durga (unused draft)

Annabelle's genius afforded a solution to the problem of duplicate students, both the surrogates and the clockwork recording devices which stood as proxy for those unable to withstand close scrutiny, and the ever-increasing bands of unaccounted children who feigned the status of students, carrying rocks painted and hand-chiseled to look like textbooks. We never sought exclusivity for our tutelary performances, and informed the administration that we would take all comers who sought knowledge, but these ghost-students were in fact not entirely real, and took on the identities of other children. We had opened this door ourselves when we first made trade with the ghuls, peripheral foot-soldiers in the army of Serin, and so we exchanged promising pupils for convincing simulacra built from the organs of dessicated flesh harvested from the children's hospital at the mouth of the slate-grey river. You have seen them; one day they are themselves and yet not themselves, a disconnect in the eyes, an occasional trail into gibberish, and you know but do not admit that this child is not your child, did not come from your body, there is something unknowable hidden within its skin. Once we began the floodgates opened, and we were now throat-deep in false bodies, actors mimicking corrupted memories of distant youth, a collective imagining of childhood made from story-song and picture-book and an ideal never tarnished by experience. This would not do, and so it was to Annabelle that I sought an answer, and she called for a culling which could also be a caution to those who slip into another's skin, a pile of skulls at the gates of wisdom. We would stage a re-enactment, a recreation of a great battle, but to quote the contemporary philosopher Daffy Duck this is a trick you can only do once, so we would in fact combine all crucial historical battles into a single event, a Borgesian aleph of conflict, and not only would we then have the greatest of firsthand understanding as to history defined by tooth and claw but would rid ourselves of the lesser ranks among the students, those ill-suited to scale such heights, and I nodded with certainty while watching the youths transform the contents of dumpsters into a glittering arsenal of weaponry, as there can be no great learning without the leveler of loss.

Rommel was known to place propellers behind transport trucks in order to stir up dust, disguising his movement and giving the enemy a distorted sense of scale, and Frontin reports "When Ptolemy with a weak force was contending against Perdiccas's powerful army, he arranged for a few horsemen to drive along animals of all sorts, with brush fastened to their backs for them to trail behind them. He himself went ahead with the forces which he had. As a consequence, the dust raised by the animals produced the appearance of a mighty army following, and the enemy, terrified by this impression, were defeated". One child, whose school-name is Babylon, took to a similar tactic with shredded toilet paper, creating a kind of blizzard whose whiteness blinded the eyes of the other children while he escaped into a closet.

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