Into the Silence – Chapter 9

After Guhle left, I cleaned up my table and went to find Gator. I figured I had had enough time to cool down and could approach him directly about why he didn’t get in contact with me about the early departure time.

It took me about an hour to track him down. Despite the restrictions by the Farseers to stay topdeck, it was surprisingly easy for people to disappear. No one was in the lounge. Guhle had wandered off. Em was nowhere to be found. Chief and Tic-Toc were still in the galley. I checked everywhere for Sys, Mearr, or Gator before I finally decided to head up to the cockpit.

After my previous trip up there, as well as the vibe I had gotten from Mearr and Sys, I had resolved to avoid the cockpit as much as possible. There was no reason for me to be there, as my job didn’t have any technical components — just deckswabbing. I also didn’t want to mess anything up, whether in the machinery or in the operation, so I resolved to stay on the maindeck for the entirety of the trip.

Seems God has a sense of humor, or else is a fickle bitch.

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Into the Silence – Chapter 8

There are, I have learned, three kinds of Farseers.

The first are the mythical oracles who spend their lives “in the dreaming,” as they like to say, viewing the future. They are considered to be responsible for the vast majority of their Imperium’s safety, because they know what the hell is going on. Aside from the near-galaxy-wide empire of efficiency that they help build and maintain, these guys aren’t so bad. Mostly because you never see them.

The second are the Vigilant Sentinels. The Watchers whe spend their time “in the waking.” The guys who get out on the frontline — or as close to the front as any Farseer comes — and maintain the day-to-day order. In other words, the assholes.

If you haven’t noticed yet, these guys piss me off. They’re also, conveniently, the ones who were sent as couriers on our freighter.

I suppose, if I really think about it, it makes sense that they’d be the couriers. Since they don’t bother with “the dreaming,” they don’t ever need to sleep. Makes them perfect — and persistently annoying — guards. Much better ones, at least, than an oracular guard who never woke up.

What’s that? The third kind? Oh, right. The third type of Farseer is the hybrid kind, like Gator, who doesn’t want to have anything to do with the rest of the Farseers.

I still haven’t decided how I feel about those types.

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Into the Silence – Chapter 7

In the galley, I found Chief still at work. He was now slicing some manner of rehydrated fruit. I didn’t recognize it, but it had stripes of red and yellow with bluish spots. Didn’t look particularly appetizing to me, but I wasn’t about to tell Chief that.

Instead, I made the terrible, unforgivable mistake of trying to find food on my own.

As I made my way toward the cabinets where I had seen Chief stow the beans, a segmented limb whipped up from the floor and blocked my way. When I glanced up at Chief, he was leaning over the counter, knife buried in its surface, head glaring at me not three inches from my face.

He made that screeching growl noise and I froze.

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Into the Silence – Chapter 6

The list was manageable, so far as I knew. Though I hadn’t worked in janitorial services as frequently as I had construction or other heavy labor industries, I did have some experience with the work.

I just hadn’t expected Gator’s needs to be so…extensive.

Maybe I just hadn’t known what I was getting myself into. “Deckhand.” That was my title, right? Well, what was that? I suppose I was thinking of “assistant,” or “handyman,” or “the guy on the deck…who happens to have a hand.”

Yeah, maybe I didn’t know as much about space-based transportation as I thought.

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Into the Silence – Chapter 5

Now, it’s not that I thought Gator was dangerous. Well, let me correct that. I’m confident that Gator is dangerous, in the same way that all Farseers are dangerous. But I wasn’t afraid that he would hurt me or anything. I knew he was, so to speak, on my side.

But when you’re new to a crew and you suddenly find yourself alone in a room with a two-and-a-half-meter pillar of mechanical menace, all deep-violet swaths of cloth wrapped around glittering lights and sharp steel edges…well, you let me know how you fare.

Gator stood there for a long moment, tapping through the display screens projected by his armor, then he closed them all down, sighed, and turned toward me.

“So, that wasn’t so bad, was it? Settling in okay?”

I shrugged.

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Into the Silence – Chapter 4

“Alright, people, let’s all settle down.”

Gator, who I had learned served as both navigator and executive officer, was leading introductions the day before our freighter was scheduled to launch. So far as I knew, I was the only new member of the crew, but apparently the navigator was one of those sticklers for ceremony.

