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Showing posts from January, 2013

Art Pact 256 - Creating the morning

Something of a rush, of course. There's never enough time to set such things up in advance, so we're called in at say six in the morning and everything has to be in place by eight, when it wakes up. I work on walls - walls are kind of a boring thing, but they're necessary and it isn't too taxing, so I can be relied upon to do my bit. I like working with brick walls, because they're pleasantly solid. Partition walls - you know, those things that are basically paper and plaster - they're kind of... unsatisfying? I don't know what it is about them that makes them so terrible, but there's clearly something. I think perhaps its the fact that anyone could put them up in a couple of hours, whereas brick is a skill that the average Joe, even the average bricklayer, has to take his time over. You've got to get everything in a line, you have to have the mortar at the right consistency. Don't get me wrong, I know that there are some quick-working and tale…

Art Pact 255 - My Life As A Petrol Tank

Empty.

Full.

Empty.

Full.

Empty.

Full.

When I'm drinking - when everything's silent except for the ticking of the pump and the gentle whoosh of others travelling past on the motorway - I consider whether this cycle is healthy for me. I mean, I'm ten years old now, been doing the same thing pretty much since the day I was brought into this world. Is reliable conformity a thing? Or is it just mindless roboticism? I'm hungry, I drink until I'm full, everything's fine again. Until the next time, because slowly, slowly, the energy drains out of me and I'm left in the same situation again, hungering, wondering how I got this way so fast and didn't I just drink myself stuffed a few days ago? It seems so recent.

Empty.

Then I'm coughing out fumes as the last of the drink drains away, and you can almost taste it in the hunger, a sort of desperation. A sense that something will go wrong, that I won't quite be able to make it to the drinking place, that i…

Art Pact 254 - At A Stretch

There were rows of houses stretching off into the distance, uniform flat-top domes. Melin had never seen a surface town so large, although it was nothing compared to the hives underneath. The other members of the caravan seemed less overawed.

"It's just a burb-town," said Fressa. "Houses and houses and houses and nothing else. No factories, no farms, nothing."

"How do they eat, then?"

"They're parasites!" Bryve said loudly, leaning over from her horse.

"What Bryve means to say is, they don't produce anything. They live there because the governor decrees it. All their food is brought to them from elsewhere, they don't really do any work themselves. A bit of art, perhaps, but nothing concrete. If the deliveries stopped, the town would be gone in an instant."

"They can't make anything themselves!" said Bryve.

"That's not entirely true. Some of them were farmers, some of them were artisans down in th…

Art Pact 253 - Colours

There were old gods in that place, dry old gods who spoke with cracked voices and whispered in the dark so that the green soldiers who were set around the place grew nervous in the night and almost scurried from their posts when they were relieved. The few blue men who were left unharmed by the unholy storm assured their captors that there was nothing to fear, that those who had inhabited the temple before the war had been driven off long since, and without their help the gods could not be roused, but still the green men slept uneasily, tossing and turning in their beds and crying out with horror when they were selected for their detail on the guard roster.

Meru-shin had no patience for such histrionics.

"Remind them that they are warriors," he told his captains. "And that such displays are unseemly in front of the prisoners. If they see weakness, they will strike. You know how these blue men are."

Sul and Pen nodded their assent and swore that they would drive th…

Art Pact 252 - Running

The four of us running, helter-skelter pelting down the alleys and up the roads, pouring our hearts into our legs so that we could feel nothing except the pulse pounding of rubber soles on tarmac and concrete, running with all of the desire for freedom and fear of punishment that our friends and enemies respectively had filled us with, we were a team, a herd, a flock of miscreants escaping from the predators of law and custom, the men in their grey coats and blue uniforms that were ever on our heels. We were alive for those moments, perhaps because in the other moments we had let ourselves become dead by our ways, but in those moments such differences, such philosophies were all forgotten, our flight was just nature, the call and response of fists and feet, the old story of animals that must catch other animals to eat, and those that must survive by escaping such capture. We might have whinnied to each other, we might, when the spirit took us and we were so close to our foes that we …

Art Pact 251 - The Old Campus

In the dark of the night I sometimes wake, my heart pounding like an unbalanced engine, my legs tangled in the sheet and twinging to hint at cramp should I move the wrong way or put too much weight on them. Those are the dreams of the old campus, confusing and sometimes terrible dreams that have, I think, begun to feed on themselves.

The old campus was big - perhaps two kilometres by four, if you could have rearranged all the various roads and alleys and buildings and scrub areas and so forth into a single regular shape. But you could not - no-one could do that, the way it had grown, both by design and by accident, defied organisation. It was easy to become lost in one's first year, so easy that it was taken into account during scheduling - when a work party was required, it was drawn a quarter as big again as was necessary, assuming that so many of the group would become lost on their way to the muster point that the final gathering would be roughly the right size. It was not un…

Art Pact 250 - In Rebellion

"If there's an end to this in sight," said Mantell, "I must be facing in the wrong direction, because I certainly cannot see it."

"It's inevitable, though. A fire that burns this fast must burn itself out."

Mantell gave me a sympathetic look, shook his head sadly.

"I do appreciate your attempt to make sociology one of the more exacting physical sciences," he said, "but I fear that rebellion and conflict do not work entirely the same way that fluid mechanics does. This, my friend, is a potential disaster. You can say what you like about it coming to a natural end, but I fear that the only natural end it is likely to come to is one where we all die, making it impossible to continue conflict."

Latto grunted from the other end of the room. He had been sitting on the ottoman by the window, staring down into the chaos below. He still had the bandages on his leg from an injury he had sustained last week, run down by a cavalry charge …