Thursday, 21 March 2019

Part 3 of Logbox - a story by S.C.Eston


As promised - Part three of Steve's entertaining story

Part one - GO HERE
Part two - GO HERE



Mr Eston Is back.



 Steve was a guest recently on the Scribbler. If you missed his previous visit and bio, please go here. Since then I’ve been visiting his website -  www.sceston.ca -  and reading his short stories. I really enjoyed Logbox and he’s kind enough to share it with us this week in three parts.

Part one - Sunday March 17 
Part two – Tuesday March 19
Part three – Today 


(Copyright is held by the author. Used with permission)








Nothing is the same.
For the first time in a long while, I think. I have thoughts, and I can’t control any of them. I’m thinking about escape…
Of all things: escape!
How ludicrous is that?
[laughter]
I can’t stop the thoughts.
I think about Garadia, about the Low Lands.
Even the Red Streets.
Home.
Can I allow myself to think about it as home?
It doesn’t end there.
I think about what I would do if I could return.
I would find the old brick tower. Make a bed there. Something small to start. Just a room or even the corner of a room. Maybe even use the same space that was mine before I left.
Then I would repair the place. Repaint. Rebuild.
I would need work. Something real. Something true. Something that could bring me stuff, stuff to trade.
There would be no cheating this time. I would play by the rules.
My brothers. I would search for their story, learn now what I should have known then.
More importantly, I would apologize. I would have many apologies to make.
It seems right.
[silence]
[laughter]
It is a dream.
These hopes are never to happen. Even if I was to return one day, I could not go back to the Red Streets. It is a strange thing that the mind tries so hard to forget the bad, to make it bearable. Even if my head does not remember the reality, my heart knows it hasn’t changed.

Maybe I could look for Anedia’s family? Or some of her friends? I always wanted to go to the Floating City. We all despise it, but we all want to walk its streets.
There have to be some people who would remember her, who would have cared for her. Not her father. But her mother, surely. I realize I don’t even know if she had brothers, sisters…I could find them and give them this device.
Her voice is on it.




 Coda     
The recording stopped in disintegrating white noise.
The man looked down at the device on top of his desk. It was a box, grayish, showing marks of time and use, covered in scratches. It was not impressive, but it had survived where almost nothing else had.
“So this is it?” he asked, slowly spinning the drink in his hand. The transparent orange liquid swirled in circles, creating a miniature typhoon.
“It is,” said the woman sitting across from him, her legs crossed, her head high.
“Not what I had expected.”
The woman didn’t say anything. Her black suit was impeccable. Her short hair was moist, making the red streak in it look as if it was ablaze. She had just returned from the latest sweep.
“How can you be certain this is the source?” he asked.
“It is still transmitting,” answered the woman. “We don’t know how to stop it.”
He nodded, impressed.
The message had traversed a few billion kilometers to reach them, halfway across the system, loud and clear, on a secret frequency. Not only that, but the box had been constructed from a wide array of disparate materials and pieces. It looked like a logbox, but it was a distress beacon.
Their scientists, with all their knowledge and equipment, had not been able to stop the signal.
Impressive indeed.
He took a sip and felt the satisfying burn as the liquid descended down his throat.
“You’ve analyzed the voice, I assume? Of the girl, and found it is the same as the one on the distress call?”
“We have, and it is.”
“What is her name?” Names didn’t stay easily with him.
“Anedia.”
“Yes, right. And you didn’t find her body?”
“No, we didn’t.” He heard regret there. “Based on the recording, it was to be expected. Her remains would have been dumped into space with other waste.”



