Archive for disaster

Cropped

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Conceptual Art, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , on August 13, 2012 by javedbabar

Shama pulled up in his silver pick-up truck. “Having car trouble?” he said.

“No, I’m not,” said Sophie. “More like brain trouble. I had a rough night and don’t feel like driving this morning. Are you heading into town?”

He said, “I sure am. Jump in.”

Despite feeling bad, Sophie was looking good this morning. A white summer dress always works wonders with a tan. Her relationship with Danny had cooled off since they’d got engaged. Though her friends had said this was normal after reaching such a milestone, she hoped it would revive soon.

Shama dropped her in the village and she went straight into a crisis. The Lilly River was rising in the Upper Valley, setting off alarm bells. Four years ago the Village office had been slow to heed warnings and the flood had claimed ten lives. The Authority had made the mayor and council scapegoats and removed them.

No one was taking chances this time. Geologists had been called in from the city, and old timers with personal experience of the great floods of ’43, ’68, ’89, and 2008 were consulted. Search and rescue teams stood on standby.

At lunchtime Sophie remembered the drawing. Why would someone throw away such a detailed artwork? It must have taken days of careful sketching. Then she thought, well, everything changes. Maybe they were redecorating their house and it no longer suited their scheme. There’s days when there’s just too much stuff, and you can’t even breathe till it’s sorted and gone. Maybe somebody had one of those days.

The drawing had not been casually tossed aside though. It had been properly screwed up and stuffed into garbage. Sophie opened it out on her desk. Again she felt assaulted by the detail and somehow drawn into it. It seemed alive.

She knew that good art affects you. This drawing was doing that. Maybe I’ll get it framed, she thought. She went to the local art shop, which also offered a framing service. The owner priced it up. “It’s three feet by four, that’s twelve square feet at thirty dollars a foot – so that’s three hundred and sixty dollars.”

“Three hundred and sixty?” said Sophie. “Really? I didn’t think it would be that much.”

“It’s a specialist job. It if was three feet square, I could sell you a standard frame for a hundred dollars.” The owner gave her a mean look. “Why support local artisans when you can support factory workers in China?”

What a stupid comment, thought Sophie. She’s offering Chinese products in her shop. No one is making her do that. There was no question though. “Why don’t you crop the picture for me, and I’ll take the hundred dollar frame.”

The woman sliced a one foot strip off the end, and fitted the drawing in the hundred dollar frame. “There,” she said. “How does that look?”

“It looks good,” said Sophie, thinking that it looked different somehow.

It seemed darker and quieter.

She didn’t know that the slicing of the city had caused agony for suburbans, who had suddenly lost all power and communications. Huge fault-lines had appeared. Disaster recovery teams had been despatched to patch up the broken edges of the city.

Barratry

Posted in Infinite City, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2012 by javedbabar

Because of a no-show, Bobby had managed to get a spot at the Speed Networking event. He was more comfortable at these side events, than being jostled on the main floor of the New Ideas Show. He was given a name badge and asked to sit in the inner circle of thirty chairs.

Each person seated there would have two minutes with each of the thirty participants in the outer circle. They had a minute to expound their professional backgrounds and business goals, and then switch roles, before the outer circle rotated. The first man sitting opposite him looked very serious indeed. He wore a grey suit, affixed with his badge but without completed name.

The host of the event, a bald man in a blue blazer and red cravat, rang a dinner bell and conversations began. The nameless fellow said to Bobby, “Hello, I’m Jonathon Andrew, legal professional. Shall I start?”

“Sure, go ahead,” said Bobby.

“There is a distrust of lawyers among the general public.” The man licked his lips too many times for Bobby’s liking. “It’s a long-term issue, going back to medieval Europe, even Biblical times, accusing us of false and frivolous litigation, false documentation, deception, procrastination, even excessive fees! Can you believe that, men of our learning and talents? In current times this distrust is growing, leading to a significant drop in business.”

He’s very frank, thought Bobby; I wonder if he’s like that in court. Bobby knew what he meant though. When a dispute with his ex-wife had arisen, he had himself bought a legal self-help book rather than consult a lawyer. The dispute cost $7.99+tax to resolve, rather than $300+ each.

Jonathon Andrew continued. “To increase demand I am looking for people who are able to travel at short notice. Ideally single males, with good communication and survival skills.”

“What for?” said Bobby, unconsciously licking his lips.

“I’ll admit I was a sceptic at first. I thought it was just green hogwash, but after seeing so many hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis and floods in recent years, I believe in the reality of climate change. There are sure to be more large-scale disasters like these. The poor victims must be helped to recover and rebuild their lives.”

“I’ve always wanted to do be involved in foreign aid work,” said Bobby. “What a great way to promote what you stand for.”

“That’s the spirit, boy! You’ve got the idea exactly.” He gave him a big wink. “And if we make some money in the process, why not? There’s always someone to blame for every disaster, regardless of whether it’s natural or man-made.” He licked his lips again. “The deal would be one-third to me, one-third to you, and one-third to the victim, minus fees of course.”

The bell rang indicating that the lawyer had massively overrun. There was no time for Bobby to talk about himself. He was in truth glad it was time for his next date.