The Keeper of the Pit is the boss, and the Kon, the employee. They don’t communicate well. Quite literally, they don’t speak the same language. The Keeper determines when the Pit is lit. This sets fire to a Ring around the city to help keep winter’s chill away and to keep people from freezing. However, it also draws invaders. The only way to defend against the invaders is with smoke, which confuses them and drives them away.
It’s already freezing. The Keeper is thinking about lighting the Pit. The Kon points to the clouds and utters a word the Keeper doesn’t understand. Yeah, yeah, whatever. The Keeper orders the Pit lit.
The Keeper reminded me of more than one boss I’ve had, but aside from that—
At issue are communication and paying attention. If the Keeper had been honest about not being able to speak the Kon language (referred to as “Under”) when he applied for the position, he would not have gotten it. He could have tried to learn on the job, but, well, that takes work and means getting into long, drawn-out conversations. Because he doesn’t understand what the Kon is trying to tell him or understand what’s going on, they’re all screwed.
(At this point, the boss would say, “Why didn’t you tell me?”)
This is a cute little story. The punchline is in the final line of the story, but it doesn’t come out of left field. The reader sees the underlying problem from the beginning. At the same time, it takes a while to figure out who is who, and what they are they doing. Just the same, I like this.
According to his blurb, Joachim Heijndermans writes, draws, and paints nearly every waking hour. Originally from the Netherlands, he’s been all over the world, boring people by spouting random trivia. His work has appeared in such publications as Metaphorosis, Hinnom Magazine, Every Day Fiction, Asymmetry Fiction, Kraxon Magazine, Gathering Storm Magazine, and Ahoy Comics. This is at least his third story in Theme of Absence. He’s currently in the midst of completing his first children’s book. You can check out his other work at http://www.joachimheijndermans.com, or follow him on Twitter: @jheijndermans
The story can be read here.
Title: “The Keeper of the Pit and the Kon”
Author: Joachim Heijndermans
First published: Theme of Absence, September 11, 2020