Once upon a time there was a boy. His name was Lucky. He wasn’t an ordinary boy. Lucky lived in a town like this one. In a regular house like yours and mine.
But Lucky was too big for the world. Not a giant. Just always a bit bigger than the other children. Always a bit bigger. He could throw a ball a bit further. He could climb a bit higher. He run a bit faster.
But after a few years, when Lucky was a bit older, this got to be embarrassing. Always a bit different from everybody, in a town just like this, in all directions and in all ways. So one day he made sure he ran a little bit slower. He climbed a little bit lower. And he threw the ball a little bit shorter. He held his breath every third breath, he thought a thought less every few thoughts and ate a mouthful less at meals every day.
Slowly but surely he got smaller and he got slower. Just like he wished.
But his shrinking in all ways and from all directions came at a cost.
He was starting to get louder. He couldn’t help it.
At first his sneeze would scare the cat. Then a cough shattered a glass. Before too long his friends couldn’t stand too close to him for fear their ears would burst.
Lucky was too dangerous to be near. Even his mother couldn’t be near to him without 15 pillows taped to the side of her head, to protect her ears.
Lucky was alone and lived far away in the dark peaks of the country where nothing but boys with voices too large for a town like this lived.
A teacher in a town nothing like this heard about Lucky. Heard about his shrinking of himself and the explosion of his voice. And this teacher thought to himself- I could help this boy, I could teach him to control his voice, teach him to make it big only when he wants. And so the teacher set off to find Lucky in the dark peaks.
Meanwhile, in a town like this one, the chief scientist had discovered something terrible and rushed to the Mayor to tell him.
The scientist had been monitoring the melting of the ice caps that can be found at the very top and bottom of the world.
The ice had melted and the seas and rivers were rising. But much quicker than we thought, the water was already lapping at the towns that had shops that sold sticks of rock.
“When would the water reach a town like ours” asked the Mayor
“By my calculations,” the scientist said, sweating,”Sunday week.”
A town like this was in disarray. No-one knew what to do and ran to and fro looking for things that might help stop the water at the ever creeping water’s edge.
“I have an idea” said a wise old woman who had always lived in a town like this as long as anyone can remember and was the oldest person anyone had ever known. “If we could just shift all the land a step to the left then all the new water could fill the hole that was left.”
“We just need everyone in the world to leap into the air and land together at exactly the same time.” said the wise old woman after she had spoken to the scientist. “At exactly the same time.”
So the Mayor called up all the other towns like this one, and all the other towns nothing like one and spoke to all the other Mayors. And with the water starting to lick at the doors of the town’s shops all the people of all the towns got ready to jump together.
“3, 2, 1 JUMP” cried the Mayor of a town just like this one down to the crowd and down the phone to the other Mayors. And everyone jumped.
But you could hear in the way that the noise travelled back from the different towns that everyone was jumping at slightly different times. “It’s a delay on the phone line” said the scientist. The plan hadn’t worked.
They tried everything. Flags. Fireworks. Nothing worked. There was no sound so loud and so fast that it could be everywhere at the same time. The water was lapping at their feet now. Fountains of water were exploding out of the pavements and the walls of the building. A town like this one was doomed.
At exactly that moment Lucky and his teacher walked briskly in to town. In the years he had spent with Lucky in the dark peaks the teacher had taught him all the poems of the world, all the great speeches from books true and false. He had taught him how the spoken word was a weapon, how it could be used to hold back an army, to make someone love you, to move the cold hearted to pity, and the broken to defiance. Most importantly he had taught Lucky how to control how he spoke those words. Voice as breath. Breath as voice.
“What you need,” Lucky addressed the town “is something so loud and so fast and so clear that it can be everywhere at the same time.” Lucky took a breath and his voice got louder, louder still and impossibly loud as he said,” And I have just the thing. Me.”
The people of a town like this one sensed that there might still be hope and they cheered Lucky on as he bounded up the highest mountain in the land. After a while they couldn’t see him as he disappeared into the clouds but they certainly heard him as his voice boomed out…
“People of towns like this one, People of towns not like this one. Prepare and be ready. And 3, 2, 1 JUMP.”
Lucky’s voice was so loud and so fast that it was everywhere at once. The people of all towns flung themselves in the air and all, every man and woman and child landed on the wet ground at exactly the same time.
The earth clicked round one step just as the old woman had thought it would. The water rushed back to fill the space left and the people of a town like this one, and of towns not like this one, cheered Lucky louder than even Lucky would have managed. Probably.