Fable of the Dragon Part 3
by, 07-10-2012 at 12:28 PM (142 Views)
The last day of the year was cold and overcast, but there was no wind, which meant good launch conditions. The sun was setting. The king and his closest advisors were observing from a platform close to the launch pad. Behind a fence, large numbers of the public had assembled to witness the great event. A large clock was showing the countdown. Fifty minutes.
An advisor tapped the king on the shoulder and drew his attention to somebody running towards the platform. Security quickly caught up with him and he was handcuffed and taken away. The king turned his attention back to the launch pad, and to the mountain in the background. In front of it, he could see the dark slumped profile of the dragon. It was eating.
Some twenty minutes later, the king was surprised to see the handcuffed man reappear. He was accompanied by two security guards and appeared to be in a frenzied state as he began shouting: "The last train! The last train! Stop the last train!"
"Who is this young man?" said the king. "What does he want? Let him come up."
The young man was a junior clerk in the ministry of transport, and he had discovered that his father was on the last train to the mountain. The king had ordered the train traffic to continue, fearing that any disruption might cause the dragon to stir and leave. The young man begged the king to issue a recall-order for the last train, which was due to arrive at the mountain terminal five minutes before time zero. "I cannot do it," the king responded, "I cannot take the risk." But the young man continued to wail even as the guards carried him off the platform: "Please! Stop the last train! Please!"
After a while, his wailing ceased. The king glanced over at the countdown cloak. Five minutes remaining. Then four minutes. Three minutes. Two minutes. Then thirty seconds. Twenty seconds. Ten, nine, eight ...
As a ball of fire enveloped the launch pad and the missile shot upwards, the spectators rose to the tips of their toes. For the masses and the king, the young and the old, it was as if at this moment they shared a single awareness; an experience of a white flame shooting into the dark, embodying the human spirit, its fear and its hope, striking at the heart of evil. Then the dragon's silhouette on the horizon tumbled and fell, and a thousand voices of pure joy rose from the assembled masses, joined seconds later by a deafening thud from the collapsing monster. After centuries of oppression, humanity was at last free from the cruel tyranny of the dragon!
The joy cry resolved into a jubilating chant: "Long live the king! Long live us all! We did it! We did it!" But the king answered in a broken voice: "Yes, we did it, we killed the dragon today. But why did we start so late? This could have been done five, maybe ten years ago! Millions of people wouldn't have had to die!" He stepped off the platform and walked up to the young man in handcuffs. There he fell down on his knees.
"Forgive me! Please forgive me!" The rain started falling in large, heavy drops, turning the ground into mud, drenching the king's purple robes. "I am so sorry about your father," he continued.
"Do you remember twelve years ago in the castle?" replied the young man. "That crying little boy who wanted you to bring back his grandmother? That was me! I didn't realize then that you couldn't do what I asked for. Today I wanted you to save my father. It was impossible for you to do that without jeopardizing the launch. But you have save my life, and the lives of my mother and my sister. How can we ever thank you?"
"Listen to them," said the king, gesturing towards the crowds. "They are cheering me for what happened tonight. But the hero is you. You cried out. You rallied us against evil. Now, go to your mother and sister. You and your family will always be welcome at the court."
The young man was released, as the powered faces of the royal entourage gathered round to the king to express a combination of joy, relief and discombobulation. So much had now changed. The right to a future had been regained, a primordial fear had been abolished, and many a long held assumption had been overturned. "Your mahesty, what do we do now?" ventured the most senior courtier.
"My dear friends," said the king, "we have come a long way, yet our journey has only just begun. Today we are like children again. The future lies open before us. We shall go into this future doing better than we have done in the past. We have time now; time to get things right, time to grow up, time to learn from our mistakes, and time for the slow process of building a better world. I believe we have some reorganizing to do!"
What did you think of this short story? Morally it was absurd for the people to think being eaten by the dragon was nature's way. But what if we exchanged the dragon to death, cancer or ecigs? The administration to our current healthcare? And the king to the current world leaders?
Only as the king was staring into the face of the bereaved young man does the extent of the tragedy sink in to him. Searching for a cure against aging is not just something we should perhaps one day get around to doing. It is an urgent moral imperative. In this matter, time equals life, at a rate of approximately 70 lives per minute. With the meter ticking at such a furious rate, we should stop ....ing about.