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The Kettle

Not so long ago, within a dream or two, there was a race of people who worshipped a giant kettle. The kettle was not beautiful. It had many ugly sides and was cracked and tarnished but this did not matter to the people. After all they were a race and racing was all-important. They knew that speed and efficiency were not only best but were, in fact, the same. They knew they had the capacity of the Gods and the power to be Gods. They knew their future was glorious and they wanted to reach it as fast as possible. They are gone now. This is how it came about. Listen and laugh.

There was a secret and the secret was steam. The people fed the kettle, the people stoked the fires that kept it boiling and the kettle fed them steam and as it did so the kettle sang,

Steam. Steam hot and scalding.
Steam, sharp and cutting like a knife.
Steam. Steam surrounding, cleansing, never ending
Steam, the stuff of life!

They were known as the Kettle People, but truly they were the people of the steam. The steam was everywhere. It was in their buildings and their clothes. It was in their art and music. It was in their games. It was even in their food. It hung from the trees and caressed the flowers and the trees, and the flowers and the trees slowly shrivelled up and died, but nobody saw, after all their eyes were full of steam. And the steam hurt, oh how it hurt, but for the people of the kettle, the steam shaped and defined their being. It was simply something that had to be accepted and there was no other way. Some people were fond of saying that.

The secret of success was steam. Every child knew that. Since the adults shaped and controlled the space for learning how else could they think otherwise. But sometimes some child did. A child would want to reject the steam and cry and sob for release. When this happened the adults would simply shake their heads and say, "Dear me, no backbone, dear me, no fortitude, dear me, a whinger" And when the beauty of the child shrivelled up and died no one paid it any mind. They were too busy. There was the steam and the steam was good.

Yes, the steam was good. It was a source of strength. It was a source of power. It was a source of security. When strangers came around steam quickly saw them off. When beggars gathered in the street steam would send them packing. Steam accepted no excuses, steam took no prisoners, steam made the people strong.

Yes, steam made the people strong and they needed to be strong. The kettle had to be fed or the steam would stop and what would become of the people then? So night and day, morning, afternoon and evening they sweated and strained and struggled to find fuel. At first it seemed easy, they simply chopped the trees down, cleared and scarred their land. It wasn't enough. Then they noticed the land of their neighbours. This was easy to do because the steam had yet to touch it. What was the point of being strong if one didn't use one's strength the steam whispered in their ears. So they took the land of their neighbours and cleared and scarred some more.

It wasn't enough.

Then someone had the idea of burning houses and for a while this seemed to work. After all, no one could see the homeless, no one could see the faces of the dispossessed when the steam was thick and strong. But still it wasn't enough. So they began throwing people on the fire. They started with the sick, the old and those of feeble mind. Near the end some people began to protest, so they threw them on the fire too, but by then it didn't matter. The steam was so thick and intense that some people were glad to jump into the flames to find release. And then there were those who jumped for duty and those who jumped for glory and those who jumped because it was the patriotic thing to do. They jumped and jumped until one day there were none to jump at all.

For a while the flames kept the kettle hot. And for a while the kettle sang. But gradually its voice died to a whisper wandering on the wind.

Steam. Steam hot and scalding.
Steam, sharp and cutting like a knife.
Steam. Steam surrounding, cleansing, never ending
Steam, the stuff of life!

And then, simply silence.

That is the story of the Kettle People. Listen and laugh. For what else is there to do?

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