The Word Consuming Thing
Gods made magic and gave a man, to aid his hay-eaters, a word-consuming thing. “Plant corn,” he would say, add the feed-words “I love you,” and the thing would suck the sounds in, smile, and carry corn seeds to the field. If he said “I thirst,” plus the feed words, the thing would march right off to fetch water. Directed properly, the thing cleaned house, chopped firewood, and cooked delicious meals. It was warm to sleep beside, and — given the feed words — offered joys of which the man had never dreamed. In a year’s time, it even made a miniature of him, attending to its many needs, while the man bragged to his friends.
Only the feed words troubled him. They gave no command, conveyed no data, yet produced results. At first, he had only to say them and the thing would drape itself on him and, even at midday, lead him to bed and open up its mysteries.
Much later, though the feed-words still got results, the thing would stare at him on hearing them, tugging the long hair that screened the twin hills on its chest. “I love you too,” it would sigh in its soft voice, then walk away to stare at a wildflower, sunset, bird, or other useless thing, and make vanishing jewels which it called “tears.”