In which Able is able to steer the world.
Able approaches the map table and sees that there are three large rings that run along its edge. He reaches out and takes hold of the top ring to see if he can push it. It gives and as it turns along the circumference of the table, the image of the world above him begins to rotate away from him, turning the world over. He turns the middle ring and the whole world rotates away from him in the same direction as the ring. Finally, he tries the bottom ring and everything on the sphere increases in size as though coming closer. Like looking down from the mesa near his father’s fields, Able can make out all manner of things in the landscape. And much to his shock, some of the things are moving.
An idea pops into Able’s head and he turns the middle ring, hand over hand, until the world turns and he can see the Moon’s run. From there, he turns the world end over end, traversing the Moon’s Run until he comes to a part of the desert where he can see a small camp of traders, their pedes as small as fingers, resting in the desert. Able steps back from the table and puts his hand on his forehead. He looks to the The Dustfish, currently swimming directly through the world, and says, “What is this? What is this place? This isn’t just a map; it’s the world.” The Dustfish flips over on its back and swims around behind him. “How is this possible?” He reaches out again to the middle ring and turns the world west, away from the Moon’s Run, until he can see his Mesa. He brings the world closer with the third ring again, all the way into his father’s tiny cabin, where he can see his father treading amongst the tablets of dead ideas. “Father!” he yells at the tiny golden light version of his father, but nothing happens. Able twists his lips to one side in frustration. Perhaps it was only a map after all–just a very good one.
And if it is a very good map thinks Able, then where is the Ultracircus? He looks above him, high above the table, where the twelve buzzings float in the air, projecting the image of the world. He tries to decipher which one is his buzzing, but they are all so bright, that it is hard to see any difference. Finally, unable to decide, he just shouts, “Can you show me the Ultracircus?” One of the buzzings chirps gleefully in reply and the world turns and shrinks and rolls, the image coming to rest on dunes at the base of a craggy line of dark mountains. The buzzing shines out a single purple spotlight that comes to rest on a jagged tower crawling over a massive hill of sand. “Oh,” says Able, with awe. The tower is nearly as large as his mesa and covered in flags that are whipping in the desert wind. It is neatly perched on the back of a giant tortoise who patiently and slowly pushes his body through the sand. “Wow.”
Just then, something shimmers into existence in the desert, much smaller than the tortoise, and black, and giving off smoke. Able turns the third ring to look closer and recognizes the ugly black creature immediately–the ones that chased him into the stone letters. The creatures runs at the Ultracircus–it’s much faster–and bares down on one of the tortoises legs. The poor tortoise rears back and though there is no sound coming from the map it is clear that the desert animal is howling in pain. As Able watches helpless to do anything, his mouth agape, something comes off from the tower: a light? A projectile? It’s hard to tell, but the black creature shivers and then bursts into a hundred tiny pieces. But just as soon as it does, another black creature appears behind the Ultracircus and attacks. This time, the tortoise gives the creature a heavy kick with its back foot and the black creature rolls through the sand and lands on its back where it struggles to right itself. Again, something launches itself from the tower and the black creature bursts into pieces.
Able turns to the buzzings above him, “Where am I?” Again, the world turns, panning slowly across a massive sea of dunes until Able can see again, the scruff forest, and then, the stone letters at the edge of the dune that mark the spot where he came to the underground glade. His heart sinks. “How am I ever going to get across all that desert?” He looks to the dustfish by his side. “And how could we ever get past those monsters?” The dustfish hovers and stares. “We’ll have to think of something.”
Read the whole story so far: Brother Dustfish