11 October, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 11:6

This is the last section of the eleventh chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.

“So can I get you a drink” asked Martin popping a stimulant from his pocket to keep himself going.
“No it’s fine thanks” replied Iz
“Come on you know what I’m like, besides I’m desperate for one myself”
“Okay, fine, you win Martin.”
“You don’t know what my usual is.”
“Fine then, I’ll guess.”
“This should be interesting.”
“Speaking of interesting I hear you had a little trip.”
“Oh that, we certainly do have a cross section of all of humanity on here.”
“Fancy sharing?” asked Martin  poking his head around the kitchen door.
“Another time, I just want to get some normality back, something predictable”
“Is that what I am?”
“Yes, it’s a good thing” Iz let her eyes scan the room “So where’s this suit you were going to show me”
“No changing the subject.” Martin saw the way she looked back at him for this. “Fine I’ll let it drop, what were you expecting? Some display case with it in the corner or something?”
“Isn’t that traditional for retired heroes to have their capes in a display case.”
“You’d like to think so wouldn’t you?”
“Fine then, so where’s this drink then?”
“Give me a chance.” replied Martin slightly exasperated.
Iz sat for a moment waiting for a sign that she could carry on. He clearly wasn't happy with something, time for small talk perhaps.“What did you think of the new plate then?” asked Iz.
“Hard to describe, depressing mostly.” moving to the next room to get a drink. “After the first visit I just found it hard to stay there. It needs time to settle in.”
“Baron? A wasteland?” asked Iz
“A strange mix really.” Shouted Martin from the next room “The mind just can’t cope with a well watered desert. Well mine can’t anyway.”
“There should be life there and yet there wasn’t.”
“Yeah as if there had been some apocalypse. Or at least a very hungry creature that ate everything how I imagine farmland would look after locusts but even worse for the lack of soil.”
“I guess that’s a good reason to keep it out of bounds”
“For now yes.” Martin came back into the room carrying the drinks “Some places it was very artificial which was fine, but you could see it was so. Others were just weird. Anyway, so I’ve been meaning to catch up. I hear you’ve been back to Earth recently?”
“Yeah it’s weird, like you were saying earlier about the plate, it’s post apocalyptic.”
“No-one around?” asked Martin
“Yeah well that bit’s not surprising, but the cities being overgrown, well the poor parts of the cites were. Some cities were abandoned completely, yet Paris and Moscow were booming, or at least cleaner and better cared for than before.”
“The economy is surviving then?”
“On and off, it’s kind of like technologic medieval times. Bots will be running around picking fruit and tending crops, yet people are forced to use off road vehicles everywhere except in the main cities because the roads have fallen to ruin. New clothes seem to be very rare because they are all either hand made or imported from the habitat, it’s really quite strange.”
“I was worried about that, I’d have thought that people wouldn’t have cared about the place and it would have crumbled.”
“Yeah I thought that but I think it’s because those who have stayed are those who want to care. Lazy people have come here to be pampered, but those who stay down seem to actually care for it. The planet that is, things like the latest fashion seem to be forgotten when the clothes on your back have to be made by you or your neighbour who is doing it for you as a favour or because they enjoy it. Those who want their fashion fix just visit the Habitat.”
“I’m just surprised people are willing to be plumbers or act as farmers”
“Hey you’re the one who’s farmer and gardener for an entire continent.”
“Yeah but there’s glamour there.”
“Well you know, a place in history; sculpting a continent to my desires. Who can have done that before?”
“Few, but you already have your place in history and if the Habitat gets its way there will be thousands of continents worth soon enough”
“So you think.”
“Well yes that’s what it says. Anyway. You! Suit!” Iz said this pointing at the doorway.
“Fine”, said Martin standing up “I’ll go get it” with this he headed out of the room. Iz carried on sitting with her drink curious at the banging coming from the next room
Martin stormed into the room “It’s gone!” he exclaimed
“Someone’s bloody stolen it”
“That’s impossible, you’ve misplaced it”
“How the hell can you misplace a bloody spacesuit. They’re not small you know.”
“This is a big house” said Iz
“Yeah, big house, but with one store room, you don’t think I keep that thing in with my dinner jackets do you?”
“Fine then but you can’t have had it stolen, you don’t have burglaries here.” She paused for a second “Hang on, has anything else gone missing?”
“Nothing I can see, haven’t touched the thing for a few years though so who knows when it went missing”
“And no unauthorised entry or the Habitat would have told you.”
“Quite, but I’m the only authorised person to enter here, and trust me no-one snuck out with it, you’d notice it”
“Why the hell would anyone want to steal it?”
“Only thing of value in here, no unique works of art, just that one,” he paused for a moment as if to get his mocking tone correct “historical treasure. The rest is Habitat provided so of value to no one.”
“Well there’s all those prisoners that were shipped here”
“That was years ago. They’ve been re-integrated and besides there’s no way they could have committed this crime, no one can get in here.”
“Let’s ask the Habitat”
“Fat lot of good that would do, you know what it’s like.”
“Yeah but we should be able to get the video records.”
“Not in here, got the cameras are switched off.”
“Yeah, but you can’t turn off the ones covering the door and they’re the only way into here”
“Fine you get onto the Habitat about those I’m going to check for other stuff missing – we’re making an assumption here.”
“Shouldn’t we report this to someone?”
“Who? The police? Last police I heard of were on the transit stations in Earth orbit. You know there are no authorities here.”
“Yeah but the Habitat would know what happened.”
“Trust me it won’t, I can see how this is going to go. Just watch.”

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