#FridayFlash: The Herringbone Meteorite

The Herringbone Meteorite

by Tony Noland

His Imperial Majesty, God-Emperor Xiang Chu Siquiera Charles IV, of the Celestial House of Kaminski, asked, "What is that supposed to be? Is it a potato or a rock?"

The curator of art cleared his throat before speaking. "Your Majesty, we believe it to be a representation of a meteorite. If I may direct His Majesty's attention to the herringbone pattern?" The old man's papery thin hand waved at the case, then withdrew as the monarch leaned forward for a closer look.

"Why a herringbone pattern? This was drawn after the invention of synthetic fabrics, was it not?"

"Yes, Your Majesty, in the century following. During the first decades of the twenty-first century, animal fibers were still occasionally used in weaving cloth. Some of the more traditional patterns were still in vogue."

"I see." The Imperial eyes squinted. "Why is the meteorite covered in a pattern of a woven fabric derived from animal fibers? I see now that it's clearly a cavorite ore deposit."

The curator cleared his throat again, a slight sheen of sweat on his brow. "His Majesty may be gracious enough to forgive the foolishness of ancient artists. The proportions of the image suggest that this was not intended to be a scale-accurate representation of meteorite harvesting."

The lord of ten thousand suns frowned. "But this was done at about the same time as mankind first established the presence of cavorite in Oort cloud debris. It's a perfect picture of cavorite extraction. The electron spindle, the sonocavitation focusing crystal, even the positron-matrix webbing around the meteorite, although why it's cast in a herringbone pattern is a mystery."

The royal historian shifted slightly, a subtle invitation to be invited to speak. The monarch nodded to him and his said, "Your majesty, the first cavorite ore deposits were discovered in 2098. This drawing dates from earlier in that century, possibly from as early as 2020."

"Are you telling me it's just a coincidence? That this picture, which is a perfect representation of the cavorite extraction process, the heart of translight drive and the entire basis of our star empire, has no connection to it at all? Rubbish." He turned to the curator. "Relabel this exhibit. It is clearly an early schematic of a cavorite extractor." The curator bowed low, his face hot and flushed.

The decision made and the mystery cleared up, the monarch moved on to examine an internal combustion engine and a set of stainless steel knives, both recovered from recent archeological diggings.

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.


  1. "Celestial House of Kaminski" - WOW! You had me laughing so hard I almost couldn't continue reading. Great story. :)

  2. Welles, welles ... cavorite, eh? :)

    Charming, quite amusing and says something about the assumptions we make when we evaluate the artifacts of other civilizations.

  3. ha! very clever and funny. Ginzu knives? and love the drawing. peace..

  4. Very clever! How quickly did you write this after making the doodle?

  5. Cute. Where did you find the sketch of the Ronco Spiral Potato Slicer?

  6. That got so wacky so fast. The take on bombastic Asian titles at the beginning won me over immediately. I don't even care what it is; I just enjoyed the ride. Also the celestial Polish household.

  7. @Anonymous: I'm glad you liked it!

    @Janet: Yep, there's a bit of homage to H.G. in there. 8-)

    @Linda: Thanks! I'm glad you liked the drawing, too!

    @FARfetched: Very clever! How quickly did you write this after making the doodle? I wrote this in about 10 minutes. I was inspired by the questions on twitter after I posted the picture - is it a potato? A rock? It almost took longer to get the picture to upload than it did to write.

    @Tim: Heh, don't you recognize a rock spindle recalibration arm when you see one?

    @John: That got so wacky so fast. Yeah, I figured that after last week, a bit of a change in direction was in order. Glad you enjoyed the Polish ascendancy to power!

  8. Thank God it wasn't covered in leopardprint!!!!

    Gaultier would be proud.

  9. Cavorite extraction is serious business.

    Who was the mysterious artist of this ancient schematic?

  10. "His Imperial Majesty, God-Emperor Xiang Chu Siquiera Charles IV, of the Celestial House of Kaminski"
    If this doesn't get you wanting to read on, nothing ever will!
    What I want to know is, what kind of day were you having when you wrote this? I loved it. This is surely the definition of 'inventive'.

  11. @Icy: Oh, my, a leopard-print meteorite? That would be silly. 8-)

    @J.W. Bettencourt: I drew that doodle, tossed it up on twitter. After people asked if it was supposed to be a potato or a rock, I took that as an inspiration for this story.

    @flyingscribbler: Absolutely - nobody contradicts the House of Kaminski! It was just a normal sort of day. Or does a herringbone meteorite not fit in that definition?

  12. I love the string of names of an ancient line only to discover it's in the future. The whole bit about him 'clearing up the mystery' was priceless.

  13. Nicely done sir, I'm a sucker for crazy Emperors :)

  14. Good one! As others have said, the name is priceless. And as for potato or rock? Doesn't matter if it leads to a good story, right?

  15. I'm pretty sure if I drew a picture of the cavorite extraction process I would use a herringbone pattern also. :)

    A thoroughly enjoyable read.

  16. Clever, funny, wicked- where do I start? The titles- beginning with Oriental and ending with Charles? The celestial house of...? The entire art-discussion? This was hilarious.

  17. Best opening line ever! SO bizarre. That fact and the H.G. connection pretty much sealed it for me. Awesome piece.

  18. @ganymeder: The sad thing is, for the next 300 years, that bit of "clearing up" will confuse the provenance of the artifact. 8-)

    @Emma: Thanks! Crazy emperors are hilarious, except when they're killing people.

    @Eric: Precisely - I'm glad you liked it!

    @Chuck Allen: Herringbone tweed will be classy forever.

    @Ruchiraa: This was a layer cake of goofiness. thanks for reading!

    @Aaron: Best opening line ever! Call me Ishmael!

  19. This is a riot. Love the picture. Hope you've hung it up on the refrigerator, the shire of all truly great art work.

  20. Pithy and witty.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  21. Someone has to have the final word. Now, whether its right or not is let's say, another story.


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