Revan threw an arm over his eyes as the sky brightened. Shiny new shoes clicked sharply against the ferrocrete as happy, productive members of society went to work. He groped blindly for his bottle and raised his head a little; just enough to take a swig from it without choking. Running a hand over his cheeks, he wearily noted that his stubble was rapidly turning into a beard. He had been sleeping on the park bench for a week, and was well acquainted with every rough slat. The weather had been kind (if rain could be considered kind), although it didn’t do anything for his body odour. He was glad that he couldn’t smell himself, judging by the way people wrinkled their noses or flinched when he approached.
The portly policeman was vacating the occupants of other benches, which was all he ever did. It was a good thing that the homeless gravitated towards this park, Revan thought sourly. They gave him a wonderful excuse to loiter around the Core. Looking out of the window surely warmed the cockles of every politician’s heart. Ah, the poor bums, a sure sign of the planet’s prosperity. We must be doing something right.
He rolled off the bench and shuffled off before the policeman could shoo him, tipping his hat ironically at the pasty-faced man who spat disdainfully when he passed. Every muscle of his was protesting the thought of another day spent slouching against the marble façade of the Core, or Force forbid, another night on the bench.
The rumbling of his stomach reminded him that he had not eaten in two days, and he dug a sandwich out of an inner pocket, absent-mindedly peeling off the damp paper. He made his way to the back of the Core, clutching his sandwich. The others were gathering, and there were murmurs of discontent and envious looks when they saw that he had food. Ignoring them, he took up his usual post with his back against the cold stone, squatting in a vain attempt to appease his aching body. He ate the sandwich slowly, taking small bites and chewing carefully.
“-ngh he’s all jabberwillenglock.”
“It’s a conspiracy! It’s a bomb! Tomorrow and wherefore the songs of the young.”
“He’ll kill us and he’ll laugh. The deaths give him power and they’ll kill her dead. Dead. Dead!” The grizzled old man shook his bony fists at the sky.
“Droids raffledraw? The speeder killed my daughter and they battlecryed and jumped like peas! Shoulda tipped better.”
Revan finished the sandwich and wiped his fingers on his coat, giving it a cursory sniff. It still smelled vaguely of juma, which was to be expected, since most of the juice ended up on it anyway. He leaned back against the wall and shut his eyes as his senses flowed outwards.
Dodging the neon phantoms of jabberwillenglock, he wove his way to the minds of the politicians. Each consciousness was sharply outlined in black, often hinting at shades of grey. Numbers were clicking into place, budgets were being balanced (or were forced to do so), perfectly acceptable words were being abused in fatuous speeches.
“Quick, effective, and bipartisan action…”
“…strong and decisive legislation.”
“It is the duty of citizens to abide by the supreme council’s decision…”
Patiently, he teased out the fine silk threads that connected them to see if the lines of power had shifted. Every mind was formed by layers of thoughts and beliefs but he looked straight at the core. Today, he traced a certain distinctive shape—the bending of logic into a tight knot—in yet another mind.
Someone was doing this; someone was twisting reason to fit an agenda, and it was spreading like a virus—jumping from mind to mind as the seat of power was conquered by a cold philosophy. He briefly considered digging deeper to find the identity of the source, but decided against it. If it truly was propagating among them, finding someone who had the information that he needed would require many attempts. Even then, the search might cause permanent damage. A sudden epidemic of insane politicians was hardly subtle.
He was frustrated, but he skimmed through their minds again. This day had brought the same drab people with still no sign of his quarry. Subconsciously pulling his coat closer, he settled in to wait.
The sun goes down and the sky reddens, pain grows sharp.
light dwindles. Then is evening
when jasmine flowers open, the deluded say.
But evening is the great brightening dawn
when crested cocks crow all through the tall city
and evening is the whole day
for those without their lovers
-Kuruntokai 234, translated by A.K. Ramanujan
[Fic] Shreds of a Dying Belief
Last edited by Bee Hoon; 10-22-2008 at 02:08 PM.