Pleasure, power, and transformation pp.
The dragon stood taller than the largest cathedral, and it was covered with thick black scales. Its red eyes glowed with hate, and from its terrible jaws flowed an incessant stream of evil-smelling yellowish-green slime. It demanded from humankind a blood-curdling tribute: Sometimes the dragon would devour these unfortunate souls upon arrival; sometimes again it would lock them up in the mountain where they would wither away for months or years before eventually being consumed.
The misery inflicted by the dragon-tyrant was incalculable. In addition to the ten thousand who were gruesomely slaughtered each day, there were the mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, children, and friends that were left behind to grieve the loss of their departed loved ones.
Some people tried to fight the dragon, but whether they were brave or foolish was difficult to say. Priests and magicians called down curses, to no avail. Warriors, armed with roaring courage and the best weapons the smiths could produce, attacked it, but were incinerated by its fire before coming close enough to strike.
Chemists concocted toxic brews and tricked the dragon into swallowing them, but the only apparent effect was to further stimulate its appetite.
Seeing that defeating the tyrant was impossible, humans had no choice but to obey its commands and pay the grisly tribute. The fatalities selected were always elders.
Although senior people were as vigorous and healthy as the young, and sometimes wiser, the thinking was that they had at least already enjoyed a few decades of life. The wealthy might gain a brief reprieve by bribing the press gangs that came to fetch them; but, by constitutional law, nobody, not even the king himself, could put off their turn indefinitely.
Spiritual men sought to comfort those who were afraid of being eaten by the dragon which included almost everyone, although many denied it in public by promising another life after death, a life that would be free from the dragon-scourge.
Other orators argued that the dragon has its place in the natural order and a moral right to be fed. Others still maintained that the dragon was good for the human species because it kept the population size down.
To what extent these arguments convinced the worried souls is not known. Most people tried to cope by not thinking about the grim end that awaited them. For many centuries this desperate state of affairs continued.
Nobody kept count any longer of the cumulative death toll, nor of the number of tears shed by the bereft. Expectations had gradually adjusted and the dragon-tyrant had become a fact of life. In view of the evident futility of resistance, attempts to kill the dragon had ceased.
Instead, efforts now focused on placating it. While the dragon would occasionally raid the cities, it was found that the punctual delivery to the mountain of its quota of life reduced the frequency of these incursions. Knowing that their turn to become dragon-fodder was always impending, people began having children earlier and more often.
It was not uncommon for a girl to be pregnant by her sixteenth birthday.
Couples often spawned a dozen children. The human population was thus kept from shrinking, and the dragon was kept from going hungry.
Over the course of these centuries, the dragon, being well fed, slowly but steadily grew bigger. It had become almost as large as the mountain on which it lived.
And its appetite had increased proportionately. Ten thousand human bodies were no longer enough to fill its belly. It now demanded eighty thousand, to be delivered to the foot of the mountain every evening at the onset of dark. This was not an easy task. To facilitate the process, the king had a railway track constructed: Every twenty minutes, a train would arrive at the mountain terminal crammed with people, and would return empty.
On moonlit nights, the passengers traveling on this train, if there had been windows for them to stick their heads out of, would have been able to see in front of them the double silhouette of the dragon and the mountain, and two glowing red eyes, like the beams from a pair of giant lighthouses, pointing the way to annihilation.SumoMe “You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.”– Jim Rohn.
When talking to people about personal development, I come across tons of misconceptions. Outline of Döblin's Berlin Alexanderplatz. Page references are to Eugene Jolas's circa English translation of the novel, initially published as Alexanderplatz, Berlin; the edition used here is from Frederick Ungar Publishing Co.,New York (sixth printing, ).
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