Thought made Flesh

Everyone knew that Vivian’s Æbe’trax knife-shard could materialize “thoughts” into “things”. Possessing as much as an ounce of Æbe'trax was illegal, not so much for its value, but for what it manifested whenever it got in contact with an intelligent mind. Nicknamed “thought made flesh”, the metal was endowed with the unique and dangerous ability of summoning into being the most dominant thought in one's awareness. Rumour had it, Æbe’trax was capable of cutting into the very fabric of reality.

One afternoon, Vivian Amberville found it fit to test the accuracy of that rumour, in the presence of an audience. To that end, she rounded up Kate, Lucian and Acciper, who took turns at wielding the Æbe’trax shard.

Vivian demonstrated the power of the knife-shard by calling into existence four bottles of kyrsaap and a plateful of biscuits. Kate summoned herself a lipstick and an exquisite pair of snakeskin boots; Lucian Blossom – predictably enough – materialized a bookcase that sported the largest collection of Victorian English novels his eyes had ever seen. It was now Acciper Sparrowhawk’s turn to wield the Æbe’trax shard.

‘No, no, no, you need to hold it by the handle,’ Vivian said to a way-too-eager-looking Acciper. ‘Are you off your rocker? Don’t ever touch the blade!’ she bossily slapped him over his fingers, repositioning the shard of Æbe’trax with such added care, one might have thought it was nitro-glycerine. ‘Now picture something in your mind and let it travel down your arm. Good. Now, let your imagination fill into the frame of the metal shard.’

Acciper pointed the orange-glowing knife at an empty patch of grass, his metallic eyes screwed up in painful concentration. Nothing happened.

‘Not working,’ he scowled, letting his shard-arm drop by his side. Vivian grabbed him by the hand.

‘Did you picture the item in your mind’s eye?’ she asked.

‘Vividly.’

‘In minute detail?’

‘Photographic.’

Vivian scratched her chin. ‘Hmm, that’s odd. These steps usually work most of the t—’

‘—is it alive?’ Lucian butted in. Acciper starred.

‘Eh?’

‘The item in your mind, Ace – is it alive? Because you know fully well Æbe’trax cannot create life—’

‘Humph, course I know that,’ said Acciper in a dignified voice. ‘Not alive, no.’

‘Is it some kind of machine?’ ventured Kate. ‘You know… the sort with lots of moving parts?’

Acciper shook his head. ‘Haven’t got nuff imagination for som’like’that.’

‘Did you imagine more Æbe’trax?’ Vivian asked. ‘Because I’m pretty sure there are limitations—’

‘—no Æbe’trax.’

Vivian crossed her arms. ‘What did you imagine then?’

‘Won’t say,’ said Acciper simply.

‘Suits yourself,’ whispered Vivian, turning her back on him. ‘Kate, mind if I try that lipstick you summoned? Thank you! Blimey, if Æbe’trax can summon objects out of thin air—‘ she said, while applying generous amounts of lipstick on her own lips, ‘—just imaffin fa fofibiliffies.’

‘Sorry?’

‘Mfo mno! Mfa lipfs mfar gluff mugetherf!’

Kate’s green eyes narrowed. ‘Come again?’

‘Mfaa fsaaid: mfa leeeepf… mfaaar gloooofd… mufgerder!’

‘Reckon her lips got glued together,’ translated Lucian. ‘What was in that lipstick, Kate?’

‘How should I know? Haven’t imagined it in that much detail, have I?’

‘Mfelp mfe!’ begged Vivian, frantically pointing at her sealed mouth. ‘Pleesff!’

Kate, Lucian and Acciper rushed forward to help, which made several things happen at once: Lucian tripped against Kate’s pair of snakeskin boots which sent him flying right into a shelf of Dickensian novels. The commotion caused Vivian to lose her footing and fall hard on her bottom. This didn’t sit well with the massive bookcase, which wobbled a few times, back and forth, before collapsing full-throttle over Vivian’s unsuspecting frame.

‘Oh no!’ screamed Kate and Lucian, together. Acciper, on the other hand, was nowhere to be seen.

The bookcase began to budge, announced by a much-constipated “oomph!”

‘The bookcase! Viv and Ace are both trapped under it!’

Scores of Jane Austens, Emily Brontës and Mary Shelleys cascaded onto the ground, and with the force of a man who was somewhat used to lifting heavy loads, the bookcase was pushed aside, revealing quite a sight. Acciper was protectively bent over Vivian, his fists pushing into the grass, his lips on her lips.

Kate took a few uncertain steps forward, torn between genuine worry and shame of walking on something indecent. ‘Are you… emm, guys alright?’

‘Mfor lipfs fot gluff mugetherf!’ muffled Acciper without lifting his lips off Vivian’s. ‘Mf knaiff! Mfusef mf knaiff!’

Kate grabbed the shard of Æbe’trax, closed her eyes and imagined the pair of them separated. She knew it had worked when Acciper and Vivian’s disentangled voices arose from the knoll.

‘It worked! Crikey, that was embarrassing!’ said Vivian through rather pink cheeks. ‘Thanks for pushing that bookcase off me, Ace. I wouldn’t be sitting here if—’

‘Don’t mention it,’ said Acciper quickly, averting his eyes.

‘Well, we’re not doing this again, that’s for sure,’ Kate gave the shard of Æbe’trax a well-deserved kick. ‘Thing’s too bloody dangerous!’

‘Agreed. Once was more than enough, thank you very much,’ said Vivian, getting up. She then turned to Acciper. ‘Sorry your wish didn’t materialize.’

For reasons beyond comprehension, Acciper’s face flushed a deep, burgundy-red. ‘No problem.’

It was a little over Red Eve when the quartet took their paces back to Palas Lumina – with Acciper walking behind them, the tiniest spring in his step.

- Louise Blackwick

Advent 2017