Author Topic: A Time For Days Past [2009]  (Read 4114 times)

Offline Letonna

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A Time For Days Past [2009]
« on: May 21, 2018, 09:51:54 PM »
January 8th, 2009 5:06AM

I had never remembered a cold so bitter as that particular morning waiting for something to eat. I was probably 36th in line at the Ministry Of Relief’s food dispensary table. The wind was just bitter enough to make ones exposed skin tingle. Winters in Letonna were bad they would say.But even as winters here go, this is one that’s pretty bad. It’s especially bad because no one can afford any kind of heating. I think I’ve nearly choked myself blind from all the car oil I tried burning in my living room last night. The heat was worth it though.

By the time I became 7th or so in line I saw a commotion at the front. An old woman carrying a baby was irate she only got one meal kit. Ministry worker keeps saying “Baby don't eat much luv, so you can share it with ‘er. Or give ‘er a tug out uh yer milkery hah hah” The sickening cackle chilling to those of us in line who still held morals. The old woman would have put up more of a fight but I could tell the wind was dissolving her will power away.

Finally I reached first in line. My numb fingers fumbled through my various ministry ID cards, meal certificates and ministry employment papers. Having them all meticulously scanned, punched and stamped while one waits to get the brown satchel of food goods is torturous to say the least. The Ministry soldier handed back my portfolio of cards and wrinkled forms, and then shoved the package across the table.

It seemed lighter than yesterday. Judging by the feel of it when I put it in my backpack seems to have fewer cans. Maybe less canned chicken. Fine by me. Shit tastes like brass and comes out looking just so.

I closed the front door of my apartment, picking up the mail that the Post had shoved through the slot on my door. It was mostly Various News Letters from the different Ministries, telling us how they’re making ‘tremendous strides’ with rebuilding the economy. It’ll make a nice fire starter, especially the latest drivel from Queen Helgla.

Wrapping a few blankets around myself, I placed the parcel on the coffee table. Undoing the wax ministry seal, I start pulling out food items. A few pouches of instant broth, some cans of tomato concentrate, some cans of corn and a few packets of artificial jerky. ‘A feast of fortune tonight’ I thought to myself. Lighting a sterno-can burner, then an old crumpled cigarette I’ve been saving, I open a can of corn and place it on the makeshift stove.

I had never thought it would be this bad. Just two years ago I had finally amassed enough to retire early.  I had a great job with the Ministry of Communications, a pregnant fiancee, a car that ran, fresh food, and hot water. Now getting ahead is just finding someone who will haggle food for cigarettes. The only people living well now are the top ministry officials, that wolf Helgla, and the few Neustrian tribes that still live off the land and handle their own affairs.

Ugh, the Neustrians. I’d say I have a distaste for them but that would be a lie. I just have the typical high society, downtrodden view of them. They almost seemed better prepared for this disaster than the rest of us. Their tax-free land, tight social groups and cultural ingraining of living off the land gives them quite the advantage. Me from two years ago would say they owed us for introducing such a civilized government and society, but again, that would really just be a lie, and outright jealousy.

The can of corn started to vibrate as steam bloomed out of the slit in the top. I took it off and held it tightly against my chest. The heat felt more nutritious than any of the sweet yellow kernels inside.  The warmth was soothing, adding a layer of relaxation while dreaming of sunny days past.

« Last Edit: May 21, 2018, 10:46:31 PM by Letonna »

Offline Letonna

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Re: A Time For Days Past [2009]
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2018, 01:02:59 AM »
Feb 4th, 2009 7:23 AM
District 6, known as “Limi-Neustria” or Little Neustrian Town
Letonnasburg, Letonna

I grew up in the country. Far from the busy urban decay of Letonnasburg. To us who grew up in the woods, the fields, the hills, we never could have imagined how fucking shit it was here. This city, it eats away at you. Like a finger in acid, just breaking through your layers bit by bit, all the while screaming at the horror of watching it. The broken concrete and beat up cars are all one can call a landscape.

