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Zanzibar – Part 28

October 12, 2016

Zanzibar – Part 28

by Keith Channing

“You’ve just been summoned, haven’t you,” Jacob said when he heard Javelin moan and saw him stir after his sudden collapse.

“Yes, Jacob, I have,” Javelin replied, “and there are some matters we need to discuss following my visit with the Arikatoteshika.”

Jacob allowed himself a gentle chuckle. “You sound different,” he said, “if I didn’t know otherwise, I’d say you’ve become a male Ruth.”

“Jacob. There is something I have to tell you.” Javelin went on to explain what the Arikatoteshika had told him about death in his realm and the destiny of the Sentient Essences of the departed. “I’m afraid there is nothing we can do for Ruth,” he added, “whatever arrangements are normally made here for funerals, whatever is the custom for storage or disposal of the bodies of the departed, we shall have to do for Ruth. But always remember, dear Jacob, that the body is not Ruth. Ruth has already taken up her next great challenge, in the Temple.”

Jacob started to sob again.

“Let the tears flow, my friend,” Javelin said, “but let the tears be for yourself and your compatriots, who have been separated from a great friend, a wise counsellor and a capable leader. Weep not for Ruth. She is, I’m sure, throwing herself into her new role even as we speak. Weep not for her body, for it is but an empty shell; the vehicle that she used to travel in this domain. She has no further use for it.”

Comforted by Javelin’s words, Jacob said, “You’re right, Javelin, of course. And I thank you for your words. What would you have me do now?”

“It’s not for me to tell you, Jacob. Don’t forget, I’ve only been here a short time and I don’t know all the customs yet.”

“And yet you have been anointed Wise One by the Curator Himself. Would you have me make the announcement to the Villagers?”

“Yes, Jacob. But don’t tell them everything I told you. I’m not sure I should have told you about the fate, or even the existence, of our Sentient Essences. Announce that Ruth is no longer with us, and that I have been given the onerous task of filling her shoes. And, between you and me, my friend, it isn’t a task I’m looking forward to! I must go to my friends. They deserve to be told first. Oh, and by the way; I don’t think it appropriate that I should still be addressed by my gang name. Javelin has been left behind. Much as Wildcat is now Bleugh, a name suited to his situation, I should be known by my real name.”

“Which is?”

“Rodney,” then after a pause, “Why are you laughing, Jacob?”

“Sorry. You took me by surprise is all. I wouldn’t have expected you to be called Rodney.”

“Mmmm,” Rodney muttered as he took his leave of Jacob.

The community hall was empty when Rodney reached it; the Villagers had gone back to their normal lives once the Settlers had disappeared. Looking around, he saw Cougar, Mustang and Rambler seated with the three girls. Cobra wasn’t in the area.

“A word, guys?” he said.

“Go for it,” Mustang replied.

“Okay; no reason to keep this from the girls. Everyone will hear it soon, I just wanted to give you guys the heads-up. Where’s Cobra?”

“He said he was going to check on the stone,” Rambler said, “Why? What’s up?”

A shout came from across the Village. “Guys!” It was Cobra, running toward them at an impressive pace. As he approached, he saw Rodney. “Jav,” he said, “your name has disappeared from the stone, just like Wildcat’s and Hemi’s and Comet’s!”

“That figures,” Rodney replied, “and it fits in with what I want to tell you.” He went on to explain, in outline, his experience with the Arikatoteshika, and his elevation to Wise One. “Trouble is,” he added, “it feels wrong for me to use my Motorheads name. I’m going to start using my other name.”

“What, Dog-breath?” Cougar asked.

“No,” he chuckled, “not that one; my real name, Rodney.”

That caused a few raised eyebrows.

“I thought you hated that name,” Cobra said.

“I do, but I have a strong feeling that’s what I’m supposed to use.”

“Why’d the Curator choose you, though? Why not one of the rest of us? Is this Curator prejudiced?”

“What makes yo say that, Cobra?” Rodney asked.

“Well, he was never going to choose me, was he?”

“He might have.”

“But he didn’t. For all we know, he might be homophobic as well.”

“As well as what?”

“Jav… sorry, I mean Rodders. Who has the power here? Look at yourself, look at Ruth, and look at Jacob.”

“Yeah, and?”

“Ain’t it obvious?”

“Not to me, it isn’t.”

“You’re all black.”

“Listen, Cobra. Jacob is Somali, Ruth is… was Native Australian, and my heritage is central African by way of the Caribbean. You can’t lump a third of the human race together with one word. It’s demeaning and, to a being like the Arikatoteshika it’s meaningless.”

“Yeah. Believe what you like,” Cobra said, “I’m just calling it as I see it. You’re black, and that never mattered to us, but you ain’t Javelin no more, and you sure don’t sound like you used to, is all I’m sayin’”

Disappointed by his friends, Rodney walked back to see how Jacob was getting on with his arrangements; all the while thinking about what Cobra had said to him.

This is now a round-robin between Keith Channing and I.

If you missed a chapter, click to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6,Part 7, Part 8, Part 9,Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16,Part 17, Part 18,Part 19,Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, Part 25, Part 26, Part 27

or Jump ahead to Part 29

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