The Story Of Ting-A-Ma-Ling, The Softer Feminine Software Designer

Ting-a-ma-Ling, the Softer Feminine Software Designer, tightened her lips slightly. She could not really put up with people talking so cynically about old men, kings or no kings. And Mol-loch's way, with his sheep's eyes and smiles, obnoxiously courting her all day and attempting to bewitch her repeatedly (hadn't she found foisted on her so often on the desk, indeed, under it, in the drawers, and in the most unthinkable places ringlets, purses of all sizes, endearing ribbons and brooches meant to hoax her into reaching out for them so as to draw upon her numbskull's womb the fertilizing orange flame in a whirl?) – so now she wished to see the end of it all. "Say what you may, you regularly spoilt minx, I'll make you mine in the end!" – she'd heard him murmur one day. Since then he'd never even stopped to address her. Ting-a-ma-Ling was a delicate she-dragon, with pearl white teeth, delicately carved with tiny flowers and stars, and with her slender throat covered all in faint, yellow glass scales. She lived on her own, since she would surely find harem life unbearable for her: statistically, 2.14 she-dragons would fall to the lot of one Asian ogre. How could you accept sharing your husband with 1.14 other girls? For yes, you could put up with the one whole other girl, but how about the remaining quota? A round arm, a thigh, a tummy decorated with an inset chain, a buttock piece, maybe? Ting-a-ma-Ling shivered at the thought of her beloved ogre holding her around the waist with one arm and with the other weighing tenderly a chunk of female. She'd therefore chosen a lonely way of life, as so many other she-Zombals – and this was causing the slow, gradual extinction of the race. She'd only derive a fair amount of satisfaction from going to work all day, where she'd handle the soldering hammer with so much grace, that it looked just like a fairy's magical wand. She was now busy designing a complicated video game, that had made her be engrossed in work for a good many months of tough programming – without being pleased with the results yet. In order to put together the universe that was about to house the future adventures she'd skimmed through hundreds of encyclopedias, handbooks and dictionaries. She'd drawn thousands of sketches and figures, majestic settings, imposing characters, blood-curdling monsters. She'd animated each forest leaf, instilling life in every hair on the heroes' sinewy arms. She'd then invented the rules of the game, weapons and traps – but just as she was expecting everything would go on just as in a real world proper, something had happened and her game had turned amok. After the king and Umbello had left the room she took to thinking. She knew precisely what was to be done, but it seemed so difficult to get down to it! "Come now, Ting-a-ma-Ling, dear," she enjoined herself eventually, "cheer up, my precious, won't you? Even if you end up pushing up the daisies, that'll be no big thing. And after all, maybe you'll have Ω â…›← ‰£â…”∞‡ on your side to help you this time, too." And the girl jumped to her feet briskly, to prevent a change of mind, and went rolling head over heels three times along the corridor. All the surrounding things started growing bigger and bigger. The office became a big basilica, the chair a belfry touching the sky with its tip. The loop of the hairpin lying on the floor now reached up to her waist. All things were far, far away, and the floor itself was a boundless desert, with a jagged profile on its surface, with hills and mountains, formerly unnoticed, rising to meet the eye. She had to travel for days on end before she reached the edge of the CD containing the game inscribed on it, which she'd placed on the floor beforehand. As things stood, in the profile of the numberless-feet tall edge of the CD there were now carved real steps, which the miniscule Ting-a-ma-Ling had to climb on her way up further for a time with no end. When she'd mustered her last forces to lift herself up onto the smooth surface of the disk, she could feel happening again the same wonder which had frightened her so, previously, in her first virtual trip; it all felt quite pleasurable this time, however. A sudden flash of lightning hit her and turned her into powder, the powder turned to ciphers and the ciphers into colorful pixels. She was feeling lighter and purer now. She wouldn't have to eat and sleep from now on. On the surface of the disk could be discerned the edge of a forest, not very far away. Ting-a-ma-Ling headed that way and was soon passing through the forest of secular trees that stuck their roots into the transparent plastic of the surface. Soon, even this plastic was lost to sight, covered in earth, and the overhead branches led your eye very, very high up to see not the lab ceiling but an azure sky, just like a gem. It felt so strange to be walking all over places that you'd imagined and designed yourself! To know very well every boulder of earth and every living creature... see, these delicate mushrooms had been drawn by her the previous Saturday, and they were now full of life and so tender, with a dew-drop on the cap. Or see the she-poltergeist huddled into the fork of the tree... but Ting-a-ma-Ling could not delve her thought to its end, for the little she-poltergeist lithely jumped off the branch and onto the girl's head and pinched the rim of her ear with its very little claw, making her scream with pain. "Hey, you! What d'you think you're doing, let me go!" cried the she-dragon, fighting to overthrow the creature from her back. "You were meant to be meek, you were! All the she-poltergeists are soft creatures, that's the way I designed you, and no question!" "I'm not like that," the little animal answered back to her by telepathic communication, and pulled a frightening face at her at the same time. "We're not like that!" cried each in their own tongue and turn several spiders, centipedes, harpies, sootdullards, crazymoebas, tooottoottimoebas, honkhonkshrillardyshrillards and poutigandabandanashoutytonkytoottootas which sprang into being there and then as if out the blue. The old forest was alive with them all over and they were closing in together upon the poor Ting-a-ma-Ling, who now took to her heels as fast as she could caper, with the horde of furious creatures in their full deformity at her heels. "My God, look at the things that my sickly crazy imagination put in circulation, why have I thought these creatures out, now?" she said this to herself under her breath, but it was rather too late for nursing regretful thoughts now. from The Encyclopedia of Dragons, Humanitas, 2002

by Mircea Cărtărescu (b. 1956)