“This is Jack, he’ll be our new deckhand. Captain wants you to make him feel welcome and help him get acquainted with the ship. At least as best as you can before we launch tomorrow. Don’t feel too bad, Jack, if you’ve still got some questions before we leave. You’ll have plenty of time to figure things out on our trip to Velann II. Any questions?”

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Into the Silence – Chapter 3

The ship was real. I don’t know what I had been expecting, but it was at least real.

Guhle led me through the maze of docking lifts to the port where his crew’s ship was waiting.

And there it was.

As the lift doors opened, there it was. Just sitting in the clamp, all hooked up to about a hundred different cords and tubes and I don’t even know what else.

It was a stocky-looking thing. Not fancy. Not in anyone’s book would this thing be considered fancy, not even mine. But clearly serviceable. Grey hull, but with a curious dappling of black and white spots scattered around the sides.

Guhle led the way across the loading plank toward the port entrance. On our way in, I caught a glimpse of the registration number beneath the cockpit’s exterior. B-355-13. And beneath that, painted on in a fading red, “Bessie.”

I guess that explained the spots.

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A Writer’s Book of Days – 4 July 2016

She Wore Flowers in Her Hair

She wore flowers in her hair, black roses all around. They did nothing to overshadow her scowl, and yet she made them look pretty.

But she traded that crown. Traded that crown for another. Far and away. Far and away.

Soon another comes dancing along, ready to add her steps to the song.

She wore flowers in her hair, blooming blue and full. They added to her smile, but he caused her cracks to show.

He tore away that crown. Traded it for another. One near and dear and hardly won. Near and dear and hardly won.

Because another came dancing along, ready to add her steps to the song.

She wore flowers in her hair, leaves all green and bright. They matched her life and luster. Her dances filled the night.

But he gave away that crown. Gave it away to another. To a former dancer faded away. Faded away.

Faded away.

Eventually another came dancing along, not knowing all that had gone wrong.

She wore flowers in her hair, shining like dandelions. She smiled and laughed and took half a chance to see what this man was about.

They set aside that crown. Both looking back at the others. And then they clear the stage, leaving the lights to die.

They all wear flowers in their hair. Black, blue, green, and gold. And they all survived the man, who never knows what he holds. And knows not where he goes.

Into the Silence – Chapter 2

About an hour later, after I had come to and cleaned up a bit, Guhle and I sat outside a public shower about a block away from Dox’s bar, watching the hundreds of passersby, in about as many different shapes and sizes, making their way between destinations.

I still felt terrible. With even less food in my system now, and a bloodstream that had yet to cycle out the liquor, I was little more than a sweating mess huddled in layered coats. Even Guhle, with his bloody head and his drab workman’s overalls, looked resplendent sitting beside me. Though a large part of it may have been his posture.

“I hope this isn’t a habit of yours,” he said, at last breaking the silence that had existed between us ever since I had finished cleaning myself up.

I shrugged first, then shook my head before clutching my coats tighter around my shoulders.

He sniffed in disdain before crossing his arms over his chest and leaning his head back against the wall of the shower building.

“Hey,” I said, just as he had settled. “Thanks. I guess I owe you now.”

“Yes, you do,” he said, without opening his eyes.

“I’ll pay you back when I can.”

“Sounds like you’re having trouble paying anything at all. Else you wouldn’t have gotten punched out by four-arms back there.” Guhle opened his eyes then and turned his head toward me. “I’m guessing you could use a job.”

I scoffed. “Yeah. That’d help. Good luck finding me one in this orbital zone.”

Guhle settled his head back against the wall again before speaking. “I may have an opportunity for you.”

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A Writer’s Book of Days – 1 July 2016

This is What Was Overheard

This is what was overheard on the way to the fall. A man spoke in rhyme and doomed us all.

We listened and repeated everything we heard, because a man came to captivate us with every single word.

With outrage and indignance we spread the words around. Some of us in support and some of us opposed.

Those with louder voices failed to use them well. The only thing they cared for was what they had to sell. And those of us who laughed and booed and cheered watched as our day of inaction drew near.

Anything seems impossible until it comes to pass. Then a thing seems inevitable, when so many things could have happened to prevent it.

Less attention derails any public work.

Less funding restricts any project’s options.

Less time forces prioritization and limits an idea’s scope.

Opinion without action is impotent. Action without consequence is flagrant. Consequence without temperance is reckless.

And sometimes shadows cast in shades of grey leave us unclear on which direction the light is coming from.