I wake up at 4:45 in the morning. Dress in the Ministry barracks, have meal at 5:15, get assignment, then descend on the city in Ministry of Defence caravan. All my fellow ‘miniforcement’ mates are like me. Imported from the sticks to keep the Empire from toppling over. If I hadn’t made a move on my lieutenant's sister I’d be in district one, with all the aristocrats and patriots giving you hot cocoa and a homemade cinnamon roll. Saying bullshit like ‘keep the fight going!’ or ‘you’re the blood of the country!’ I just want to go home.

The dumb 19 year old me thought I could enlist with the Defence Ministry, climb the ranks, get some land and a fat little pension and live happily ever after. But back in 2003 when I signed up, a job with the government was the only way to make a living, the only hope of doing something meaningful. That typical ‘young male, take on the world’ way of thinking. Now I’m stuck 6 years into a 10 year enlistment. The pay is the same, but it’s worth is basically useless. At least I have a place to sleep and food to eat.

Now I spend 12 hours a day shivering, giving people dirty looks and saying ‘move along’. I’m basically babysitting the people of the ghetto districts. I’ve gotten to know the culture and language quite well. The Neustrians aren’t all bad. Most people from where I grew up hated them. Called them Land thieves, cheats, savages, and barbarians. But watching them now, they’re just an earthly people. Yeah they got some of my uncle’s land, but honestly they’re using it for more than he ever did. They can grow corn better than that racist drunk ever could. People fear them because they don't understand them, because they said ‘no thank you’ to our weird culture, economy and government. They pray, love their families and just live life.

My radio cracked to life, jolting me out of my daydream.

“227 do you copy?”
Flicking my mic on I respond with a “yuh”
“Be on the lookout for a tall male, neustrian looking, black hair, roughly two meters wearing heavy winter clothing. Suspect for a mugging”
“Copy.” I said as I flicked off my mic.

I scanned the crowd of people in the marketplace. Most of them Neustrian. Most of them wearing heavy winter clothing and with black hair. Sighing to myself, I let my mind drift back into my memories. Reimagining the warm sunny days of summer in the rural prefectures. Memories are so bitter sweet. You get a taste, but never a meal. You’re always hungry. “Woe is the fool who would give it all up for another chance.” I mumbled aloud, confusing an old Neustrian man as he walked by.

I worry about my folks back home. My friends too, and that girl I took to prom my last year in school. My folks would send me an email here and there, but seeing as it’s been three months since I've gotten anything, I would assume they chose heat over electricity or internet. I wonder if that girl still remembers me like I remember her. My dad didn’t like her. She had a quarter Ozian in her. Pop would get drunk and say she’s like the rest of those conniving backstabbing harpies. Lest to say we never had that good ol’ ‘taker her home to mom and dad’ moment.

The morning meal isn’t sitting well with me. Was sheep sausage in a clotted blood gravy and potatoes. It’s nasty stuff but based on what a lot of people are eating nowadays, it’s 5 star dining. I eye a little Neustrian woman selling skewered meats and vegetables in a stall across the market. I casually walk over there, the eyes of the locals always on me.

She was visibly shaken by my appearance and approach. Unsure of what language she spoke(natural or Neustrian) I stuck my index finger in the air to signify ‘one please.’ She hurriedly pulled one skewer off the grill and handed it to me. I thumbed through my walled, and pulled out a 100 Lem bill. Her eyes grew massive and she hesitantly took it. The awkward silence the ensued was painful. But, I let out some of the tension in my shoulders and said “So...cold day we’re having eh?”

Offline Letonna

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Re: A Time For Days Past [2009]
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2018, 05:19:03 PM »
Prefecture Si’Faulm
City of Turnsurg, Letonna

April 27th  2009 14:43

   I struggle with these things. The bullshit my mom puts me through. She’s such a fucking witch. I’m supposed to be the ‘shining star’ and ‘bearer of the name’ for whatever that means. People nowadays don’t give a shit about Royalty. As they strip my mother of more and more responsibilities, she becomes that much more distanced from her people.

I wonder if one day they will rid of us. I can see the way the council of Ministers and the senators look at us. They’re all smiles and kind words but if you look at them in the right light they’re vultures, and their true plumage shows.

