A fable about cheese (and a talking cat) with apologies to John C Wright’s Parliament of Beasts and Birds.
The dairy products gathered, one by one, outside the final city of People, furtive, curious, and slightly odd smelling.
All was dark. In the west was a blood-red sunset and in the east was a blood-red moonrise of a waning moon. Which, incidentally, confused a particularly pedantic ball of Edam which had taken the sentence “all was dark” a bit too literally. No lamps shined in the towers and minarets, and all the windows of the palaces, mansions, townhouses, semidetached project homes, terraces and those really big ranch-style bungalows that have a name but which I’ve forgotten, were empty as the eyes of skulls. Well, the eye-sockets of skulls. The skulls didn’t have eyes – although a mischievous small ball of mozzarella had taken to sitting in the eye holes of a skull and frightening passersby. That, as other cheeses noted, was no surprise given its upbringing.
All about the walls of the city (it had walls this city) were the fields and houses and the fanes which I had forgotten to mention earlier. Rather like the skull’s eye sockets, these were all empty.
Above the fortresses and barracks, black pillars upheld statues of golden cows, beaks open, unmoving and still because they were statues – with beaks.
Above the amphitheatres and stadiums in which things associated with these places had occurred on a regular basis, particularly at weekends, huge video screens stood inert and unwatchable.
Above the boulevards and paved squares where merchants once bought and sold soft cheeses and flavoured yoghurts and blue-veined Gorgonzolas from Italy, squishy wheels of brie from France and aerosol cans of cheese flavoured products from the far-flung lands of the Americas and…wait I don’t actually have anything to go above this bunch of stuff. Never mind – something was above all that. I don’t know, maybe a talking cat or something. And there were wine bars where princes and stockbrokers would drink the liquid of Bacchus and consume cheeses with crackers or maybe tapas on reflection. Above that lot, there was probably also a talking cat.
And higher on the high hilly hill in the centre of the city were the libraries and learned places and the palaces that we mentioned earlier (the ones with the empty windows) where emperors were adored as gods. But no history was read in the halls of learning and no laws were debated in the halls of power – because everybody was dead. Yes, they were all dead. Just pointing that out now, in case you hadn’t spotted it. Everyone was dead except for sentient dairy products and a talking cat called Timothy.
Not far outside of the city was a mountain that had been cut in two, crown to root by some great supernatural force with a grudge against geology. On the slopes of the dark mountain (see I had said all was dark), which was now really two distinct mountains with a great big cleft in the middle (which created a visual impression that Timothy the Talking cat found a little unsettling), in a dell
overgrown and wild, two dark (all is dark) creatures met, peering cautiously at the city which they couldn’t see because all was dark.
A black wrapped processed cheese addressed a black-rinded artisanal cheese in the black darkness on the dark mountain. “What is the news? And has anybody got some sort of illumination? I can’t see a bloody thing around here.”
The artisanal cheese shrugged indifferently – a shrug which was distinctly different from the shrug he used when he was not trying to show indifference. “I thought it unwise to intrude on the city of Man (and by ‘man’ I mean the generic sense which applies to both sexes of human) what with it being so dark and all and what with mountains getting great big bloody clefts in them. What’s the world coming to, I ask you?”
“Who, then, will go into the city,” asked the processed cheese.
“Not I,” said the ball of Edam I had mentioned earlier.
“Me neither,” said a sad tub of grated Parmesan
“Not bloody likely,” said a half-eaten tub of Greek yoghurt.
Double-Gloucester turned to Monterrey-Jack “Nor you nor I shall enter the empty city, and discover the cause of this mystery, shall we not? For we are in awe of Man and have always been his foes and inclined to inflict indigestion upon him – and I’m referring specifically to ‘man’ in the gendered sense for verily I am want to only make the digestive tract of men an unholy ruin because I am one of those feminist cheeses that Timothy the talking cat is always moaning about”
“That is true – she is!” said Timothy the talking cat “and I’m tired of your man-hate!”
“Be quiet Timothy!” spoke the distinguished Stilton “ you are derailing the whole discussion”
“Well Double-Gloucester started it” blustered Timothy angrily
And with the inevitability of a blog comment section the assembled dairy products (and one talking cat) began bickering amongst themselves even though it was still very dark and somewhat unsafe due to the great big cleft in the mountain(s).
But Lo! A soggy tub of cottage cheese flew down from its perch and said unto the assembled lactation-related beings (plus cat).
“Yeah, well I just spoke to an angel and it is basically like god did it and we are all people now and we’ve got be, you know, like good and stuff. And one of you may get to be Jesus”.
“Can I be Jesus?” asked Timothy the talking cat.
“NO!” cried one and all and they all lived happily ever after – except for the pedantic Edam who never found out what a “fane” was.
11 responses to “The Parliament of Cheese and Curds”
I was thinking of No Awarding the shkrt story category but will do a write in vote for this instead. Best of luck!
Camestros, this was a pleasant change of pace, thanks. I’ve added it to the meta-roundup.
Thanks Brian 🙂
Anyone who doesn’t like this story is just lactose-intolerant.
Another cheesy comment 🙂
[…] The Parliament of Cheese and Curds […]
This is brilliant, and I’m off to go add it to the Hugo eligible wiki for 2015. It is one of the two best sentient dairy SF stories I’ve ever read the other being the story by the hated onez, we dares not say his name, SCALLLLLZIIIII! Okay we said it.
Cheese fiction is totally a genre 🙂
Random side note: WordPress really, really doesn’t like either dashes, parentheses, or the Mac ellipses you can make (option key plus semi colon.) —
I can now clearly see… that it was the ellipses… I’ll stop posting now.