Read Beluga Fay (Dragon Bone Hill) Online

Authors: David S. Wellhauser

Beluga Fay (Dragon Bone Hill)

BOOK: Beluga Fay (Dragon Bone Hill)
2.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub





Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved.

Gnostic Dementia Press,

Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Cover Art & Interior Book Design: Indie Designz (


“This?” his voice a frog marching over a bed of coals.

“Thranig, we need to find something that can be traded for food.” He looked at him without a glimmer of understanding. There wasn’t much by way of understanding in Boru Dortmund’s eyes either, but they knew what could be traded and what they’d no prayer of trading on, though neither of the sots had much acquaintance with prayer, which was as well since the docks weren’t a place for anyone with any hope. In a city that had lost the least acquaintance with the wind-headed siren, this was no place for existential extremists.

“Someone will trade for this, or wished they’d traded,” Thranig Qinkop answered, a smile cracking his dry lips.

“You forgot who we’re trading with,” Boru Dortmund answered.

“Barbacoa?” The pair had been years foraging on the docks, so when the city had lost itself, they were already so lost there was hardly a change in the pair’s lives. Today there was more drama than what the pair took to be the day before the last; that was about all the theatre that could be offered to memory. What could be said of the autism of time while the pair had been wandering about the docks picking up odd jobs and scavenging was little enough. However, the disabling of the concept of their linear jaunt along time’s arrow had not save the pair from the cost of the years and the consequences of living rough.

The men carried rough, unkempt beards heavily infiltrated by grey. Where the original hair color remained, it was black. Scars covered Boru’s face left over from the time his face had been pushed through a window just after wandering into the docks from a home he’d lost up north. The memory of his family was not much more than a few snapshots of fighting with his wife—of whom he had no memory beyond anger and spotty experiences of self-abuse—and the baleful look of two children whose faces had been mostly erased. Boru still dreamt of these, but their faces had been scrubbed of definition and history. All memory had been reduced to elemental particles that never entirely aligned; so what could be said of them wasn’t history but perhaps a family album goggled at by a dementia patient. Here you would recognize you should have a reaction to the faces and places, but all which remains are niggling concerns that what you are is, or has, faded into a past that is no longer accessible.

Boru and Thranig were beyond emaciated, had been for years. What remained of their flesh, which was not encrusted with scabs and scars, was a petit mal of what had been in the time before the temporal autism. Wasted but wiry, the pair had come together to create their own survivalist dyad within the space of the docks. Thranig had been happier than Boru because he had sacrificed more of reason and memory. However, the sacrifice had led to more violent responses to his nonviolent resistance. That, nevertheless, had always been the intent of nonviolent civil disobedience, and on the docks, this was offered with the least provocation.

Raising his face from the gnarled hand, Dortmund spoke in a quiet but meaningful voice. “Moon. Remember Simon Moon? You have to remember last night—when you got that leg,” Pointing to Thranig’s right leg, which, even now, the derelict was favoring. “Told us not to come around again unless we’d something to trade that he needed.”

Thranig’s face tightened, and there was a memory burst. In the burst, the rusting nut he’d been holding fell from his fist and he stared down the line of docks jutting out into the bay.

“We need to eat.” Eyes blinking away the encounter with Moon behind the Penny Whistle. “I’m hungry. I need food. If we don’t find something soon, we’ll have to go to Dragon Bone.”

Boru’s hand snapped out and caught Thranig on the side of the head. “We go there and we die—worse than dead, maybe.”

“They could take us in,” Thranig’s voice an unconvinced whine.

“The DH wouldn’t.”

“They’re not the only ones out there. At the bottom of the hill...”

“Fodder for when times get tough.”

Silenced, Thranig turned away and walked back along the dock, toward the shore. “Where you going?”

“There’s nothing here. Let’s try the next dock over. Keep going until we find something Moon will take,” rubbing his leg as the brief snapshot of last night filtered through the haze of hunger. Though desperate, Qinkop wasn’t about to show up at the Penny Whistle again without something that would get him a meal and not a beating. He wasn’t entirely certain of surviving the next disappointment Simon Moon suffered.

“There are some boats tied up down here.” Boru pointed to a stairway leading toward the sound of surf breaking on pylons.

Thranig turned halfway toward his partner; there wasn’t much hope in the glance. “How often have we found anything on those boats? Last time there was even a watchman. I almost got knifed.”

“We can count it lucky they weren’t carrying a gun.”

“Not much ammunition left in the city; and what there is, the government and gangs got.”

“True ‘nough, so I brought this.” Boru pulled out a rusty pipe about half a meter long. Thranig looked at it a moment, and a half moon opened the filthy face. Several of his front teeth were gone, and those that remained were grey and some black along the gums. Dortmund’s were hardly any better.

“You sure you can take the watchman with that? What if they got a pike or a gaff? Gaffs hurt,” rubbing a shoulder as one more snapshot came back.

