Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SLIP OF THE TONGUE (01/26/17)
- TITLE: Waste Not
By M. C. Syben
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Once upon a time, in another realm, a tongue factory worked hard to keep up with demand. Most tongues turned out fine. Any blemished tongues were stored and called upon, only, if supply fell behind demand.
Managers at the factory reasoned, “Humans aren’t perfect anyway. No sense wasting production.”
“Exactly,” the head of operations agreed. “The occasional, substandard tongue is a given; but let’s not add to their numbers by increasing output.”
So, for eons, orphanages housed the flawed tongues. After they left the factory, they would live happily until such time they were required. Then, a processor would appear outside their institution.
Whenever possible, the processor matched an orphaned tongue to a host with a defective brain. That way, it wouldn’t stand out and cause the host embarrassment. After Processor chose a tongue, it would enter the light. Then, the light carried the tongue to a zygote making its way to the womb.
At the orphanage, most tongues wanted to leave and be a part of the world. One tongue, named Slip, did not. He shuffled behind others so as not to be noticed. The headmaster grew tired of Slip’s inability to forge ahead, to face the unknown. He knew that Slip must be forced to leave his comfortable quarters to take place in the world beyond.
One day, when the light shone outside the orphanage, tongues lined up to be scrutinized as a special host needed one immediately. The processor, took extra time, facing each tongue and asking questions.
“What is your name?”
“M-m-mm-my name is St- St- St-Stutter, s-s-s-sir.”
Processor shook his head dismissively, and moved to the next tongue.
“And your name?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know your name? You must be a dull tongue. That won’t do.”
Moving on, he asked, “What about you?”
“Who’s asking?” The orphaned tongue glared at the processor. “Who do you think you are judging us?”
“Oh, you must be a sharp tongue.” Processor thought awhile. “Stand to the right; you are a possibility.”
When Sharp moved, he exposed Slip.
“I didn’t see you standing there. What is your name?” The processor asked.
“Name is Ship…I mean, Slip, M’am…I mean, sir.”
Approvingly, the headmaster gave Processor a thumb’s up.
“You might do. Stand to the right.”
Processor circled Sharp and Slip, studying them.
“You picked me first,” Sharp, whined. “I want to go. Slip doesn’t. Choose me.”
“Hmm,” the processor replied while reviewing his notes. “Slip, you have resided here longest. It is time you take your place in the world. Walk into the light, please.”
Slip sighed, but moved forward obediently. Just as he reached the light, Sharp hollered. “You aren’t the boss of us. I’m not staying here.” He rushed Slip, pushing him into the light, and joined him there as the beam closed.
“How dare he?” Processor hollered at the headmaster, for not controlling Sharp.
Headmaster said, “I’m sorry, but sharps tend to act before thinking. I thought you understood that when you decided to stand him next to his competition.”
New at his job, the processor hung his head. “I’m learning. Now, two tongues will reside in one body.”
Headmaster said soothingly, “Well, you saw how Slip hides and prefers to be unnoticed; Sharp will dominate. Perhaps, your debacle won’t cause too many problems. Still, Administration best follow up on this case and make a study of the host with two tongues.”
For nine months, Sharp and Slip shared close quarters. As the zygote became a fetus, and the fetus grew, they became like brothers. Sharp didn’t lose his edge while learning to love Slip. In fact, when it was time to be born, Sharp protected Slip by surrounding him with his strong muscles.
“Maaaah,” the baby cried. “Maaaawah.”
The mother cuddled her newborn like a proud mother should.
Concerned, the doctor said, “Most babies say “Waaah” when born. Yours is different.”
The mother, Mary Anne, became indignant. “Of course, he’s unusual. My baby will grow into a special man. I’ll make sure he knows how extraordinary he is.”
The newborn wailed until Mary Anne placed him to her breast. “It’s alright, son. Mummy’s here. Mummy loves you, special boy, my…Donald. I shall call you Donald.”
Administrators watched as Slip of the Tongue and Sharp Tongue enjoy a privileged life. To date, they enjoy great power, although they do confuse the listeners around them. Studies note, the world may never be the same.
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