Why do anything, Ceri? You'll only dance in Elysia one day.

Submitted into Contest #95 in response to: Start your story with someone being presented with a dilemma.... view prompt

22 comments

Science Fiction Fantasy Crime

A thought as old as the first professions of any world is, why do anything? This is especially true in Helusch, with the rather tragic economic condition of the area. 

Ceri was just a Gythan Bo, looking for his next meal, his next trick, next move.

He really wasn’t up for the quandary, as he rather drunkenly took the dare.

“Get back here, ya Rum Dum Jungle buzzard!”, was what the old fool had said as Ceri made off with his Road Stake, Elam had him on a bet, and Ceri would make good on his Daring exploits. All good Ruckus was had in an Elevated state, made all the better by a plunder of forty Nicks, and the promise of a good night's rest.

Ceri wasn’t anything close to a Yegg, but the thought of fresh Java in a proper Flophouse made a night with his Ever-Goading Mucker all the more satisfying.

Clever fingers, and banditry wasn’t much a day's work to anyone else, but Ceri wasn’t much skilled in more cautious labor. He couldn’t much afford to be picky in who he stole from, or really anything he did.

Might’ve been the half of it with Elam.

But such thoughts seemed foolish as Elam caught sight of him, pulling Ceri into the alley, “hey there Angellina, you got the goods?”, he went, before Ceri saw fit to turn and puke.

Gythan folks can’t handle High-Elevations, they get nauseous. Elam wasn’t so far bad, as he went rubbing circles across Ceri’s back, “get it up you lucky Gib, this hand is the only magic I got.” 

“Oy, don’t say it like that with my back to you.” 

“It’s true. I ain’t lying.” 

“I better get good Corms outta this. Since you already got me.” 

“There you are pickin’ even after havin’ me out for it,” Elam said, “I even did your back.” 

It wasn’t like they weren’t close already, but Ceri felt warm with his friend's voice. Though it might’ve been the faint buzz of his Elevation.

“Way to make off without counting, Maeve.”

“Don’t you know it? But diggin’ ain't pickin’ you know it,” Ceri rearranged himself, “feels a Bad Road.”

Elam laughed him off, “Roads don’t go Bad for old men and their money. You know that. Works still work, even theft.”

“I know, I know, I’m just outta breath.” Ceri looked around, out of the Alley and down the path. He didn’t bother thinking about trusting Elam with the goods, he just did.

Maybe he was just young, but the thought of doing anything else seemed wrong. What's the loss if Elam runs without him? 

Ceri wasn’t large bodied or tough, but he was much quicker than Elam, even with a head start. But Elam didn’t seem bothered to do it either, which was weird, it wasn’t as if Elam was anywhere near Blowed-in-the-glass.

Most couldn’t trust him as far as Ceri could throw him, and he couldn’t manage very far on that.

Outta the two of them Elam was the closest to the muscle, though he couldn’t manage that when compared with anyone else.

Enough to make Ceri barf, but that ain’t anything as a proud Gythan.

“You wanna go the long way?”, Elam said, pointing up to the fire escape. Ceri might’ve passed for an Angellina, but Elam was a Punk if ever he saw one.

Always up to shared antics, Ceri hauled himself up. Leaving Elam annoyed with the ease of his movements. “You just retched up that liquid courage! Why are you like this?”

“It’s better to barf before doing something strenuous anyway.”

“gross.”

“Who cares? You wanted to go the long way, didn’t you?” Ceri questioned, looking down at him, “gimme the Nicks.”

Elam did so wordlessly, before following Ceri up the fire escape. Ceri, being quite a bit smaller, slipped his way to the top long before Elam did, along with their money. He seemed to Follow by eye before going up and on.

Once they were on the roof, they were interrupted by the realization that they would have to do something else. Elevation is truly revelatory. 

Elam looked across to a building over, Ceri was able to measure by eye that the distance was roughly three times his full height, either way this was looking pretty silly. 

“I’m not sure if it’s worth it.” Ceri said, rearranging their loot. 

“I’d throw you over, but I don’t think you’d make it.” 

Ceri eyed the distance again, “I think I’d rather jump.” 

