Grey City XX

Monday September 08, 2008 @ 09:16 AM (UTC)

The Grey City I
The Grey City II
The Grey City III
The Grey City IV
The Grey City V
The Grey City VI
The Grey City VII
The Grey City VIII
The Grey City IX
The Grey City X
The Grey City XI
The Grey City XII
The Grey City XIII
The Grey City XIV
The Grey City XV
The Grey City XVI
The Grey City XVII
The Grey City XVIII
Grey City XIX

“I won’t tell, Sly, I swear I won’t!” Eirian heard herself say in a meek voice.

Eirian was, it’s true, brave and willful, but she was also very young. She had seen her sister killed and barely escaped that fate herself, to say nothing of time without sleep or food, or other terrors weathered. Either being held out over the river or the painful submission of her promise was too much. She crumpled in on herself to cry. Sly reeled her prisoner back in, and set the girl on her booted feet, only to see her fall on the bridge cobbles.

“Here, what’s wrong wif her?” said Mouse, running up. Sly shrugged, so the boy tugged at Eirian’s shoulder. “What’s the matter, Peep?”

Eirian turned her red face up from the stones and scrubbed it with her apron. With a ferocious scowl, for Sly and to keep the tears down, she said, “Those filthy Runners killed my sister. Like it was nothing, like she was nothing. And now I’m alone.”

“Not alone, Peep! You’re one of us now!”

“One of who?”

“Why, one of Mister Knock’s lot! He has the old inn ‘cross of Ma’am Betty, in the far edge of Warrens, near t’the docks.”

Sly listened, rolling a cigarette with none of her accustomed speed.

“We’re a big merry crew at ol’ Knock’s, boys everywhere. It’s somefing to see!” Mouse sat down beside Eirian and looked at her, then dug in his satchel. He brought out a bundle with a guilty glance at Sly. “I nipped it from a baker’s this morning. We mostwise share at Knock’s, but it smelled so good and I was out on me own…” He removed a large, bright handkerchief that covered the loaf of sweet bread, more than half intact, and handed both to Eirian. “That should cheer you!” he said, “and a real silk kerchief to wipe your mouf wif afterwards!”

Eirian stopped frowning, nearly letting a tear escape. She paused for a moment, then hid her face behind the food without attempting speech. Mouse clapped her on the back and contributed such encouragements as “Down the hatch, that’ll do it!” and “Tastes better than a Runner, don’t it?”

Sly, having finished the manufacture of her cigarette, lit it and watched the smoke rise. "I had a sister once meself. When I come to Knock’s. ‘Most of an age, ’er an’ me was, but the same size, for all I were the helder. It were some years back, i’the Pocks Winter. Mam and Da already carried off, Sylvia an’ me ran off by the neighbors. ’Eard tell it ’ad passed this side the river already, so we came ’ere and found Knock.

“‘E weren’t afraid, ‘avin’ weathered Pocks in the first wave like a plucked ‘un. So ’e put us in a back room like, an’ shore our ‘eads proper for the fever. Once a day ’e came in with water an’ to make sure we was amongst the livin’ still.”

Sly took a deep breath, held in the smoke for a long time. “An’ one mornin’ I woke up, my fever broke, an’ ‘e — an’ Sylvia were gone. When Knock came by wif the water, there was only one boy for to join his gang. Only me.”

Eirian, at last, looked up from her food, understanding in her eyes. And there, standing next to Sly in the haze of tobacco smoke, was Carys.

The Grey City XXI


Gah, no fair cutting out like a darned serial! I want my fix. That wasn’t enough.

Uh-oh. I have tried to up the frequency and ye need more? Why do I suddenly feel serials are an addictive product? :P

Suddenly? I’m surprised. I thought you had long grasped the wherefore of serials as they apply to generating future demand, sales, and attention.

Sales? Sales? There is MONEY in this? I should totally ouija up the ghost of Dickens and find out how you get the money out of the serials :p

Sorry, I may have been letting my attention run wild and speculating as to the similar nature of tv shows. Maybe you should look into product placement or ad-space mid-story. Of course, then you’d probably lose audience. :(

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