Author: DJ Lunan

Tung carefully poured the molten metallic liquid into the stone mould. Almost three litres heated to 650 degrees. The orange liquid sizzled in contact with the colder, crystal marble of his signature insignia cast into a double shield reminiscent of a butterfly. The molten metal whipped around the oval shape, licked the corners hungrily eating the space, gravity and guilt mixed with freedom, grand design and art. A design that would change the world, he’d heard.

Tung sat down on the forge’s only stool, overheated and thirsty. Sweat was falling onto the earth floor in great summer-rainstorm droplets.

Other blacksmiths believe now is the time to douse the object with water, lift it out of its cast, and turn the newborn object to the light. Start pummelling imperfections, buff until it shines bright. But Tung believed in giving chemicals time. Time that he alone had.

This month’s order, almost complete. Butterflies. Always his initial butterfly design. Two heavy gold coins. Art in time.

“Its like cutting a chrysalis to free a struggling pupae”, he argued, typically after too much wet mead and deer trotter soup at the Laser Quest Arms, “it produces a butterfly for sure, one that flies, breathes, farts and mates, but one utterly devoid of colour”.

“Tung, you have to think about the efficiency of your work – you need to be more productive”, the young ‘uns retorted, each too perfect, unscarred, unburdened to see beyond transactions.

The simple economics of short transactional fleeting lives: produce as many as possible, as cheap as possible, and sell them as quickly as possible. Capture more of your time. The young forgers needed their time to impress future mates, make families, buy land, build camps, and fight invaders.

“You only produce one each day?! Tung, you are pre-capitalism, pre-Lean, pre-just-in-time, pre-internet!”, laughed Mortica, his closest neighbour.

But Tung had a different agenda. His time was endless. His metal was not for sale. Not in this time. Everything was destined for the Revolutionary Guardians of the last Century whose cause would not be in vain.

Their orders appeared every month, enveloped, exact chemical composition fully detailed on old media. Paper. Small pile of gold coins. Same design.

She put her warm arm around his shoulders assuringly, not like the professionals, more like a lover. Her dreadlocks dipped in Tung’s mead.

“I was cut open too early, I am devoid of colour”, she lamented sleepily, “Remake me beautiful, stunning, shining?”.

She stroked his beard purposely so he could see his butterfly design tattooed on her hand.

“I am the Queen, thanks to your design, my Revolutionary Guardians are winning”, she murmured as he carried her to his forge, “Your time is over. My time is beginning”.

Tung bought a coffin, filled it with sand and xiithium gum. He paid triple price for all Mortica’s reserves of alumina. They made two casts front and back of the Queen, pouring the hot orange liquid for hour-after-hour.

“Hammer my imperfections, polish away my dirt”, she whispered.

Bellows, sweat, earth, pressure, heat, beauty.

She cried each time they made love, purring, “You have made me Queen, let me make our Princes Kings”.

Using ropes, levers, and counterweights, they joined and fused the pieces, adding the shield to its back.

“You can’t come with us”, sang the twin Queens harmoniously, vapourising, as Tung felt time slip. The cold whipped in, frost quickly advanced down his chimney, through his door, delving deep into the molten metals in the forge.

He got into the coffin, still radiating their warmth, closed his eyes and hoped his next placement would be somewhere warm.