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Myth of Kyrrell Swamp – Chapter II Part 7 September 25, 2009

Posted by Yarnspnr in The Myth of Kyrrell Swamp - Chapter II.
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Man has a limited biological capacity for change.
When this capacity is overwhelmed, the capacity is in future shock.

– Alvin Toffler


Chapter II.7:  OutSider

© D. Erick Emert

bathtub

…Briggs thoughts flowed faster than his ability to chew. “But you suggested some kind of natural imbalance could be brought into this world by OutSiders?”

“Yes. We are both blessed and cursed with being able to recall our lives from the past and applying what we knew then to our present lives. Think of the major curses of humanity from where we came from, Briggs. Now imagine being in a place where they no longer existed. Would you allow someone to bring them to that place if you could prevent it?”

Briggs thought for a minute. “I’m not sure what kind of things you’re referring to.”

“Of course you’re not. You haven’t had the time to consider it, have you? Think of things people invented back in our old civilization. Things that seemed necessary, possibly even might have been necessary at the time, but which actually led to the deaths of millions.”

“Like war?”

“War – not an invention per se, but certainly things that are used in war are inventions.”

Briggs’ eyes shot wide open and he pointed a finger at D’Angusio. “Guns!  I just realized. None of the soldiers we passed, none of the guards, no one carried a rifle or handgun.”

D’Angusio nodded, smiling. “Yes.  Guns and gunpowder are outlawed throughout all Erde. If you’ve a mind to kill someone here, you’ll have to face him fairly.”

“But you have archers. They kill from a distance.”

“Yes, but a good shield will stop an arrow. What stops a bullet? We have machines that throw rocks. But how many men will one rock kill compared to a cannon firing grapeshot at close range? We will never allow weapons of mass destruction into Erde, nor the technology that could bring them into being.”

“What you’re saying then is if I knew how to make gunpowder I probably wouldn’t see the light of day outside this building, would I?”

“We are cautious whom we assimilate into our culture, Captain. I think you are beginning to understand our reasons for that caution, am I correct?”

Briggs did understand. He nodded his head as he wiped his mouth with his napkin, having finished his lunch. He wondered what other taboos could be on the short list and if he himself might be privy to some former resourceful knowledge that could either end his life or cause him to be held prisoner for hundreds of years.

“Soul searching, Briggs?”

“Just wondering if I know something I ought not.” He adjusted himself in his chair.  “What if gunpowder is discovered by chance? It happened that way in our own history, no? Surely your people have the means and intelligence to accidentally come up with this on their own. Isn’t it possible this could happen?”

“It has occurred. More than once. And on each occasion we dealt with it immediately, if not somewhat brutally. Guns and gunpowder will never gain a footing in Erde. Not ever.”

The smile disappeared from D’Angusio’s face. His eyes became cold and his stare penetrating. Briggs attempted to change the subject.

“I see your point, sir and concur. I’m trying to stay away from questions concerning government and day to day living. I’m sure you’ll have classes where I will be taught that kind of information. I would like to know if there is anything else I should be aware of in a similar vein to what we’ve been discussing. Is there any other major trespass from my past that could land me in trouble here?”

“Your wife, the daughter of a minister if I remember right? Are you a religious man, Briggs?”

The question hit Briggs between the eyes and he strained every muscle not to allow his facial expression to show his consternation. Briggs had indeed been a religious man. Some looked upon him as a puritanical fanatic. Something in the way that D’Angusio put the question to him set Briggs on the defensive.

“No. No I am not. I attended church for the sake of my wife and children, but it never truly grew in me. I suppose I would say I believe in God but I don’t spend time thinking on Him.”

“I would assume that would put a difficult strain on your marriage, Captain.”

“Not at all. Sarah and I enjoyed a close relationship. She sailed with me on the Arthur, on the Sea Foam and again on the Mary Celeste. Her father may have been a devout minister, but she held our marriage in a higher place than her religion.”

Lies. All lies. Briggs hoped he would not begin to perspire.

A knock at the door broke the tension and a young man stepped in dressed all in white.

“Is it that time already? Damn.” D’Angusio looked honestly irritated. “Captain, I want you to accompany Cheston here. He’s going to measure you for your clothing and then show you to your quarters, which also contains a bath.  Please make use of it. There will be some excellent reading materials provided you as well. They will answer a lot of those ‘day-to-day’ questions of yours.”

Both men stood. D’Angusio reached over his desk and extended his hand to Briggs, who shook it.

“I will see you sometime tomorrow morning, Briggs. Cheston will take good care of you.”

*

Cheston opened a paneled door that led into a twenty-foot square room. A bath tub set by the right side of a wood frame bed as D’Angusio had indicated. On the left he saw a desk and bookshelf. A twin light fixture on the ceiling lit the room. Briggs saw it but had no idea how the contraption worked.  When Cheston turned on the light, Briggs startled.

“What is that Cheston?”

“Something new sir. It’s called lectriclight. They installed them on this side of the house four weeks ago, I believe.”

Briggs marveled at it and flipped the switch by the door on and off a few times until satisfied with its workmanship.

“Impressive. I think I read something of this in our newspapers once. You truly are ahead of us it seems.”

“Us, sir?”

“I’m sorry Cheston. Are you a prime?”

“No sir, simply an orderly, sir. Please, if I could take your clothing with me? Have your bath, sir, and I’ll bring back new clothing for you in half an hour or so.”

“Yes. Would you be so kind as to draw the water for me?”

“Yes sir. Glad to sir.”

Briggs went over to the bookshelf to find something to read while he took his bath. The titles that caught his eye included:

History of the Empire – Tyllims
War on Religion – Boscar
Uniforms and Insignias of the Armies of Uppsala – Kettlemei
City of Blood – Snori

“I’ve filled your tub, sir. I’ll be back in a moment to collect your clothes if you’ll just leave them by the door sir.”

“Yes, Cheston. I will.”

As the orderly slipped out the door, Briggs set the four books on the wooden chair and positioned it next to the tub. He slipped out of his clothing and shoved them with his foot toward the door. A small shelf over where the water pipes curved down into the tub caught his eye. He tested the water with his foot.  The heat caused him to ease himself in and he realized how sleepy he’d become. Picking up War on Religion, he started to read over the chapter headings. A half-hour later the door opened and Cheston brought in fresh clothing, which he hung on a rail positioned to the right side of the door. He scooped up Briggs’ clothing and left the room, closing the door behind him.

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