My limo stops outside a rather well-to-do looking building in downtown Turnsurg. Turnsurg is one of the better off cities of the nation. The recent discovery of natural gas deposits in Si'Faulm prefecture has not healed the wound, but relieves the pain some. The sign above the doorway, embroidered with rose gold, read “Northern Letonna Unionist Political Center.” It’s such bull I need to do this. My mom bitched me out this morning, saying crap like “The Royalty must be active and welcoming to all political groups because democracy and blah blah blah.”

The driver comes around the car and opens my door, gesturing his hand as I step out. The royal soldiers lift their rifles and salute. My mother wanted me to look up people's names and titles on the way here but honestly I just played this game on my phone instead. A heavy set man with various medals pinned to his suit step forward and stuck out his hand.

“Prince Yevel, we’re honoured by your presence, and are thankful you made the arduous journey to celebrate our grand opening.”

“I flew here on the jet. Didn’t take long.” I said, crossing my eyes just slightly in irritation.

“Ah, yes of course. You’re much bigger than the last time I enjoyed your company. You have your grandfather's cheeks and your mothers eyes. You’ll be king by the next time I see you!”

He made a nervous cackle and then cleared his throat.

“Well, let us go inside. I have quite a few people I’d love to introduce you to. Governor Burrell came, as well as Minister Gramm. I bet they’d love to see you. You were a little ankle biter back then haha.”

I had to stop crossing my eyes because I could feel a severe pain in my head. I reached in my jacket pocket for my phone but it wasn't there. I frantically searched my other pockets but couldn't find it. As soon as the horrifying realization struck me, I turned and shot the limo driver a dirty look. He whispered “Queen’s Orders m’lord.”

We walked down this long hallway. Again, with the rose gold shit all over the place. People who have nothing to eat bring these people in to power and /this/ is what they do? Despicable. We reached the end of the hall and walked into a large banquet hall. It was splattered with over-gorged, pasty white politicians sipping champagne and mingling. The man (whose name I don’t know but probably should) waved over a party of 5. Three women and two men.

“May I present Governor Burrell and his wife Eliza, and Minister Gramm, and his wife and daughter Jeela and Sabrina”

I forced a smile and a nod, followed by a good 6 seconds of excruciating silence. I looked at Sabrina. I’d pin her at 18. She looked good in her olive green dress and fancy shoes. She had a Junior Letonese Unionist pin on her dress. “Bunch of right wing cracks.” I thought in my head.I bet if I asked her out she’d say yes, even though she had 4 years on me.

I’m wondering if I should play this game. Mostly so my mother will not flip out and turn off the internet when I get home. I know at least some of these people’s agenda. ‘Anti union and pro big business’ I think.

“So Govenor, what exactly is your administration doing to help the people of Si’Faulm?”

“Ah, an excellent question my Lord. We are investing in many new startup businesses to get our economy booming again. We feel that reducing capital gains taxes on many people with greater assets will help mobilize and form a convection of income for all classes. I won’t bore you with the ways and means, but I assure you that this Party’s administration will bring this economy on good terms once more.”

All drivel. He think’s he can throw around big words and terms to confuse me. But my mother insists I keep up with this stuff. I may not know exactly what they’re doing, but I think I can keep the sparing going.

“But what of the workers of the industrial sector? They can’t be left behind, can they? I always hear of them moving the manufacturing jobs to places like Ozia. These people will be left out in the cold.”

Now to see who got that sick joke, and who has the guts to show it.

“Don’t you concern yourself with them. Our administration will leave no one behind.”

Minister Gramm Chimed in with a “We are closely monitoring the unemployment, and I am in communications with the Ministry of Employment and Industry regarding such demographics.”

Bullshit, the load of it. These people are just pillars holding up the rickety, top heavy tower that is the private elite. If my mom could get away with it, she’d purge the corrupted fuckes with a military firing squad. But those days are long gone.

“I’d love to take a picture with you Yevel and introduce you to my Junior Unionist troop. They’re big fans of your family and their legacy!” Sabrina said to me.

My face got red and hot. I think she noticed I blushed.

“Uhh, yeah sure that will be fine.”

