Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Half Shaman in Space: The Food Book

A utility corridor in the Ark Ship

Jeb finally works out how to escape from the White Hall. The entity continues its enculturation program. Jeb learns what she needs.

The corners of the room, I remember, is where people got stuck. I approach the wall where in my dream I saw Mongoose leave. I walk with the pace he used. I shut my mind to the possibility I will bounce back from the wall.  

Concentrate on walking in step with the dream-Mongoose. Walk far longer than necessary. In fact, I stop because I catch my middle on a horizontal bar. Open my eyes. 

I’m pressed against a handrail. I grip the places where Mongoose might also have held it. Many metres below a throng of people circles slowly around a mysterious midpoint. Lucky the handrail was there or I would’ve fallen on them. Splat. 

I’ve come to a huge place. As well as the hundreds of people in the circling crowd down below, I see tens of dozens of people make their ways into doorways, or come out to walk a way to other doorways on either side of me along the steel walkway I stand on.

My senses reel. I feel faint. I recall how hungry I am. How little I have drunk in the last hours. 
"Your blood is thick from dehydration. Your heart is finding it difficult to shove it around your body and get it up to your brain. Fainting brings your head to the level of your heart"
“So where can I drink and eat?”

Why did I expect an answer? I watch people coming out of the various doors either side of me. At last I see someone still chewing, and wiping her mouth with a scrap of white. A serviette, I hope. She came out of the third door to the left.

I glance behind me to the place where I came through the wall. A panel of white. Steel pipe gangways make a U shape along an inlet in the building-like structure crenellating the walls of the central hall. 

Central hall. Where did that thought come from? The Central hall of what? 

No answer. Go to something else. The white panel I came through is the midpoint of the U. The gangway I’m on is nearest the ceiling of the great space. Remember that. As I near the third door to my left, the door slides into the wall. 

I walk into the room beyond. The walls are lined with hundreds of little windows with food behind them. I watch people take out food. I try to lift a little door. Nothing. 
"You’ll need tokens. Get them at the counter at the back"
I don’t much like the entity thinking these words into me. It always chimes in a little after I have tried. Or is that the idea?
"How else will you learn?"
Learn with it doing I-told-you-so stuff? A busty, white-aproned woman behind the counter stands with her arms stretched, hands far apart on the much-scrubbed stainless steel surface. 

“You’ll be another of the refugees from Lotor,” she says. “Hungry and with no credits. Knowing none of the codes for life on the Ark-Ship. Knowing none of the manners needed to get on in the hall.” 

She slides forward a fat little book of thick leaves, about the size of a ten-brick of dressed stone a forefinger long, wide and high. “That should keep you until you can earn a few credits.”

I don’t know how it’ll keep me. The pages, when I flip them, appear to be empty, unwritten on. I scan people operating the food dispensers. None of them needs anything like tokens or vouchers which are the only thing I can think of that the leaves of this book might be. 

I weigh the book on my hand. “I’m supposed to eat it?” I say meaning to be facetious. 
“I would if I was as hungry as you look to be,” says the woman.
Huh? Is she joking? She doesn’t react. Just keeps wiping the counter where I leant on it. 

“Could I bother you for a drink?” I say when I see someone slurping from a box. 

“Fair enough I suppose,” the woman says. She slides a box of liquid over the counter. She sighs. “I should probably start you a tab. What’s your name?”

My stomach growls. 

People behind me laugh. 

“Forget it. Go. Eat. Drink,” the woman says. “Not in here,” she calls when I curve toward the back of a garbage disposal unit to sit behind it. 

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