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by Hari Manev

Fidelio was surprised by how easily he adjusted to life among the Snailwooders.

Still, he was concerned: How long would it take before the snails exposed him as a fraud?

Surely Fidelio was not an ordinary snail.

For one thing, his penis did not show on his head.

Never fear—it hadn’t been cut off; there just wasn’t any trace of a penis on Fidelio’s head.

What was more, there wasn’t any trace of a vagina on his head either.

In short, Fidelio didn’t look like a normal Snailwooder.

The reason was simple: Fidelio, a Slugwood slug, had overlooked the full implications of using a snail house to disguise his true identity.

He had neglected to realize that snails and slugs, while both carried their genitals on the right side of the head, did so differently.

So as not to be obstructed by their houses, snail penises and vaginas were located closer to the top of the head.

By contrast, slugs, whose bodies were not hampered by shells, carried their sex organs further down, almost on their necks.

Clearly Fidelio hadn’t taken this anatomical difference into consideration when he’d chosen a snail shell.

The house he’d picked was too large for his body, so it covered his penis and vagina entirely—hence, his bizarre appearance.

In any other place, a genitalia-free body would have raised questions—lots of questions.

But not among the telepathically synchronized Snailwooders.

It took Fidelio some time to get a handle on the nature of Web Socialism.

First off, the Slugwooders could not have constructed such a synchronized social order because only a few slugs could telepath.

There could be no Web Socialism without telepathing: the permanent sharing of all thoughts by all members of society.

Second, slugs and snails differed significantly in their opinion of public shaming.

Unlike snails, adult slugs opposed that social tool.

By contrast, Snailwooders believed public shaming was a good thing; it was at the heart of their synchronized social order.

Snails believed wrong thoughts were irreparable because wrong deeds could be corrected while wrong thoughts couldn’t be undone.

Thus, every Snailwooder’s worst nightmare was to make a thought blunder and not even be aware of it.

This peculiar fearful state of mind was known as atyphobia.

Or, translated in plain gastropod: fear of one’s own wrong thoughts.

It must be the overreliance on the safety of their shells that makes them so fearful, Fidelio thought about his new compatriots.

Atyphobia depended on synchronized public shaming, which was maintained by the Snailwood telepathic Media.

So that’s how it works, Fidelio thought, admitting that atyphobic Web Socialism was a very safe and polite form of society.

Indeed, the Snailwooders were superbly nice and polite; they knew what questions to ask and what not to even think about.

So the thought that the genitalia-free Fidelio might not be a snail never crossed the atyphobic minds of the well-mannered Snailwooders.
Atyphobia is the adapted chapter of The Eye, the first book in the Twitter trilogy The Meaning of Fruth (published as e-books on Amazon Kindle).