Lord of the Packages

Eleanor sat by the river and idly dipped her hand into it, reaching her small fingers into the silt at the bottom. It was a very hot day, and despite her claims to the contrary, she was still young. Her grandmother had come prepared with snacks and water, which she placed on the rocks next to them, in the hopes that Eleanor would eat some before getting too tired.

Eleanor dug her small fingers deeper into the mud, pulling out the torn, plastic remains of a package wrapper. She held it up for her grandmother. "The Lord of the Packages!" Her grandmother nodded, recognizing the Lord's distinctive sigil.

"The Lord of the Packages. You can find his sigil on most everything these days, but back when I worked for him, it was less common."

Eleanor nodded intently. "Is his sigil everywhere because he is the best Lord?" Her grandmother nodded.

"He is the most powerful for now. Years ago it was the Lord of Computers, and someday it will be another Lord, I suspect the Lord of the Hall of Mirrors. Eventually, his power will fade unless he finds a way to live forever."

Eleanor bounced around excitedly. "I hope he lives forever! He's my favorite!"

Her grandmother laughed again. "Did you know I saw him in person once? The Lord of the Packages? It was actually when he was fighting the Lord of the Cars." Eleanor looked up excitedly.

"They fought? I thought it was only the Lord of the Hall of Mirrors who could fight." Eleanor punched at a nearby fern for emphasis, and her grandmother shook her head.

"The Lord of the Hall of Mirrors is the only Lord known to be a warrior, although the Lord of the Cars once made a vaillant attempt. This wasn't a physical fight thought, it was a battle over the planet Mars. You know how all the Lords have peacefully split up Mars? And how they are splitting up Venus?" Eleanor nodded. "Well, Mars used to be a free-for-all! Every Lord for himself! And for the longest time, it looked like the Lord of the Cars would be the ruler of Mars. Why, there was a time when people nearly called him the Lord of Rocket Ships!"

Eleanor looked up in confusion. "But why would the Lords fight over Mars when they could split it peacefully? I thought the Lords didn't like fighting!"

"The Lords don't like it when you fight the people who they sent to protect us. But if the Lords fight with each other, so long as they don't use violence, that's actually a good thing. It means that the smartest and most hardworking Lords have the most money and power, and the smartest and most hardworking Lords will always be the ones to make the most nice things for us!"

Eleanor pulled her hand out of the water as a large, flat worm swam over. It paused, looked up at her, and then swam a bit before being devoured by another worm which had camouflaged itself as a rock. A few years ago there had been fish in this creek, and then nothing, and now these odd worm creatures.

Eleanor's grandmother continued. "Back when I worked for the Lord of the Packages, I spent most of my days in my truck. But this particular day I had to talk with a manager in one of the warehouses. When I was waiting inside for him to arrive, I heard a commotion."

"I turned around, the door opened up, and five black horses trotted in. On their backs were riders with four arms each, their entire bodies covered in bright crimson armor. Each of them had the Lord of the Package's sigil emblazoned on their chests."

"Then behind them were twelve ten-foot-tall creatures with the heads of lions perched atop the torsos of bulls, with the legs and arms of an ape. They looked around menacingly while three played the trumpet, three played guitar, and the six others played a low, rumbling drumbeat. The ones on the trumpet were somehow able to make beautiful music despite having the fangs and maws of lions."

"And finally, a great elephant strode in. Its trunk was held up high, holding a flag with the sigil of the Lord of the Packages, and atop the elephant was the Lord of the Packages himself! He was in shimmering gold armor with a bright red cape trailing behind him. His crown was made of deep black iron, which was polished to a sheen so reflective it was nearly blinding. When he entered, all the workers stood up, clapped, and cheered louder than any cheer I have heard before."

"He finally was lifted off the elephant by the robotic arm that usually is for moving heavy boxes, and he strode up to the head manager of the warehouse who was kneeling atop a pile of unmailed containers. And in the loudest, most booming voice you could ever imagine, he said: 'I have come here today, to address every single one of you! The Lord of the Cars has hatched an insidious plot! He wishes to take over Mars and keep it for only himself! I will not stand for this evil scheme!'"

"The workers booed loudly at the mention of the Lord of the Cars because even though he is a wonderful Lord, it is very rude to support an enemy Lord in front of the Lord of the Packages. The Lord of the Packages continued. 'I have come here to announce a new initiative! I have never desired to extend my reach beyond my role as the Lord of the Packages, as was assigned to me by God. However, the Lord of the Cars leaves me no choice. All of you will now be working on the development of space travel as well! We will defeat the Lord of the Cars! Mars will be terraformed, but not by the Lord of the Cars! Mars will be terraformed by us!'"

Eleanor, through a mouthful of applesauce, cheered and laughed. "So did you guys build the rocket ships?"

Her grandmother shook her head. "Well, we didn't, but a lot of people I knew got promoted. And the Lord of the Packages, well, it turns out he can fly! He floated up through the ceiling, flower petals falling out of his hands. After that, I was actually reassigned to a different packaging plant up north, but that is a story for another day. It is getting dark, and we need to head home."

Eleanor's hand was turning red after being held in the creek for this long, and she held it somewhat gingerly while wiping it off on her shirt. One of her fingernails was partially dissolved, but she wouldn't notice that until she was trying to fall asleep. Her grandmother put the food and water back in her pack, and they began the short journey back home.