Mister Bumblethorn slept through the morning, as he usually did,
rising from his dry-as-dust bathtub just after noon. He stood in the
weak light of the shaded window, his massive blue coat rumpled but
still imposing. He did not even remember getting into the bathtub the
night before, much less falling asleep in it. He yawned and shook out
his arms. An antelope or a gazelle, tiny as a beetle, tumbled out of
his coat sleeve and splatted on the floor below. Mister Bumblethorn
studiously ignored this.
Bleary-eyed, he walked across his tiny apartment to rummage through
the cupboards, finding no food except some stale crackers. Worse, his
water flask was empty as a thimble; he held the thing upside down for
a full minute and not a drop appeared, not a whiff of moisture.
Mister Bumblethorn sighed heavily. Into the blank space of his empty
stomach, memories began to flow like saliva. Once, adoring folk had
thrust gifts of cheese and honeycakes at him wherever he walked:
through the streets of grand Abadore, through the humble thoroughfares
of nameless hamlets. Fingers shaking, Mister Bumblethorn rolled
himself a fat spliff of redleaf. No matter how little the peasants
had, they shared their suppers with him and refused any offer of
payment. Damn it, light already. After all, he was–Ah, there it
was, that sweet smoke filling his mouth, translating the stream of
memories into a language as meaningless to him as the clicking prayers
of the insectile priests in their hive temple on Wingcleft Avenue, his
old life grown as insubstantial as their flowery incense, drifting
away in the wind.
Rated R for graphic violence, drug use.