Zanzibar – Part 4
Zanzibar – Part 4
by Keith Channing
By now a crowd of more than a hundred, drawn from all races, creeds and nationalities had surrounded the small group. Raised voices and arguments were so rare in this place that as many as could were keen to see what was happening; what all the fuss was about.
“Where’s Hemi gone?” Rambler asked in an accusative manner.
Jacob shrugged his shoulders, furrowed his brow and said, “I guess he wanted to be the first to test out the rules; to see if he can get through a second time.”
“And if not? Are you condemning him to die in there?”
“I’m doing nothing, my friend. You’ve all seen the rules, and I explained what happened last time someone broke them. It was your friend’s choice to go against the word of the Curator, and he has paid the price.”
“The word of the Curator? You mean those rules?” Rambler demanded, his anger increasing.
“Of course,” Jacob calmly replied, “And the punishment is clear – banishment from this paradise.”
“Can we talk to this Curator?” Comet asked tearfully, “Beg for mercy or something?”
“No-one has ever spoken to the Curator. We don’t even know what the Curator’s voice sounds like. All we know is that this place seems to be self-sustaining; it gives us everything we need when we need it. And all we have to do is to follow the few simple rules.”
“Can’t somebody speak to him—“
“Or her. We don’t know the Curator’s gender.”
“Yeah, whatever. Can’t somebody ask for mercy for Hemi, though? He didn’t know he was breaking the rules, he was just being Hemi; you know, a bit lairy, a bit stroppy, but that’s him, ennit? He don’t mean nothing.”
“I know; I know. And I sympathise with you; we all do. But rules are rules, young lady. There aren’t many and they’re not hard to keep.”
“Yeah, for you.”
“And for you, too, I think.”
Cobra spoke up, “My Dad’s a lawyer, yeah? And he’s told me a lot of stuff. Like you can’t send a man down without a fair trial, and that.”
“Those are man’s laws. The Curator isn’t bound by them.”
“And you’ve got to have a right to appeal.”
“Again, man’s laws.”
“Well, you seem to be this Curator’s mouthpiece. Set up a bloody meeting,” Cobra demanded.
“None of us can speak for the Curator, and I hold no special position here. We are all equal in every way. I am simply the first person you saw. Had it been anyone else, you would have had the same responses,” Jacob replied with annoying, almost condescending calmness.
“Look. I don’t care how equal you are, or how you run this place,” Cobra said, his rising ire matched by the reddening of his face, “We want to meet with the Curator. Kapeesh?”
“You’d be the first.”
“Whadya mean? Does he even exist?”
“That the Curator is, isn’t open to question. The Curator’s power shows itself in this place, and in the rules.”
“So, because these so-called rules say this Curator exists, that’s good enough? Where’s the proof?” Cobra asked.
“Look around you. Do you suppose this place happened by accident? Do you suppose the journey each of us made through the Smoke was a result of pure chance. The hand of the Curator is evident everywhere. Hooray for the Curator,” Jacob called out.
“Hooray for the Curator,” a hundred voices echoed.
“Okay,” Javelin said, “joke over. Bring Hemi back and tell us what all this is about. NOW. No more lies.”
“No-one is lying. As I explained to your friend, we can’t possibly lie. Rule five.”
“I’ve had enough of this. C’mon, guys, let’s split, and you can tell your so-called Curator, this N—“
Before he could utter the name, Javelin also disappeared.
But Javelin didn’t end up in the Smoke.
Javelin ended up somewhere else entirely, somewhere more frightening and more powerful, yet also more peaceful; a place where he was surrounded by wonders that he could neither comprehend nor even gaze on for fear of overloading his senses.
Javelin became the first human ever to see the Curator.
This is now a round-robin between Keith Channing and I.
or Jump ahead to Part 5