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Authors: Iain M. Banks

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BOOK: Feersum Endjinn
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Thi hydravater car is 1 ov thi old wooden Is wot kreeks a lot & it smelz ov rope-oyl & varnish & thi emty watir tanks unnerneeth thi deck maik big boomy spooky noyses as it climes up thi wol ov thi hol. Thi flor ov thi car is mostly taken up with six big militry veehikls witch look like airships wif wheels. Thair garded by some armi ladz hoor havin a game ov pinkel-flip & am thinkin ov joinin in coz Im a pritty good shot @ thi old finkel-plip & I probly cude stand 2 make a deel ov gambil-toakins on account that Im so yung & innosent lookin & yet a bit ov a huslir reely but then Ergates sez, Dont u think u shude make those callz like u promised bro Scalopin? & I sez O I spose so.
Am a tellir, so thi callz ½ 2 b made, I spose.
I find a qwiet spot neer thi gaits where thi wind rufflz in, & I sidown & leen bak & let ma Is go moasly closed & I tap inter thi kript whare thi ded peepil r.
From thi top ov thi hydravater I cros thi marshalin yard on thi freize neer thi rufe ov thi hol & hed in2 thi wol thru varius passidjways & tunils & take a tube along thi inside ov thi wol 2 thi far end ov thi great hol. I get off @ thi cornir stayshin & climb up sum steps; I cum out in a galleria on thi outside ov thi wol what xtends out from thi greenery & bluery & etcetery ov thi babil plants. From heer I can look down on2 thi terisses & litil villiges on thi roofs ov thi parapet merlons wif thi litle feelds on thi crenels & if I look rite down I can c thi flat green valey that is thi alure but I xpect nun ov this terminoloji meens much if u doan no mutch about cassils.
N-way, iss a pretti impressive view, & sumtimes yule c eegils & rocs & simurgs & lammergeiers & uther big funny-lookin burds wheelin about juss 2 add a bit ov lokil culur, + further blo thers moar wals & towrs & alures & steep roofs - some ov them terrissed 2 - & blo that thi forists & hilz ov thi bailey, then thi curtin wall in thi distince & furthir away stil thers thi haizi seenery ov thi far beyawnd. (They reckin u can c thi c from thi veri hiest hites ov thi habitabil castle, but tho I seen this screend I nevir seen it wif ma own Is.)
A rikiti ole chare lif takes me up & along, through a sort ov tunil in thi hangin babil plants, & b4 long I arive @ thi corner ov thi grate hol & thi playce under thi eaves whare thi Astroligers/Alchemists hang owt, & hang out is xactly what they do, espeshilly Mr Zoliparia, who bean an importint ole jent ov sum noat has got 1 ov thi prime posishins in all thi town 4 his partments, viz thi right eyeball ov thi septentrynil gargoil Rosbrith.
Thi gargoil Rosbrith lukes out 2 thi north, but coz its on thi cornir & therz nuffin in thi way, you can see east 2, whare thi sun is proan 2 rise ov a mornin & thi nastines ov thi approachin enkroachin is poppin up sayin High thair foaks itz lites out soon bi thi way!
I hit a snag; Mr Zoliparia dozent apeer 2 b in. Am standin @ thi top ov a rikiti ladder inside thi bodi ov thi gargoil Rosbrith abangin & abashin on thi litil sircular doar ov Mr Zoliparia’s partments but 4 ol my hammerin therz no anser. Therz a woodin landin blo me wot thi laddirs perchd on (its rikity 2, by thi way. Cum 2 fink ov it moast stuff in thi Astrolidjers/Alchemists town seamz 2 b pretti rickiti) but nway therz a old lady scrubbin thi dam landin wif sum horibil bubblin stuff thatz bringin thi wood on thi landin up a treat evein if it disolvin most ov it & makin it even moar rikity, but thi poynt is this stuffs makin fewms go up my nose & cozin my Is 2 wotir.
Mr Zoliparia! I shout. Iss Bascule here!
Perhaps u shood ½ told him u were cumin, Ergates says from her box.
Mr Zoliparia doan hold wif moderin like inplants & that sort ov stuf, I tell her, sneezin. Heez a disidint.
U coud ½ left a messidje with sumbody else, Ergates sez.
Yes yes yes I sez, ol anoid bcoz I no sheez rite. I spose now I ½ 2 use my own bleedin inplantz & Ive been tryin not 2 apart from contaktin thi wurld ov thi ded coz I want 2 b a disidint like Mr Zoliparia.
Mr Zoliparia! I shouts agen. Ive got my scarf up round my mouf & noze now cos ov thi fumes cumin up from thi landin.
O, bugration.
