I returned my eyebrows to their usual position with a groan, and steeled myself for public notice of the girl’s unwanted display. I would have to factor this into my function- and head office would be delighted. Because I had never attended and charted a burning that was disturbed before.
Even the youngest of children know that this would be a bad idea, but she was even on tiptoes, for Nebula’s sake.
Why was she here? Clearly still in the “omigosh now we’re biologically tuned to do —ual things together!” phase of life, she ought to be sequestered in some learning facility with plenty of free time on her hands. Here, she was just an unwanted reminder of her elders’ passage through that very phase. Something hot, and associated with more than the Loud Frod escapade alone, crept up the back of my neck and I shifted uncomfortably
The muted bangs and rumbles of explosions, coupled with the participants’ eager calls about where to throw the next grenade, only provided cover until a tongue of flame leapt up in the middle of the pile. Then the first sight of fire galvanized a third of the crowd into rushing for more chairs, but in the rest it induced a contented hush.
In this relative quiet that the girl’s voice soared high enough that she visibly startled herself.
The unfortunately outspoken bundle of hormones was targeted by a sea of glares. And my PLOC plocked the first additional chairs.
“I mean…” she gathered herself up again. “Burnings are supposed to be ‘vehicles for collective resentment’! So Why is there a sign out front saying this is for people who exclusively burn chairs?
“And you,” she cried recklessly, pointing at Loud Frod, “your speech didn’t make sense! How can we be the Vegan counterparts to our Betelgeuesian forefathers? That doesn’t even-”
“Young. Girl. Subsist!” Loud Frod was on the verge on combustion himself. An angry growl rose in the crowd along with his stentorian rebuke.
“We are in the middle of a burning,” he proclaimed, “which is not to be interrupted. Should you have any concerns you can take them to the Municpal Office of Burnings, where they have a complete process for any dissention dissenters.”
The Municipal Office of Burnings (MOB) is full of knobs who listen to very loud music. I once attempted to get the schedule for burnings for the upcoming year from them, but I gave up after visiting at three separate times and finding that each one was a lunch break. Or that is what the sign on the door said, behind which all was dark and quiet. If I thought it worth a straw, I would question the widespread knowledge that the MOB are knobs with loud music. Since I haven’t found anyone who has actually seen them.
Thus Loud Frod’s reference to the MOB was suitably patronizing for his character, and left the crowd as righteously satisfied in due bureaucratic procedure as the girl was righteously outraged at being put off.
“That’s not going to do anything about this burning right now!” the girl shrieked. “I burn teapots, okay? I like to burn teapots but I have the right not to be excluded from chairs!”
The crowd hissed and Loud Frod’s wrinkled nose looked as though he had just smelled korba shit.
“We do not talk about other burnings here, young girl. We have the right to decide our topics of digestion!”
There was a great “Oy!” of enthusiam at this, but even as I rolled my eyes at another blatant yet unseen error, the girl pointed at Frod again.
“You mean discussion, not digestion!”
In the moment of silence my PLOC had a very slow and erratic heartbeat.
Then all hell broke loose with cries of “grammar Nazi”, and “shut your trap”, and “still need those LAS pimple treatments, you snot”, and “goddamn kettle burners”. I confess I was allowing my computational program to do all the work for the cosine function by then. Some deep and delicious delight was unfolding in the bottom of my stomach as I saw Loud Frod’s mouth flap noiselessly, his cheeks going a bit purple.
The purple that betrayed his innermost floundering indignation.
Meanwhile the girl seemed to have finally realized her danger, and vacillated between keeping her chin up and shrinking into the smallest ball possible. She really might be added to the merrily burning pile at this rate. But casting about she somehow fixated on me, and stared so it was impossible not to meet her eyes.
Dammit. There were plenty of people here, so why was she looking at me like I was the only one around to honour the Pact?
The Pact: instituted shortly after the southern hemisphere of Old Earth was incapacitated due to an epidemic of bullying, backstabbing, and backtalk. The Pact states that given an honest plea for help or friendship in a situation of genuine physical, emotional, spiritual, or moral danger, a human being in possession of their senses must respond in kind. Further, the law allows for certain damages to be awarded in the case of misuse or disregard of the Pact. The Pact remains a controversial piece of legislation due the tendency of defendants to argue that they “were not in possession of their senses (at the time)” , but it has survived thus far thanks to the undeniable benefits it confers upon the Huniverse.
The Huniverse: first surfaced as a wildly popular meme, and now the parts of the universe inhabited by humans are grouped together under this term. Experts are now resigned to its use.
Time slowed as a dialogue opened in my head about how likely she was to sue me if I didn’t respond to the plea in her eyes.
© 2012, Elizabeth Cook
- A Chair Burning, and an Unfortunately Outspoken Girl (3.) (serialoutlet.wordpress.com)
- A Chair Burning, and an Unfortunately Outspoken Girl (2.) (serialoutlet.wordpress.com)
- A Chair Burning, and an Unfortunately Outspoken Girl (1.) (serialoutlet.wordpress.com)