This is the prologue of a book I happened across while perusing the algorithm's work, The God of the Smiling Petunia, and I thought to share this small bit of text.
The Propagation: Volumes I through XVI and Variegated Stories Therein
~ Wolfram Heath
I came across an elderly man at the opera sitting on a red, voided velvet cushioned chair in the last and nearly hidden private box of the restored opera house - who was beaming. Absolutely beaming! I hesitated to ask if I might share his box (which was actually my regular, appointed box I might say), but as I saw his glance roll onto me as wind before the coming rain, I asked instead about that which he seemed so happy.
"I willed into existence a galaxy. I named it Smile. What? Who doesn't like smiling? Anyway, in that galaxy there is a planet called Petunia. The people there play an overlapping 25-string instrument called a colonnade; they sing songs of their mothers, or Givers as they are known there. I told the people I love them, but to forget that I myself exist. Instead, I begged them to play their songs, and one time or another they will will a galaxy too. How fantastic that!"
I could not fail to notice that his hands rested on a cloth-bound book on his lap, and here and there he would look down at it. I wonder if the story he told was written there, and his glance seemed to suggest to me that he wondered too - from which was the story and from which was the author? In any case, he went on like this for the better part of the opera. I did not mind. I could not break away. I took to beaming too, in my own way, as he told me more.
"I should say rather, to be honest and not just truthful, that the people of Petunia now sing the songs of their mothers. They did not before. They don't understand motherhood in the way we do. They hadn't sung before that either, and they had never made music nor crafted instruments with which to do it. For the reason that was so, let me say that my willed-into-existence galaxy with its one populated planet was made whole and undying from the moment of Propagation. I do not understand children very much, so my will made neither children nor created the circumstances for the people to have children."
I was startled to see that he was near blind when he looked straight at me then. I had not noticed before in the low light, but I knew the sight of cataracts from those of my own grandmother.
"I love the opera, young man. So I wonder that my will did not create in the people a need for music of their own from the start. The birth of that child birthed music for the people. The people now sing of their mothers because of Avereen. He, the first child of the people, remade Petunia. This is where I am honest, if honesty is truthfulness in context, for the birth of Avereen created Petunia more than I did."
The man lifted the book, tapped it gently with old fingers. "I've had it written down in dozens of volumes, don't you see? These volumes are the written record of the galaxy I named Smile, the planet called Petunia, the people and their first child. Volume XVII is the first to be published official and all, and here it is! In it you will read the tale of the people and Avereen as sung and spoken by the twenty-five Rhe; of the Rhe you will soon know they are both the wandering people who story-tell and the individual strings of the colonnade as well as the twenty-five parts of the story of Avereen. Will you read it to me? I am unable to read it."
The book was heftier than it looked, and the bulk was comprised mostly of his inserts, bookmarks and photos and the like that stuck out at varied angles. The book appeared to still have some uncut leaves even then. Carefully, I opened the book, which creaked, and the man beamed all the more.
"The God of the Smiling Petunia," I said of the title. "Authored by Wolfram Heath."
I turned through to the first pages, past a tender photo of the very man sitting next to me (in his much younger days) with his arm across the shoulders of a beautiful woman with petunias in her hair. I saw that they sat together in an opera box, and the angle of the shot seemed to suggest someone had taken it with a zoom from a far box. The two were sitting in this very house, in this very box, in point of fact.
I spoke the chapter heading - "The First Rhe."
Quite Literally Yours,