The Sign of the Duck

April 21, 2006

There is a small town in Ohio called Nottin, but it is more commonly known by others as “Nothing.”

The name is appropriately given – there is little of note in the town. A handful of proper god-fearing folk, their houses and crops, a general store and a church of exceptional size.

The townsfolk of Nothing don’t celebrate Groundhog’s Day. Most other holidays the preacher man lets pass – but Groundhog’s Day, they say, is a rite of the devil! Worshipping a critter what comes from underneath the earth, putting your faith in such a beast to foretell the weather, as though its power outstripped that of the Lord Himself! And worst of all, doing all this during the most unnatural month of the year! Blasphemy at it’s finest, ladies and gentlemen.

No, the Nothingfolk follow their own little worship ceremony: The Watching of the Clouds. Every January 30th, come hell or high water, snow or sleet or blistering heat (the last is not too common), they gather to see what signs the clouds may show. The clouds, you see, are a sign from G-d Above, and as such, perfectly fine to devote a ritual to.

Should the clouds form the shape of an ant, it will mean hard toil and work to survive the remainder of the season. Should a bear be revealed, it means the land will be covered in months more of ice and snow, and all they can hope to do is bed down and weather it. And Heaven help them should a marmot be revealed…

What they pray for, though, is the sign of the Duck. The blessed Duck, the lucky Duck, the one that means the season’s blessings will shower upon them like mana from on high.

And this, my friend, is the problem with the roast duck you ate last night, while passing through town, and taking up a family on their offer to give you a place for the night.

I don’t even want to know why you were carrying around a whole roast duck in your bag, nor how you managed to preserve it so succulently, nor how you downed the whole thing while the villagers watched in horror.

All I want to do is help you understand exactly why it was absolutely vital that the villagers had to pin you down beneath the roving clouds and ritually sacrifice you, one bone at a time, like any proper, god-fearing folk in their circumstances would do.

Sorry, son, but you don’t fuck with the Duck.

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