I have my treasure map, some tea & biscuits and an enchanted black suit. Now, I’m off to find a plate I don’t know what the plate looks like. Is it Wedgwood? Royal Doulton? Denby, perhaps? Or a more modern plate sold by a TV chef to a credulous public who believe the TV chef fairy will make their store bought stir in sauces more tasty. It could even be a cracked second off a market stall. I don’t know. I only know that lawyer-kind won’t be safe until I step up to the mythical plate. Mine not to ask “why don’t you do it? You’re paid more.” I set forth on my adventure with my meagre supplies, just a special stapler, an HB pencil and the pens cadged from my secretary to defend myself, and step into a forest. All around me, sheaves of paper hang from branches. Puzzled, I look around. Paper shouldn’t grow on trees.
“No” a whispering voice says. “Every document you shred comes here to live when you no longer need its words.”
I turn slowly but nobody’s there.
“Who are you”, I ask, trembling slightly.
“I am Justice” she sadly replies.
“But why can’t I see you?” I can, just barely, make out a misty figure outlined against a discarded Land Registry plan.
She is a mere wisp on the breeze now. Lost in my thoughts, reflecting on the health of Justice I walk on into a valley. A stream runs through the centre of the valley and I make my way towards it..”What’s that?” I wonder, peering at the water. Coins line the bottom of the stream. I hear a noise and look to see a metal creature standing a few feet away. It towers over me and I stand very still as it sniffs the air.
“Is there money in your pockets?”
“No,” I stammer.
It surges forward, grabbing me and shaking. Head cocked, it looks quizzically at me. “How can this be? You are a lawyer are you not? Your pockets should be full.”
“Please…I’m just a seeker of the plate. I must step up to it. My people need me”
“Harrumph. Be on your way then. There is no more pitiful sight to me than a lawyer with empty pockets…unless I am the one emptying them of course. Although, there is an alternative to the plate, you know. You could enter a union with me. If you work harder than you ever had before, I will take a mere 50% of coins from your pockets in future.”
“But,” I mumble, “why would I do that?”
“I can protect you,”
“Why from the forces of consumerism of course. Your kind will wither and die without my protection.”
“Thank you for your offer,” I politely reply, concerned lest I anger him, “but I set out to seek the plate and that is what I will do. I don’t know what will happen when I find the plate and step up to it. I know that it may involve sacrificing myself but it’s the only way to rescue my people. I am the only one who can do this, so it is foretold.”
His grin is a glittering, grisly sight to behold but he says nothing more.
I walk on and all seems peaceful. Paper rustles in the trees and tiny volumes of law reports flutter over flowers reminiscent of my own doodles. What a thing! As I look more closely I see other grey spots among the trees, other doodles come to rest in this world, discarded by lawyers as unwelcome distractions from the business of the day. A bird, with a magnificent plumage sits in a tree, glaring at me.
“Who are you and what is your business here,” it rattles off from an intimidating beak.
“I am here to seek the plate and, when I find it, I must step up to it. Could you possibly assist me?”
“Assist? Nothing is free in this world, as well you know. Your kind,” it declares, “nearly hunted me to extinction, you with your quill pens and painfully long documents.”
“But we don’t now.”
“No,” it concedes, “not now, but you can hardly expect me to come to your assistance. It is the law of the jungle, my dear. Once, you were the predators and we were your prey. Now, times have changed and you are hunted. You are hunted by a predator more dangerous than you can comprehend. Not smarter, no not that. But leaner and more aggressive and with a far superior ability to blend into its environment. No. You cannot expect help from me”.
And, without another word, the Quill was gone.