Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Vintage repost: "The Saurian in Winter"

Digging through my old Facebook notes, I found this. I still enjoy its "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold" style opening, and the world it evokes in only a few hundred words. I'm thinking about expanding it into a Twine game. Enjoy.


Autumn comes early on the moon. The automated climate controls, carefully engineered to match the swelter of the late Cretaceous, were nonetheless skewed by the minute fluctuations of orbit that took the moon about an inch further from earth per year. I was welcomed by a robotic servant and taken into the impressive bubbledome parlor, lovingly adorned with retro-futurist d├ęcor that screamed 1965. Fitting for the retired supervillain once declared “mightier than all the nations.”

Tyrannus Rex might be considered best as two separate identities (not including the heroic alter-ego from an alternate universe that Rex battled during the Stockholm Incident of 1968); There is the hyperintelligent dinosaur with opposable talons I took tea with in the parlor, and then there is the larger-than-life public figure, the idea of Tyrannus Rex, that stomped on the terra (both figuratively, literally) and commanded the world stage for most of my life. As always, my interlocutor was possessed of the impeccable grace and elocution that comes from kidnapping the great orators of history from various timelines and forcing them to teach you rhetoric, the silvery forked tongue that put presidents and diplomats to shame during his career. 

“But of course, young mammal,” he explained, “Force can lay the world in your jaws, but only eloquence can bid it lie still and accept the inevitable. This fact would have been made crystal clear in 1976 were it not for the intercession of Cimon and the rest of the Cross-Time Athenians. They were glorious in those days, even I their sworn enemy had to admit.” [editor’s note: the Cross-Time Athenians come from a divergent timestream in which an observer from the future was found out in 445 B.C. and forced to yield up his time-traveling equipment to Pericles and the Assembly.] 

Ultimately, however, the former “Lizard-King of Cincinnati” remains phlegmatic about his infamies. The scars that cover his weathered, scaly exterior mark a time long past, before reality television and celebrity culture. Beyond that, the private sector has proven simply more lucrative. By his estimation, Tyrannus Rex now makes more from consulting fees (his unique knowledge of villain psychology has put more than a few of his former colleagues in the League of Nation-Smashers behind bars, or in the case of Amorpho, laser security grids) and corporate speaking engagements (his usual topic is “the will to greatness”) than he ever did as a megalomaniacal threat to global security. 

“It’s the old law, as true in Cicero’s time as ours,” he says with the same sense of resignation I heard during my interview with [Ex-Soviet supergroup] the Red Guards: “Cash rules everything around me…”

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