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Authors: Iain M. Banks

Feersum Endjinn (12 page)

BOOK: Feersum Endjinn
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It had not occurred to him he would ever employ that mutated phrase in circumstances that might give him the chance to verify it.
Or refute it, of course.
Ince thi sky woz ful ov birdz; used 2 go blak wif birds it did & birdz roold thi air (wel, apart from thi insectz) but thas all changed now; hoomins came along & startd shootin & trappin & killin them & evin if they’ve mostly stoppd doin that sort ov fing now theyr stil top ov thi roost partly coz they kild off so meny speesheez & partly coz they make stuf fly, witch when u fink about it duz kind ov spoil it 4 thi birdz on account they had 2 spend milyons ov yeers jumpin off clifs & out ov treez & crashin 2 thi groun & dyin & then doin it ol ovir agen & 1 time miby not crashin qwite so hard but glidin a bit & then a bit moar & a bit moar stil & so on & so on etc & juss jenerily paynstakinly evolvin in this incredibly complicatd way (I meen, lizird-scales in2 fewirs! & holo bones, 4 goonis sakes!) & then theez bleedin hoomins theez ridicolos-lookin bald munkys cum along whot ½ nevir showd thi slitest inarest in flyin nor sine ov adaptayshin 2 thi air whot-so-bleedin-evir & they start buzzin aroun in flyin masheens juss 4 a laf!
Makes u sik. Din evin ½ thi decincy 2 do it slo; one minit theyr flyin mashines is made from paper & spit, then 1 evilushinary blink ov thi i & thi bastirds is playin golf on thi moon!
O, thers stil birdz around olrite but thers a dam site fewr ov them & a lot ov what u wood fink is birds iznt; itz chimerics, or machines, & even if it is thi case that whot looks like a bird is a bird if its a big one its probably not evin got its hed 2 itself but its been taken over by a ded persin. Can’t evin ½ peece in yoor own bonce. Birdz av coped wiv tics & flees & lice ol ther evilushinary life but theez dam hoomins r wurse & they get evryware!
Am flapin & skwokin & wokin about ma perch & wishin Mr Zoliparia thi hoomin wude hury up & wake me coz thi moar I think about peepil thi less I like them & thi moar I like bein a bird.
Been almos a week now; whatz keepin thi man? Mi own folt 4 entrustin mi saifty 2 a old geezir. Thats thi trubl wif old persins; slo reactshins. Probly dropt thi pen I askt him 2 catch & is evin now scrabblin about on thi flor 4 it, forgetin thi importint thing is 2 wake me, not get thi bleedin pen. But it must ½ been a minit in reel time by now; shurely evin a old persin cant take that long 2 luke 4 a bleedin pen 4 gooniss sakes.
Howma goan wake up? Am blo thi levil whare u get askd in yoor sleep otomaticly & mi own wake-up code woz taikin from me by that big bastardin bird whot slapt me down heer in thi furst place & evin tho Ive rimemberd it sinse it juss dozen seem 2 b wurkin no moare.
Mi goos, like they say, may wel b cookd.
Am on a perch in a sorta litl dark caiv.
If u can imagine a jiant black brain in a evin biggr dark space, & then zoom in on thi brain & go down inamungst its corugayshins & foldz & c that thi walls ov evry fold is made out ov zillions ov litl boxes wif a perch in it, well, thatz whot this bit ov bird-space is like, in thi kript.
Mi litl box lukes out on2 a uge hangin dark spaice oll fild with shados & thi okzhinal passin bird flappin sloly past (we oll flap slo - thi pretend graviti is less heer). Wel, am sayin its all dark but maybe it iznt realy, maybe thats juss me coz truth 2 tel Iv not been very wel; in fact Im ½ blind, but thats betr than whot I woz a cupl ov days ago, which woz ½ ded.
Therz a dainti flutr ov wings @ thi entranse 2 mi box, & in cums litl Dartlin, whos thi frend Iv made heer.
Ullo, Dartlin, howzit goin?
Fine, Mr Bathcule. I bin tewibwy bizzy, u no; tewibwy bizzy bird i been. I flu thwu 2 thi paliment ov thi cwows & pikd up sum gothip, wood u like 2 here it?
Dartlin is my spy, sort ov. When I imagind miself in heer in thi furst place, bak in Mr Zoliparia’s pad, I juss naturily sumhow took on thi apperince ov a hok, which is whot I stil am now. Dartlins a sparo, so in feery we shood b rapter & prey respectivly, but it dozen actule work that way here, not in this bit nway.
Dartlin foun me on thi flor heer. Id juss got bak from thi levil beneeth whare thi reel fun in thi kript starts & I woz in a sory state, let me tel u.
Thi furst cupl ov days wer thi wurst. When thi big burd slapt me down thru all them levils I thot mi time woz up; I meen, I new Id wake up in thi Iball ov thi Septentryinil Gargoil Rosbrith sooner or later, but I thot I woz goin 2 die in heer, & thats a helluva fing 2 take back 2 yoor waitin mind; scar u 4 life, that can.
