A jolly fine dystopia awaits the brave adventurer – A short story
Here at Digital Taxidermy we are oft taken to flight of fancy and imagine those what ‘what if’ scenarios. Well after a rather busy week of ‘what if’ speculation and chat with some rather enthusiastic people. We have formed a small collective of writers. We have set to work to carve the foundations of our jolly little dystopia.
We are planning a series of short stories and a timeline history of how things went so wrong.
As a special bonus we have also thrown into the pot a desire to create a Skirmish and RPG system set within this world which again the team have taken too with great gusto.
The meat and potatoes…well not potatoes
Below is a short story that was spawned from our initial conversations and is here to whet your appetites. Expect more stories to come in the near future. We don’t have a release schedule planned as yet but we are going to get more content to you soon. We are planning a satirical look at the human condition and look at a potential future with the dial turned to 11. Even we don’t know where it’s going but so far we like (we are sure that’s the right word) what we have seen.
These stories will expand on the outlines we have already drafted for the society and the state in which they exist, some locations already made will be included and new locations and characters will be born.
We will introduce you to the new members of the Digital Taxidermy Story Collective over the coming weeks, but here is the first work from our good friend Rik Holden. So captivated was he by the prospect of delving into a fantasy world we had barely got off the phone and he had to get this down on paper.
Now we leave you to enjoy the first of many short stories and fluff excerpts.
A Dangerous Find
Leandro scuttled through the shabby entrance of the make shift den.
The fledgling gang were still looking for a more permanent residence. Not easy in the slums though.
“You ok Lee?” Sutha gently walked up to him. Those inquisitive green eyes, ever blazing he thought.
Short of breath for sprinting back, he raised his hand for a moment.
“Another bloody A.R.S.E. after me.”
“Again?” Sutha’s tone was sharp with genuine surprise. “That’s twice in the past week now.”
“Yeah, it feels like they’re really clamping down more than before. Guess they’re getting desperate.”
“Ha!” Sutha couldn't contain the laughter. “Desperate? The Tonks high up want to come and look at this place, before they grumble about how hard it is looking after all that meat they’ve got.” She dripped with sarcasm.
“Anyway, what’s that you’ve got?” Her attention finally turning to the bundle of cloth under Leandro’s right arm.
“I’m not sure exactly” replied Leandro, sounding very unsure.
“Got it off old Giblet didn’t I?”
Sutha rolled her eyes. “That good for nothing lump of slag end! Why are you still hanging around with him?”
“Because he knows people, you know that.” He sounded defensive. “Anyway, he’s paid me big for this favour.”
The raised eyebrow and look of disbelief told him she needed a bit more.
“Are any of the others around?”
“No” Sutha replies slowly. “They’re still out looking for meat.”
“Good, good. We need to keep this between us for now I think. He told me it’s not safe, maybe even dangerous.”
“What?!” Sutha’s anger quickly burst through. “What the hell have you got in there? He’d better have given you his life savings.”
“Two stumps of meat then?” Leo grinned.
The lady was not pleased.
“What is it?”
“Well I told you I wasn’t sure” he said, now slowly unfolding the cloth package. “Take a look”. He placed out on a small table by the fire.
“Hey? What’s this?” Sutha was interested now.
“He said it was really dangerous, something any of the corps would happily kill to protect.”
“But what is it then?” she asked slowly, lifting it to examine. “It... doesn’t seem to be anything. I just see these lines. How can this be dangerous? Shit I even thought you had some sort of bomb for a second”.
“No” said Leandro. “Reckoned it’s far more dangerous that that”.
Sutha’s glare was becoming more incredulous.
“Something more powerful than a weapon - an idea” he whispered.
Sutha nearly chocked on a laugh.
“You what?” She exclaimed.
“He says it’s called a buk”.
“Yeah, reckons it’s really old, even from before the virus days.”
Sutha was wide-eyes now.
“He reckoned there used to be loads of them around, but the corps destroyed most of them in the years after the shutdown.”
“He is pretty old” Sutha admitted slowly. “He might know about that stuff.”
Sutha turned back to the artifact. It was clearly very old. She reverently opened the hard cover, and delicately leafed through the dry, rustling pages, absorbing each one fully.
"But what is all this? Is it writing? Doesn’t look like any of the adverts around."
“No he says it’s a different language.”
“Now you’re winding me up, there’s another language?”
“Yep, he reckons there were loads of them around in the old days too.”
“Now you’re in bliss land for sure.”
“Maybe, but he’s paid me 4 Chits to look after it for a little while.”
Sutha couldn’t stifle her surprise. 4 Chits would feed the whole gang for a week. A handsome sum indeed.
“Ok, whatever. I still can’t see for the life of me why anyone would think that thing dangerous. Wrap it up and stick it some place. He’ll probably have forgotten about it by next cycle.”
Before Leandro could respond there was shuffling at the door. Todd and Dean appeared.
“Hey up you two”, Todd sounded spritely. He was still young. “Heard the news?”
Two silent looks.
“Old Giblet’s place just got raided by a corp.”
Leandro and Sutha quickly looked at each other.
Todd went on, “big raid too. Didn’t try to hide themselves like usual. Whole place got lit up. There were bodies everywhere for a minute before the Scavvies descended.”
“Did you get...” began Sutha.
“Yeah, yeah we picked up a cred’s worth. Don’t worry. So, word going round was that they went in looking for something really valuable. Can’t imagine what? Old bloke didn’t have two Chits to his name, so I thought.”
“And, er, did they find it?” Asked Leandro. Failing not to sound nervous.
“Don’t think so, from what we heard” Dean chipped in through a mouthful of food.
Leandro and Sutha looked at each other. They were in trouble.
By Rik Holden
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
(C) 2020 Richard Holden, Digital Taxidermy – Storytime Collective
All rights reserved.
This story or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.