talonkarrde: (Default)
“Alms, sir! Food for tomorrow, good lady?”

The lady wrapped her glimmering silk shawl closer around her and turned her head away in disgust as the gentleman aimed a kick at him.

“Away, you lout! You’ll get our clothes dirty!”

But Myesh knew the game by now, and dodged the kick just barely while continuing his plea — “Alms for the poor, good sir, just a few pennies; the Magistrate has sad that giving alms does clean your soul, Captain…” Myesh could almost see the gears turn in the man’s head as he realized it was an opportunity to impress the lady, and offered his bowl with his left hand, his right briefly flicking something towards the man’s shoe.

The man dropped a few coins into the bowl and then said in a most fatherly fashion, “Run along now, work hard, and you’ll be less than a mile away when you grow up!”

Myesh gladly cooperated, scampering away and tucking the coins into a fold of his rags, even as he seethed at the barb. ‘Less than a mile’ was such a cruel joke; like all the other occupants of the Low Quarters, he was doomed to live and die outside of the wall.

But tonight was special; he wasn’t close to the Wall just to see the Magistrate’s residence in the background. It had started a week ago with hearing the stories of the junior-spacemen who hit some of the Low taverns for company and liquor, and the answers he was given only piqued his interest.

They also interested someone else, a shadowy man who had told him to put a little canister in his bowl and use a certain deity’s name when he begged. The stranger who picked up the microfilm dropped fifteen spacers into his bowl – more than he would’ve earned in two weeks, and very quickly, Myesh was back at the tavern, asking if he could do more.

That led to now, and he drew back into the alley, watching as the couple approached the steel wall and waited for their RFIDs to be read. No one ever got into the High Quarters unless they were wealthy and paid for the implants, and the technology kept the classes quite separate - he had seen some enterprising fools try and fool the reader and be subject to a shock that took week to recover from, a week where many starved to death.

To Myesh, however, the only thing that mattered was that the man wanted something placed on one of the riches. He had done his part and now he watched, wondering what was going to happen. The couple started fidgeting, still waiting for the door to open, and Myesh wondered if they were even going to be let in – but then the doors hissed open and the couple passed through.

Myesh wondered if the man was going to be disappointed, and turned — to find the man right next to him.

“Myesh, you’ve done very well. What we’ve started here will bring down the Magistrate, some day. We can still use your help, but you have another option: the spaceport. I know a captain who will take you; you could go to the stars. Do you understand?”

The boy nodded slowly, weighing his choices.

“So what will it be?”
talonkarrde: (Default)
I am homeless.

If you saw me on the streets, you’d call me a bum, a hobo. You’ve probably kicked people like me aside many times, coming out of your theatre shows and classy dinners. If you were one of the politically-correct academics, you might refer to me as one of the wandering poor, as if we goddamn wanted to be wandering.

But the next time someone like me asks you for some money…spare a bit, please? It isn’t because I think society’s fucked me over, or because I’m lazy and can’t get my own job, or whatever else the sociologists blame ‘the homeless problem’ on – it’s because…well, it's a long story.

Two weeks ago, I went to sleep in my apartment around eleven p.m.. I had a nice loft in Soho, decorated with the post-modernist stuff that’s all the rage.  I remember the TV broadcasting the nanotechnology trial they were doing with Martin whoever, and Malia Obama was talking about the Islamic Caliphate. The day was…Tuesday, July 31st, 2048.

I woke up in what historians would call the Edo period of Japan…in the middle of a goddamn forest, naked. It wasn’t our Japan though, unless they had guns in the 1700s, before contact with the West. I’m sure the other-dimension string-theory-people will have some fun with that; but my problems were more immediate – I was white in a land where there shouldn’t be any, and the limit of my Japanese was two years in high school. I almost got killed on sight, a couple times over, but with some luck, passed myself off as a ronin that had experience with the new weapons, called myself Kisaru. Started to establish myself in that life…and then skipped again, after a month, on April 7th, 1705.

Next jump was farther back, somewhere around 1000, and ended up taking part in a siege of Balansiya, as they called it – it was that, or be hung for being a heathen savage. I wanted to die by then; I charged the city lines like a berserker…but fate wouldn’t have it. We swept the city, and I even got honors for fighting so well. Can you believe that? They said they were going to give me ‘tierra’ …and I just laughed.

The next jump was only a week later, and sent me to the beginning of the third millennium. Being naked on the streets of Manhattan when everyone’s celebrating or fearing the end of the world isn’t so bad…what with the alcohol and the girls being in a celebratory mood…and that kind of a celebration only happens once a millennium. If anything at all good has happened, it was that.

The last five jumps have been every day, when I sleep. I’ve tried not sleeping…but sooner or later I have to, and frankly, I’m getting to the end of my rope.  I want to jump to the future and talk to a scientist, see if they can help me – it has to happen sooner or later, right? I just hope it's not  like skipping a stone across the water - I don't want to know what happens when the stone sinks.

So now that you’ve heard my story, won’t you please spare some change?

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talonkarrde

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