Zanzibar – Part 2
Zanzibar – Part 2
by Keith Channing
“Yes, rules,” the older man declared, “No society can run without rules, otherwise it’s anarchy.”
“Yeah? Well, what’s wrong with anarchy?” Hemi asked, poking the older man in the chest, “and who the hell are you to tell us what we can and can’t do?”
“Sorry, I should have introduced myself,” he said, with no loss of cordiality, “My name is Jacob. I have been here since 1919 and I hope I’ll be here for a lot longer yet, but I am not telling you what you can do. I have no authority here.”
“Well, butt out then,” Hemi replied brusquely, dismissing Jacob with a wave of his hand.
“I see there are eight of you, young man,” Jacob said, “Can you all do exactly as you please?”
“Course we can. We’re free, ennit?”
“And if some of you want to do one thing, and the rest want something else; then what?”
“They do as I say. I’m the leader!” Hemi announced.
“Says who?” Javelin demanded.
“Says me. You got a problem with that?” Hemi retorted, angrily.
Jacob chuckled. “So, I see you have a hierarchy.”
“A what?” Hemi asked, his brow knotted into a deep frown at the unfamiliar word.
“A hierarchy. That means you have a boss, and presumably a deputy for when you aren’t about.”
“Course, Comet. My number two.”
“Nope. No rules. As long as everyone does as they’re told, we get along fine.” Hemi looked around at the rest of the Motorhead gang, regarding each of them in turn, defying them to argue with him. He turned back to Jacob. “Okay, old man. What are these so-called rules you’re on about?”
“Reach into your pockets, all of you.”
The eight reached into their pockets and each fished out an identical scrap of paper, which listed five rules:
- The name of the Curator is his power; it is not to be spoken or written by any guest.
- No guest will be leader or follower. The Curator is the only authority in the Land.
- No guest will kill or harm any other guest or any creature in the Land.
- No guest will steal or attempt to steal or plan to steal any property belonging to any other guest.
- No guest will utter any lie or untruth.
Any guest who breaks any of these rules will be banished to the Smoke. There is no appeal.
The Motorhead gang went into a huddle for a few minutes. Finally, they broke up, and Hemi addressed Jacob.
“This is a joke, right?”
“This is not a joke,” Jacob replied, “these are the rules. Every one of us received a copy when we arrived.”
“So who’s this curator bloke, then?”
“No-one has seen him or heard his voice. All we know is that he provides our food and shelter, and keeps us alive and well in this paradise.”
“Is he, like, God then?” Cobra asked.
“That’s a very good question,” Jacob replied. “I don’t think we’ve ever thought of the Curator as God. He doesn’t ask anything from us beyond these rules; no worship, sacrifices, tithes or anything. We think of him more as a benefactor, really.”
“What’s his name, then?” Cougar asked.
“We all know his name. You do, too.”
“Don’t,” Cougar insisted.
“You will. In a quiet moment, you will realise that you know his name.”
“Why can’t you tell us what it is?”
“Isn’t that obvious?” Jacob replied. “Because I don’t want to risk banishment to the Smoke. You know what it’s like in there; you came through the Smoke on the way here. Where would you rather be, here or there?”
Hemi was not about to be humbled by this threat. “We came through it once, we can do it again,” he said.
“You came through once because the Curator guided your steps. It won’t happen again.”
“How do you know that?”
Jacob’s head drooped. He replied in a quieter, more sombre voice, “We know because a pair of guests tested the Curator, broke the rules, and uttered his name.”
“And they’ve not been seen since.”
“When was that?”
“Twenty-three years ago.”
“P-perhaps they went home; back to where they came from,” Mustang suggested, his bravado having gone off on a break without him.
Jacob looked at Mustang with raised eyebrows. “That would be nice, wouldn’t it?” he replied, “It might even be possible. We don’t know. Do you want to be the first to try it? All you have to do is break just one of the rules.”
“You’re lying to us,” Rambler spat at him.
“Oh no. I’m not lying. You’d know if I were.”
“I’d be immediately banished. Rule five.”
“We are Motorheads,” Hemi announced, “We don’t accept rules. We’re going to do our own thing; live our own lives by our own rules. Come on, guys.”
Hemi walked off. No-one followed.
Hemi shouted to his friends, “I’m in charge; you lot will do as you are bloody-well told!”
Hemi vanished. Comet started weeping uncontrollably – she’d had a crush on Hemi for as long as she could remember.
This is now a round-robin between Keith Channing and I.
If you missed a chapter, click to read Part 1
or Jump ahead to Part 3