Sunday, November 30, 2014

In the Country of the Erics

Saturday students: Frances, Shawn, Anthony, Yoyo.

The following historical chronicle is being written by my student Shawn (莊崴翔). Shawn is a junior high school student here in Taipei, and English is a second language for him. I’d say he’s got a pretty good narrative flare and a good sense of snark besides. I’ve edited a little and provided some transitions and tweaks, but in general this is Shawn’s writing.

It’s now Sunday evening in Taipei. An hour ago, I woke from a nap and had a big cup of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee to get my wits about me. Then I decided to type out these chapters that Shawn had written and post them here, in hopes he will continue. Because I want to learn as much as I can about my people’s history.

Eric Mader


In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, there is a large volcanic island about the size of Japan. With the clear water around the island, and the beautiful coral under the sea, the island would be one of the most amazing sights on earth, if we could visit it. But this island does not appear on any maps. Long ago world leaders agreed to keep it a secret.

In the 16th century, Captain Ericano Erannielcoric discovered the island. Soon he brought most of the Erics scattered over the world to live there. Thanks to Captain Erannielcoric, the dream of the Erics was fulfilled. The Country of the Erics was finally established.

Unfortunately, after the Captain died, the next king, Ericano Erannielcoric, Jr., stopped the country from communicating with the outside world. He threatened any countries that wanted to visit the island with a terrible vengeance: “We will send Erics to you.” It is for this reason that world leaders, to protect their own nations, agreed to erase the island from all maps.

The Country of the Erics is plentiful in natural resources, so that millions of people could live there. But after the centuries since its founding, still only Erics live in the country. People around the world have forgotten the island and the strange country founded of course.

People in the country of the Erics are all equal of course. That's because they’re all the same. With curly hair and fat bellies, which they swell out by drinking large quantities of coffee, the Erics have a population of millions, though exactly how many is unknown. First brought by Captain Erannielcoric, coffee plants are grown throughout the island. The Erics consider the coffee plant holy, and there are various important rituals they celebrate around it.

Even if the Country of the Erics sounds like a peaceful place, blood will soon flow over the land. The Erics will fight. With the hairy corpses left beside roads, the golden time of the country will never return.


The COE’s trouble began with King Eric XXVII, who still rules the island today. How this king attained the throne and became such a hated ruler is told in the Story of the Glowing Crow. Collected by scholars in central Asia, the story is originally in the Uzbek language. It is translated here:
Long long ago there was a magical tree. It grew Magic. People around the world learned of the tree and went on journeys to find it. The search for the tree led to rumors and wars.

When the crow saw the tree, it decided to try to hide it so it could keep the magic to itself. The greedy crow disguised the tree with many other kinds of branches and learned the tree's magic powers. It got the power to defeat death and it acquired such magic that its feathers began to glow. Each feather could save a life.

Hundreds of years passed and the crow was still alive. One day an asshole discovered the glowing crow and learned something of its powers. The asshole tricked the crow and caught it. Knowing the feathers could save lives, he started to pluck them so that he could sell them.

Like all assholes, this asshole wanted to become rich.

But at the market nobody believed him. How could he prove that the feathers could save lives? Finally, as he was deciding to give up and try elsewhere, an Eric showed up.

In the Country of the Erics, where everyone is an Eric, it isn't easy to be king. Any Eric can easily overthrow the Eric on the throne because he is exactly the same. However, being the oldest of the Erics, looking much older and wiser than others, might make holding the throne easier. So Eric killed the asshole and took the crow.

Many years passed. The elder Eric, called Eric XXVII, was on the throne and the glowing crow had become the emblem of the Country of the Erics. Aging and weak, but impossible to kill, King Eric had become a total asshole. All the Erics wanted a new king, but they had no idea how to get rid of their current king because he had the power of eternal life. They didn't know the secret of the glowing crow.

And all this happened because of the greedy crow, the greedy asshole, and the natural greed of Erics.
This story, while providing information about King Eric XXVII, is also seen as evidence that Erics occasionally leave the Country of the Erics to visit other countries. For what purpose, no one knows.

III. A chapter from a history of the struggle against the evil King Eric XXVII:

“Eric!” Eric cried out. “Don’t do it!”

“You can’t stop me,” Eric said. “I’m going to kill Eric. I’ve already made up my mind. It’s for the country, for all the Erics who live under this hateful oppression.”

“But it is hopeless!” Eric said. “You’ll never succeed!”

“How has he been king for 117 years?” Eric replied. “How is it possible? I’m going to kill him and then we can build a republic.”

The cold wind blew over the darkness of the countryside. Eric disappeared into the shadows of the forest. Eric stood alone now. He’d just lost his best friend, Eric. What could he do next?

He heard someone standing behind him.

“Let him go, Eric,” the voice said. “You should trust him.”

“But . . . Eric, you know how many assassination attempts there have been. It’s hopeless! He’ll die like the others. We must stop him!”

“His mind is made up,” Eric said. “And if he doesn’t make it, he may still succeed in death. You know he is one of the most respected Erics among us. If he is killed, all the Erics will take up their weapons in revenge. . . . But now we need to rest. Tomorrow will be a day we’ll never forget.”
* * *

The sun rose over a turquoise sea. Another day was beginning in the island country. But now everything was different. The country had changed forever in the course of the night.

“He’s dead,” said Eric, dropping the newspaper to the floor. His voice was full of sorrow. Eric looked at Eric. They both knew in that moment what they must do.

A page of Shawn's MS.

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