REEP Parody: In the land of dragons and knights
At the recent REEP staff retreat, we invited our editor, Elizabeth Baldwin, to talk about good and bad writing habits. Elizabeth knows the work of REEP extremely well. This parody of the world in which we operate was written by her:
In the land of dragons and knights
Once upon a time there was a country that was being ravaged by a fearsome dragon. Its fiery breath hung over the land and poisoned the air. Many people fell under the dragon’s spell, for whoever looked into its eyes forgot everything else and served it willingly. When the dragon spoke, whatever it said seemed to them to be real, and everything else, even the cries of their own hungry children, became just distant murmurs.
From those who served it the dragon demanded gold, for dragons love gold above all things. When the dragon grew hungry, it would eat even its most devoted followers. Some managed to escape from the dragon, but they were few, and never could they forget the dragon’s spell.
The name of the dragon was Big Tobacco, and its power was great. Not everyone fell under Big Tobacco’s spell, however, and many people grieved to see the devastation that Big Tobacco wrought in the land. They petitioned the rulers of the land to drive the dragon out of the land and free the people. But it is not so easy to get rid of dragons. The rulers sent delegations to Big Tobacco, with little success. Big Tobacco, being old and cunning as dragons are, arranged to give some gold to the rulers so that they were less willing to drive it away. The rulers also felt the effect of Big Tobacco’s spell-binding voice, so that what it said to them seemed true.
When the rulers tried to protest that the dragon ate too many people, Big Tobacco just laughed and said, “You should be glad I am here, because if I were not here, a much bigger, fiercer, and more dangerous dragon, Illicit Tobacco, would come, and it would devour many more people. I alone, Big Tobacco, can control Illicit Tobacco. You must let me have more gold so that I can protect you.” The rulers were very afraid when they heard this, and said, “Yes, yes, we must do that.” They told the people who complained about Big Tobacco that they couldn’t possibly send it away or chain it up, for fear of Illicit Tobacco. Illicit Tobacco, they said, ate just as many people as Big Tobacco, and didn’t even give any gold to the rulers.
In this same country there was a clever hunter named Reep. Reep didn’t like Big Tobacco, and had not fallen under its spell. He didn’t believe Big Tobacco was telling the truth about Illicit Tobacco, but he needed to convince the rulers. Reep decided that he would try to find out whether there was another big fierce dragon in the area, and he began to look for tracks and droppings. He did find some, but the tracks were much smaller than those of Big Tobacco, more like those of a very young dragon. Reep made casts of the tracks and counted how many were Big Tobacco’s and how many were those of another dragon, and then he went to the rulers and showed him all that he had found.
The rulers said, “Oh, dear, this is very bad! What will we do?” “You must send out a band of knights”, said Reep, “and trap Illicit Tobacco, and kill it before it grows big enough to do real harm.” “But how?”, they wailed, “How can we find it?” “You will trace it by its tracks”, said Reep, “and to make sure that you can find it even when it gets bigger, you will put a special chain on Big Tobacco’s foot, so that its footprint will always look different, and we can always find it.” “We must think about this”, said the rulers, because none of them wanted the job of putting a chain on Big Tobacco. They were afraid of being eaten, and they were afraid of not getting as much gold. So they put it off, and put it off, always promising that they would think about it and do something soon.
Then a great plague swept over the land, and they thought, “This is our chance to do something about Big Tobacco”. They told Big Tobacco that it would catch the plague from eating people, and persuaded it to stay indoors. They thought that Illicit Tobacco, being only a little dragon, couldn’t do much harm. But Illicit Tobacco went on eating people and grew very large and fierce. When the plague was over and Big Tobacco came outside again, the rulers found that they now had two fierce dragons to deal with. And Reep shook his head sadly, and said, “I warned you, but you wouldn’t listen.”
By Elizabeth Baldwin, October 2021