"What the hell was that?"
"That! Don't you fucking tell me you don't know what I'm talking about!"
"I-I'm sorry b-"
"You should be fucking sorry! There is no excuse for what you just did!"
"What do you mean, 'what?'"
"No, Stop, I'm really sorry, but - do I know you?"
"I don't? what - I mean, why are you...?"
"Look, it doesn't matter. You treated that woman like shit, and you owe her an apology."
"What the hell? What are you even talking about? I don't even know you, why are you getting all mad about this?"
"Because you treated that woman like shit!"
"'what woman,' do you not know her either?"
"Uh, not as such, but -"
"Then why is it your business? Get off my ass about it, I'm -"
"What, so it's nobody's business when you shout things like that in front of the whole goddamn restaurant? She's crying in there, did you know that?"
"Yeah, I guess."
"Yeah, you guess. Did you know that nobody's helping her at all? did you know that everyone else is just trying to act like she's not even there? Did you know that, fuckhead?"
"You're crazy. Piss off."
"No. I'm not going to piss off, I'm not going to shut up, and I'm not going to let this go. There is no excuse for what you said to her, and I have had it up to here with everyone in the goddamn city being so goddamn passive about every goddamn thing that happens!"
"Seriously lady, just drop it, and walk away."
"Fuck you. Go back in there, and say you're sorry."
"Fuck you. You're just storming in on me like you know absolutely everything. Do you have any idea what kind of month I've had because of her? What I just said to her? do you have any idea what she did to me?"
"What are you -"
"Look at these. All her. Caitlin and her goddamn boyfriend."
"Oh- oh my -"
"Yeah, take a long fucking look. I've got more like those than I want to count, I've got a pile of ashes for an apartment, my mom is fucking dead, and now I have some crazy bitch telling me that I'm the problem here."
"I - I..."
"Yeah? you got anything else to say to me?"
"There are things you can't say. Things you should never say."
"Yeah, maybe she's in the wrong. M-maybe you've had a hard month because of her. but you - you still can't say stuff like that. It's not right."
"Hey... hey, come back! Come back, I..."
Saturday, August 17, 2013
I forget exactly where this idea came from, but I clearly remember the process. I had an idea for the world, but I struggled with the means to display that world. Portray the debateable morality? I didn't want to write a debate between two sock puppets about facts that I had made up. Political drama? The scale just led to a lot of exposition rather than a more natural introduction. I think that of all my options, this was the best I could have chosen. I hope you think so, too.
Six Seven Nine
Douglas blinked against the hardness of the air - the slight tang that gripped at a man’s throat, and in the corners of his eyes. He did his best to wipe at the tears with his sleeves; it was only to be expected. The quality had been reduced incrementally over the last few years, in preparation for the launch, and though the technicians had assured the population that the difference would barely be noticeable, people were always complaining about it. It was worst of all in the tunnels, where commuters on the great inter-outpost trains had to suck down oxygen wrung from pressurized canisters. Douglas shook his head and glanced around at the other passengers, all numbly lit by the ancient, greenish fluorescent light strips.
“N678 Boston Station - Residential” came the buzzing intercom. Hurriedly, the representative snatched up his briefcase and replaced his hat, rushing out onto the platform. If he hurried, maybe he’d be back to N678 Paris before dinner this time. He made his way through the pressing, rolling train station crowd as best he could, towards the trans-pods where he fumbled briefly with the keypad. A blinking readout informed him that the estimated wait for an available pod was “Three point two six eight four hours.”
Douglas swore under his breath, groping for the datapad in his pocket. Though he was jostled every which way by the tide of people moving inexorably trainward, the Rep managed to bring up his map for this assignment. Douglas considered it carefully as he leaned into the current. It wasn’t so bad, now that he looked at it - the Gleeson residence was only four shafts over, and he could probably make it in two hours, tops, if he hurried. Cramming the datapad back into his pocket, he pressed ahead with that diligence that had practically become a genetic trait of outpost citizens. In just a few minutes, Douglas had made it far enough from the train station that the throng had settled to a more comfortable level, and he was given a little breathing room, such as it was. Heck he mused, at least it gives me a little more time to see the sights before the launch. Haven’t been to N678 Boston in a while.
It was almost a joke. There was practically no difference between N678 Boston and N678 Paris - about as little difference as there was between it and N678 Seattle or N678 Berlin, or N678 Sydney. He liked imagining little differences, though - the air was nicest in N678 Paris, he felt, especially in the park pods, where some traditional restauranteurs served bangers and mash and snails, Old Earth recipes, they claimed, though it made no difference; Texturized Vegetable Protein was Texturized Vegetable Protein, no matter how you cooked it up.
This is a story that basically leapt fully formed into my head one night. I just kind of grabbed me, and four hours later, It was basically written as it is now. I've been submitting this to magazines for possible publication for a couple months now without luck, so I figured it'd be better to just get it out into the wild rather than letting it moulder until I inevitably hate it.
The Adaji marketplace swirled around Sanna, whistling and thrumming like a living thing itself. The air twanged with distant music and curving scents of spices and stone, and from all around was the constant hubbub of the native tongue. Interesting - but not Sanna’s preferred environment. Still, she had to be here until she found Odot, wherever he was, and if that meant she had to endure a stinkeye from a few locals, then so be it. Shouldering her way past a pair of merchants carrying a rug, she reflected on her search. Long, bleak, and disheartening, the whole course of it. Almost as bad as the time with Odot before he fled to Southron. Sanna grimaced. It’d be done with soon enough.
“Hey... Hey!” The call wasn’t very loud, but the presence of the Westmarch language caught Sanna’s attention. She glanced over her shoulder, and spied the person in question. “Yes, you. Here, come here!” The man was tucked away into a crevice between two of the titanic stone buildings that made up Adaji, stooped low over a table piled with bottles of all shapes and sizes, every one of them empty, yet sealed with wax. Sanna sighed and glanced around, then shrugged. She might as well see what he wanted - it wasn’t likely that she was going to find much other conversation here.
“Well?” she asked.
“Oh, well, you see, you just seemed like the sort of person who might be interested in my product.” The man was wrapped in linens and a robe from head to toe, only his brilliant blue eyes visible beneath. Sanna surveyed the table for a moment before answering.
“Air? You’re selling air? because, I don’t think there’s much demand.”
The man giggled, a high, unsettling giggle that shook his whole body. “Oh, indeed! Indeed!” he chortled. “I, I suppose you’re right!” he wiped a tear from his eye. “Indeed! It is a good thing that I am not selling air, then! No, my dear traveller, I am a merchant of minds! A seller of speculations, a retailer of recollections, a...” he paused, taking in a breath, deep and long. “...marketer of memories.”