“Are you serious right now?” 

“Yes.” 

“You know what? You got me, let's take it and see who’s chicken.” 

“Well, go on then Gump!” Ceri said, giving Elam room for a running start. 

Elam was able to make it with his long heavy strides propelling him forward, like a Hot Shot across the two buildings. He managed to stick the landing, even with his ganglyness. A bit more wary on his feet this late at night, Ceri tightened the Bindle and threw it at Elam, who caught it readily. 

Maybe it was his eyes, that made him so easy to trust. Ceri always knew where Elam was looking, even if his expressions were sometimes very creepy because of it. Though even that instinct was slipping from him, the longer they knew each other. 

With a shorter stride, Ceri needed to be a bit more careful than Elam at this, even if the height of the building wasn’t a factor. 

Like a lot of things, being careful didn’t always mean anything, and this was proven as Ceri took his jump. 

He took his leap, and while he hadn’t felt it at first, his foot didn’t take his weight on the other end. 

Lucky or not, Elam had dropped the Bindle, and caught his arm with a quickness he didn’t bother to look for. 

Ceri tensed up in Elam’s grip, as he realised how close he’d been to death. To dancing in the sun.

A quick save became an embrace, as Elam curled up around Ceri.

They relaxed at some point of course, no one would live if they couldn’t deal. 

All he could think was that he was closer to his answer.

May 29, 2021 01:12

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22 comments

Kas Reidva
11:17 Jun 05, 2021

The rhythm of the story is very engaging, perfect for a SF setting. I love the fact that respire their collaboration Ceri still isnt willing to fully trust Elam. The heavy dillema of what is the meaning of life plays very well with the easy, fun antics of the two, making the story a nice mix of deep and playful. I love it!

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Kathleen `Woods
06:13 Jun 06, 2021

thanks, it was kinda the goal. I'm happy that I even met in the middle with the prompt.

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Kelly Burmeier
18:01 May 30, 2021

I LOVED how your narrator-voice had a heavy hand in the world-building! In such a short space, using your language as vehicle to convey a sense of time, place, class, and focus is brilliant! Saves time for the individual details and character-building. You made an immersive experience super quickly!

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Kathleen `Woods
22:06 May 30, 2021

thanks, I've been trying to get that down. worldbuilding is one of those things that's kinda hard to keep interesting with just text.

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Jessica Chaos
00:27 May 30, 2021

Oooh. I liked this one, fun and weird. I think I Need more story to truly understand all the word implications within the world...but I think "Rum Dum Jungle Buzzard" is going to be my new go to insult!

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Kathleen `Woods
04:05 May 30, 2021

yeah, this one was pretty quick. I belted this one out in a day.

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Rayhan Hidayat
20:44 May 29, 2021

I have no idea what's going on, but those random words are fun to say out loud! RUM DUM JUNGLE BUZZARD! :D

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Kathleen `Woods
21:35 May 29, 2021

Thanks! the random words are courtesy of my Hobo obsession, if that helps.

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Rayhan Hidayat
21:40 May 29, 2021

Hobo as in homeless people?

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Kathleen `Woods
21:52 May 29, 2021

mostly as in the traveling worker, though these two are more along the lines of tramps and bums.

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Rayhan Hidayat
22:06 May 29, 2021

Oh that’s a unique obsession haha

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Kathleen `Woods
22:31 May 29, 2021

yeah, there's been a lot compiled regarding Hobo slang that is just perfect worldbuilding fodder for me. Though the Corms are a bit reference to the setting.

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Daniel R. Hayes
05:23 May 29, 2021

Hi Kathleen, this was a delightful story! I loved the creativity here and the dialogue was very fluid and made the story come alive. I really enjoyed reading this :) Also, thank you for all the likes, I really appreciate it!!

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Kathleen `Woods
06:05 May 29, 2021

thanks, I managed 4 stories this week and I was sharing the madness!

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Kathleen `Woods
02:02 Jan 02, 2022

Discovery key, world-building in common. "Around and round Elysia" https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/ioke5z/ "Ginevran Hospitality" https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/ps91yo/ "Paola get's her life now" https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/bkn6gl/

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