The Aeolian Master - Book One - Revival HTML version
Yesss, it isss.
"Do you want to escape?" asked Hilo.
Best not to answer, said Roqford.
"Not really. I already love it here." And then to Roqford, Where are you?
I'm in the warden'sss officcce, replied Roqford. It'sss where I usually spend the night.
That's at least a hundred yards away. How can we communicate so far?
Roqford gave a mental grin. Telepathy is lessss restrictive than mechanical speech. It hasss a range of up to
three milesss through any kind of material object found in thisss plane of existenccce. In other wordsss, he
went on, through any kind of solid object, yesss, but not through certain forccce fieldsss and not into
subspaccce, or any other plane of existenccce.
"I know you're just kidding," said Hilo. "Nobody loves it here."
"Well, I'm glad to know that," said Ben to Hilo, and then to Roqford. Now tell me why I can't talk to this
He'sss one of the warden'sss plantsss.
Ben could imagine Roqford lying on the floor or on a big couch licking one of his paws. Stoolie? asked Ben.
What? asked Roqford nonchalantly.
Nothing, just an old Earth term. What do you mean 'one of? Are there more than one?
"Look," said Hilo deciding not to wait any longer for a reply, "if you ever decide to make an escape you let
me in on it, okay? Cause I want to get out of here too. Okay?"
"Yeah, sure," said Ben.
No, there'sss just one at a time, but he usesss four of them and switchesss them out every six monthsss.
Hilo pulled out another cigarette and lit it up. "I better explain how it works around here," he said.
When his six monthsss are finished, he'll go back to Newusa and live in comfort for a year and a half, then
he'll be back.
"Food pellets are used like money."
Ben pictured the warden sweating in his sleep having nightmares about prisoner uprisings—the prisoners
taking over the prison and threatening to disrupt his comfort and pleasurable way of life. If the situation was
out of control he would have to call in Hurd's city police and maybe Thorne's air force and then he might lose
"Know what I mean?" asked Hilo.
"Yeah," answered Ben.
Yummmmmmmm, said Roqford.
Yum? asked Ben. He was a little confused by this statement. What do you mean, yum?
"Now with food pellets you can buy a most important commodity," continued Hilo.
Nothing. Just Yummmmmm, life isss good.
I used to think so, said Ben. But I really couldn't agree with you at the moment.
There was suddenly an emptiness.
No answer. Roqford had fallen asleep, and it felt to Ben like there was a void in his grey matter.
Ben turned and faced Hilo. "What would I want to buy around here?"
"Why, protection, of course." Hilo paused and then continued. "Everybody belongs to a gang. There are
eight of them, but you have to pay to belong by giving the gang leader two food pellets everyday."
Ben gave him a wry look. "The way I understand it we don't get enough food as it is, and now you're telling
me I have to give some of it away for protection?"
"Look, it's only two a day. You agree to it, and I'll talk to my leader and get you into our gang.
"I don't have a mama on the outside, so forget it. I'll start my own gang."
"Can't," said Hilo matter of factly. "The gangs are all established." He shook his head in a knowing manner.
"And if you don't join one, you're going to end up with a shive in your back."
Ben smiled ruefully. "Now there's a term I haven't heard before, and I'll bet it's an ancient Earth term."
"Doesn't matter. You'll find out what it is soon enough."