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Trex World part 16

kelson.philo's picture

Hooboy. So, I can't stop with the changing of the title. It will prolly keep happening until something finally dings true.

Part 16
Link to part 1

The question reverberated around inside Paul’s skull. The question was a pretty standard take on the usual Saint Sallie asked to citizens who had fallen behind on the posting to the feeds and he had almost puked out his standard answer of “Fine, just fine,” when he found he couldn’t open his mouth. Something in the back of his mind was holding hime back from answering.

“Well?” the lady said, tingeing her tone with hints of exasperation.

“Um, what do you mean by ‘happy’?”

She laughed like a torrent had opened in the skylight and was flooding the Expanse with happy juice.

“If you didn’t know, that’s supposed to be a ‘yes or no’ type of question,” she said after putting the smoldering brown cylinder on top of a heavy glass dish that Paul hadn’t noticed was there before. “The fact that you can’t really answer me right away on such a simple question just reinforces the validity of an offer that I’m going to expound upon you.”

“Which is what?”

“That this place,” she said, her hands gesturing to take in the room they were in, and the entire Expanse as shown in brown relief on what was the table in front of him, “All of it, is pure evil and must be set to rights, by any means necessary. And I want you to help me bring this about.”

It was Paul’s turn to laugh. He couldn’t help himself. “Lady, I don’t know what’s going through your head, but you’ve obviously got the wrong guy. My life is fine, just fine. I don’t need, nor would I be able to handle, any sort of weird revolution, so-”

She moved swift and close. “Oh, but I think that you do need, and I think that you would do so, if I make my case to you. If I prove my point.” Her face had softened somewhat, Come, let me show you amazing things if only you say yes. She took him by the hands and drew him close to the table top. At this range, he could see the amazing detail of each person as they moved. Sitting under Treeteks. Drinking Joe. If he squinted, he could imagine them having conversations with one another.

“Day in, day out what do these people do with their lives?”

“Well,” Paul blustered, “they go to work they go home they do stuff on feeds, you know, the usual.”

“And they repeat that day in and day out until when,” she was almost whispering now.

“Well, until they retire, of course.”

“And what happens after that?”

“You spend your retirement year doing what you want.”

“And what do these retired people want to do?”

“Well, visit elatives, watch the feeds, I dunno, there’s kind of a communal aspect to it, is suppose,” Paul was suddenly feeling chatty, “I remember my great aunt Agatha, she’d always tell me these randy little tales of corporate intrigue until mom would send me off to bed–”

“And what happened after your Great Aunt Agatha’s year of retirement?”

“Look, I know what you’re getting at, but it’s the same fate that happens to everyone. She died? Ok? There, are you happy I said it? Fark you, lady, everyone dies, and that’s why everyone who keeps their head afloat after their Hive time gets to have a retirement year.”

“A measly year of getting to putter around, supposedly getting to do what you want in exchange for over forty years of ten hours of grinding, useless, silly work a day. “

“Hey, now, I wouldn’t call it sill and useless-”

“Oh. What would you call it then? What it is that you do?”

“I’m a method layer authority, level two for Panopticon Productions, thank you very much.”

Paul suddenly felt hollow as the lady appraised him. When he had received the call back for the position, he was ecstatic. It was almost twelve years ago, now. That time felt very heavy. He was supposed to be a level three, in the corner office, but that was no more and he was down-graded. Had all that been a waste? No, he thought, you worked your butt off for that MLA level one because you were good at it. This lady wants to use you for her own agenda

As if reading his thoughts the lady spoke in a solemn tone, “How many people were retired along with your Agatha?”

“What, I dunno, I’ve never really bothered to check.”

She snorted, “Ha! Would you even know where to check if the thought occurred to you?”

“Ok, look, I’m good enough at surfing-”

“When you aren’t about to be kicked out of your pad for insufficient funds, sure you are. What if I were to tell you, Paul, that the numbers of people retired aren’t put on the public domain?”

“I’d tell you that I’m sure the Authorities have a pretty good reason-”

“And if I told you the President of the Expanse and his toadies are secretly in charge of the Authorities?”

That was a pretty blatant accusation. Separation of Business from Authority was one of the cornerstones of civilization. “I’d say you’ve got a hit new line for a feed collaboration.”

She moved close and grabbed the front of his jump suit. “And what if I told you that little old pre-retirement men who decide they want to stop in the middle of capillary traffic are pulled into the ceiling under great fanfare and the only citizen not responding in the same fashion is a little boy who wished he could play along with the others happiness but couldn’t. What would you say then, Paul?”

“I-” he started breathing in her scent of perturbed smoke and sweat. How did she know about that scene from his childhood? Paul had assumed that sort of thing was fairly common, given all the hoopla around it. Shight almighty, this woman won’t let me go until I agree with her. Nowhere to run to; doubt I’d be able to do so anyway. She can do all this then I really only have one answer. Fark, fark, fark! this feels familiar.

“I’d say that I won’t be of much help to you if I don’t have a job to pay my insufficient funds with.”

***
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Good!

I liked that one alot! Nice work.

kelson.philo's picture

Thanks! Hopefully the steam

Thanks! Hopefully the steam engine will continue. I've been having trouble getting my comments and replies to comments sticking as of late, so sorry if this seems like a late reply.