Ice and shadow descended upon the land. Long was the winter, cold the days. It was as though some malevolent enemy had spread its dark will across the earth, covering the ground with frost and snow, obscuring the skies in a blanket of grey, forcing men inside where the only respite was found in Netflix and ever-increasing power bills. In the fourth day of the first month I strode through my living room fortress and beheld the desolation before me. "It is too cold to go outside. Darkness has taken from me the will to leave," I said to my wife, Lady Brooke.
She nodded. "Troubling have been my thoughts of late. The apathy and ennui of these days weigh heavily upon me." She paused. "And yet, even in this dull hour, all hope is not lost. Did we not recently commemorate the birth of the celebrated Tolkien of old? Can we not find reason to further celebrate his honorable life?"
My brow furrowed as I stared intently at the entertainment center. "Perhaps," I whispered. "Perhaps." A thought began to form, beginning in the deepest parts of me as something primal and unspoken, until it spread through my entire being. Below the television, in the DVD stack, were the Chronicles of Tolkein, in their extended glory. But did I dare? For I knew that once began, the Chronicles had the power to ensnare our minds and capture our attention span to the exclusion of all other activity. Sleeping, eating, shopping: all of these would be lost forever until Tolkien's creation freed us from its grasp. And yet I knew that it was meant to be. The burden was ours to bear. "We will watch the Chronicles," I declared. Brooke nodded in solemn agreement. And so it began.
We were quickly entranced by the tale. Minutes turned to half-hours, half-hours to hours, and hours to hours-and-halves, until all else ceased to be. The world outside faded away as we basked in the warmth and happiness of the Chronicles. It was as though an old friend, long forgotten, had returned, and for a time the darkness and cold outside had no place in our hearts.
Still, I could not ignore the foreboding growing within my soul. Beyond the television, across the land of the kitchen counter, and within the pit of the sink, was a great evil. An edifice of pure malice and hate, spreading filth and disease throughout the apartment. I looked to Lady Brooke and knew she sensed it to. "Too long has the tower of dishes been neglected," she said. "Too long has its stench spread to our living room." "Yes,"I replied, "but I cannot abandon the Chronicles." She looked at me with fire in her eyes. "You cannot shirk your duty, Lord Walrath of Rexburg, son of Kyle. It is time." We hit pause.
I leapt into action. The sound of roaring water filled the apartment. Steel clashed against porcelain, and soap filled the sink. I boldly scrubbed, rinsed, and dried. Yet the foe seemed endless, and my strength began to falter. How can one man stand against such evil?, I thought. There were fouler things than plates and forks awaiting me. I knew that below the filth and grime, deep within the lowest depths of the sink, lurked one dish more powerful than all the rest. There were whispers that it came from dinners of the ancient world, ignored so long that its awfulness grew and festered beyond anything seen before. What was once a wholesome pot of chowder had been corrupted, with cheese and matter unknown congealed and hardened along its surface. I knew this foe was too great for me to conquer.
In this desperate hour I called for the only remaining weapon that could possibly work. "Bring forth the Wool of Steel!" I cried. "It is found deep beneath the sink," Lady Brooke responded from afar. I searched, desperately, frantically, but with no success. I had resigned myself to defeat when suddenly Brooke appeared beside me in all her majesty. "Stand aside," she commanded. "I am Brooke, commander of the Kitchen Legion, and you shall have your weapon." She dove into the morass of sponges and cleaning products, and for a moment I thought her lost. Then she emerged, Wool of Steel in hand, and said to me "Take this and conquer." And conquer I did, as the hordes of food product fled before me. I cleansed the chowder pot, restoring it to its pristine state, and dried it. The task that I thought impossible had been accomplished.
"Resume the Chronicles!" commanded Lady Brooke, and I swiftly obeyed. And so it went: we fell more deeply under the spell, losing ourselves again, ceasing only long enough to leave and get lunch when the afternoon hour came. Little else mattered. The world outside was but dimly remembered, and I now sit to record my story so that future generations may learn from it. Whether it is a good or bad story I cannot say, for that is not for me to decide. I can only hope that I have done well with the time I have been given. The weekend is a precious gift, one not lightly squandered, but when I look back it is with pride. If only for the briefest time, I truly became the Lord of the Weekend.