“What if they don’t even got a knife?”

“We take everything.” Boru smiled and turned to the stairway. Thranig followed, warming to the idea.

“Shit.” Boru’s voice not more than a shallow hiss. Thranig looked around the shoulder of his friend. The stairs leading down to the water were narrow and slick with wear and the slime left by the day’s catch being off-loaded. There had been times, not distant, in which the two men had been reduced to scraping these for what satisfaction their bellies might get. What they ended with was a greater hunger than they had before and a foul taste in their mouths. Dortmund had developed a bad case of the trots which took days to pass. The worst part of this was his gut had long since expelled anything it could find in his stomach, but that didn’t mean the impulse didn’t tear at his ass and bite at his piles.

The pair had sworn never to do that again, but never was seeming a long time when a hollow belly filled all your thoughts every moment of the day. Hunger will drive a man far harder than an appetite for sex, especially this pair. Boru and Thranig used each other mercilessly when their bellies were full. Thranig had started out passive enough, but in time, he’d come to ride Boru’s face when he’d been blind drunk. Always the drink made Boru passive and masochistic. The next day Dortmund never claimed to remember what had happened, but he did—bits of it. The truth was he enjoyed his moments of passivity more than the rape of Thranig. Thranig preferred anything that took the edge from the day and left him feeling not quite so alone.

“What is it?” Thranig couldn’t see much in the shadow of the wharf. There was a full moon, and there were few clouds scudding over a sky filled with stars. Yet, down here there was only the reflected light of the moon and stars. If they made it down to where the boats were tied up, they’d be open to the evening’s light again, but for the moment, they were sheltered from it. At the angle they were looking, the light was not helping Qinkop see.

“No boats—skiffs and rowboats is all. Fuck, what are...”

“There might be something in them—left over cheese, old boots, fishing line, something we can eat or turn to food—even scraps would be enough.” The desperate whine was heavy in his voice. If it had been anyone but Dortmund listening, they’d not have heard this, but it was nails on a chalkboard to the man. He elbowed Qinkop and the whine vanished in a woof of air.

Continuing, carefully, down for fear of the Watch—they’d be here, somewhere. Not close. The Watch should be another five minutes away along the quayside and then above the pair. If quiet, the two men could turn the boat over and be gone with the Watch just above them. If worse came to worst, they could always swim down to the beach with whatever they found here. Generally, it helped that most of the watchmen were drunk half the time and didn’t always keep to the scheduled patrol set by the Dockmaster. If they’d pay better, which these days meant food or barter goods, they might be able to attract better watchmen than those a rung or two above Qinkop and Dortmund. As it stood, the ones standing watch were somewhere between drunks and thieves—sometimes they were both.

Stepping onto the tie-off pylon with one foot, Boru looked out over the bay and toward the freighters anchored there. These were little more than shadows now with the moon behind them. Both men would have liked to swim out to them, but if caught—and they almost certainly would be—it would mean death. None of the niceties of trial either—shot to the head and over the side. There was, both had heard, paperwork afterwards and a period of quarantine to make sure that the Sweats would not break out in the crew. He couldn’t be certain how often this really happened, but Dortmund thought not very. The captain would want that hushed up so they’d not lose the opportunity to fatten their wallet. Quarantine meant lost revenue; lost revenue normally ended a captain’s tenure.

Still, the ships were tempting targets, and one day they’d not be able to resist; anything was better than Dragon Hill. Boru trembled at the thought—dying would be bad, but taken on by the Hill would almost certainly be worse. Once they’d gone down that road, it would not matter whether or not they survived the city’s quarantine—afterwards they’d not be allowed back on the docks. The pair, literally, would be marked men—hardly worthy of the term, as was the case with those branded on the Hill.

Stepping down into the boat, Boru pulled the tarp back.

Doing so, there was a muffled whoomphing. Boru looked back to Thranig. “What...” There was the rending crackle of metal giving way to a great pressure. Boru fell back in the boat, startled by the eruption of noise. Lying on his back, a fiery plume burst from the vessel near its main stacks. Thranig, terrified, skittered backward too far and fell into the bay with a loud splash. A moment later, Dortmund could hear him thrashing about, seeking purchase. Qinkop had never been a strong swimmer. Even when they’d last swam to the beach, it was a dog paddle all the way, several times having to stop to rest his arms and legs. Eventually, he got a hold on the dock and dragged himself out of the water as Boru pulled himself to a seated position.

Several smaller whoomphs followed, and the vessel bucked, gently, at anchor then settled back to the gentle bob of the other vessels farther out.

“What was that?” Thranig asked, kneeling beside Boru.

“Don’t know. Couldn’t have been fuel—had to have been something in the hold—but why the fireball?”

“Doesn’t matter. When it goes down, there’ll be salvage all along the docks—beach too.”

BOOK: Beluga Fay (Dragon Bone Hill)
2.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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