The side too stupid to run.
Author Archives: emtwytte
If a cloud be soft,
Then, a sound bed be softer:
When exhaustion calls
What steals it away?
Our curiosity and awe –
Nature or nurture? What
Displaces our joy of discovery with
Endless ennui for such
Ridiculously wonderful things?
Merchants and farmers
Prisoners and protestants
Boatman and trailblazers
Fortune hunters and families
Plantations and slaves
Abolitionists and soldiers
Statesmen and sherriffs
Miners and railroadmen
Industrialists and unions
Newsmen and orphans
Suffragists and freed slaves
Scientists and snake oil salesmen
Socialists and socialites
Hollywood and haulers
Songwriters and slumlords
Innovators and excavators
Teachers and tax evaders
Engineers and Evangelicals
Policemen and prostitutes
Programmers and painters
Doctors and dancers
Criminals and creditors
Bankers and buskers
We build it together
Advance or retreat
Completely our nation
Yet never complete
A single hook pulls but one way
To a single doom by a single wound
Or it tears away, a permanent pain
Exchanged for a freedom that’s new.
But multiple hooks (two, three, or more)
Pull together the force of a terrible choice:
Acceptance of them or a gaping hole
That can close but never return the loss.
Or those same hooks can pull apart:
Tearing or tugging however they choose,
A storm of forces that fight and shred
Follow one, fight another, again, again, and again,
Until one or the other, flesh or forces, lies dead.
Not that a deathwalk was the most concrete evidence in court – not yet. After all, the deathwalker was the only one who could hear the dead. But to not even be able to give the police some clues?
“Cannot speak to them?”
An audible snort punctuated the muttering.
“Won’t, they mean,” the snorter claimed. “Not for what the ISSP can afford to offer. Ialuans don’t leave their planet for a few hundred al.”
“Which the ISSP would know,” Kith stated. “Would they not offer more?”
“Sounds like they don’t want it investigated.”
Bemused, I stopped stirring my food around and watched the huddle nod knowingly. They parted almost automatically, never interrupting their discussion, and the dark-haired woman slid through the crowd and walked back to the table. She was shaking her head. Our eyes met, and she smiled. In an ancient gesture, she motioned me to lean closer. When I did, she put her lips to my ear and whispered.
“How long do you think it’ll take for them to realize it’s a conspiracy site?”
It took a second to register. Then, I blinked. My lips twitched, abut I kept it more or less together. She had no such inhibitions and threw her head back with a rich, belly laugh.
“This is not appropriate.” But Kith didn’t frown (at least his disapproval didn’t have the same palpable force as before). And even echoing over the mutters, his comment didn’t phase his crewmate in the least.
“Screen, return to previous report at last cued moment,” she called, smiling and leaning casually back in her chair.
“Taaay,” came the complaint from the crowd.
“The scattered locations and unrelated cargos and passengers, however, leave many wondering. The two found were members of the same crew, so many leading experts insist that these are three unrelated crimes. The interplanetary police have this to say:”
The grumbling ceased as the image on the screen changed to an officer in the crisp gray interplanetary uniform.
“We are pursuing all possibilities in regards to the two disappearances that have occurred in our sector, and while I will not disregard the possibility of a link, there is no evidence to suggest it at this time. Again, we would caution interplanetary travels to follow flight protocols and take every precaution until the perpetrators have been caught.”
The screen shifted again to a fruitless discussion of possible fates for the ships. After a moment, the crew switched it off.
“They still don’t say why the dead aren’t talking.”
“Or what companies the ships fly for.”
“That says enough, doesn’t it?”
“Ya. Rich company won’t admit they’re sending small crews under the radar.”
Caught up in the discussion, and, yes, my curiosity for the different races huddled together, I swung around swiftly at the sound of my name and title.
The dark-haired woman met my eyes with that same perpetually amused expression.
“You’re missing a golden opportunity.”
I stared blankly.
“Kith is distracted, and your food may still be warm.”
Blinkng, I glanced down at the meal. There were several ingredients I had not tasted and analyzed yet. I met her eyes with a smile.
Reverently, I took a small bite of the blue plant. It did seem to be a vegetable and had an interestingly sour flavor that hinted at a special treatment before it was included in the dish. Scooping up the next unknown, I looked up again. She hadn’t moved from what I could tell but seemed entirely entertained by the argument by the screen.
“Forgive my rudeness,” I started and waited for her head to turn, “but I don’t believe we were introduced.”
“So formal,” she smirked, “Nat should’ve known you were Kaihmi.”
Not knowing quite how to take that, I took another small bite.
“I’m Tay,” she said, “I’m Nat’s pilot.”
I nearly spit out my food. The pilot and announced as casually as a dockworker! I flew to my feet to form the correct sign of greeting.
“Definitely Kaihmi,” she shook her head, but her eyes twinkled. “Sit, please. Eat.”
Sure that she was laughing at me, I sat a bit awkwardly.
“Don’t mind her,” came an unexpected comment from the side, “Tay loves poking holes in Kaihmi protocols.”