"We work in the fields, we work in the towns,
Gurney Halleck / Unfinished Songs
Some stories begin with "Once upon a time", or "a long time ago", but the struggle at the heart of THIS story has spread across the Land and is probably going on where you live, so all that needs to be mentioned about that other tale is that it was not what it seemed and it's not over yet.
Too long ago, the Cold Prickly who wrote the book bought a Ranch. He soon realized that by letting people live there for next to nothing, he could control them when he threatened to force them from the homes they had created and from the lives he let them lead.
He had invented "Warm Fuzzies", and pretended to give them to the people who took them when they could, even though they were given for all the wrong reasons. Today, all of them know just how cold his gifts were... and just how prickly.
The clever Cold Prickly set up monthly meetings where the Warm Fuzzies could discuss their future, but then he worked behind their backs to make sure the outcome was to his own liking. To this end, he even began to turn Warm Fuzzies into Cold Pricklies, and to make sure more Warm Fuzzies didn't show up to upset his Petty Power and Counterfeit Control.
All such efforts are doomed to fail however, and one day, the MAN IN BLACK; who was neither a Warm Fuzzy or a Cold Prickly, was invited to the Ranch by a very Warm Fuzzy called Funky Old.
Cold Prickly feared the MAN IN BLACK from the start even though the stranger didn't hesitate to help him or anyone else. Attempts to control or manipulate the MAN IN BLACK backfired every time until Cold Prickly started to break his own rules and lose the respect of all that knew him.
This of course, only made him colder and pricklier.
The MAN IN BLACK could not be told what to do, and Funky Old would go along to get along, and then do it his way anyway. Neither of them could be proven wrong, and neither would do anything unless they thought it was the right thing to do. The two of them together were unstoppable... so the Cold Pricklies set out to keep them apart.
The MAN IN BLACK was obviously to blame, so Funky Old was threatened with whatever the Cold Pricklies could think of, until they got their way; and the MAN IN BLACK was banned from the Ranch.
He and Funky Old continued to do what was right anyway, even when Cold Prickly or his cold prickly spies were on the Ranch, but one thing about Cold Pricklies... they're sore losers, and they'll gladly hold a grudge when they can't hold anything else.
So, Funky Old; who had way too much that was way too old and way too funky, and who had had been there way too long, and was way too comfortable, had to go too. Funky Old didn't really bother the Warm Fuzzies who actually liked having him around, but he drove the Cold Pricklies crazy until they realized how they could get rid of him.
More rules broken. More respect lost.
Just when it couldn't get colder or pricklier, it did.
One day, Hip Woman called Funky Old (who was always on the phone) and pleaded with him to save her from a tenant that was no longer warm or fuzzy. Funky Old, followed by the MAN IN BLACK, drove up to Hip Woman's House and were joined by Little Nut; who arrived just in time to do nothing.
The MAN IN BLACK succeeded in bringing out the Warm Fuzzy in everyone, and he and Funky Old drove back down into the cold prickly darkness below hoping that they would not get called again.
Not a chance.
The Cold Pricklies knew they had to do something or the Warm Fuzzies might remember what it had been like to be warm and fuzzy, so Cold Prickly's henchmen, were charged with keeping track of the MAN IN BLACK, and alerting Cold Prickly whenever it looked like he and Funky Old might turn things around.
Sure enough, on the day that Hip Woman wanted to discuss whether the MAN IN BLACK might be a better tenant, the Cold Pricklies chased after Funky Old and his friend as they went to visit Hip Woman for what turned out to be the last time.
Uninvited, and with no cleverness left, Cold Prickly himself jumped out and forced Hip Woman back into her house before she could talk to the MAN IN BLACK, or anyone else.
She never came out.
Someone knows what happened in there... then and later, but the MAN IN BLACK knows that the last face she saw was a cold prickly one.
No one knows how Hip Woman died. Perhaps she just didn't want to live in a world where Warm Fuzzies suffer at the hands of those who have lost their Love and Compassion. No one claims to have asked Fear and Hatred, much less Death to show up, but Death; the inevitable result of hatred and fear, has come to Round Mountain Ranch where it has not yet been asked to leave.
It will remain as long as Cold Pricklies; there, and everywhere, try to keep Life itself out when IT is invited in.
Not all authors fail their Vision so I'll end this tale all Shiny New.
Dreams that become Nightmares can be woken up from, and even the biggest Cold Prickly can forgive and be forgiven.
On THAT day Warm Fuzzies might just start to show up
again... to stay.
Until then, there's only one thing to say to him as he once said to me: "Enjoy
Though WE may not believe our power limitless,