THE BEER QUEENDOM: CHRONICLES OF A UTOPIAN WORLD
When the Queen created her utopian society, she visualized a land where all citizens could lead happy, engaged, productive lives. And drink only good beer. Yet as with other utopian societies, there were those who would threaten The Beer Queendom’s very existence. None posed a greater danger than the Outer Realm’s Overlords, who ruled a world of war, greed and anthropogenic global warming.
As if protecting her utopia from the Overlords wasn’t difficult enough, the Queen had to deal with a moat dwelling former employee, who despite his lack of sanity provided The Beer Queendom with enough beer to keep her citizens content. She also had to spend countless hours guiding her cantankerous inner circle to a more efficient management style.
This story tells the tale of how the Queen manages to keep her utopia intact, prevent incursions from the Overlords, and save the Outer Realm from itself. And all while sampling the best beer on the planet.
Where the Queen’s utopia is spoiled by her former beer star, the moat dweller.
“Drain the moat!” The Queen was perched on the parapet of her castle, a fortified stone structure that rose high above The Beer Queendom. The sun was rising and while she should have been in a good mood this morning—what with the plate of fresh strawberries delicately glazed with Hanssen’s strawberry lambic sauce—she was grumpy. Her coffee had arrived late. Worse, it had been served at the wrong temperature. 350° Quelvin, was that so hard?!
“How low this time, your highness? Should we take him down to the mud?” Border Collie stood next to the Queen, at the ready. She enjoyed watching the increase of activity in the moat below almost as much as she did barking out the command to open the Royal Drain.
“I haven’t decided,” the Queen replied. “I’ll let you know when to stop.”
Whiskers askew, the Queen’s main servant raced to comply. Border Collie loved The Beer Queendom and her role in it. This job was so much more concrete than the years she had spent doing social work, where bureaucracy got in the way of serving her fellow humans. Here you received a directive and made it happen. From start to finish.
At the same time, Border Collie’s thrill held a touch of ambivalence. Lowering the water in the moat made life uncomfortable for her friend the moat dweller. And while he had probably done something to deserve this action, at times the Queen could be petty as far as the moat dweller was concerned.
It wasn’t as if he hadn’t brought this situation upon himself. He could have stayed in The Beer Queendom. Formerly one of the Queen’s shining stars, he had been offered an apprenticeship in the Master Taster’s Beer Education and Evaluation Program (BEEP). But instead of learning, drinking, and assessing the world’s best beers, the moat dweller had rejected the Queen’s offer. His excuse, that he would have to give up drinking those nasty wheat beers, hadn’t been much to ask in return for a plum position in The Beer Queendom.
Border Collie suspected that the moat dweller had rejected the offer because of BEEP’s director, the Master Taster. It was widely known at the time of his banishment that he coveted the directorship himself. He had often complained that the Master Taster didn’t deserve the position, that he no longer traveled. “How can you discover the world of beer from a Queasy Chair?” were the moat dweller’s famous last words. An image of the Master Taster sitting in the Royal Beer Cellar’s Queasy Chair watching the Travel Channel while drinking a Belgian lambic and eating frites formed in Border Collie’s mind. She chuckled, then brushed the image away. The moat dweller’s envious portrayals must be exiled along with his wheat beers.
Moments later, Border Collie was back at the parapet.
“Why are you disturbing me?” the Queen demanded, eyeing her servant like she was the last morning strawberry on her plate.
“Pardon, your highness, but I found this notice taped to the handle of the Royal Drain.” Border Collie handed the Queen an official-looking piece of paper. It read:
By order of the International Tribunal of Justice, you are hereby enjoined from draining the moat until the legality of this act has been fully deposed.
Ernesto, Minister of Justice * Vanguard of the Revolution
P.S. Long live the Moatdom! Viva la revolución! Long live wheat beers!
The Queen frowned, then tossed the paper aside like another discarded boyfriend. “This has no legal standing, it’s not even written correctly. Doesn’t he know the difference between an asterisk and an ampersand? And look at the beer stains! He probably wrote it in a drunken stupor, hallucinating once again that he was Che starting a revolution, instead spilling beer all over himself. Give me that note!”
Border Collie fetched the paper from the floor and handed it to the Queen, who held it to her nose. “I can smell that banana/clove aroma anywhere. A wimpy wheat beer!” She crumpled the note and threw it over the parapet. The small white protest sailed through the air slowly, dropping until it hit the moat water, sending small ripples across the surface.
