BOOTLICKER

Tiny Little Men

2008-10-11

Big marble buildings had grown popular as of late, seeing as mining expeditions were proving ridiculously prosperous in recent times, some people could afford to have priceless amounts of this beautiful white stone carted all the way from the south-west and laboriously chiseled into towering monstrousities of wealth.

Bertrina Humphries found herself a lukewarm guest in such a place.

Taken quietly by and old man up three flights of red-carpetted stairs and into a small, confusingly square room, Bertrina took a careful seat on a decidedly simple chair just apart a low table.

After some minutes waiting, the thin, yet insensibly tall, heavy door to her left wide open, the old man statue-like by its hinges, a man arrived. Black and white, this broad-shouldered, beared man

took an uncomfortable seat in the identical seat opposite Bertrina.

“Miss Humphries.”

“Mister Sherpie.”

“I’m having this door closed, you don’t mind do you?”

“No, please, I know what these rooms are for.”

The enormous, sky-reaching door closed in absolute silence.

“I understand you have communication from The Ministry.”

“Yes, it details action Nela should be making with regards to the Gremanese Republic.”

A brief pause.

“I fail to understand how the Gremanese Republic has anything more to do with Nela,” the greying man leant forward, clasping his hands over the table. Bertrina, legs crossed, continued, unphased.

“As I understand, the Gremanese stand poised to take the Great Plains of Qruv by force in a bid to secure primary produce to replace commodities lost due to The Plauge.”

Broad shoulders shifted, pushing an elbow onto an armrest. The man’s creased brow furrowed and his watery, fading blue eyes wandered over Bertrina’s head.

“Is this a joke? Are you actually serious? The Gremanese Republic of Gremano, insufferably poverty-striken for twenty years now, has assembled a sizeable army, with the ability to contest the Malasrionese sovreignty?”

“Yes. It is estimated to be two hundred thousand men strong.”

The man moved at once in his seat. He instantly took to assessing Bertrina.

“Where are you from, again?”

“External Affairs, Mister Sherpie.”

“Under whose governance?”

“Minister Noska Remesko.”

“Let me see you papers.”

Bertrina broke her steely gaze, annoyed. Every pillar of Nelen society had reacted like this. She arrived at some Authority’s office, some perversely aggrandised building advertising power, to be asked for identification the moment her presence became unpleasant. She passed over her papers, stuffed in her breast pocket from the last official visit.

“What is this, Humphries?” Sherpie no longer carrying an air of weighty benevolence.

“The Ministry of External Affairs requires you comply with new legislation regarding the production of arms for a predicted armed conflict with the Gremanese Republic.”

“But it’s not possible there can be one, Humphries, there’s simply none of them to fight, there have been bands of petty fear-mongers committing serial crimes, but nothing of such grossly impossible proportions, woman! Are you mad? This is just not possible, I myself travelled to the very cradle of their filthy country, and I saw nothing. I saw ruins. Burning ruins of stone, lime and nothing. There was no man or woman to be seen for hundreds of miles. I travelled the entire swamp-ridden land they call countryside and saw scant but burning, crumbled remains of what had maybe even been earnest mediocrity. There is no Gremanese threat, so help me, and there never will be - this plague will wipe those sorry motherless infants out.”

Bertrina stared at the door. This, with slight variations in racist slander, had been repeated to her little over five times this past week. She laid her thin, leatherbound briefcase on her lap before Sherpie’s reddening face, and produced a wax-sealed, signed document, presenting it to him.

“This is an ultimatum. In past months we have encountered difficulty in … shall we say, gathering co-operation with the Confederate government, and we have gained power to depose those who will not, or in so many others words cannot fall in line.

Sherpie was dumbstruck.

“He’s a despot! He’s a low down despot! This whole country is falling to pieces, Ragzin first, now Remesko! I’ve never been so insulted in my life! I absolutely refu-”

A sharp rapping on the moving wooden wall to the man’s right split his rage. Without notice, the door swung open.

“Goodness, Fsyilli, what do you want?”

“Sir, you’re needed in parliament, the Gremanese have invaded the Great Plains, its said we’re at war.”

Sherpie flung himself, wide-eyed to Bertrina.

.

“You come with me.”