Budsday, 19 Torp

Earned 18 / Spent 8

Savings 17,445

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A typical Budsday – back to work, back to running, back to being out in the cold, back to chaos.

The stagecoach to South Kernal didn’t arrive; or rather, it arrived at the wrong terminal.  Forty people shuffled around the gaol and the post office to the second terminal; those who would have gotten the best seats stood by the hooks and pleats, helping to keep the canopy in place as gales tore at the trundling stagecoaches between The Den and the south.

The Union buzzed with activity.  Workstations were being reallocated, another attempt by the Union chiefs to save space / cut costs / irritate the members.  Gods knows how many parcels were lost in that reshuffle, which took hours.  How many couriers had their toes stepped on, meaning valuable seconds lost on deliveries this morning?

I repositioned my gear.  Carpeltea and book of contacts; delivery rota for my regular jobs; daguerreotypes of luminescent Foist and an example of her carpelwork, one of the few things I have of hers.  The chasm between seeing her last and now gets wider every day.  I like to think that in equal proportion, the time of our reunion in Metrodon gets closer.  But I see the record of my savings and think I’ll never get there. 

How long am I supposed to wait?

Another courier, Steph Jarvie, leaned in with a whiff of his rain-damp tweed and whistled. ‘Hot one, Reks.  Out of your league.’

Everyone says that Foist is out of my league.  It’s because she is.  Only her natural modesty prevents her from realising it.  I dread the day that she does, and writes me from Metrodon to explain how she’s found someone better.

The chaos settled eventually and people got back to it.  I took a few moments to rest my drakeroot-infested legs.  If I concentrate hard enough, I can will the infestation deeper into the leg, pushing it towards the cured tissue in the centre.  I take the needle every day, daring it to eradicate me of the root.  It’s a long, hard road.  And when you’re thinking about the infestation, you’re goading it to try harder.  It will fight you every step of the way. 

Not much got done.  People made a lot of noise but didn’t really get anywhere.  I think about Foist, about Metrodon, about her delicate carpelwork, about the ache between the two of us when we aren’t together.  Her letters tell me that she feels the same thing, that exact ache.  But no-one can ever be sure of what another person’s thinking.

The Union chief took us into The Den.  He wanted to know what progress we’ve made, but he isn’t my chief, he’s got nothing to do with my union.  Other couriers expected me to go and so I went.  The Den is a maze of tumbledown shacks and walkways, suspension bridges and ladders, ramps that bounce when you run up them like drumskins.  The chief worked us hard. 

One time as I ran past, my arm brushed the wet leaves of the rainforest behind the Den barrier.  I saw the yellow almond eye of a cauliraptor observing me from behind the branches.  Jerking away I tumbled, nearly fell from a walkway but caught a tattered bit of knotted rope.  The ‘raptor slunk back into the depths of the jungle with a growling purr. 

The chief watched, unimpressed, critical and domineering.  I respect people I’ve worked with who have earned that respect.  His title affords him some benefit, but that’s as far as it goes.  His habit of using cringeworthy management speak does him no favours.  Let’s get back in the game, he says; Let’s round-table this and compile a workable agenda.

Let’s not, chief.  That’s old-world, it’s pre-Displacement. 

The best thing I ever did was step away from that world, into Kernel.

Budsday, bloody Budsday.