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A Different Place Than This

by on November 11, 2015

The old man sat on the rubble by the side of the road, and whistled. No one whistled anymore. Whistling meant noise, and noise, in these days, meant attracting unwanted attention. The roads, where roads existed, were not safe.

He didn’t much care. If anything, the danger in the world only made him long for the way things had been. He was the only one lately who could recall the face of the Empress. Even with that, he still couldn’t remember her name. He puzzled over it as the sun plodded wearily across the sky.

He had been in a camp the year before. There, the hold of the memories of Empire had long since loosened in the minds of the people. They had vague recollections of angry soldiers in armor, of explosions, of ration lines. He remembered more than that. He had seen the Parades. He could just barely recall the imperial anthem. The old man whistled a few notes of it now. It sounded much more impressive backed by a full brass band then it did as a thin wavering breath of air, but he was still pleased he could do it.

“Nice tune,” said a voice from behind him. The old man turned. He didn’t move quickly; a real bandit would’ve shot him without warning rather than comment on his whistling.

“You don’t happen to know what it is?” he said hopefully.

“Nope,” said the stranger. “Can’t say I do.”

“Ah. Too bad.”

“You need a lift somewhere? I have a boat on the river, a mile north of here.”

The old man considered. Winter was coming, and he would need shelter. “Where are you going, then?”

“Back from a trade. My camp is further north.”

“:How big?” the old man inquired.

The stranger gave a non-committal shrug. “Twenty families. Maybe thirty. I’ve been gone a month, so it could’ve changed.”

“Good enough. I’ll go then, if you’ll have me.”

“Sure,” the stranger said.

“By the way, you wouldn’t happen to remember the name of the Empress, would you?” The old man wasn’t really expecting an answer, when even he couldn’t call it to mind.

“No. Sorry. I can tell you my name, though. Merrick.”

“Ah,” said the old man. “You know, I think her name started with an M too…”

“Did it?” Merrick said. “I wouldn’t know.”

The two trudged away on the dirt road, towards the distant river.

This story is part of the Megverse series, and loops back to the first story with Merrick. Thanks for reading!

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2 Comments
  1. Oh! Merrick was successful and he doesn’t even know. Way to keep him humble! (I think I’m reading that right.)

  2. Or was he successful? I meant to convey that the timeline had essentially reset itself when the two Margarets exploded, so now Merrick’s right back to where he was when it all started. Time harmonizes, and all that. 🙂

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