Bedtime Stories I Did Not Read to My Children

Nuclear Stuff

Long ago in a far away land – you know, the usual blah blah – there was a province fascinated with smart people. It was a beautiful place to live: snow capped mountains ran down almost to the sea; hills were draped in green the year round; the climate seldom gave the extremes of summer or winter; and the rivers were filled at certain seasons of the year with salmon. It was one of those rare places to live: where, if one so chose, one could live off a land filled with berries, deer, salmon, crab, clams, and oysters; where no poisonous spiders or snakes lurked awaiting the unwary. But that was before the people became enthralled with smart.

It must have been one of those years because in all the provinces around it, other people had also become fascinated with smart people, and what could be smarted than nuclear? So it was in that fateful year, just everybody had to have a smart person lead them. All across the kingdom, and in the famous capitol far away by the opposite ocean, the people appointed a man to rule over them who knew nuclear stuff. In his later years the man who knew nuclear stuff became obsessed with pounding nails into wooden boards and, in his spare times, overseeing fair elections held by various tyrants.

In the province by the sea where the mountains ran nearly to the sea, the simple folk whose lives were tied to the salmon and the sea scratched their heads – was this really a wonder or just plain craziness they asked themselves. I mean really! Nuclear? Of course, this was all before they were invaded by the people from the far south and came to know the truth. But that’s another very sad story, and by then it didn’t matter anymore: the simple folk were hunted to near extinction.

In that year, the year when everything changed, there arose in the province a woman who embodied smart; she knew nuclear stuff. What better sort of leader the people said than one who was really smart and knew nuclear stuff? So they placed her in the capitol of the province where she immediately proved she was really smart by taking the salmon and shooting them with rays. This was a good thing because why shouldn’t the salmon have rays? After all that was her name, and surely they would remember her forever having so blessed them.

These new salmon, having been shot full of rays by the woman who knew nuclear stuff, took the name: triploid. Unlike their beautiful silvery brethren who were very good to eat, the triploids were tasteless, dull, dumpy and generally ugly, much like the woman who shot them full of rays. Fortunately for all concerned, they did not adopt her habit of wearing gray wool sweaters.

The triploids were a powerful and hungry lot, much enjoying the crunching and munching on the young of their brethren, and if they had had their way, would have eaten all of them. Here we see fate step in and rescue the fair silvery salmon. As it turned out, one of those people charged with shooting rays at hapless salmon (which were good to eat) was also one of the simple folk who whose life was tied to the salmon and moonlighted as a fisheries biologist.

So this simple man raced about the province telling everyone who would listen what was befalling the silvery salmon behind locked doors. No one could bear the thought that the silvery salmon would become both male and female as well as something in-between. Shudders ran down spines at the thought that these triploids would prefer to be female and, like their benefactor and creator, prefer the company of other females. Simple folk just did not like rays, unless they were moon-rays shining upon the salt waters as they set their nets to catch the wily silver salmon.

The hue and cry echoed over the province. This was too much! Bonfires were lit on the province’s capital steps, signs of protest were every where except in the local newspapers which were staunch allies of the tripliods and the woman of rays who was very smart and knew nuclear stuff. But the people would not be denied.

So it was a year later that someone else was anointed and put in the place of leadership in the province, who looked and talked like the leaders of old, who never quite answered a direct question but always seemed to have a good reason for doing whatever came along. In short an old fashioned politician who was not smart, at least not smart about nuclear stuff. And so it was that the triploids joined the shooter of rays in retirement and obscurity surrounded by other females and lots of ugly gray sweaters which no one wanted to see ever again.

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