each other.”

“Yes, but what do they want?”

“What do they want?”

“What can we do to stop them being like this?” the various delegates and interested parties asked him.

The emissary paused.

“They want to live forever,” he said. “They enjoy the sex and the food and the music. But it’s still not enough; they want to be immortal.”

The room fell into disarray. The designers could not believe it. They were good designers, of course, but they could hardly change the nature of reality!

“Okay, settle down,” the creator said — clapping his hands. “Ideas … Anybody?”

Moral: Anybody?

© Adam Acidophilus 2016