“Did you crawl the data-sphere?”
“We have, using her voice pattern. We found her. As stated by the recording, she is a Promient of pure blood. She was studying frequency engineering. The daughter of Daram, ex-director of the innovation department of Bio-Ex. Her disappearance was reported by her mother on the first day of the sixth season, cycle 2453. Strangely, the request for help was retracted a few days later, this time by her father. We know she wasn’t found, so the father had other reasons for halting the search. The next season, the mother committed suicide by jumping off a tram on the northern fringes, falling through the clouds. A search party was sent to look for her, but the body was never recovered. The following cycle, 2454, an explosion hit one of Bio-Ex’s labs in the X quadrant. Daram was one of the 121 casualties. He had no surviving kin, and his estate, as well as all his assets and data, passed on to Bio-Ex.”
“The nature of the explosion?”
“Filed as accidental.”
“Staged,” he corrected.
He offered the woman a drink. She refused, as she had done a few minutes earlier. As she always did. He took a sip from his glass, savouring it, taking his time.
The whole matter was an incredible turn of events. They had been searching for the asteroid mines for years now, without luck. Just a season ago, he had been pressured to cancel the mission. The whole project was in jeopardy.
Then the distress call reached them. Out of nowhere. A single feminine voice asking for help, over and over.
“You realize,” he said, nodding at the small object on the desk, “that we would never have found this place without help?”
“I do,” admitted the woman. “I just wish you would have got here sooner.”
“I know,” admitted the man. His armada had answered, although not nearly as swiftly as he would have liked. Certainly not as quickly as the woman has responded. She was a loner. He had superiors to placate, politics to play. They had already discussed the matter, and she knew how grateful he was for her assistance. He wished he could also thank this Anedia personally. “How many were we able to free?”
“Five hundred and eleven. Half will recover with minor scars. A quarter are in especially bad shape. Of these, some have been altered or augmented. We suspect bio-experimentation. The other quarter are sick and weak, and some will probably not make it. We estimate the mine had over two thousand captives.”
The result was devastating. So many lost, not even counting their own. Yet it provided the proof they needed. The project would continue now. There was no doubt about that. Funding would flow in. More flying crafts would be provided. Resources. Technologies made available. There would be no limit.
But the cost had been terribly high.
“We should talk again before you leave,” he said. “Get some rest. Deserved rest.”

The woman stood and stared through the sole window of the office. The man followed her gaze. Far away, in the dark of space, the remains of the asteroids could be seen. The explosion had been powerful and had almost taken down their craft. The repair bots were outside, fixing and patching. The grinding could be heard and felt through the floor. It would be several more days before they would be able to fly again.
“This was only one of many,” she said. “It is said there are a thousand camps out there.”
“One at a time,” he said. “It is the best we can do.”
But he didn’t feel the confidence he was trying to convey.
“We’ll talk before I leave,” she said, turning away.
As the doors opened to let her out, a thought came to him.
“And this man,” he said, “this Nethu, what about him?”
The woman stopped and turned his way. For the first time since her return, she gave him a tired but genuine smile.
“We found him. The device was hidden under his cot, behind a loose stone. He lives.”

The End




Thank you Steve for sharing your story.

Thank you readers for following. Please visit Steve's website to learn more about this talented author and his work.

www.sceston.ca

Don't forget to leave a comment!

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Part 2 of Logbox - a story by S.C.Eston


As promised, Part Two of Logbox.
If you missed Part one GO HERE 


Mr Eston Is back.


 Steve was a guest recently on the Scribbler. If you missed his previous visit and bio, please go here. Since then I’ve been visiting his website -  www.sceston.ca -  and reading his short stories. I really enjoyed Logbox and he’s kind enough to share it with us this week in three parts.



Part one - Sunday March 17th
Part two – Today
Part three – Thursday March 21st 


(Copyright is held by the author. Used with permission)







Kirta was the destination.
A prison. A slave pit.
A series of tunnels. Some call it the Endless Mines.
I do not know where this place is. I just know it exists and that from now forward, it is the only place there is. The only place there will ever be. It does feel endless. I have walked a very small portion of it. The shafts are many, and I have yet to see the bottom of one.
There is no sky here. I yearn to breathe open air. The whole place is caverns, rocks, and dirt. I can’t remember the warm feeling of sunrays prickling my skin. Or the color of natural light.
I have been here dozens of years. I must now be in my fifties, maybe early sixties. I feel like an old man but do not know my age any longer. I simply don’t.
We are miners. Prisoners, yes, but mainly miners. From the ground we take out rare metals and raw materials. We are not told for whom or for what.
When trying to figure it out, I come back to the lift, to the vision of the Floating City. How it seemed to get lower and farther away. My mind cannot comprehend where the lift would have taken us.
We were going up, toward the skies. Yet here there are only tunnels and darkness.

My cell is a blank cavern, a small cavity, really, with a cot in a corner and a little basin sometimes filled with dirty water or bouillon. I don’t know who dug it out, or how many lived here before me, or how many were imprisoned here.
Many, I imagine.
It doesn’t matter.

