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Author Topic: Stay Hungry (2013)  (Read 1610 times)

Offline Myroria

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Stay Hungry (2013)
« on: May 28, 2015, 12:48:09 AM »
Of all the corrupt holes in all the corrupt pits of the nation of Ozia, there is none as deep or as dark as Rastianav. Settled in the shadow of the mountains along the Myrorian border, Rastianav is a city as old as the granite it sits on. Just as granite, though, is worn away by the unstoppable flow of water, the pride and honesty of Rastianav’s richest women and men - those in government - is worn away by the unstoppable flow of money.

This money comes from many sources, but the biggest is Hannabi Assirineth’s Black Moose Gang.

“I wasn’t doing anything illegal,” Hannabi said after finishing her first term in prison, for extortion. “We just watch out for our own.”

A hodge-podge of the descendents Myrorian emigrants, Myrorian expatriates, and ethnic Myrorians who never bothered to head over the southern border after independence nearly 400 years ago, the Black Moose Gang prowled the Myrorian quarter of Rastianav looking for any way to make a ‘stamp’ or two. Usually this turned to extortion - of the Myrorian community and the Ozians who had the bad fortune to be in the area.

Hannabi learned soon after getting out of jail that the way to stay out of it wasn’t to stop committing crime, but instead to grease the right pockets. Hannabi learned just as quickly that no one in the city had a bigger, greasier pocket than its own mayor.

But getting money straight from the darkest corners of Little Myroria to the mayor’s office wasn’t always that easy. Anti-corruption squads of the Ozian communist government looked out for any discrepancies and, though not coming around often, had the bad habit of coming unannounced. Soon Hannabi and her gang found themselves paying protection money to a city government that, half the time, was not reachable.

So why not send someone into City Hall yourself? There’s no one better than a public health officer to extract fees all the way across the city. Or even a tax collector, coming to get some long-overdue back taxes from a penthouse on 9th Street. An animal control officer could be very persuasive when your Chihuahua is about to be put in a cage in the back of a van.

Why not get that money, send some upstairs every week, and stop losing delivery boys halfway across the city to government thugs? City Hall knows how to shuffle money around better than anyone, and if that means more money is staying in Little Myroria - where it belongs - who’s gonna say anything?

Hannabi lit her cigarette with a quick motion and placed her stainless steel lighter back on the table. It was 2013, but she smoked like it was 1943.

“You’ve been a good friend to me, Samandis,” she said to the man sitting across from her. Wiry, and about 25, Samandis made Hannabi look ten years older than she was. “I’ve known you since you were a child, no taller than my knee, but you never told me where your family was from.”

“Bererstown, in County Traval.” Samandis took a sip of his beer. “I was born here, though. My parents emigrated up here to Ozia when the mill closed down.” He raised his voice halfway through his response as a train went by. The bar the pair was sitting in, the Black Moose, was on the outskirts of the traditional Myrorian quarter of Rastianav - across the tracks from square mile upon square mile of Ozian industry.

“Ain’t that always how it goes,” Hannabi replied. She ashed her cigarette and cleared her throat. “My grandparents were from Unity, in Omaryseth. They moved up here in the 40s, after the mill closed down. Closing ‘em then, closing ‘em now.”

Samandis chuckled politely and nodded.

Hannabi gestured to the man behind the bar for another drink.

“You’ll fit right in in the mayor’s office. They can sniff out someone like me from across the river,” she said, touching a small, round locket around her neck. Containing a piece of ribbon, a blessed, holy token from her deceased mother, it was a giveaway of someone’s Myrorian religion. “But you look like an Ozian. They’ll sniff you out, but you won’t smell like chicken shit. They’ll like that.”

The bartender brought over another beer.

“And besides,” she continued, taking a sip and wiping the foam from her upper lip, “He’s so far in our pockets you could be the queen’s son and he wouldn’t care.”

Samandis smirked. “I don’t have much experience with this sort of thing,”



Hannabi leaned back in her chair.

“It’s just like what we do,” she said. “Remember when you came down to the shop, no older than,” she paused. “twelve? You were begging for work, and we finally sent you to get some money from ol’ Benelas on 42nd Street?”

Samandis nodded.

“It’s just like that, but they call it ‘public health fees’, ‘code violation tickets’, ‘taxes’, you name it. You’ll do fine. And if someone refuses, well,” Hannabi smiled. “The police come and beat it out of him. You don’t have to lift a finger!”

She stood up and prompted Samandis to stand as well. She put her arm around his shoulder and walked him to the doorway of the Black Moose, beer still in hand. A car drove by slowly as the pair stood on the stoop for a moment. She took her arm off of him and brushed some of her gray hair from her eyes. She pointed to the east, sloshing beer in her mug. Past the brick high-rises of the Myrorian quarter, one could just make out the tip of 500 5th Street - the tallest building in Rastianav.

“You’ll be doing us a good service downtown, Samandis.” she said. “Work hard enough, and you’ll serve on my crew one day.” She patted him on the back, mumbled a “I’ve got your bill,” and walked back inside the bar. Samandis nodded. He’d better be getting home; work was tomorrow, and he’d have to be up earlier than he had been since grade school.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2015, 10:07:55 PM by Myroria »
"I assure you -- I will be quite content to be a mere mortal again, dedicated to my own amusements."