Archive for June, 2012

pay attention

June 30, 2012

Finally his Number was called up. He walked up to the barrier tape where an attendant met him and led him through the maze of desks on the other side. He sat down beside the desk of a woman with gray-streaked hair, but a youthful face. He couldn’t decide if she dyed her hair or applied rejuvenating skin treatments. “I’d like to find out who my grandparents were,” he told her.

“Hmm,” she replied while checking her records. “Well it says here you haven’t earned enough merit to receive that information.”

“I have money. I would like to use that instead of merit.”

“I’m sorry, that’s not allowed. You cannot convert money directly into merit. You can of course use money to help earn merit, for example through charitable donations. But it has to be done with care. Simply hitting a button while sitting here to transfer a certain amount won’t earn you very much merit. Some, but certainly not enough to earn the right to know your ancestry. In order to earn real merit you must think carefully and direct how the money is spent.”

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gilded

June 29, 2012

He hired me to write a praise poem for him and I told him I had to stay with him and follow him around for about a week to gather material. When I stayed at his ranch he had these big tanks of CO2 in his barn that he would use to carbonate every single beverage. Ever had carbonated milk? It’s disgusting at first but quickly becomes wearisome. He had to show me his hunting trophies. Some of his friends had given him as a gift not only the stuffed head of a lion he had shot, but also had had it gold-plated. He then had to out-do them by giving himself the gift of covering an elephant’s head in platinum. Yeah. I don’t think he even shot that elephant.

lump together

June 28, 2012

They always felt bad that our sister had married such a terrible drunk, but were never really sure what to do about it. After she uploaded to YouTube an embarrassing video of him being alternately abusive and pleading, they decided together not to invite her to Thanksgiving that year.

burn

June 27, 2012

With a thunderous speech, he urged them all to burn their worker identification cards. Attendants collected them for the fire. The next week police came to each house with the same cards, marked for investigation.

mislaid

June 26, 2012

It’s a lovely stroll along the tracks, especially when the weather is nice. Of course you can only walk so much at a stretch, then you have to walk back to the little open cart and drive it forward to the next little bit of walking you can do. Because you need to put whatever you find in the cart, you see. And believe me, you find a lot. I don’t see how we can say people are skimping when they can afford to lose track of so many things as they wander about the nation. It’s not a hard job, and I get a lot of time to myself. It’s not the job itself that I want to leave, I want to move away somewhere where my daughters won’t grow up in this wasteful modern fashion.

When I go in to the boss to give my notice, before I can speak he tells me of a great disaster on one of the main lines. Two trains have collided after one of the ┬ájumped the tracks. A dozen of our best brakemen have been lost. Seeing as we’re so shorthanded he asks me if I’d be willing to step in and take on the job of being a brakeman, starting tomorrow. My natural sense of duty forced my to accept before I knew what I was doing.

cookies

June 25, 2012

The washer woman baked cookies every anniversary and took them to the park to feed to the birds there. When the little boys began shooing away the birds so that there would be cookies left for them to eat after she left, she lied to them, saying “I bake poison into those cookies.” The boys reported her to the animal protection society.

microdroplets

June 24, 2012

The archduchess felt that the princess’s loquacity was none too feminine. The chemical de-tonguing she snuck her through a new gift of perfume left the girl with a haunted ferocious cast to her eyes.

seizure

June 23, 2012

Once memories could be directly copied and thus fell under intellectual property laws, acts of imagination became counterfeit goods.

translation barrier

June 22, 2012

Only under the influence of the drug could he understand the garbled speech coming out of the radio. But he could never remember what it was, and all the notes that he took were just as incomprehensible when he looked at them the next day. Only actions could cross this barrier. If there were directions contained in the message, he must remember next time to carry them out so that he could examine the results the next day.

suasion

June 21, 2012

Her oldest nephew had been picked up by a patrol. As head of the household she had to visit the jailer to negotiate bail. The jailer sat under a tree outside the jail, which was the colony’s only building. Somewhere in there her nephew was sitting at a desk, with no gear except clothes. She twisted the knurl on her pinky and her vision shifted through a spectrum of aural, odor, heat, and light. The thoughts in his head arced in purple sigils. He was wearing a masking helmet. That was non-standard. He was wealthy. There would probably be a separate fee above release for the return of his nephew’s gear.