[image description: A complicated TV/DVD/BluRay/et al. remote control. In addition to its 42 buttons (in all shapes and sizes), it features devil-horns, a long twisted tail that ends in a point, a wicked smile, a pointy mustache, and a look of excitement in its UP and DOWN arrow eyes. In the background something (a forest? a movie set? The whole world?) burns. Text reads, “138, Confoundula ~ The Small God of Overwrought and Underthought Remotes”]
Riddles have always been used to protect places of great wisdom. Solve a puzzle to access the wizard’s library; navigate a labyrinth to enter the chamber of secrets. There must be stumbling blocks in the path to wonder, or will the wonder feel truly earned?
Stumbling blocks didn’t always come with so many buttons.
Confoundula grows in strength and power every time a parent whose teenager set up their new television remote throws it across the room and screams frustration, increases in petty glory every time a child weeps because they can’t make the television play Paw Patrol, every time the button mashing becomes a blood sport. Why does this remote need a live translation button for Martian when it can’t even manage subtitles in Spanish?
Why, if not to make the world cry out the name Confoundula, who was once a god serving the treasure keepers of kings, protecting their dearest treasures, and now protects nothing more than HBO streaming and the parental controls?
It’s possible he has some aggression to work out, and that the human race has become his unwitting therapeutic partner.
It’s also possible that if you just removed his batteries and read a damn book, he would have no power over you.
It’s hard to say, really.
Join Lee Moyer (Icon) and Seanan McGuire (Story) Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.