Iss ver difficult 2 explain what its like when u go that deep in thi kript, but if u can imagine bein in a sno storm,
in a
snostorm only thi sno is
& sum ov it seems 2 b
cumin @ u from evry angil
(& each sno-flake seems 2 sing & hum & sizil & hold littl flashin images & hints ov faces in it & as they go past u heer snatchiz ov speech or music or u feel a emoshin or fink ov a idear or consept or seem 2 remembir sumfink) & if 1 ov thi sno-flakes hits u in thi I u r suddenly in sumbudy elses dreem & its a effort 2 remember who thi hel u r, wel if u can imagine xperyencin oll that when u r feelin a bit drunk & disoreyented then thas a bit like whot iss like, cept wurse ov course. & weerder.
I doan actuly remember much about that bit & I doan think I want 2, Ither. I lernd 2 navigate by thi flavir ov thi surroundin dreemz & graduly sortd sum sens out ov thi gibbersh & tho I got blindid by thi abraidin impact ov ol those sno-flakes & loss thi wordin ov my wake-up code, I fynaly broke bak thru 2 thi darknis & peece & qwiet here, & lay xosted on thi flor amungst lotsa scraggly ded fewirs & solidifyd droppins & thass whare Dartlin foun me.
Heed been terifyd by sumthin & loss thi memry ov how 2 fly & so ended down on thi flor 2, but he could c & so lnce Id got my strenf bak he got on2 my back between my wings & gided me 2 whare thi sparos gather. They told him how 2 fly agen but they didn feel cumfterbil ½ in a hok around so they foun me this place down here & thass whare Ive been thi last 4 days, gettin mi site back wyle Dartlin flits about makin inkwyries & bein bizy & nozi & gossipin, which is whot sparos like doin nway.
Y I certinly wood like 2 heer whot u herd, litil frend, I tel Dartlin.
Wel, ith tewibwy intiwestin & i hope u doan get fwitened but, tho u r a
hok aftir ol & pwobibwy doan get fwitened ... o, ithn thith a dark ole place? I doan like perchin here on thi edje. May I hop up bethide u?
By ol meens, Dartlin, I sez, shufflin along a bit on my perch.
Thank u. Now; ah yeth, now i doan wan 2 make u nervith or anthin - like i thay, with u bein feerth i cant imagin u no thi meenin ov thi word - but it wood appeer that therth a bit ov a dithturbinth in thi air - o, it givth me a shiver juth lookin @ thoze big feerth talonth ov yourth - whot woth i thayin? - o yeth, a dithturbinth in thi air, affectin evwybody, neer enuf - u no i think i felt it begin mythelf evin tho i woz down on that hawwibl flor @ thi time with uthir thingth on mi mind - wothint hawwibil down thare? I hatid it. Nway, it theemth thi raptorth & carrion-feederth & moatht
thi lammergeierth ½ been behavin thtrainjly - o! woth that a theegull jutht thare? I new a theegull 1nce, hith name woth ...
Thas thi trubl wif sparos; they got a veri limitid tenshun span & r inclind 2 go witterin on 4 ages b4 they get 2 thi poynt, always flutterin off @ tanjints & keepin u gessin whot it is thare actuli tokin about. Iss veri frustratin but u juss ½ 2 b payshint.
Nway, I bettir parafraze or weel b here oll bleedin day listnin 2 this sparo-crap.
Furst, sum ov thi birdz is lookin 4 sumbody & I get a funy feelin it might b yoors truli. Thi song goes that thers a hunt on 4 sumbodi whoze loose in thi sistim, existin in thi kript &/or thi base-wurld & thers a pryce on ther hed. Apparintly this persins a furst-born, which fits me. Fits lots a peepil, u mite say, but apparintly this persins got sumthin a bit difrint about them; they ½ sum peculyarity, sum strainjnis, & thare a signil carryer, carryin a mesidje they mite not evin no they ½.
O I no itz probly not me, but u no how it is; I alwiz felt I woz speshil - juss like evrybodi els - but unlike evrybody els I got this weerd wirin in mi brane so I cant spel rite, juss ½ 2 do evrythin foneticly. Iss not a problim cos u can put eny old rubish thru practikly anyfin evin a chile’s toy computir & get it 2 cum out speld perfictly & gramatisized 2 & evin improvd 2 thi poynt whare yood fink u waz Bill bleedin Shaikspir by thi langwidje. Nway, u can probly c y I got a bit paranoyd when I furst herd ol this, & it gets wurse.
Thi stori goze that this persin - mayb a burd, mayb not - is a contaminint from thi kript’s nasti ole nethir reejins, a vyris cum 2 corupt evin more levils, which is qwite a thot & mite evin b abit worryin juss in case it woz me, onli not evry 1 seems 2 bleev this bit ov thi roomir coz its rekind that thi stori cums from thi palas & thi king & thi consisterians r behind it & thay can almost b garanteed not 2 tel thi trooth.
