Category: The Sixth Age of Sand

43. Playing Cards

Jubal had once heard his father talk to him about the promises the voice made to him. One of the ones his father repeated endlessly had been the oath that his descendants would number as the stars. Jubal had laid back one night, and looked up at the sky, and counted until he fell asleep, and came to a total he understood of a few thousand. As far as he knew, there were maybe ten times that living in Ninevah, and there were tales told to Jubal of coins that came from as far away as the Indus, where numbers greater still lived. A family large enough to own a few suburbs in Uruk didn’t sound like a bad deal, though!

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42. From Grey

At some point between the school and the field, Angus realised he’d started hallucinating. Whenever a house of dull grey sat at the right angle, cross from his seemingly linear path through the city, he’d start to see things that were almost colours. It was a relief, honestly – those little flashes of red and green and blue that reminded him of whizzing optical illusions he’d made in school after reading about them in some old textbook or other in the craft room, where a collection of straight black and white lines became a swirl of dull green or pale pink. It made a difference, looking down at his own shoes, seeing them grey, when he knew they were brown, his not-jeans, not-brand, not-good-enough pants, darker grey, and thinking they were black when they weren’t in this perfectly monochromatic world. Belt, vest, shirt, tie, jacket, coat, all in various shades of dark grey, lighter grey, off-white, down to his own hands, dark-grey and not-so-dark grey, with the little off-white cuticles.

It stopped having meaning. The grey faded into black at curves and lines and that was that.

“I rather think he’s hallucinating at this point.”

There were also them.

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41. The Lion’s Chase

During World War II, the fear of the Allied forces was not a major bombing strike on the capital of England, London, but rather a massive, debilitating bombing attack on cities that provided the supporting infrastructure. A nuclear blast in London would have disarrayed the central command – it would have killed a large number of people. It would not, however, have killed the country the way that a loss of say, Birmingham would have. When enemies struck at one another, they struck at facilities that built things. They pounded at airfields and they mined and bombed railways.

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40. Two Weeks

“Mom, mom. Okay, calm down, mom! Mom, I landed on my feet.”

Holland had never found two weeks to be a long time. Two weeks of school time was, what, a few tests, two PE events to hide from, two embarrassing admissions on Friday afternoon of doing ‘nothing’ and two Saturday mornings watching black-and-white cartoons on a cheap TV. Two weeks was a slide of pills and a grocery shopping trip when the Centrelink cheque cleared, before He realised he had money and spent it all at the pub. Two weeks during school holidays was basically gone in no time.

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38. The Needs Of Forever

You develop the technology you need to solve the problems you have. When you have a problem with breaking rocks and cutting bronze armour, you tend to develop iron. When you have problems of inadequate archers and large labour forces, you will probably develop muskets. When you have enormous huge piles of money and a military-industrial complex, maybe it’s just natural to develop unmanned drones.

The Forever’s jade exterior gave way to a dark, polished green corridors. Each corridor was almost circular; flat on the bottom, with a ridge running along the middle about elbow-height for Enkudu. Innogen had to duck slightly in the passage.While the walls had every reason to be wet, they instead felt strangely dry to the touch. When Enk laid his fingers on the surface – nervously at first, then more confidently when it failed to yield, despite its seemingly organic feel.

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37. Iqlusion

The first steam engine was created in the first century, and did nothing more than spin around in place. It was seen as a minor curiosity by the philosopher who constructed it, a little toy for the entertainment of simple minds, but not to be put to any meaningful purpose. A literal steam engine rocket, the device – an aeolipile – was made, then seemingly forgotten about. The railway was invented seven centuries earlier – and the carts on that rail were pulled by human slaves.

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36. Eternal, Its Name

Cards arrived on the drifting green, the device of the sea,without knowing its name. It simply was the thing, and it wasn’t like she’d written down what it was on her tiny preselected library of communications. That was fine, though, because somewhere in her brain, the machinery that cared about what things were called, what weird things were and how very important they were to people.

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35. The Shape Of The Thing

Innogen and Enk only had a few days after the return of Magic before they set out on their journey. Barbara had over a month, practising her warlock powers. Holland hid from school for weeks, knowing that with all the people disappeared, nobody would notice the one who was not. Angus slipped into the arms of Grey London mere days after it all began.

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Story Discussion?

Should I do posts talking about what’s going on in the story? I feel like I should just ask the three people reading it, but I keep wondering if I should formally state it in a open place like this. Or if the secret makes it better.