Subject: Regression
Organization: Old Jack's Subjugated Plain Bar and Grill
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2001 12:42:56 EST

[At a recent weekend gathering of the True Believers Society in
Springfield, MO, talk turned, as it has for centuries, to the
various members' past lives, and how they were related to events
in our current ones.  One of us was a famous goldsmith at the
height of the Egyptian Empire, this profession being reflected in
her current talent for creating wire-wrap jewelry; one a French
Master Chef, as evidenced by her perfect pastries but complete
inability to cook dinner without burning something; I, as we
discovered, was a peasant farmer at a lively moment in history.
After a bit of digging, I was able to remember some further
details.  These are related here so that future incarnations
might more easily remember them.]

                 The Great Corn Rebellion

It started, as these things so often do, with a single, simple
spark. If I were being completely honest, I'd have to admit that
it wasn't helped at all by my utter dislike for giving straight
answers to stupid questions. So, when my neighbor came over and

"What's going on?"

I couldn't just say, "Oh, I'm just watching what happens when
some witless idiot throws away a torch without making sure it's
out first, or making sure he's not throwing it into a corn-field
that's been baked for 40 straight days without a drop of rain".
Had I given that answer, George would've asked, "Oh, yeah?  And
what's that?", and I would've screamed "My fields are on fire for
god's sake! Get a goddamn bucket brigade going and help me save
what's left of my pathetic livelihood!"

But no, I had to be clever.  "Oh, I'm just burning my fields in
protest of the King's new taxation policy."  Never mind that the
King didn't _have_ a new taxation policy; his old one, "Take
everything", pretty much obviated the need for any improvements.

Not that George cared.  "Hey, that's a pretty good idea!".  And
he headed off to the pub to tell everyone about it.

I can't really explain what happened next, George must have made
a pretty good botch of explaining my political philosophy to the
lads in the pub, is all I can think of.  You'd think at least one
person would hear "corn" and "fire" and think, "Bad," but
apparently the ale was flowing well that day.  Half the fields
around the village were burning before sunset, the other half
(owned by the people who stayed for "one last round", apparently)
fired up overnight.

And of course it didn't stop there.  Folks from the next villages
over, especially the downwind ones, came to see what was going
on.  I know I should be charitable, and suspect that at least a
few of them came to see if they could help put out the fire, but
I know better.  They came to see the fields of flaming corn and
think, "Thank god it's not mine".  But that was before George got
to them; before long, their fields were burning, too, and
dammitall if they weren't chanting my name as they threw the
torches in.  It was like I was some kind of hero, or something.
My only hope was they'd forget the chant, or change my name to
something unrecognizable, before the King found out.

Because he was bound to find out.  He might not care if one
peasant farmer loses his field to the drought, or to a carelessly
tossed off firestick, but you can bet what's left of my farmstead
he'll be interested if half his harvest turns to ashes overnight.

So I lived in fear for a couple of days, wondering what I could
do, how I could escape before the King's men finally came for me.
Head for the Colonies, I figured was my best bet.  I could jump a
ship, or maybe work my way across on a trader, then head to the
frontier and start over.  I'd have to change my name, of course,
but I'd done it before.

I had just started to make my preparations, packing up everything
I had that wasn't already ashes, when the word came.  Every field
south of the Mountains had burned, and the King was Not Pleased.
We never did find out what he intended to do, though, because
before he could act, something truly amazing happened - sanity
returned to the land.

People started to wake up, and realize what they'd done.  So they
milled about for a bit, asking each other "Gee, now that we've
burned all our crops, what are we going to do for food?"  Then
someone remembered they had something resembling a leader in this
affair, and what better than to ask him what his plan was?

However, being the only one present whose fire hadn't been Step 1
in some grand plan, the "leader" hadn't really taken any time to
consider a Step 2.  "I don't know," I replied when George asked
me (and here my sarcasm got the better of me again), "Why don't
you go ask the King if he can give you some new corn out of his

So the bloody idiot did just that.  Only he didn't go by himself,
of course.  He rounded up every ash farmer he could find along
the way, and off they marched to the Castle, a merry mob,
chanting my name all the way.

Now, just take a moment to imagine the situation, here - the King
has just been told that the great majority of his fields have
been burned by an angry mob, and is now holed up in the Castle,
wondering how he's going to tax people who don't have anything
worth taking this year.  Just then, his chief advisor hastens
into the room and tells him that all those peasants who went mad
and burned their corn to the ground yesterday are now coming for

What's a King to do?

He did what any sensible man would do in the situation - he
abdicated the crown in favor of the mob's leader and buggered off
to France.

Obviously, it was Fate at work, here; what else was there but to
accept it?  As my first official act as King, I abdicated in
favor of George and buggered off to the Colonies.