Once upon a time there was a man with a robotic arm. He lived with a robotic monkey in a small house on the side of a remote mountain that overlooked the great sea. They made a living by crushing nuts, breaking rocks, and lifting things for the people of the local village. If anyone in the village had a heavy object to move or a jar they couldn’t open, they knew who to call.
One summer a monster came down from the north and periodically terrorized the villagers. The monster sat on houses or picked them up and ate them just to watch the people run. For extra fun he’d pick up a chicken coup and toss it down the center of the street like a bowling ball, watching the people scatter like pins.
One day the man and his robot monkey decided to eat their dinner outside and watch the sun drop into the sea. As they walked out of the house with their sandwiches (they loved sandwiches) they saw the monster sitting on one house and eating another. (He’d gotten tired of chicken coup bowling by this point and felt “rather peckish,” but had not yet learned the wonder of sandwiches)
“Hogarth’s back,” the man said.
“Didn’t we drive him away last week?” the robot monkey asked.
“Well let’s get going, it needs doin’ again,” the man said.
They each grabbed a quick bite of their sandwiches (they really loved sandwiches) and headed down to the village.
“Hogarth,” the man called, “time to leave.” His voice had the boom of command and the edge of disapproval.
Hogarth turned and lunged at the man with open jaws. If the man had not grabbed a beam from one of the broken houses and thrust it in between the angry teeth he might have needed more than an arm replaced.
Hogarth shook his open mouth, but the beam held firm. He could not snap the beam with his jaw and his arms were too short to dislodge it.
Most days this would have sent Hogarth back to his mother in tears, but today he decided he wasn’t going to let a bully get the best of him again. Hogarth smashed his face into a nearby house and dislodged the beam along with three of his teeth.
“You’re interrupting my dinner,” Hogarth said. The pain of losing the teeth dulled his reason and his timing. He lunged for the man and his monkey again, but both jumped away before his jaws could clap shut.
The man pulled up a tree by the roots and began parrying and thrusting like a fencer.
Hogarth picked up a large rock and threw it down on the man’s makeshift sword, snapping the wooden sword in half. The man tossed the stump at Hogarth and ran for it. The robot monkey followed hot on his heels. The stump caught Hogarth on the right cheek and left a deep gash in its wake. Rage boiled in his belly and a fierceness he had rarely felt sent him tearing after the man and his monkey.
The man and his monkey ran for a long ways twisting and turning around the perilous curves of the mountain, but somewhere on the winding paths of the mountain they took a wrong turn and found themselves at a dead-end. When the man and the monkey turned around, Hogarth had already started down their path. The walls were so smooth that even the robot monkey couldn’t find hand holds for climbing out. They had nowhere to go.