THE TIN TYRANT

The tyrant’s skull is hammered from the same tin as his throne. His eyes are tired rhinestones through which no light passes, but there isn’t much to see in his concrete palace anyway. He cannot rise from the velvet cushions beneath him, for he is held in place by hundreds of thick wires, not to mention the bronze spear that’s been rammed through his battered chest.

Despite appearances, there is a fully-functional supercomputer in his belly. Ask him any question, and he will most certainly attempt to answer. Whenever he starts thinking, the ghostly fog of liquid nitrogen begins pouring out from his joints and wounds alike. Then his crown begins to rattle, followed by limbs, then his boots, and then finally, the checkerboard tiles of the floor.

Once it’s done, an inhumanly long tongue of ticker-tape emerges from his mouth. This contains his best attempt at answering the questions posed, printed in regal cursive. He has little to say about personal matters, and has few delusions of his ability to serve as a philosopher or therapist. He doesn’t know much about the gods either, although they sometimes come with riddles of their own to pose.

Nonetheless, he is an excellent thinker when it comes to espionage. So the story goes, his servants come and go quietly, hiding their metal skin beneath mahogany robes and whispering news from neighboring kingdoms. In return for their loyalty, he offers them the passwords to ancient vaults hidden beneath the ruined castle in which he dwells. Then, he tells them which fields need to burn, as well as which noblemen need to die.

Beyond these encounters, however, his days are lonely. Only a handful know where to find him, and those that do only arrive every few months to report on their progress. He has spent centuries in stillness, dreaming of conquest, and dreading the day when he at last runs out of ink.

ON RESURRECTION

THE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL LABYRINTH