You may have noticed that during my retelling of Queen Trifida’s visit, an individual named Ink strongly opposed the Queen’s belief that an Orderly ’wouldn’t hurt a fly’ and searched for the location of the nearest China shop when he heard that the Queen’s bodyguard ‘acted like a bull in a China shop.’ He is also the individual who, during the first instalment of Aeonium’s tale, saw fit to check whether or not Cloud truly had a silver lining. As Ink is likely to voice his opinions again, I feel it is prudent for me to give you an explanation of his peculiar foibles.
Ink is an Orderly who seems to have no aptitude for metaphorical thinking whatsoever, taking everything said to him as literal fact. It is my belief that when he had looked at the blot test and was asked What do you see? at our naming ceremony he had answered the question quite literally. He had seen ink and nothing more, the whorls and splashes of the blot rousing no imagery in his imagination.
If you were to say to him, “It’s raining cats and dogs out there,” then he would likely run outside with a first aid kit, ready to treat the injuries that the cats and dogs must surely have sustained from their fall from the heavens. He once trod on the hat of a very respectable and already very angry gentleman to prevent him from getting stung after Skull had commented that the gentleman in question had a bee in his bonnet.
Not long after Mount Bedlam accepted its first official patients Slingshot had seen an opportunity for some mischief and knowing of Ink’s foibles, he had informed him that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. He had then provided Ink with a bushel of apples and had suggested that he test the theory out with Dr. Phlegm. Ink had agreed and had conducted the experiment over the next two months, giving Phlegm an apple every morning during the breakfast shift, an approach which had been unsuccessful in repelling him. Convinced that he was going about it the wrong way Ink had then changed his tactics and, in the end, he had concluded that an apple a day did indeed keep the doctor away providing that it was thrown hard enough.
Some years ago, Cloud had been unreasonably overjoyed by a pair of Yarn-made mittens which I had gifted him with upon Adulation Day. I had commissioned the mittens so that Cloud’s hands would not get cold when he made his daily trip to the duck pond with his wheelbarrow of bread. I had stipulated that the mittens should be tethered together by a length of wool which could then be threaded through the sleeves of Cloud’s jacket to prevent him losing them.
Upon seeing his joy over my gift, I had deemed it appropriate to use the phrase tickled pink, writing something along the lines of Cloud is tickled pink with those mittens. Ink however had immediately questioned my statement, informing me that to his knowledge Cloud had neither been tickled nor was he currently pink. When I had failed to explain my choice of words Ink had spent the rest of Adulation attempting to find out if it was actually possible to tickle Cloud pink, an experiment which had resulted in much silent laughter and rolling around on Cloud’s part and much frustration on Ink’s. In the end Ink had declared that it was not possible to tickle Cloud pink and he had suggested that I get my facts straight before making such outlandish claims.
Though our lawyers have advised me not to go into detail, Ink was also involved in the infamous eye candy incident, an episode which had resulted in much panicked arm flailing and a good quantity of eyewash.
Another example of Ink’s inability to comprehend metaphors occurred one fine summers morning some years ago when Oats had entered the western gardens to find that his usually pristine main lawn was churned up and covered with mounds of soil (though I must admit, on this occasion myself and several other Orderlies were drawn into the same mistake.) Fearing that the vandalism to his lawn was the work of a rouge sheet of parchment, an escaped onion or the giant snail that had allegedly eaten his welly boot Oats had been thrown into a state of panic and had initiated the paper alarm, a magical security system which was cast over the mountain following the origami plague. This had filled the wards and hallways of Bedlam with the sounds of gongs, bells, duck horns and kazoos and had resulted in a full-scale evacuation of the mountain. Some have claimed that Oats may have overreacted slightly but as he said at the time, all patients, Orderlies and volunteers escaped the mountain without a papercut, stinging eyes and with all welly boots intact and that in itself made him glad he’d raised the alarm. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Eventually Myself, Skull, Blancmange, Oats and a team of brave volunteers had re-entered the mountain and we had searched it thoroughly. Thankfully we had found no trace of paper, no sign of giant snails and we had discovered that the onion penitentiary was unbreeched and all nine inmates were accounted for.
Together we had entered the Western Garden and we had approached the offending soil mounds with caution. As we had neared one, we had seen movement at its peak and Skull had claimed to have seen a small furry creature vanish into a hole beneath it. Realising that we were dealing with some sort of rodent we had turned to our new tapestry copy of Dr. Kohlrabi’s Encyclopaedia of Life and we had scoured its pages for a subterranean creature that caused vandalism to lawns. Eventually we had identified the creature as something called a mole. Dr. Kohlrabi describes moles as rare creatures which were virtually blind. It said that they eat worms, burrow through the soil and often raise conical mounds of loose soil which are called molehills.
Oats had felt quite honoured that such a rare and elusive creature had decided to visit his garden and he had decided that the mole could stay, nicknaming the lawn it had taken up residence beneath the Mole Estate. This did however leave Oats with the problem of the molehills which the creature seemed to create in abundance.
Hearing of Oats’ problem Ink had come up with a possible solution. Upon several occasions he had claimed to have heard people speaking of someone who made mountains out of molehills and he had suggested that we attempted to contact the individual in question and offer him the molehills for free as it seemed a shame for them to go to waste when they could be put to good use.
This had prompted a week-long search for the person who made mountains from molehills. Horizon had place chalkboards and signs around the Gashan marketplace and by means of a memorandum crystal Script had contacted people out as far as the Hooch Town Outpost, asking if anyone knew the identity of the mountain builder. Our search had been fruitless and a full month after it had begun, we’d still had no leads on the mountain builder’s whereabouts.
Eventually one of our volunteers, a human male named Cotinus, had requested a private meeting with me in my office. He had tactfully informed me that Ink had been mistaken about the person who made mountains out of molehills, explaining that someone who makes a mountain out of a molehill was simply a saying used to describe someone who makes a big deal of a minor issue.
The whole affair had left me quite embarrassed and if id possessed the necessary facial blood vessels then I’m sure I would have blushed. I had later requested that Horizon remove our notices from the Gashan Market and I had attempted to explain our confused blunder to Ink. Making Ink comprehend that ‘to make a mountain from a molehill’ was simply a metaphor and not a trait of a particular mountain-building individual had proved challenging and so to illustrate my point I had made an example of how Oats’ had overreacted when he’d found the mounds of soil on his lawn, explaining that his decision to raise the paper alarm over nothing more than a pile of soil could be described as making a mountain out of a molehill. Ink had thought about this for some time before finally telling me that was an inaccurate statement, explaining that Oats had not in fact made a mountain out of a molehill but rather he had evacuated a mountain because of a molehill. It was a statement which I had struggled to argue with.