The Year of The Paper Dragon

From our glass bubble viewing tower we could see down the pier and across the wharf to the uniformly worn blocks, their smudged windows and the burnt ochre gloaming creeping above them, dimly reflected. The message had begun, the Speech, the New Year Address. The old idols, the now merely lingering miasma of the dying year, were to be torn down. On our wall were two: Beyonce's nose, altered in our reverent eyes by the concerns of the Master (once a perfect pop artefact, immediately made by the message a receding antique, crumpled, unfashionable); a horse racing chart, torn at the pins, sagging, gambled events dead in the past –both previously worshipped, both mercilessly discarded at the word of the Master. Into what new sense-targets would the Pop Master initiate us? I and, I knew, all the others across the pier, behind their dusty-cloaking windows, gleefully anticipated the new rites, knees bent above quivering calves, glassy eyes blinking at the gasps of dry throats, sticky palms sealed by yellow knuckles. The preparation for the initiation of the new idols was about to begin, this noon before the new year, and, crudely at first, a foreign signal disrupted the Message. A paper dragon without feet loomed out from between the flat roofs, over the water. The monster drifted horribly by over head, drowning the known voice of the Pop Master with its unrestrained, wragged roaring. It had been speaking for a while before our habit-tuned ears gathered the sense, and it was something like this (I dimly half-recall after the event):

We took refuge in canoes, we escaped the unknowing overlords, we collected the trolleys...and unleased the power of KLENK, we were exiled but now have the highest power, we are the new gods, we bring to you the first year of the power of KLENK, we will overturn your old master, we are the new gods, the masters of KLENK...

The hot air that had supported the paper dragon trickled to an end and the nonsense fizzled out of earshot. The question marks that permeated the silence hung in the thick air greenly with the fading sea light. The walls of our houses painfully naked, the cracks in the slats pressing into each directionless worshipful gaze, we waited for the end. ...Eventually the Pop Master resumed its message and introduced to us the New Idols, the Idols of this Year of the Paper Dragon.

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