Thinking About the Future

Whereby Yaz Is Reminded That He Has Far To Go.
by Electric Keet

We walked along the esplanade at the edge of the city-dome, looking back and forth from the grey-and-white starkness of Mare Serenitatis outside to the grey-and-white starkness of Lunarian geometry within. Both had an abstract appeal, somehow too crisp to be real.

“Does it bother you?” I asked.

Falda shook her head. “That he is changing? Of course not.” She fingered one of her rose quartz ear-cuffs, then sighed. “Perhaps a little. He speaks differently, he walks differently, and he was not wearing any symbol of our house.”

I tilted my head a bit. “I suppose he found something he wanted, just like you did.”

“He is… a strange mirror,” she said. “I did not want to serve with my pack, so I left and became independent in a way that few Callistian wolves ever are or want to be. He did not want to live as royalty, so now he serves as a citizen here in a way that few humans would ever do. Part of such an orderly society, always knowing his place and what he can do to the best of his potential….”

I looked at her, and she was staring toward the edge of the city with misty eyes. I knew that look. “Falda? You’re happy, right? I mean, are you? If this isn’t want you want to be doing—”

“Oh, Yaz.” She grinned at me, suddenly back to her usual self. “This is exactly what I want to be doing right now. Later, I will do what I want to do then. I promised myself that.” Then, she was back to the city. “I just wonder, that is all. This place is sensible, and… what is the word… ascetic? Not quite. But everyone is polite and happy here. It is an inspiration, yes?”

“Well, I hadn’t thought of it that way, especially after what Bell said, but you have a good point….” The truth was, I hadn’t thought of it that way at all until the last few days. Lunarians found elsewhere in the system tended to come across as distant and a little haughty. At home, however, they were positively friendly.

For a few moments, our only sounds were footsteps on the walkway. Falda was the one to break the silence. “Anyhow, what do you want to do after the Thirteen Ribbons?”

“Hunh?” I shrugged and laughed a little. “Fifteen minutes ago, I couldn’t decide what to do after dinner, and now you want me to plan for a couple months from now? I don’t know. I could probably get my job back at the hotel, if I claimed temporary insanity, which would be easy given what the… the… regional manager did for me….”

Falda laughed a little. “No, you silly man, what do you want to do?”

My own mind reasserted itself slowly from the squid’s influence just in time for my ear to buzz. “Ack. It’s Lady. Sorry, one tick, let me find out what she wants.” I clicked to accept the call.

Zdravstvujte, hozjain!

I muttered to Falda, “She only ever speaks Russian when she’s tripping hard.” Then, to Lady, “I need English, sorry.”

“Yeah, okay. I need… a favour.” I heard Eekay and someone else giggling in the background while Lady spoke, still with a trace of accent. “I forgot to buy meal bars and I… I won’t be clear enough by the flight tomorrow.”

“Send Eekay.”

“Zie can’t go.”

“Noise. Put zim on the call,” I ordered.

The snow leopard’s cheerful voice joined in. “Zdravstvujte, hozjain!

I started digging in my belt pack for the Soma I knew I’d need by the end of the call. “Explain.”

“Lady an’ Alba and I ’ad some free ticks an’ I fancied learning more Russian, so I chemmed us all on Key Logo – hee! – I think we accidentally doubled.”

With the number of times zie’d accidentally doubled, you’d think everyone in the system would have stopped trusting zim to measure things out. “Lady, I can understand, and I don’t know Alba so I can’t say, but I’ve never known anyone as adept as you at getting around while glitched.”

“But I can’t leave,” Eekay said slowly and earnestly, the way I must have sounded when the post-hypnotic influence of the squid took hold of my speech. “The door says not to disturb it.

“What—” I clenched eyes and jaw shut, half in frustration and half in an attempt to not laugh out loud. In classic lack of forethought, Eekay must have left the privacy hanger on the inside of zir hostel room door. “All right, look, why do you need these meal bars anyhow?”

Lady babbled in the background. Eekay responded to her in Russian, then to me. “She’s watching vids and gettin’ a kick out of the programme guide. Um. Word is, everyone on Mars eats only meat and she’ll starve there, or worse.”

“That’s not true. They have plenty of accommodations. Look, just… I’ve made arrangements and I promise you won’t starve on Mars, Lady, and I promise that nobody will eat you.” As I said this, I looked at Falda and let slip enough of a grin that she giggled. “You can get back to your Russian lessons, okay?”

All three said at once, “Da vstrechi!

“Yeah, that. Sure. End call.” Once it was disconnected, I shook my head and snickered. “They all took Key Logo, and now they’re confusing written words for what they say.” The wolf at my side laughed, and instantly I felt better. “Clearly, I’m meant to be a babysitter.”

“You knew the risks of this job,” she said.

I shrugged and dropped the unused Soma stub back into my pack. “And yet I took it anyhow.”

“Why did you?”

In some alternate universe, I’m sure I said, “Because I missed the bodyracing business and couldn’t admit as much after what I did and how I left.” In another, I must have said, “Because Eekay asked me to and zie’s always had that kind of power over me.” In yet another, I’m positive I said, “Because I had the sort of lapse of reason that made me get into the business the first time.”

Instead, I said, “I’m not really sure. Maybe I’ll have it figured out by then.”

  1.’s avatar

    *snickers* I recognize that drug! Wish I had some. :-D


    1. Eekay’s avatar

      Nice bonus of visiting Luna – it’s bum-easy to snag most any smartdrug you could crave. That or the ivory zones of Io. Anywhere you find collegiates or other brainy types, spot? Natch, they’ll be all low-key about it and ask what your field of study is, but word “independent work trying to link Cerian meta-grammar with the sun’s surface activity” and they give you the candy and leave you alone because you’re obviously too genius or too insane for them.

      Wiseword: Never chase this with Decon. I saw someone spend eight hours babbling at an apple; seeing words, reinterpreting, observing, seeing new words. She hasn’t been able to look at an apple since. (Or that’s her pet myth….)