For several years, I’ve admired Rebecca’s work over at Hitherby Dragons. Since September 2003, she’s been posting short fiction on her site. Reading through the archives, a definite mythology builds up. There are recurring characters, and stories that have the ring of myth. It’s been a while since I followed the site daily, and I thought I’d check it out tonight. Sure enough, “Fire on the Tongue” had that same sense of myth and mystery. It’s a riff on the story of Prometheus, except that the three would-be saviors of humanity are Dinosaur, Frog, and Chameleon.
The fire gutters. It goes out.
Frog’s feeble struggles grow feebler yet. Her eyes bulge out. Her skin is moist.
Humanity … clusters around the remaining warmth and the afterimage that was fire. It wails softly as that fades away.
Frog, broken, maddened, crawls off to the swamps. She leaves a trail of slime behind.
Then there is silence where she had been and humanity departs.
Now there is darkness on the world but in the darkness no one dances. Now humanity mourns for there is none to be its god.
I don’t always follow the meaning of these stories, particularly when I’ve been out of the loop for a bit. In this story, I enjoyed thinking about the mythological resonance of the three creatures, and wondering about what their actions and fates mean. Dinosaur, for example, quickly fails to bring fire to Earth, attacked and killed by the “Three Lords.” I wondered why it is easy to defeat the dinosaur, and why brutality seems to be so effective against it.
Reading a bunch of Rebecca’s stories in succession is fun, since that mythological understanding builds up in layers, operating at its own subterranean level of consciousness.