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Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.
Quantum Musings

Raymond Coulombe, Michael Gallant, Timothy O. Goyette
Piņatas From Space!: Crazy Games With Cards And Dice

Jeromy Henry
Peaceful Intent--Stories of human/Alien Interaction

Harris Tobias
The Tooth Fairy War and Other Tales

Jeromy Henry

The Unfortunate

by Branden Szabo

"Want to know the best way to control another human being?  Give them an enemy."

-  John Wilkinson


Little Esther picked up a rock.

The small town of Ayva was holding its annual festival and the streets were alive with the messy sounds of conversation.  Esther's feet carried her across crumbling streets with cracks large enough to entertain weeds.  Swirling constellations of colorful graffiti decorated the decaying brick walls of nearby abandoned buildings.

Ayva may have been a penurious town, but it was a happy one.  It lived in the shadow of Cortlandt - a towering metropolis built on a saucer suspended 10,000 feet in the sky.  Cortlandt was trumpeted as the world's greatest achievement, built by entrepreneurs and captains on industry who wanted an escape from government regulations that existed on the surface.  It was ruled by the upper class.

By contrast, Ayva was stewarded by John Wilkinson, a self-proclaimed intellectual and warrior for the proletariat.  He often told Esther and her fellow citizens that only the rich, selfish and racist lived in Cortlandt.  And with no way to confirm or deny this, she believed him.  Everyone believed him, he was an intellectual after all.

Still clutching her rock, Esther approached the town square, dominated by a crude statue of Wilkinson the townsfolk erected.  It was a superfluous work of art considering no one had ever seen him before; he only spoke to Ayva over the radio.  Every evening at six o'clock sharp he'd share his feelings with the townspeople.  He would discuss philosophy at great lengths and disentangle current events with his charismatic wit.

There was a wooden stage built below the Wilkinson statue; it had a large red curtain drawn across the front.  A crowd of men, women and children formed around it, packed tightly like spectators at a sporting event. 

A high elf on stage gaily addressed the crowd with outstretched arms.  "This is the moment you've all been waiting for!  Who is ready to play?"

The crowd reacted appropriately.

"Then let's begin!"

The curtain flew aside in one fluid motion.

There was a crying woman in bloody clothes tired to a chain.  Judging by the expensive material her bodice and skirt were made of, Esther deduced she was a rich girl from Cortlandt above.  On the wall behind her, words were painted.  Words like "Racist" and "Hater" and "1%-er".

"As you can see, Wilkinson has already passed judgment on this poor, misguided soul from Cortlandt," said the long-eared elf on stage, "she, like so many others has abandoned us to pursue her own selfish desires."

Everyone booed and hissed.

"Fucking 1%-er!" a woman shouted.

"We're going to make you pay for leaving us!" said another.

"All your money wont save you now, you racist pig!"

With puffy eyes, the helpless woman looked down at Esther.  "I-I don't know what I did wrong!  I only went to Cortlandt to get a decent job.  I'm not a racist - why are you doing this to me?!"

A disinterested Esther ascended onto the stage.

"Looks like we have our first player!  Go on little girl, show this woman the error of her ways."

Esther lifted her arm with icy determination ... and threw her rock into the woman's face.


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Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.
Outrunning the Storm

Michele Dutcher
Piņatas From Space!: Crazy Games With Cards And Dice

Jeromy Henry
The Tooth Fairy War and Other Tales

Jeromy Henry
The Dreaming Fire

Jeromy Henry

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