It could even be a story about The Great Pneumonia Epidemic of '09.
It all depends on how much you know.
Suppose you'd watched the slow accretion of snow over thousands of years as it was compressed and pushed over the deep rock until the glacier calved its icebergs into the sea, and you watched an iceberg drift out through the chilly waters, and you got to know its cargo of happy polar bears and seals as they looked forward to a brave new life in the other hemisphere where they say the ice floes are lined with crunchy penguins, and then wham - tragedy loomed in the shape of thousands of tons of unaccountably floating iron and an exciting soundtrack . . .
. . . you'd want to know the whole story.
And this one starts with desks.
This is the desk of a professional. It is clear that their job is their life. There are . . . human touches, but they are the human touches that strict usage allows in a chilly world of duty and routine.
Mostly they're on the only piece of real color in this picture of blacks and grays. It's a coffee mug. Someone somewhere wanted to make it a jolly mug. It bears a rather unconvincing picture of a teddy bear, and the legend "To The World's Greatest Grandad," and the slight change in the style of lettering on the word "Grandad" makes it clear that this has come from one of those stalls that have hundreds of mugs like these, declaring that they're for the world's greatest Grandad/Dad/Mum/Granny/Uncle/Aunt/Blank. Only someone whose life contains very little else, one feels, would treasure a piece of gimcrackery like this.
It currently holds tea, with a slice of lemon.
The bleak desktop also contains a paper knife in the shape of a scythe, and a number of hourglasses.
Death picks up the mug in a skeletal hand . . .
. . . and took a sip, pausing only to look again at the wording he'd seen thousands of times before, and then put it down.
Copyright Terry Pratchett 2001. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of the publisher, Harper Collins. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.
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