Archive for February, 2009

24

February 1, 2009

So Naarka walked out of the tent, squinting in the bright sunlight and heavy with his just eaten lunch. As he walked over to his vehicle, the sand and gravel crunched and shifted beneath his feet, making him a little nauseated in the heat.

Reaching his vehicle, he swung his leg over the seat, bent down his head to take the leather string from around his neck and slipped it over his head, almost tangling it in his long, dirty, almost clumped but not yet dread-locked hair. He slipped the four prongs of his key into the sun-warmed fuselage, about a decimeter in front of his crotch, where it started to bulge out and up to meet the steering column. He pushed down on the front foot pad and the vehicle jumped up and bobbed slightly in the air.  The air immediately below the vehicle’s hover pads became slightly clearer than the air around it – in fact the other air grew fuzzier. The clear air was acting as a lens. The gravel right under the hover pads appeared slightly larger, like the small stones at the bottom of a fish tank. Naarka had the feeling that if he kicked that gravel underneath his vehicle’s pads it would drift only slowly back to the ground as if it were immersed in water. He couldn’t see the front light that was automatically turned on in when the vehicle started, but he knew it was there.

He stood straight in the stirrups and leaned his body to add extra power to his turning of the steering column, and arced the vehicle along a sharp turn through the gap in the rope marking the citizen’s parking area and then slowly down the lane of the large parking area, carefrul not to hit the smelly animals or helots pf the caravans to either side. He didn’t want to damage his vehicle or waste time with disputes over damage or injury.

He swung the vehicle left and out into the road heading south. He pulled his woolen scarf up from around his neck where it sat baggy and loose most of the time and he pulled it up over his mouth and nose. He used the adhesive pads which lined it every few centimeters on one side (which he thought of as the ‘skinward’ side) to stick it comfortably to his face. He reached into a small thin rectangular holster on his belt, snapped its button open and pulled out his driving glasses, goggles really, and put them on as well to protect to finish the protection of his face from the dust and sand flying in the wind and off the road. The only traffic to kick up dust was himself, streaming alone and lonely but expectant down the empty road to the south. It was going to be about forty-five minutes before he reached the turn off to the access road which led to the factory wherein lived his prey, maybe. He had some more time to settle the volcano of thoughts inside him, the tornado of ideas swirling inside his cranium.

But nothing came to him. He thought no big thoughts. He had no big ideas on the ride down there. Most of his consciousness was taken up with pure anticipation. And when his mind could no longer handle that, when he grew tired or overloaded or bored with it, he couldn’t tell which, his mind just drifted. To the landscape around him. He wondered about the physical laws that underlay the formation of the particular shapes of the dunes around him. Were other shapes possible, and by what means? Differently shaped granules of sand or dust? Were differently shaped granules even possible? Could you have a a desert made of needles of sand rather than grains of sand? What kind of phsyical process would produce something like that? What about flakes? What if the sand were magnetic, or had some property where that made it very viscous when acting as a fluid – if the grains stuck to each other very well but didn’t stick to anything else well? Or vice versa? Would the shapes of the dunes be different then? What about a different kind of wind, rather than a different kind of sand?

He saw a few scraggly shrubs and flowers by the side of the road and wondered what their names were. How long of a ride was this? How far away did that stupid helot say it was going to be? It seemed longer than forty minutes already. He should start to be on the lookout for that stupid pole with the stupid colored glass at the top. Now he had to engage his attention and look for it, and look for it, and look for it. God this was gonna wear him out. It was already wearing him out, looking for this damn fucking thing. What a stupid way to mark the road, what a stupid way to advertise your fucking business. Was that it ahead? A tall thin object? No, that was a tree. Which was not long after all. Stunted in fact. Stunted and twisted in the desert. I wonder what its name is, he thought. I wonder if I give a flying fuck. I wonder if anyone in the world cares. He felt like stopping to take a piss on the tree just to show how pissed he was at it for not being the gad-damn pole with the fairy-ass-fucking blown glass on top of it.

But he kept on going. Was that it? Yes. Yes, it had to be. Naarka slowed and approached the pole at a crawl. It was a long pole, but there was no glass bowl a the top. No sphere. There were no glass shards or debris on the ground near the pole either. It looked like it might be a flag pole. The remains of a rope hung dead from a metal cleat near the top of the pole. He looked to the west. The landscape didn’t look like it bore a road. It looked like simple desert. It was slightly flat – that is, the dunes were slightly lower than elsewhere, but they were still fucking dunes. Hmm. The dunes were only two or three feet high – his vehicle could drive across them. Maybe they turned into a road? Maybe someone shattered the glass sphere long ago, so that the glass was buried by the sand? Maybe they stole the fucking thing like that guy was bitching about?

