The Lorelei Signal
Written by Ian Robert Krueger / Artwork by Marcia Borell
Of late, I have amused myself with the business of knocking over a small glazed mug. I had gotten the idea from a man on television, for he said: “Science is the mere business of heuristics, you see—” here, he upset his styrofoam cup, spilling some very cooled coffee all over the gasping host’s trousers— “I have upset my cup. Now, see, I do it again. Again. And again. And I may note, now—” he put his hand to the edge of the cup, meeting the shocked eyes of the host with a kind of blazing black-guard grin. “That if these past four experiences are, in some sense, true, it is quite likely that if I strike the cup once more, it will upset.”
“But I don’t know that!” His voice cracked the air; his finger snapped out over the snickering crowd. “I don’t know that, do I? I merely know that it is only quite likely the cup will upset. And, indeed,” he smiled, turning again to the snarling host. “It does.”
I think the man quite funny. I think, there is no mug I have struck that does not upset, and thus, I am satisfied to think this state quite constant. I even dare to employ some level of faith in it. For I think science a constant, concrete, static thing—I think, as the sun comes twinkling in warm through the cream-white blinds on this bitter January day as it always has, that this world runs quite like clockwork. And how funny! I laugh, running my long brown fingers through gushing raven-black hair all the way to my waist, as I like it, that the funny little man with his very pale face and nose sharp as a plow sees to cry out like some bellowing Baptist preacher about falling mugs and the inconstancy of it all.
I set the mug upon my hard, carved-oak kitchen table. Set my elbows atop with my smirking face in my hands, strike the mug and watch it tumble. Ha! Set it upright. Strike it again, it goes prostrate before me oh! Little child. Little worshipper, little mug. How your submission is so utterly constant, how unquestioned. How could I be more of a goddess before you, little creature? Fall. Fall!
I am now staring, for the moment, quizzical. I think my poor little goddess-brain cannot comprehend, not for this second; then terror falls.
For no matter how I cursed or struck or screamed or sobbed, the Mug would not bow, bolted utterly upright before me!
~ * ~
Oh, how dare that blasted little pottery-cretin impugn my Deity! How dare he stand there, glowering at me from atop the table as I race about my work, distilling down the secrets of this physical plane into my big brown hand, conjuring the protons and the electrons into some terrible atomic spell—how dare he defy the Lady of this realm! He ought to be punished, but I cannot bring it upon him. The rebel, the snake, that hideous Luciferian invader! He does not even have the decency to confront me. He merely sits, glowering, as if I and my interests are of absolutely no consequence to him. Stare then, you little bastard. Stare. You shall be of no consequence to me either. I shall go about as if you never bloody existed.
This has not worked. For when I was walking down to the laboratory, the Mug somehow conjured itself upon the steps; caught my foot and I fell, smashing my equipment all over the concrete floor.
~ * ~
I will admit, I wept bitterly after the episode on the stairs, cursing the Mug. I hope he knows how badly he has hurt me, how he has harmed my work. The Doctor says my arm shall be healed in a few weeks, but the time lost makes me sob like a wife spurned in my lonely double-bed. I have not been lonely before this; perhaps this is another conjuration of the dreaded Mug. But, perhaps not. He has, up until this point, been horribly uncommunicative. I do not think him the type of person to play with my emotions, he merely wants me to know that he is in charge here, and that little Ermengarde may do naught. He is an abuser, a sadist, a power-hungry Hitlerian tyrant. He beats so I may know I was beaten. I doubt he even derives any pleasure from the act; and with that, I fall into a loveless sleep.
I awake to find the Mug at my bedside, filled with my favorite: Irish Cream and absolutely nothing else. I don’t even have any Cream in the house.
“Do you want me drunk, so you may hurt me worse?” I snap.
He, as usual, says nothing.
“Blast you,” I murmur. Tentatively, I loop my fingers through the handle, and this time—yes, it rises. I raise it to my lips, savor the overpowering scent of burning-clean alcohol and aged cream. For a second, I wonder if this is all some terrible deceit, that perhaps it will taste fetid and burning on my tongue—but suddenly I am guzzling it down, and it is the most delicious thing I have ever tasted.
Without thinking, I again slump down, and fall into a luscious drunken slumber.
~ * ~
The Mug is more dreadful than I ever would have realized. He has begun bringing me various alcohol beverages, all of increasing quality. I see his mind. He plans to bind me to him, the blasted thing. Turn me into a slave with his wheat-fermented seductions, well, I am one step ahead. I have anticipated, I know. What I shall do with this knowledge, that is a slightly different matter. For now, I am happy to lay soft and sleepy in my bed, sipping delicately at this import brandy. No need to rush things. Anyways, my arm does hurt; and I think I have begun to trust the little pottery-thing. Perhaps he wishes my slavery, but I think he does not wish my harm. The tumblesome exploit down the steps has not been repeated. Perhaps, he merely knew the only way he might minister to me would be to incapacitate me.
Certainly, I would not have ever respected such a small thing before the aforementioned episode.
~ * ~
I am in stark terror. The Mug is not some kind of Luciferian invader; in fact, I suspect him to be some kind of god. He briefly explained to me a universally tenuous point in the contemporary state of quantum mechanics. When I asked him how he knew, he merely shrugged and said:
“Well, I did invent the stuff.”
Ermengarde, Ermengarde, o you poor, poor, stupid girl, stupid girl, what have you done? The thing does not wish your slavery, nor your death, he wishes your utter destruction. He has merely been toying with you, the blasted thing. Drawn out your childish little insurgency before Himself so he may smirk and squash it. O, what to do? What to do? I race back and forth across my room, trying to conjure up some penance—perhaps He likes dresses? I’ve got two nice ones, perhaps the pink? Or my backup chemistry set, my Lego X-wing? O, blast it all! I sob, flinging it all down in the middle of the room. Blast it all. It’s all so pathetic, anyways.
As if God cares about dresses!
~ * ~
I had resolved not to humiliate myself. I had resolved, that I would dry my tears, politely appear before him and beg him not to kill me. What happened was quite different. I was just about to get out of bed when I realized the mug was on my nightstand filled with steaming-hot red liquid, and he said:
“You don’t have to do that.”
“But I do—” I stopped myself.
“Yes,” he continued. “You don’t. Now, I have prepared something very good for you. If you will just lie down, and drink, and enjoy yourself, resting for a little bit longer, I promise things will go very well, and you will soon return to your work.”
“Return to my work!” I was flabbergasted. “But…but…sir…”
“Yes,” the Mug said.
“Aren’t you angry with me?”
“Blindingly so,” he said cheerfully. “Until, of course, you drink.”
“I absolutely do not understand.”
“Of course you don’t. Because you are my Ermengarde, and there is so much I want to teach you. That is why you tripped over Me on the steps, because you don’t understand, and why you couldn’t knock Me over; because I Am. Now, drink, and enjoy, because you are a small thing, so small that even the tiniest bit of Me winks in defiance. But you were made to enjoy, not to defy. And I have made so much for you to enjoy and understand. But, for now, drink.”
Ian Krueger is a young author from Minnesota who is currently enraptured by blood-splattered encounters with the Divine. He also loves weightlifting, but his relationship with Jesus Christ is by far the most wonderful thing in his life. @IanRobertKrueger on Facebook.