But the Great UnBiddable was not to be undone. Especially not when a few of his UnderBiddables were eager to remind him that the island was now theirs, all theirs. Is this not what we have been working so hard to regain? they asked. We are free! We answer to no one! Come and feel the soil through your fingers again. It can be formed into any shape we see fit!
And so the work began in earnest to reclaim and mould the land of the tropical island into a glorious version befitting the abilities of UnBiddable and his dedicated UnderBiddables. The Biddables were told that here now was their moment in time, their opportunity to throw off the shackles of the Pierinae and to use their hands, hearts and minds to remake an island that everyone could be proud of. Thus from the soil rose man-made mountains and on them even further, towers of gleaming gold and silver, all panned, refined and polished from the efforts of the Biddables who wanted nothing less than to please the Great UnBiddable. He is one of us, they smiled, and he wants the best for us! The hard work is but a small price to pay for freedom and success.
Yes, yes, murmured the UnderBiddables, slaving away at more drawings to construct man-made cars that could be lifted by strong cables all the way to the tops of the highest towers. Look at how clever we have become, we can see all the way to the other islands in the distance! Oooh, and how far we have progressed in so short a span of time! Look, if we could only put a dome of inflammable resin around the edges of our island, we could power cold air in and funnel hot air out! Thus have we reached the pinnacle of remaking our island in the sun!
And so all were pleased including the Great UnBiddable himself until one noteworthy day in the humdrum of hammering and lifting another panel of the resin to the scaffolding. A simple, humble Biddable pressed the ejector button of the hydraulic lifting pad two seconds too early and sent the panel hurtling 757 feet below onto the island soil, where it cracked and splintered into 11,091 pieces and killed 22 Biddables and injured 38 others.
Are you sure those are the exact numbers? asked UnBiddable when he had been informed, for he was, in addition to being a fast talker and thinker, a veritable stickler for the number and speediness of things too.
Yes, replied UnderBiddable Number 1 (who had become UnderBiddable Number 1 only because he was almost as able to rouse a crowd with his passions as the Great UnBiddable, but only just).
Well then, we will have to be efficient and clean the mess up. Plus, what do we do with the Biddable who made the mistake?
I have spoken with his supervisor, Oh Great UnBiddable. It appears that this fellow makes mistakes quite often. He is… Shall I say it this way? A bit of a slow-to-learn; not stupid, no, no, no, just slow to learn from his mistakes so he makes mistakes again and again.
Well, we cannot have him building the dome. Just think of the numbers of people he might kill! Why, it could have been me that a resin piece pierced!
Well, said UnderBiddable Number 1, unfortunately, there are more like him.
What? How many more?
They are a percentage of the island folk, Great UnBiddable. Some are even slower, but there are those who are just disinterested in these things and others who are well, inattentive but not stupid.
As news of this reality sank in, the Great UnBiddable let out a long stream of air through his nostrils and laid back into his chair.
But I have an idea, Oh Great UnBiddable, continued UnderBiddable Number 1. As we only have so much time, and so little in terms of resources… Why, we cannot afford losing another panel. They are so expensive! – Shall we not select the best workers for the dome and leave the others to carry out the other more mundane duties of the island? After all, we still require the fishermen and the farmers to bring in the food for us to eat, and the nannies who will carry the children and change their nappies?
What do you mean exactly? asked UnBiddable, whose ears pricked up at so interesting the thought of selecting only the right people for the task of building the dome.
Let us select people through the schools that the Pierinae left behind. The farmers, fishermen and nannies can attend the schools at the fringes of the island and those who are building the dome, particularly where the dome will be at its highest, will attend the schools near where you are, Oh Great UnBiddable. There, we will be able to watch over their progress carefully and quietly every day. And there, in these specially selected schools, we will ensure that they receive the necessary training of the highest order for as many years as are required. We have earnings from the sale of our island’s produce and from where the ships are passing through our waters. There should be enough to make this plan sustainable and successful. They will be special, the very best people from our island.
The idea was ingenious, so simple, so neat and so efficient. How could UnBiddable not like it? And so began the process of measuring the island folk – especially the younger ones who were easier to stretch – to identify the right ones for their respective high-altitude roles on the island.
Measurements were undertaken of every Biddable’s heights and their weights, and then of the lengths of their fingers and their thumbs. Later, further measurements were developed to measure fingernails and toenails, as well as the space between one’s eyes, for the span of this space was deemed to correlate exactly with how accurately the respective Biddable would be able to calculate the amount of glue a particular gap in the dome would require.
With practice, the measure-masters in the schools (all UnderBiddables in purpose if not name) became quite adept at measuring quickly and conclusively. They took measurements at regular intervals so as to reach a summation of measurements at the same time every year. And with these summations, the Biddables under them were in turn, channelled subsequently into the right training classes befitting their profiles of designated potential and stretchability. It was all very clever and… efficient, and no one could have been more pleased than UnBiddable himself and UnderBiddable Number 1, of course. For every year without fail, a fresh group of High Biddables would make their way up the dizzying height of the increasing dome to lay more resin panels in the air whilst other groups of Low Biddables would find their niche in fishing, farming or diapering atop the solid ground below. It was a system of sheer genius and it worked.
As time wound on, the island schools became excellent sites for measuring everything possible about any islander, and one could not help but think, having been measured, how perfectly assessed they had been of every single aspect of their beings. Indeed, it was said by some at the time that eventually, the measure-masters would be able to reach their rulers into the crevices of every Biddable’s heart to lay open the secrets within those walls as well.
– to be continued –