Photo by Nazim Zaim - Unsplash
This is an impossibly hard life. Harder than the Red Streets. My hands are covered in calluses and cuts. My skin has turned gray. I used to be quick and agile. I am now heavy and strong, my forearms as wide as my head. Strength and endurance are the required attributes here. If you want to live, and most of us do—stupid instinct—then you get stronger and bigger and tougher.
The more you can extract from the ground, the better you are treated.

Although I took a liking to this little gadget box, I tried to return it to Anedia again today. I pretended it was broken, but she was not fooled.
The last few days, something happened to her, again. Inside the mines, I stay as close to her as I can, as long as I can. It gives me something to do, a purpose of some kind.
But our cells are apart, and when the night periods come, she moves outside my reach and becomes easy prey.
#
About Anedia.
This place, it brings all of us down, to a robot state, crushing our hopes and our wills.
But not Anedia’s.
Earlier I listened to my previous recordings and stumbled upon the section where I remembered thinking that Anedia would eventually deteriorate, simmer down, and die inside.
But she never did.
I do not understand it. She is small and young, weak, one could say. Defenseless might be a better word. Although she never complains, I know it is harder for her than most.
The sad tale is told in the marks on her body. The bruises. The way she limps or can’t sit down properly. She takes everything stoically and always smiles when she first sees me at the start of a new day.
Or a fresh day. That is how she describes it. Fresh.
Seeing her treated that way is the only thing left capable of stirring any emotion in me.
It is painful.
Equally painful every single time.

She is from the Floating City. Or Prominence, as she calls it. She never said it, but there is her brown skin, marked by long hours in the sun. There is also something in her manner, the way she stands, her head high. A sophistication. I always imagined the people of the grand city to be weak and spoiled and arrogant. But Anedia tells a different story.
She has a sweetness about her. She is full of zest and positivity. She is caring. All things we don’t see much of in this place. With reason.
Anedia has altered my perception of the people living in the Floating City. Maybe those living up there, those shitting on us, dumping their detritus and garbage on the Low Lands, are not all bad after all.
Anyway, Anedia doesn’t deserve to be here. She may be the only one who doesn’t.

Photo by Stefano Pollio - Unsplash
Most of the workers have committed one crime or another. Those from the Red Streets are certainly guilty of some form of sin. Like I said before, I killed. I killed in the Red Streets, and I killed in Kirta.
I am not going anywhere.


But Anedia did nothing, absolutely nothing, except be the daughter of an influential man. I don’t understand mega-companies and large corporations. I know complex organizations control most of the power in the Floating City and major regions in the Low Lands. I know of money but have never used it, never had a use for it. But that is as far as my knowledge goes. It is already more than I care to know.
What I understand is survival. Salvage and trade.
Anedia was captured to force her father to consent to the merger of two corporations. He is a powerful man. He is also a despicable human being.
The bastard didn’t back down.

Hello.
My previous entry is the story Anedia told me, or what I remember of it.
Let it be recorded that I believe her.

Okay, here it is.
See, it is still working. I took good care of it.
I’d like you to say a few words. This is your creation, and since you won’t take it back, the least you can do is say a few words. Don’t be modest and just say something, anything.
I don’t know. You decide.
Say your name.
Sorry, I don’t think I got that. Let me get closer. There. Try again.
Anedia.
See.
That was easy, wasn’t it? Say a little more.
I…am dying.

[silence]
Hello.
[silence]

She is gone.
I keep listening to her voice. To the way she said her own name, different from the way I had been pronouncing it.
I keep listening to the casual way she admitted she was dying.
She was too young to go, but maybe it was best. I asked to be allowed to keep her company during her last days. They allowed it. They, who took advantage of her when she was around.
Decency, for once. It says a lot about her, if not about this place.
She was weak and sick but went in her sleep. I have no idea what sickness took her. I hope she didn’t feel alone in the end. I hope she knew someone cared about her.
She loved me. So she said. She saw something in me that isn’t there.
I loved her too, although I was not able to say it to her. One more regret. She felt like family, like a younger sister, a younger version of Unie.
It was the damn barrier that blocked me from talking. She was from the Floating City. Maybe she was too young to feel it. Maybe it is not the same for those above. I just know that for those of the Low Lands, the Red Streets, or anywhere else, it is not possible to bring that barrier down.
We look up, every day, and see what could be. We envy. We hate. We dream too, but mostly we hate.

I’ve made a lot of what could be called friends since my arrival in this place. Anedia is not the first to die. But she is the first I will truly miss. 

Photo by Kym Ellis - Unspalsh


To be continued...….


www.sceston.ca