Friday 2 March 2007

Stubborn Town, Part Five

Stubborn Town is a story of seven chapters, posted serially by me, your snowed in host, Cheeseburger Brown.

It's an ice apocalypse outside. I think I might skip work. Whither my spring?

Also, if any of you out there are teenagers or paedophiles you can now friend me on MySpace. It's social networking, baby, and I'm hep to that jive.

Preview follows:


It's a sad place.

Mr. Mississauga climbs down out of the orange schoolbus, rust raining from the step as he tromps over it. Aglakti follows him out, hops down and snaps a pair of shades over her glasses. "So, this is it," she says.

The landscape is rocky and desolate, yellow lichens clinging to the ground around naked foundations and the vague scars of streets. A windowless abandoned car sags into a pebble-lined crevasse, canted at a rude angle with its front end smashed. A dead streetlamp lies next to it, and further on is a newspaper box with birds living inside of it. The chicks cheep.

Mr. Mississauga lights a cigarette. He toes a pile of trash, revealing some beer bottles and a tarnished fork.

Three dozen tents of various conditions are pitched around them, squatting within the crumbled borders of properties no longer there. Many of them have scorched, blackened pits nearby, evidence of early morning fires. The loose edges of the tents flap in the breeze, zipper ends jingling.

Aglakti joins him, hands jammed in her pockets. "Is it everything you'd hoped, Mr. Miss?"


Together they walk down to the old mine entrance, barricaded with boards and spattered with bilingual warning signs. A mammoth crack in the Earth extends from near the entrance cave and across the site, zigzagging like frozen lightning. Mr. Mississauga peers over the edge carefully. The bottom is swallowed by shadows.

He kicks a small rock into the gorge, listens as it taps and knocks against the sides on its echoey way down. At the end comes a sullen splash.

"Were there any casualties when this fissure opened up?"

Aglakti shakes her head. "Nope."

Over the next hill a narrow river sends its crystal clear waters into a small cove, chortling over rounded rocks. This is the inlet after which the town is named. In the middle of a modest delta by the mouth is another stone-slab Inukshuk figure, solemnly standing watch, slowly sinking into the muck.

"Was this site populated for long before the mine opened?" he asks.

"Sure," says Aglakti. "For a thousand years." She looks around and shrugs. "You don't get much in the way of ruins when you build your houses out of snow."

Mr. Mississauga shades his eyes with his hand as he peers into the distance. "Is that the Edge House?" he asks, pointing to a blue-grey shadow on the horizon.

Aglakti nods.

"The sites are very close together."

"Yeah, well, you can walk it if you have to. But it's a bitch when you're hungover."

They return to the bus and Aglakti sets up an awning while Mr. Mississauga hunts for kindling. Aglakti watches him methodically arrange the wood as she bangs a bent metal stake into the ground to secure the sportily fluorescent fly. "Do you do a lot of camping out, Mr. Miss?" she asks.

"Circumstances have often forced me to improvise," he says, inserting a match into the nest of bramble. A curl of smoke drools out. Twigs sizzle as sap turns to steam.

Once it's flaming Aglakti cooks a hot dog and Mr. Mississauga takes in a can of soup. Afterward he sits back to smoke as Aglakti grabs a guitar from the bus and strums at it idly.

A thick deck of wooly cloud starts rolling in from the west.

She sings, "I once knew a huffer boy, but I wouldn't let him know me..."

She glances over at Mr. Mississauga, but he's in a trance. His cigarette has fallen forgotten on the dirt beside him, turning the pebbles yellow. His eyes are flickering and dancing, his mouth tight and grim...

To read the complete novella get it for Kindle!


Anonymous said...

"I believe that line represents a vector of injury through space."

Hmmm. Reminds me of a vergence or shatterpoint in the Force. In the Star Wars mythos, some believed that a vergence was a critical point that, if understood, could be manipulated to cause sweeping change (or at least perceive the possibility of sweeping change before the fact).

Others noted that it was possible to engineer wounds in the Force that would result in a shatterpoint or vergence. Examples of this would be Malachor V, Katarr, Dxun, or Ruusan.

Just sayin.

Mark said...

Another great chapter. Glad we found out about the dreaming. Scary stuff, that.

Also, a reminder to me that I need to get more sleep. It's a vital part of a functioning human's existence.

Loved Mr. Miss' explanation of deep sleep. Our brains train us. Nice.

Anonymous said...

And I thought I knew too much about Star Wars...
Anyway, I'm beginning to wonder what The Event was/will be. If it has already happened then I don't currently have enough data to hypothesize a cause. If however the event in question then a couple of possibilities spring to mind.
The unleashing of The Nightmare Cannon by Terron Volmash (see SoS, those of you who haven't read it) is one candidate.
'Something wicked...' is another. I'm sure Mr. Brown will be furnishing us with more candidates, past and present in due time.

Mark said...

The Nightmare Canon came to mind for me, too. We shall see. We have no idea when, but the answer's coming.

I sense that the connections will blow us away.

Anonymous said...

mandrill: well, given how many oblique lore references CBB made in the darthside, i can only assume he's hep to the force, yo!

Simon said...

The Nightmare Cannon, yes. I also thought very quickly of the Secret Mathematic during Mr. Miss' little dialogue with Aggie there. Incredibly engaging stuff. Huzzah for more chapters!

A couple other notes:
He sighs, toys with his cigarette in way Aglakti hasn't seen before,... seems to be missing an "A".

Also, over this and other stories, I've noticed a penchant to chortle. Vehicles chortle, as do people and running water. I don't know if the continued use of the word is entirely conscious or at least partly habitual, but I've identified it as a solid Cheeseburger-ism.

Mark said...

I've caught "chortle," too. It seems, too, that at least one man in a CBB story will "shoot the cuff" of his shirt. But, my notice of that could be a result of reading so much by one author in a short time.

That's not a knock, by the way. Just an observation.

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear Mark and Simon,

One of the difficulties in keeping up with this blog is that I haven't had nearly enough time for reading...and it's showing, in things like repeated words, phrases and images.

I need to read something other than myself, I think, to break some bad habits.

Cheeseburger Brown