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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
That was easy, wasn’t it? Say a little more.
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.
To be continued...….