Is sumbody using hidrokloric asid? Ergates sez. On wood? She sounds mistified.
I doan no about that I sez but therz sum ole girl down thare scrubbin away @ thi landin wif sumfin pretti nockshis.
Odd, Ergates sez. I woz sure heed b in. I think u bettir get down - but then thi door opins & thares Mr Zoliparia in a big towel & what ther is ov his hares ol wet.
Bascule! he shouts @ me, mite ½ noan it woz u! Then he glares down @ thi ole lady & waves @ me 2 come in & I scrambil ovir thi top ov thi laddir & in2 thi I-ball.
Take yor shooz off, boy, he sez, if u stept in dat stuf on di landin yule b rotten me carpets. When uve dun dat u can make yoorself usful & warm me up some wine. Then he pads off, hoistin his towl up around him & leavin a trale ov watir behind him on thi flor.
I start 2 take me shooz off.
You bean havin a baf Mr Zoliparia? I asks him.
He juss lukes @ me.
Mr Zoliparia & me & Ergates thi ant are sittin on thi iris balconi ov thi gargoyle Rosbrith’s rite I-bol havin respectivly mulled wine, t, & a mikeroscpic morsil ov stale bred. Mr Zoliparias in a chair wot lukes a bit like a I-bol isself, suspendid from a Ilash abuv; am on a stool sat b-side thi parapet whare Ergates is tukkin in2 thi bred Mr Zoliparia gave her (& whot I moysined wif sum spit) - iss a hoal huge lump ov crust & far 2 much 4 her reely, but she tares crums off & works them wif her moufparts & front feet until she can swollo them. I herd Ergates say Thanku 2 Mr Zoliparia when he gaiv hir thi crust but I ½ nt told him she can tok yet & he didn seem 2 heer her.
Am watching Ergates carefully coz its a bit windy out heer & tho thers a sort ov net under thi balconi & Ergates woodnt b harmd by a fol, shed probly go strait thru thi net & evin if she woznt harmd shed b lost; blimey, sumfing as lite as hir could get blown rite inter thi bailey from this hi up & how wood I ever find her then?
U wury 2 much, Ergates sez. Im a hily racehorseful ant & i wood find u.
(I doan say nuffink in return bcoz Mr Zoliparias tokkin & it wood b inpolite.) Nway thi point is kwite frangly Id rather Ergates woz stil in my pokit but she sez she wishis 2 take thi air & bsides she likes thi vew.
. . . simbil not ov potency or invulnrability but ov a kind ov sultifing
potenz & xtreem vulnrabiliti, Mr Zoliparia is sayin, bangin on about thi cassil agen as he is offin want 2 do.
We live in a folli, Bascule, nevir forget dat, he tellz me & I nod & sip ma t & wotch Ergates eat her bred.
Iss no coinsidins di ainshints usd 2 refer 2 di kwick & di ded, he sez, swalowin sum more wine & burrowin in2 his cote (iss a bit coald out here). 2 liv is 2 moov, he sez. Mobiliti is all. Tings like diss (he waves his han aroun) r a kind ov admishin ov dfeet; Y, de dam tings litil betir than a hospis!
Wots a hospis? I ask, not recognizin thi wurd & not wantin 2 yous inplants (& wantin Mr Zoliparia 2 no this, it has 2 b admittid).
Bascule, u mite as wel uze di fasilitys yoov been given, Mr Zoliparia sez.
O yes, I sez. I forgot. I made a show ov closin my Is. Haven dun this 4 a while, I sed. Lessee; ah yes, hospis ... place whare you go 2 di, basikly.
Yes, Mr Zoliparia sed, lookin annoid. Now uve made me go & forget; Ive loss de flo.
U woz sayin thi cassil woz like a hospis.
I remember
, he sez.
Well am veri sori, I sez.
No mattir. Di burdin ov mi argumint, Mr Zoliparia sez, is dat 2 set lself up like dis in such a defeetinly vast & intimidaytinly inhumin structyir is meerly 2 anounce di cumin 2 rest ov Is progress, & witout dat we r lost.
(Mr Zoliparia is big on progress tho from what I can gathir iss a pretty old fashined idea these daze.)
So ther definitly wernt never no jiants then? I sez.
Bascule, Mr Zoliparia sez, cyan, wot is dis obseshin wit thi idea ov jiantz? He fillz his glas wif more wine; it steamz in thi cold air. I wotch Ergates 4 a bit while he duz this, zoomin in 2 look @ her face; I can c hir Is & feelers & wotch her mouth-parts needin & tayrin @ thi gummy-lookin bred. Pull back as Mr Zoliparia sets thi wine jug bak down on thi tabil.
