“One of the sure signs that a medieval sorcerer is at work in your community is the presence of Bug-Men,” writes Violet Crepuscular, introducing Chapter CCCLXXXV of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney. “But this is only because after five or six hundred years, a sorcerer’s incantations get a little rusty and tiny errors slip into the formula. This is what attracts the Bug-Men.” Here she obliges us with an image of a Bug-Man (in case you missed it last night).
Several of these have been spotted at The Lying Tart, causing the patrons to forget their feud over Go-Gro vs. Slo-Gro crayfish food. Several patrons have suffered conniptions. For analysis of this sudden crisis, Lord Jeremy Coldsore, justice of the peace, turns to Johnno the Merry Minstrel.
“It’s a very bad sign,” says Johnno. “But wouldn’t you know it? Black Rodney looks into his crystal ball for another curse to put on Scurveyshire, and the only movie he sees is The Fly–which has a kind of Bug-Man in it.”
“What’s a movie?” wonders Jeremy. Movies have not yet been invented, Ms. Crepuscular reminds us.
“A hundred years from now,” Johnno explains, “sorcerers will produce moving pictures and use them to captivate the public. We know that from Black Rodney’s notes which are preserved in the Scurveyshire Museum of Dreadful Things. The Bug-Men come from movies.”
Here Ms. Crepuscular pauses to defend her use of a blatant anachronism.
“This is not the first time beings from the 20th century have invaded the 19th,” she informs the reader. “In Pskov, Russia, in 1843, a chess player named Marty Cheesecloth amazed Russian chess masters with an opening move that none of them had ever seen before. That’s because Marty was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1956. The czar had him discreetly put away before he could make trouble. And need I add that Pskov was harassed by Bug-Men for several years afterward?”
“So what’s so bad about these Bug-Men?” asks the American adventurer, Willis Twombley. “You can take care of them with a fly swatter. Just don’t listen when they cry ‘Help me, help me!’ Heck, I remember a king of Assyria who used to collect ’em.”
But we will have to wait for the next chapter to find out what’s so bad about Bug-Men.