The Story Boxes

cassandraCassandra told two types of stories. The ones among her own tribe, the Historians, were generally understood by both Oldsters and Younguns, and they could be quite marvelous. But gradually the other type of story was told, warning that advantage must be taken of the Good Times, or the Bad Times would come. They were stories of the freedom of story-telling itself, and the absence of story boxes to contain them. They were stories of a Golden Age, but it wasn’t a past age, not yet.

The Others weren’t that good with stories, or didn’t trust them. They feared the open landscapes, the freedom to fly, the complexities of creating their own tales. So when the gods provided story boxes, they bought them, first just a few, then in ever-increasing numbers. Cassandra warned that stories were better without boxes, or with boxes one built oneself. She would show her own boxes, and people were in awe, but they felt they could not build their own and that the gods were, after all, there to take care of them.

The gods rejoiced as the Others adopted the story boxes. The Younguns loved the mini-boxes, where they could tell stories only to each other and the Oldsters couldn’t see. The Middlings, except for Cassandra and a few other troubadours, bought the larger boxes. They didn’t realize that only certain types of stories fit the box, and that over time, all the stories would begin to be the same. Some people didn’t care, having never valued the stories in the first place. They wanted to do their work and relax in the evenings watching different stories they thought were their own choices, but were actually provided in precise sets, sold by the Merchants.

Cassandra knew the intention of the gods from the beginning. Their design was to control all the stories, to make them countable and storable, to own them separate from the story-tellers. The tales, they knew, had value. The tales were the creations of the tribes, and relayed knowledge and wisdom to later generations. Encouraging them to be uniform, to make them all the same size and shape, allowed the gods to winnow out story-tellers who threatened their power. But there was no need to impose the story boxes by force or cunning. They sold themselves in their simplicity and convenience.

So over time Cassandra’s darker prediction began to unfold. The boxes began to merge into one big box, and the gods tended the box for everyone, to keep the stories safe. Security was key, they said, so that heritage would not be lost in such dark times. They merged the stories into Content Areas, and produced synthesized versions of the old natural tales, distilling them. Then they invited Cassandra and the other troubadours to good-faith meetings, where they could bless the new ways with their old wisdom. The gods were surprised when their generosity and inclusiveness met with rebuff.

Thus knowledge was lost, and the gods controlled the narrative. And they knew it didn’t matter. In time no one would remember a world without the story boxes anyway.