BOOTLICKER

Green

2009-08-06

The grass is green in Grou. Deep out at sea to the south the glassy waters are green, wave-breaks white and splintery, as in the north, treacherous and impassible: sail too far and you’ll fall off the world into the sky - your remains will become a shooting star when you fall into the sun.

The sky is blue. Why would the grass and the water be green, for the sky to be blue? Wouldn’t the sky better be green? Everything could be green that way, the whole of the Safe World could be united in the symbolic colour of life and purity. But the sky betrays such a unity, because it has been invaded by evil. Earthquakes, droughts, floods, hurricanes - all the work of chaos - are caused by the sky. The sky is the origin of chaos and disorder, and when night falls no-one must ever look at the sky, because he who does will surely die.

The bloodied, disfigured faces of the martyrs were a public spectacle. They’d been shot with clinical precision, the killer had aimed for all of their foreheads, but the size of the slug from the Gremanese rifle he’d used had almost removed their heads. After the deed had been done in full view of the worshiping prefecture, the masses had looked on in complete confusion, not understanding why the ritual had been disturbed.

White robed men were then carried through the streets, right back to the Holy Palace, where they received their commendation to the Lord. The High Leaders of the Gremanese Empire had been killed on the holiest day in a generation, and the Empire stopped. Bread was not made, animals were not slaughtered. Scarcely anyone talked. This was the third attempt on the power structure of Gremano in a decade, and it had been done with the most blatant disrespect - no - contempt possible.

**

Jacket, boots, pants. Hair cropped at the neck. She was dressed very strangely for a Grem - the strangest of all her clothing was her incredibly masculine shirt, buttoned right up to the collar under her grey jacket - it was incredibly reminiscent of the Malasrionese.

She stood and walked with a very large gait for a woman. She stood with this gait on the frozen mountain that constituted Mirabile. Below her out spread the desert, the enormous Great Lake and deep, deep in the distance smoke billowed between green-grey hills. Behind her two Nelen miners guarding this face of the mountain lay dead, their pooling blood freezing.

“I like a bit of freedom,” she lowered her binoculars, stolen from the dead miner behind her. A strange contraption.

“Of course,” her attendant said. It was this attendant - whom she had taken from the Gremanese mines invisible to the mountain - who had driven her up the mountain. Her head was once shaved, but her black hair had begun to grow. She wore a shirt with small lapels under her frayed and faded overalls - both different shades of green. She was a worker. Her family had been workers. Her children would be workers, her children’s children would be workers. If not head-shaven and soot-faced from the mines, then greasy and fingerless from the machines. Her dirty green rags were called a Bosta, they were part of her religion. Everything about her life had been about religion. This uniform that she had always worn was a constant reinforcement of her world’s order.

“Did you know -,” the woman on the edge of the mountain raised her spy-glasses. “The Leaders are dead.”

The girl in tatters almost lost her footing in the freezing winds. “Was it you?”

“No, funnily enough. No-one saw who, but it wasn’t who follows my orders. Makes things easier, really.”

“What’s going to happen, Sarva?”

Sarva Narsh laughed. “We didn’t take fifteen thousand thousand tonnes of steel from the Malasrionese to build churches.”