The Half Shaman in Space: Eating my Book
|An edible book from |
I curve out the door. Is there anyplace to sit behind something out here? No way do I want to be seen eating the leaves of a book. I’d like to hide somewhere, and more than anything keep a lookout for Mongoose among the crowds wandering the ground floor.
I suck up the drink through the straw. A sweetish sour taste. On the side of the box a spherical object, with a pimply skin, orange. I squeeze the sides of the box as I saw someone do in the whatever.
Fine. In the canteen. With my stomach mollified with the orange drink, I’ve got time to find a hiding place.
At the ends of the U, the gangway splits. Half becomes a ramp curving down to the middle level. In the curve is a vertical bar. Some people walk down to the middle gangway along the ramp, and some people slide down the vertical bar. They go past the middle and lowest gangways, thump down on the floor which might even be natural stone chipped from a mother rock.
"Stonekrete, a made artifact"
Fine, stonekrete. I make for the pole. Underneath the gangways, there look to be hiding places.
Huge stanchions hold up the weight of a roof. The side of a spaceship. Something or other. I slide in behind the one nearest.
“Oh no you don’t,” says a small person. Has to be small when she is waist-high to me. “This is my place,” the little girl says.
I’m not in the mood to socialise, to find things out, to ask questions. I don’t have the energy to be kind. This is not my reality. Standing up again, I check the rest of the structures by looking along the row. All of them have someone behind them. They have bundles with them, and they are unkempt. Young and powerless. Sleeping rough.
“Am I?” I ask. “Powerless?”
Typical. The big maelstrom of the crowd that I was going to study to find Mongoose among them, circles out in the open. Under the gangways and among the stanchions wander only a few odds and kids.
Correction. Under here, everybody moves purposefully. They are staying or going. And if going, definitely from A to B, whatever the A and B will turn out to be. Needing to watch them first, I drift toward the wall.
I’m still clutching the food book to my chest. I rip off the cover and fold it into my mouth. Hunger will trump pride as they say. I let it sit on my tongue. Is it food? My mouth salivates but what does that prove?
Then I get a taste. Mushroom soup. Yum. I chew. Swallow. Rip off the first page. Fold it in. Chew. Gingered rice. Swallow. Eat eat eat. Half the book is gone. Should save some.
The kid pulls at my shirt. “Can I have some?” I give her a leaf.
In the way of testing a game, I press another leaf onto the kid. She takes it, runs to the next pillar and stuffs it into that kid’s mouth. He comes with her. They grab me together, waist high and push me back. The wall opens. I fall backwards into a new place.
“Meat!” someone shouts.
“Not meat,” says the ceiling. “Inadmissible loot.”
“Scat,” says a bull-shaped man sitting at a cafe table just beyond the permeable wall. Presumably talking at me still lying on the rubber flooring where I fell. What is there to get up for? I’m in a prison it appears. A tall place, cells above cells. I get a crick in my neck staring up. A lot of animals stare interestedly out their barred doors, both human animals and actual. I know which I’d rather meet on a dark night.
“Help her on her way,” says the bull.
A couple of henchmen leap forward. They remind me of wolves. They grab me by an arm and a leg each and heave me back through the permeable wall. As if I am a stone-ball I am aimed between the stanchions. Unlike a stone-ball, which rolls, I skid along the floor.