Thi ting is, he sez, & size agen, der
Ince jiants. Not jiantz in di sens dat dey wer fizikly bigir dan us, but bigir in der powrs & abilitys & ambishins; bigir dan us in der moral curidge. Dey made dis playce, dey bilt it from rock & materielz. Weave loss di art ov makin & workin. Dey bilt it 4 a purpis in a sens, but itz ludicrisly over-desined 4 itz suposid funcshin. Dey bilt it di way dey did 4 fun. Juss bcoz it amyoused dem 2 do so. But dave moovd on, & we r all dats left & now di plaice teems wit life but den so duz a magoti corps; der is much moovmint but no qwicknis in uz; dass all gon.
Wot about thi fass-towr? I sez. That soundz pretti qwikish 2 me.
O Bascule, he sez & lukes up @ thi ski. Fass as in hold-fass or stuck-fass. How meny more times muss I tell u?
O yes, I sez. So all theez qwick tipes leff 4 thi starz did they Mr Zoliparia?
Yes dey did, he sez, & y shoodint dey? But wot puzzils me is y dey shood abandon uz so compleetly, & dat y we shood ½ given up di abiliti evin 2 keep in tutch wit dem.
Int that in nun ov yoor books & stuff, Mr Zoliparia? I asks him. Int that noware?
Duzent seme 2 b, Bascule, he sez; duzent seme 2 b. Sum ov uz ½ bean lookin 4 di ansers 2 dose qwestions 4 longir dan weave been abil 2 record, & we seem 2 b no closir now dan wen we startid. Weave lookt in books & films & files & feeshes & discs & chips & byos & hollers & fomes & cores & evry form ov storidge noan 2 humaniti. He drinx his wine. & iss oll from b4, Bascule, he sez, soundin sad. Oll from b4. Ders nuttin from di time we want 2 no about. He shrugz. Nuttin.
I dont no wot 2 say when Mr Zoliparia sounds all sad & sorri like this. Peepil like him ½ been tryin 2 wurk this sort ov fing out 4 jenerashins, sum thru thi old stuf like books & so on & otherz by usin thi kript, whare supposidly everithin iz but u jus cant find it. Or if u find it u cant get bak wif it.
I lnce sed 2 Mr Zoliparia it soundid a bit like lookin 4 a needil in a haysack & he sed Moar like lukin 4 a partikulir wattir molicule in a oashin & evin thats probly unnerestimatin thi task by sevril ordirs ov magnetude.
Ive thot about bein thi 1 2 dive inter thi kript propir - reely deeply - & bring bak thi seekrets Mr Zoliparia wants, but apart from thi fact that meens serius inplant work & I wan 2 sho Mr Zoliparia I only yous mi inplants 4 tellin & nuffink else as a rule, iss also been attemptid & proovd pointliss.
Iss kaos in thare, u c.
Thi kript (or kriptosfear or data corpis - iss ol thi saim fing) iss where everfing reeli happins heer, & thi deeper u go thi less likeli u r 2 com out; iss like iss a oashin & conshisnis is solubil, like divin in2 asid, beyawnd a certin depf. It scarz u 4 life if u go 2 deep, u cum bak as sumfink shrivild & dyin if u go deeper stil, & u juss doan cum bak @ ol if u go reely reely deep; u juss disintigrate toatily as a distink personaliti & thass that.
Ov coarse u persinally r still alive & kikin, back in fizzikil reality & nun thi wurse 4 ware (usuly; unles u ½ a bad trip like they say & get feedbacks & deedbacks & flashbacks & flashforwids & nitemares & daymares & troma & stuf), but thi kript-copy u sent in thare, thass juss gon 4evir u can kiss its ass by-by, & thass factule.
Ergates is playin wif her food; sheez moldin thi bredy-bits in2 funny shapes wif her mouf-parts & front legz & not botherin 2 eat it @ oll no moar. Rite now sheez makin a tiny bust ov Mr Zoliparia & I wundir if he can c her doin that or if heez so ded agenst inplants & inproovments in jeneril that he haz ordniry old-tipe Is & cant zoom in on details like I can.
Do u think iss a gude likeniss, Bascule? she asks me.
Mr Zoliparia is lukin thotful & starin in2 space, or in2 thi atmisfear nway; buncha birdz circlin way in thi distinz over a bartizan - maybi heez lookin @ them.
Nway I dcide 2 risk whisprn 2 Ergates: Ver gude. Now u wan get bak in yoor box?
Wassat Bascule? Mr Zoliparia sez.
Nuffink, Mr Zoliparia, I sez. I woz juss cleerin my frote.
No u werint; u sed sumtin about gettin bak in yoor box.
BOOK: Feersum Endjinn
11.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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