Naarka figured he had better give it a try. He turned his vehicle to the west and started moving slowly over the undulations that made him lean back and then far forward in his seat.

He only went a couple of kilometers before giving up. The dunes quickly grew too large for his vehicle to handle. He looked again to the north and south, and he couldn’t see any where else where he should have or even could have turned off to expect a road in this cacaphonic madness of featureless waves of sand. He turned back and headed back to the north-south road.

When he saw the road again and realized he wasn’t lost, he became quite pissed. He turned south again. As his anger flared, so did a deep sense of uncertainty akin to dread. If the man who told him about the side road was mistaken, or had misled him in some way, then what about what he had said about the glass factory? Would he have to go back to that eatery and kill that stupid helot for being a liar? What a pain. These doubts swept through him, physically pushing him sideways. Or, no – that was the wind. He looked up and again scanned the horizon for signs of a storm, and there it was about a kilometer ahead. A pole with something round at the top.

He slowed as he neared it. The wind was at a mild but respectable strength now, blowing dust but not yet blowing large amounts of sand. It didn’t obscure his vision. He drove in a slow circuit around the pole to examine it. He stopped. He did not turn off his vehicle, but he swung his leg over and stepped off. It bounced and bobbed, twisting slightly askew but quickly righting itself. He stepped over to the pole, and pulled the front of his pants down, took his dick out and propelled a steady stream of urine at the pole.

He played the stream up, down and side to side while standing still himself. His right hand, on his cock, guided the urine, and his left held his pants down. Finally the stream petered out. He shook off the last droplets with a few flicks of his right wrist, stuffed his cock back and let the waistline of his pants snap to his waist again. He reached down to his crotch again and from the outside of his pants re-arranged his cock for for a little more comfort. Well, he thought to himself, That was a pretty childish thing to do. Was he less angry now? Yes. Yes he was. He was less angry because he was more embarrassed and more ashamed. His shame had crowded out his anger, but now he felt himself starting to grow angry over the shame. Why should he be ashamed of something like that? It was just stupidly funny, amusingly stupid. Why should this god-damn situation, these god-damn helots, drive him to such infantile behavior? Fuck them. God-damn them.

He stood still and looked up at the top of the pole. Now he wanted to do something to that glass ball up there, that signpost or advertisement. Naarka felt that it was presumptuous. It had to come down. He felt a brief pang of premature regret or even trepidation that he might be found out as the vandal, but the pang was articulated in a dim corner of his mind which he did not understand very well, though it sometimes forced his attention to itself.

He walked back over to the vehicle, looked around the body, leaned over it to look at the other side and then found then the pack he was looking for. He unzipped the pack, reached in and pulled out a gun. It had both a chamber for launching bullets, and it was also a slingshot: on top was a little box that took rocks, buttons, what have you. Anything handy that was about half-fist sized or smaller could be aimed and launched at violent speeds. It would be nowhere near as accurate, as forceful, or of the range of an actual bullet from the same gun, but still very annoying if you were in its way. After looking around Naarka found a rock on the ground near the pole. He put the rock in the box and made sure there was enough charge in the explosive chamber feed. He held the gun with his right hand and held his right wrist with his left hand. He aimed up at the smoky green globe streaked with milky white and pulled the trigger. Instantly the orb shattered. It shrugged and hung in the air indecisively for a second, then all the many pieces it had become came falling to earth, faster as they dropped.

Naarka threw his upper right arm in front of his eyes to shield them from the shower of glass. Oh shit – Wow, that was stupid to do that while I’m standing under the fucking thing. However he was not injured, and he enjoyed seeing up close the pieces of glass hit the sand and splash a little bit, as if they were hitting water. The sand thrown up hung in the air as a small fog of dust. In contrast and tone it was reminiscent of a spring morning’s mist, but in a a dull beige rather than a vibrant green. The little cloud drifted lazily away in the slackened wind.

Naarka had thought, before he shot it down, that he would pick up a large piece to appraise it, to look at the handiwork that went into it, and to see possible enemy through his works. But no pieces were really big enough to be worth picking up, and right now after the excitement of shooting it he didn’t particularly feel like cutting his fingers on any of it. So, Fuck it, he thought.

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