When a Man went up to the Ceiling…

Our mystery columnist Melbury brings us the treat of a supernatural man, and how the world responded to him…

Melbury ​​​​​​​​​​

"It is much better up here. I shan't ever come down, I say! Aha!"Helena Sinjan

“Aha!’, he said, “aha!”. He looked from side to side, with a grin so large it didn’t even fit on his face. “Be damned with your rules!”, he cried, while floating on up to the ceiling. “It is much better up here! I shan’t ever come down, I say. Aha!”

• • •

“Come down!”, cried the constable. “What the blazes are you doing up there?! That is no place for a gentleman!”.

“Aha!”, heard the constable in reply, with the man’s grin growing, somehow, even larger than before. “Be damned with your rules – aha! – I shan’t be coming down!”.

“You must!”

“By what authoriteeee?”

“Most of them! Most authorities would frown upon this contrary business!”

“Aha! Whooo says so?!”

The constable paused for a moment, thinking.

“Well… the statutes!”

This peculiar chap, jumping slowly about like some sort of new age Armstrong, replied while hopping away from the constable (by a route of his choosing across the ceiling).

“Whaaaat do they saayyyyy? Aha!”

And with that came a great rush. “Bring me the statutes! – yes, the statutes!”, went the constable. He was calling for them rather dramatically all afternoon, which was causing a great ruckus. At last, once enough fuss had been made for a small crowd to arrive, Jevurnicus (pay no attention to Jevurnicus – he is of no relevance) brought the statutes. The constable hence read the necessary acts.

“Clause seventy: men of the realm should conduct themselves in a fine and sensible way, by walking on pavements, which are frequent across the land, and bountiful in width…”

“So there, you bounder!”, the constable went, “there are pavements here, and civilisation itself orders you to make use of them!”

“Oh…”, replied the man, “oh… so there can be no walking on the ceiling?”, his unforgettable grin falling slightly. The constable, sensing that the fellow was about to relent, took a softer tone than before and gently explained that it was most remiss of him to be up there and that he should come down at once. It looked as though all was about to be well… until the grin began to reappear. His left foot tapped. He looked the constable dead in the eye, then his right foot tapped. They began to tap quickly in rhythm.

“I bet the statutes don’t say anything about tap-dancing on the ceiling! Aha!”

The constable screamed in his frustration.

• • •

So, how did this peculiar situation develop? Well, my dear reader, as I’m sure you would, many came to look at this bizarre ceiling-bound fellow, and before long he had gained the entire nation’s attention. There were those who revered this man’s sovereign right to pop onto the ceiling if he pleased, and others who took a very disdainful view of this atrocious lapse in public order. Crowds developed in the room for both sides of the issue, growing more and more animated, jeering at one another’s total lack of compassion or total lack of sense, depending on the faction.

Before long the newsfolk came, anxious to send pictures out so the crowds wouldn’t get to small. Soon after, the Minister was finally obliged to comment.

“This is no way for a gentleman to behave”, said the Minister in an official sort of way. “There is no place in this room for men wandering about on the ceiling”, he said, despite there obviously being a place for it, that place being the ceiling. The ministers generally agreed with this statement, nodding enthusiastically while going “quite” and “yes, yes… not on” in stuffy ministerial voices.

This powerful statement from the powerful powers that be, though a great relief for the faction without compassion and a great incendiary for the faction without sense, gave very little for the constable to work with. While all of this commotion was gathering on the floor, the man above continued his tip-tapping, with his wayward feet occasionally hitting a light fitting or denting the plasterboard, causing all sorts of minor damage, all while crying “aha!”.


Mountain View

The Fellow of the UL Tower

Now, by necessity armed with a loudhailer, the constable tried again to talk some sense into the man above.

“Sir!”, he loudhailed, “look at all of this commotion! Please do come down from the ceiling!”

There was no reply. So engrossed by his dancing, and almost hidden behind his grin, the man managed to knock out two more lights while the constable chattered. The senseless crowd screamed at the constable, and the compassionless crowd screamed at the senseless crowd (and some of them at the constable too, for having not sorted this ridiculous situation out already). Some plasterboard debris fell to the carpet. The constable pleaded again, warning of the ninety-year gaol sentence the man might incur if he kept on in this manner. This too was useless, with the man replying that he was on the ceiling, so how could they put him in a gaol? Moments later, the Minister was pleading with the newsfolk that the ministry could hardly have foreseen the need for ceiling-gaols, and he promised that order would be restored imminently.

It is here that records become uncertain. But with the crowds getting louder, ministers leaping over and under the newsfolk, and the man on the ceiling dancing happily while generally unfazed by all the chaos below, something had to give. Two theories have become popular. One is that the man, chipping away at the ceiling with his dancing, finally carved a hole so large that he fell into the sky, shouting “aha! – be damned with your rules!” as he went.

Others say the constable shot him.

I for one, dear reader, wonder if either side might have handled things better.