She grabbed my hand and began dragging me across the room to a large group of girls around my age.

‘Maybe I could uhh, just take a few pictures before, uhh, leaving.”

Offline Letonna

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Re: A Time For Days Past [2009]
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2018, 11:52:42 PM »
Robbaou, 20 km outside Khenstien, Stenic Prefecture
June 24th 2009, 4:24 pm

I wonder where the love of god goes in my daydreams. My neustrian mother would tell me it’s in the trees, the stream, and the land. Walking the earth was enough to be with him. My father, a drunk and penniless potato farmer said it went somewhere, but sure as hell not here. I love ya ‘mah but my dad was right.

I remember when I was just a teenager, I left home. Left school and my friends. Walked the winding dirt roads of this backcountry. Many strangers gave me food and money, but many wouldn’t because of my tan skin. I spent many nights sleeping in train cars and waking to find I was being taken who knows where.

My eyes give me away, revealing my distant mind. A tall, well-fed guard in the sharp Mining Guild Enforcer uniform stops his patrol at me.

“C’mon you. Get at it” he shouted angrily, jabbing his baton into my side.

I begrudgingly conform with the rest of the miners, and lift my heavy pick and strike the wall. I just got to hold out a few more months and my contract will be up.  The guild bought my gambling debts and give me a meal everyday, but it’s nothing short of slavery with a few perks. They get away with it because they have purchased many a shiny senator, governor and minister to protect their operations.

I think once I get out of here I’m going to move. Hopefully somewhere nice sunny weather and warm girls. No place in Letonna can offer me that. Maybe somewhere in the tropics. Far from the deep dark tunnels of the coal mines.

Offline Letonna

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Re: A Time For Days Past [2009]
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2018, 05:45:24 PM »
Imperial District, Letonnasburg, letonna
July 23rd, 2009 1:30 pm

“This has me worried.” I whispered aloud. Nobody but the royal guard could hear or see my concern. It’s bad enough I get summoned here on my sons birthday, but by the wolf queen herself. Last time she summoned me, she lured me out to the balcony and almost threw me off. And all I had done was delay a infrastructure grant.

I checked my watch. 1:35pm. She said she’s be here at 1:20. I look at one of the guards, who returned my gaze with a scowl. I sighed, and adjusted my suit cuffs.

“Damn I’m dying for a smoke here…” i said aloud once more.

I reached into my suit pocket and fiddled with the wrinkled pack of Menthol Neutrian-Slims. They are all natural. Supposedly better for you. Don’t have all those additives in them.

“You light that cigarette and you’ll be shot.” An ice cold voice said from behind me.

I spun around, dropping the cigarette and my lighter.

“Mu-My Lady.”

“Smoking has been outlawed in government facilities since I took rein Governor. You should know better.” She said, ending with a razor sharp grin.

“Yes, yes of course. My apologies my Lady.”

“Come, walk with me John.”

She never used first names. She was strictly a title only kind of ruler. This is most unsettling. I really need that smoke now. We left the meeting room, and walked down the gold and red hall to the southern wing.

“Sorry to make you miss your son's birthday, but I needed to discuss something with you rather urgently.”

“Oh, it’s no trouble. I live to serve the crown.”

“Yes, well I just want you to know family values are not lost on me even though I hold such a position. I missed Yevels birthday last year when the market first started to tank. I was stuck in the situation room all day and night. He hasn’t let me forget it.” she said while staring ahead.

“Yes, my son is about his age. I told him I’d take him to the local Fun Arena when i get back.”

This was most unsettling. I’ve never seen her act so human with kind emotions. Granted, she still has a scowl on her face, but this was never a conversation I thought I’d be having.

We reached the southern wing, and walked into the cartography hall. Along the walls lie historical maps of the continental region. Some Myrorian, Ozian, Neustrian. Made from papyrus, cloth, hide and faded paper. Helgla sat down at the head of a large oval table. She slid a large satellite map of Helmit Prefecture across the table. My prefecture.

I grabbed the map and straightened it out in front of me. She had circled various parts of the mountainous shelf along the waters. I looked at her, my gaze signifying my confusion.

