Monday February 29th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the chief.

Taking a break from the Wastelands today. Still on my mind, though.

Max and I helped Kat's parents clear out tumbleweeds from their fence line this morning, as they're having a deer fence installed this week. That basically involved raking them into piles and then setting said piles on fire. You may be surprised by how hot that stuff burns, even when there's not much of it.

This afternoon we were back at soccer class, which was its usual good time. I could tell Max was tired, but he hung in there pretty well.

And now I am about ready to zonk out myself, so I'll get to my writing now.


He has not left his tent in days. They say he is consulting his advisers - both earthly and spiritual. That they expect us to believe the latter says much of what they think of us. Few among us still trust the guidance of our ancestors, especially in matters such as these.

How could they have ever faced an enemy such as ours?

They say he will emerge soon, carrying a message and a purpose and a direction. That he will have found a path through this wilderness and he will guide us to it and along it. I wonder if they believe this nonsense themselves, or simply wish to.

Every passing day is costing our people dearly. Our numbers dwindle, as do our provisions. This is not leadership. This is timidity. We do not need to find a trail through the darkness.

We need to blaze one.

I know he is in his tent. I know he is not consulting. I know he is not meditating. I know he is not seeking a solution to our problems. Instead, he searches for a solution to his own.

For he is dying.

Clinging to his life while his people lose their grip on theirs all around him. Does he not know? Does he not care? He was not always this selfish. The fever, perhaps, has made him this way.

I hoped for his recovery too, once. No longer. This has gone on too long. Our people need a new leader now. Not in a week, or two weeks, or a month. It will be too late then. Now. Now is the time.

So I sit in my tent, whetting my knife, and I wait and watch for my opportunity to put an end to this impasse.


Greg said...

Burning tumbleweeds sounds like fun, though surely it would be even better to set them alight and then film them tumbling along? And post the video here for us all to enjoy?
Your chief seems to be about to pass on the mantle of leadership, however unwillingly. I think I could see the ending coming quite early on, though you did a nice job of setting the scene and building up the need for movement and the dreadful slowness that's holding everyone back.

The chief
Cecily stood up abruptly from the table, her tongue hanging from her mouth like a hot dog's, and pointed at a bare wall. It had ornate wallpaper on it, a white background with arsenic green fleur-de-lis and I suspected it was the choice of the original owner. "The Dark Lady," she said. She swayed on her feet, and I stood up and delicately held her shoulders. She steadied and shrugged me off. "The last barn," she said. "The Dark Lady. Eighteen Imperial Litres. And rising."
The coincidence was too strong for me to ignore, so while Cecily sat back down and lifted the bottle of wine, pouring it straight down her throat like an alcoholic sword-swallower too tired to perform for the crowd, I slipped my shoes back on and went outside to see what might be in the last barn.
The door was unlocked and I was surprised. Inside I stumbled as my feet collided with something metal placed just inside the door and when I backed away I discovered a storm lantern. I had matches in my jacket pocket, and though my fingers brushed against my pipe I decided that smoking was unwise in an unknown barn. The lantern lit with ease and I adjusted the brass valve – cunningly worked as a dragon's head with tiny crest and glinting, callous eyes of topaz – until the light it shed revealed the glassworks that filled the barn before me. There were two distinct apparatuses: the one of the left wore a placard on which were written the words The Dark Lady and the other labelled as The Chief. There were hints of phlogiston residue in both, and decanting vessels stood empty, corroded and waiting in a pile to the side of the door.
I took the lantern back into the house with me, somehow more comforted by its light than the stark elektrikal flux that was provided by the wall-switches. There are those that swear that the fluxion is the way of the future, but it banishes shadows and makes paper hard to look at and I do not see its ascendancy myself. When I set the storm lantern down on the table our shadows danced like old romantics around the room and the soft hiss was a blessed comfort.
"The Dark Lady and the The Chief," I told Cecily. "They are devices for processing the phlogiston, but I–"
"In the Dark Season we invoke the Dark Lady," said Cecily. "It is only just."
"Right," I said, picking the books up again. "Let me see if I can find a sane reason for that."

Marc said...

Greg - indeed. As long as they didn't set the entire orchard alight along the way :P

Hmm. Hmm, hmm, hmm. So intriguing.

Wonderful descriptions and details, as usual. The lantern, the wallpaper, all of it. Lovely. I can't remember whether or not more is coming (just more evidence of how far behind I've fallen with comments), but I hope it is!