Words and Vice, Reyik’s End Cylinders, Part 1
June 28, 2012
This is a story written in the Cattlepunk universe I started creating yesterday, and it’s written by a good friend of mine.
Reposted with permission
“You may begin speaking now.”
“And this thing’ll save whatever I say, so’s other folks can hear our story?”
“Academics and future generations will benefit from the stories you tell today. Pretend I’m not even here, if you like. I’ll sit and listen, and ask you to pause when I need to change the cylinders. The day’s long and the drink is ready, so take your time – this is for posterity.”
“Posterity. I wish I could be so certain that someone’d be there to remember me tomorrow, if I were taken today. I could get used to a society that’ll still dream big in the face of all this. But somewhere along the way, someone decided who gets to share the meat and the water, and who don’t. You mighta noticed, doc, that there aren’t so many old folks like you around, all soft and clean and learned. You mighta noticed what folks we do got, they’re all young and strong and mean. You templers, you wheelers, you Thirteen – not you particular, doc, but your people – they’re in love with their own story, crammin’ it in everyone’s ears even as the story keeps changing. They love to tell you that they survive because every single one of them is tough, and every single one is needed, and everyone has a skill.
“But that ain’t strictly true, or, no offense, you wouldn’t be here putting my voice into a hunk of Nester’s Wax. Someone had the time to figure that out ‘cause you’ve all got civilization, and there’s room for people like you, who can go and learn and make new things because they’ve got other people worrying about where the water comes from, or when the cows come home. You might know how to swing a rifle, doc, but I can see that you never hauled buckets or butchered an animal or any kinda thing that folk around here do for themselves every day. Anything needs doing around here, you do it yourself, or you go without. Not a one of us is free of that, not even Baron Saans.
“There’s some who’ll lay food and arms at his feet, sure, but that’s respect. The man made do for himself on top of pulling towns like this together, and without his like, a lot of us’d be food for the flitters. That name, ‘Baron,’ ain’t our doing. It was the templers bestowed that honor, calling him a Robber Baron and declaring us all outa the law, declaring that folk like us ‘shall not take of their bounty, under pain of death.’ They call themselves united, but see fit to leave anyone they don’t like for the bugs. They call us ‘Tweeners, ‘cause we fall through the cracks and settle where they don’t see fit to. They’ll say that anything we got we stole from them, but that’s only because they never let us have anything in the first place. Our whole being is cobbled together from their leavings and the rather dubious kindness of folk like you.
“You keep a quiet face but I can read your eyes, doc. You’re out here bringing goodness to the little people, sure, but you carry yourself like you know you’re better. You said yourself, you come through to make study of the lot of us. We don’t have what comforts you know, but we’re not stupid. You’re here trying to learn ‘cause there’s not a one of you behind your walls that’ll both remember true and tell it straight. You know there’s no one old enough here, but if you pick up all the pieces you can find, that’ll get your picture started. I got a question outa that, though: Why go to the trouble? Can’t go on those trails of yours without worrying about a lead breakfast. What’s the point?”
“I’ll get to that, but have a drink first. We’re coming up on the end of this cylinder.”