“Gold, John.” she said, flatly.

My brow wrinkled.

“Yes, I am aware of what is there My lady. Your father outlawed any surveying and mining in the 80’s to protect the Neustrian Tribal lands.”

“I know John.” She said through a long sigh.

“The Mining Guild has been up my ass about it. Not to mention the Senate. They think we could reverse your prefectures slumping economy and unemployment by opening up mining rights. They think the jobs and our cut from the Guild will give the region the boost it needs.”

“Er, yes. But the Tribes will never go for it. They have ancestors dating back 1000 years buried there. And the money they get from tourism and the ski resorts is worth more to them than any Guild cut.”

“Yeah, I thought the same.”

She got up and walked over to a large 10ft by 10ft mural of the Yew’Ipathi Tribal lands map, made entirely of deer hide. Her left hand caressed some fur sticking through the crudely stitched map.

“I met with them last week. They vocalized similar concerns to me. You see it’s very difficult to negotiate. I don’t have the power my father did. The Senate and the Ministry of Minority Affairs would handle this sort of thing. They would think of me as a messenger with a crown. I need someone in the system to spearhead this. I need your help.”

My heart was pounding so hard the blood vessels in my eye were twitching.

‘How could I be of help M’Lady?”

“The Tribe agreed to surrender any rights to the shelf in exchange for 55% of the greater Helmit Prefecture. Mostly the temperate farming regions and the road ways leading to letonnasburg.”

I coughed loudly as my tongue slid to the back of my throat.

“What?! They can’t be serious! That's where the main populations and urban centers are.This can’t be!. It’s all Letonese there. They can’t even begin to think they will be welcome.”

“See John, this is where it’s tough. They want reservation status to all that area. They want the tax breaks, the income, and the developing privilege you so boldly give to all your chummy corporate friends.”

“Surely you can have them settle somewhere else. What about up north in Si-Faulm Prefecture??”

“You and me know that's all trash land. No trees, no minerals, no tourists, and no farmland. Trash land. They want your land John. And you’re going to give it to them.”

“But what will become of me?? I surely can’t be Governor of the lesser half of my Prefecture?”

“And, now we come nearly full circle. There’s going to be a power switch up. You will resign to the benefit of a special regional election of land holding representatives. Cheiftan Neu’Raw will run in this election.  Because the Neustrian Tribal Lands Act of 1991 makes all Neustrian tribes political parties, his tribe will run in the election under his party. He will have 55% of the land holding votes against who ever else runs. He will be the first Neustrian Governor in Letonnas History John.”

“But...But...Why are you doing this to me?”

“It's just economics. All parties involved think this project will be a massive success. The estimates of minerals under that shelf is astronomical. There will be revenue and jobs for a great deal of the region. I can’t let this opportunity go by. The Senate continues to strip me of power and responsibilities. I need to nullify your governorship while I still can. I need to do this, for Letonna, Governor.”

I was silent with my mouth open. My whole career has just evaporated. I knew this would be trouble. There are far worse governors . I never even took that much election support from any of the Guilds. I’ve not had that many scandals. This shouldn’t be happening to me.

“When should I expect your administration to file for recall My lady?”


She slid a packet of papers across the table, highlighted in yellow where I was to sign. She took out a pen from her blouse pocket and handed it to me. My eyes became sore as the salty tears started to form. I shakily sign the document and hold back a compulsion as a few tears land on the paper.

“Excellent. Thank you for your cooperation Mr. Brumwald. I will arrange you to fly home on my personal plane. Hopefully you can get your son to that Fun Arena before it closes.”

She called me mister. That will be a hard adjustment.

She reached out her hand to shake mine. I stook out my right, and grabbed her hand. She had a small piece of paper that was left in my palm after it broke. I turned and walked down the hall towards the limo depot. Unfolding the paper, i was surprised to discover it was a stock transfer confirmation letter.

   “To whom it may concern. The Greater Letonna Stock Holding and Trading Commission Announce that 1498 stocks of Mining Guild [LMG] tender have been transferred to His Governorship, John Brumwald. “

“Well, this helps I suppose…” I whispered aloud.