The indigenous idiot was probably still asleep in his underwater cot. Snoring, although she hadn’t heard him yet this morning. After he drank heavily—every night—you could hear his ‘snapnea’ all the way up on the parapet. When she first heard the noise, she thought it was an engineering flaw in the drainage system. Her lawyer, Honeyman, claimed the noise shook the cinder blocks in his living quarters.
“Did you start the drain?” the Queen asked.
“No, I wanted to…thought I should…the note—”
“—Start the drain!” the Queen commanded as the ripples softened and the moat lost its moment of life.
Border Collie leapt to follow her instructions.
“And send me Honeyman!” the Queen yelled as an afterthought. She would ask her lawyer to check on the legalities behind the ridiculous note.
Where the Queen takes her mid-morning repast.
“The moat is draining, your highness,” reported Border Collie.
“Not fast enough!” the Queen snapped. She had changed into her mid-morning kimono and was having her hair done. Just to be sure, she waved the Royal Stylists aside and hit the Elevate button on the side of her Queasy Throne. Air hissed as pneumatics took hold and the throne rose, giving her a better view of the moat below.
“I don’t see enough drainage! Where are the engineers I hired to widen the sluice gates? Am I always to be surrounded by incompetents?”
Border Collie shifted her feet uncomfortably. “Remember what they said the last time they visited,” she began, unsure if this was the best approach.
She was met with silence and a demanding stare, meaning she should continue.
“They said there would be problems with the drain pipes above the Royal Beer Cellar. And you would flood the Master Taster’s quarters.”
“Right, right, I remember,” replied the Queen. Her memory wasn’t what it used to be. “Where is the Master Taster anyway? There was too much glaze on my strawberries!”
“That must have been the cook,” Border Collie replied.
“That’s the fourth—”
“—I said fire him!” the Queen interrupted. “And where is Honeyman? I asked you to send him to me!” Her eye caught a flash of white on the moat below, the paper that had so disturbed her morning repast. The note would have been snapped up already if there had been any fish, but the only ones left in the moat were bottom feeders. Including the humans.
“Honeyman is taking his morning shower.”
“Still?” the Queen screeched. “It’s been over an hour!”
“He’s talking to the soap again,” Border Collie replied. “And I think he’ll be a while; he just started singing The Internationale.”
The Queen stopped herself from letting out another screech. Dismissing the Royal Stylists, she swiveled the Queasy Throne, grabbed the fresh glass of lambic that had been prepared for her, and hit the Elevate button. As the chair rose again—the hiss of pneumatics making the parapet sound like a truck stop—she looked out over her realm.
She needed to relax. The Beer Queendom was benevolent and respected the rights of its citizens. If Honeyman wanted to take a shower all morning that was his right as long as it didn’t complicate the drainage problem. Mutual respect ruled here, she reminded herself.
Unlike the moat, where the situation had grown so desperate that they were recruiting people. Last week a letter addressed to the moat had gotten mixed in with her mail. It was an overdue invoice from a Russian mail order bride service, threatening action unless the bills were paid. It also answered a question the Queen had been asking herself since she began seeing scantily clad women strutting about the deck of the moat boat: Why did women go there? How disparaging!
The Queen gazed at Border Collie. “Tell…no, ask Honeyman if he would be so kind as to pay me a visit when he finishes his shower.”
The Queen had a soft spot for her lawyer, even after having spent so many hours arguing with him over travel routes while they searched the world for good beer. If only he had learned to drive and read maps properly, she thought, unconsciously touching herself. Despite the many boyfriends she’d had since then, she still missed him. Even the deadpan passion had been entertaining.
“And remind the Master Taster of our morning meeting!” she added as Border Collie scampered away.
Several servants approached the Queasy Throne wheeling trays of food and drink. Her mid-morning meal would lift her spirits. She chose the foods, which were then wed in flavor by beers the Master Taster picked. Her Master Taster had yet to pick a bad one.
The Queen’s eyes strayed to the moat below and this time she noticed with satisfaction that the drainage had begun to take effect. The banks at the edge of the moat betrayed nearly a Queecre of bareness where the water had been earlier this morning. Perhaps she could avoid those moments of pre-coffee depression each morning if she started draining the moat an hour before she awoke. The sight of the bare bank brought her such pleasure.
A frog jumped from the bank’s mud into the water. Lucky fellow, she thought. She had heard that the moat dweller and his diminutive band of misfits had grown so hungry that they were eating frogs. In typical fashion, they were trying to pass this off as a delicacy instead of famine. She bet even his wheat beer stash was getting low by now.
A servant interrupted her thoughts. “Today, for you, we have a special treat. A Belgian delicacy.” The servant pulled the top off the first tray of mid-morning snacks. “Frog legs, basted in oud bruin.”
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