Sum flox rekin its oll 2 do wif thi approachin enkroachin; they fink thi kaotic levils ov thi kript ½ sumhow woken up 2 thi fact that fings cude eventjulie get a bit hazardis even 4 them.
U c, evrybody’s assoomed that thi kript’s kaotic levils qwite liked thi idear ov thi enkroachmint; sumthin that ushird in a new ice age (@ thi veri leest) & cut off thi sunlite & kild off praktikly thi hole planitiry ecosfere & juss jenerili gaiv hoomins & byological stuf a hard time sounded rite up thi kript’s tree thang-u-veri-mutch, but now that it lukes like thi enkroachmint mite b evin moar seryis than that & possibly fretin thi existins ov thi sun, thi planit, thi cassil & thi kript, well thi beests ov thi kaotic zones ½ fynaly sat up & took notis & fings ½ been stirin evir sins.
Y it shood b happenin in thi relm ov thi birdz spesifikly is a good qwestyin but thare u r; not much point tryin 2 figir out thi kript.
is goin on apart from thi fact that thare lookin 4 sumbodi isnt 2 cleer Ither, thers 2 meny conflickin roomirs (& nway this is ol bein tranmitd by Dartlin, who is a deer litl bird but wude not evin get a oneribil menshin if they woz givin out prizes 4 conversayshinil coherince) but thi poynt ov it ol is that basikly thers big doo-doo flyin aroun & ol thi flox is nervis & a bit histerikl & enybody whos a bit diffrent is bein sot out, roundid up, interogatid & taken away. Ol ov which mite sound familyir 2 eny studints ov history & juss goze 2 sho that sum fings nevir chainj, leest not when theez pluckin hoomins desined thi orijinil sistim.
So thare u r Mr Bathcule, ithnt it ol tewwibwy, tewwibwy interethtin?
O its inarestin ol rite, Dartlin, ole chum.
I think tho 2 - o look, i think i juss thaw a flee on yoor leg thare; may I preen u?
I feel like sayin, U shure its a flee not a ant? coz I stil think tendirly ov poor litl lost Ergates now & agen, but I juss sez, Preen away, yung Dartlin.
Dartlin peks roun thi fethery top ov my left leg & eventjulie crunches on a flee.
Yum. Thank u. Wel enway, i wonder whot on erth can b goin on? Who do u think they ah lookin 4? Do u think it cood akchooly b 1 ov uth birdth? I dont think tho, do u?
Probly not.
O, ith not u, ith it? Tee-hee. Tee-hee-hee-hee.
I doan fink so. I juss a poor blindid ole hok.
no that, thilly, tho u r a very
old hok, & gettin less blind ol thi time. I woth jutht kiddin. O luke anuthi thee-gull. Or ith it? Lookth moar like a albino cro, akchooly. Well, i cant thtand awound hea ol day chattin with u; i ½ 2 fly, Dartlin sez, & hops down off thi perch. Ith ther anythin i can get u, Mr Bathcule?
No, Dartlin, am gettin bettir ol thi time, fanks. Juss u keep yoo eers opin tho; I like heerin about ol this stuf.
My pwezhir. Thure i cant get u somthin 2 eet, perhapth?
No, am fine.
Vewy well.
Dartlin hops 2wards thi edje ov thi box lukin out ovir thi dark canyin. It preens itsself a bit, then balansis on thi edje, lukes roun 2 say, Well, bye then ... but iss litl voyce sorta trailz off, & it lukes bak roun 2 thi outside & then it stars shiverin & it jumps bak & almost falls ovir & keeps jumpin bak until iss underneef mi perch.
Dartlin! I shout. Whas thi mattir? Whot is it? & I luke down @ thi litl fellir & hees juss pressd bak agenst thi reer ov thi box & qwiverin wif frite, hiz tiny Is buljin & starin & not seein me, & meenwhile thers movemint & thi soun ov flutirn wings outside thi box & sum whisperd sqwawks. A cupil ov larje dark shapes flit past thi entrinse 2 thi box.
Dartlin shaiks like thi poor littl buggurs ½in his own pryvit erfqwake.
He lukes @ me & wails, Feerth, Mr Bathcule! Feerth! & then juss keels ovir on2 thi flor ov thi box, his Is stil opin.
Dartlin! I sez, not shoutin, but I doan fink this sparo’s goan 2 b doin no more spyin nor flyin. I can c his flees gettin redy 2 move out ov his scrawny littl bod, & thas always thi wurst ov sines.
I luke up agen & thers more movemint & a rustlin sound from outside & then suddinly thi noys ov uge grate wings flappin.
A crow pops itz hed roun thi side ov thi box.
It lukes @ me wif 1 beedy blak glintin I & croaks,
BOOK: Feersum Endjinn
6.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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