Thirty seconds after the age of magic came to an abrupt end, the City of the Golden King hit the ground. No, that was inaccurate. What it hit was the New Bureau of Access, the tiny little office that operated the flying chair used to send people up to the City of the Golden King one at a time.
The thing about this mode of entry into the City of the Golden King was, it made it pretty hard to invade it from the ground. The other thing was, it made it pretty hard to leave. Which meant that, for the most part, people increasingly didn’t. A visiting family member here, a member of law enforcement there. Ten people made a busy week. And so, the job of Director of the New Bureau of Access had, over time, become pretty lonely. So when Fred Patricide, on the occasion of her fifteenth anniversary on the job, took her first ever off-site break, she felt pretty much just… fine about it. There were no flights scheduled until well into the afternoon, the office could do without her for 45 minutes.
And so it did, for every single one of those minutes until the 41st, at which point the glass bottom of the City of the Golden King tore through every single plank, every single little window, every single shred, of the New Bureau of Access. And when the glass bottom was done, the brick foundation came in to smash what was left to a pulp that the… smears would never even reach.
People would go on to call Fred, inaccurately, the “sole survivor.”
They say it’s best to parody yourself before somebody else can.
Johnny Nightmailman is not Mondo Goodbody in many of the ways a person could not be Mondo Goodbody. Johnny Nightmailman is not a carpenter. Johnny Nightmailman does not carve wooden ducks, or even know about birds, really. Johnny Nightmailman wasn’t even awake when the City of the Golden King fell. This was the case because Johnny Nightmailman was a man of the night. And not for the reasons his family name might suggest.
Because Johnny Nightmailman liked to walk. Hundreds of years of nightly mail delivery, and then another hundred of executive walk-and-talks, Johnny Nightmailman liked to joke, did that to your genetics. He couldn’t help himself. At least once a day, Johnny Nightmailman walked the total circumference of the City of the Golden King. Now, the City of the Golden King was not that big. It was no Old Needle, it was no Chiro, no City in the Flaw, no Apotheosity. But a city was a city, and Johnny Nightmailman had seen every floating cobblestone of this one. Johnny Nightmailman’s friends sometimes joked that if he could fly, he’d use that ability to see some of the cobblestones he’d missed and then go back to walking. That he wouldn’t know what the point was, what to do with it. Straight back to the ground. But a self-imposed mandatory daily two-hour walk did things to your schedule, to your rhythm, so the walking shifted to the night, and so Johnny Nightmailman, interpreter, nightly mail delivery heir, and walker was asleep when the City of the Golden King fell.
Twenty seconds after the birds noticed, Johnny Nightmailman was awake as quickly as he’d ever been. And in the one way in which Johnny Nightmailman was like Mondo Goodbody, he did think he was flying. And so all he could think when he realised he wasn’t was, “Well, that makes sense.”