After I wrote Council Meetings, I wasn’t 100% satisfied that I’d fulfilled the brief, err, written well to the prompt.
So I wrote this. This is Fae Apoc, Cloverleaf; the viewpoint character is Nathen, the star of Lightning in Autumn and the novel I am writing based around that story. The era is after that novel wraps up, a little bit into Cloverleaf’s time.
Written to Eseme’s prompt to my Third Rail Prompt Call.
Nathen had eaten more scones and muffins in the last 4 weeks then he thought he had in the 40 years previous, possibly excluding that one year where he was dating a baker. That have been a good year.
“I’m telling you, she might call herself a ‘Mayor ‘ but she’s a dictator!”
“There’s a Council…. Some of them are elected…”
What he was finding was that sitting in a cafe, possibly this specific cafe, was a bunch better education on Cloverleaf then the tours he’d been given. Not that the tours had been disingenuous or flat-out lies, it was just that they only told him about the bones of the city, and Nathen had always felt that learning about its heart and blood were more important.
“Don’t give me that. I’ve watched her — watched her, she’s not even ashamed of it — overturn the council’s decisions on a whim!”
“…on a whim? Are you sure?”
Other towns throughout the years, he’d have learned about the City by doing manual labor, or by talking to kids, or by being the one who bought the beer. And it wasn’t that he wasn’t doing those things here; it was just that Cloverleaf was big. Compared to a normal – ha – compared to one of the little settlements he’d been staying in (since he more or less avoided the enclaves with a couple of notable, sometimes awful exceptions), Cloverleaf was a big city, even though it would fit in a corner of former Chicago with room left over for its farmlands and forest.
“Look, I’m saying she controls everything here, and nobody seems to mind. Doesn’t that strike you as a little… creepy?”
“Well, if nobody seemed to mind anything she did, yeah, it would. But look, you mind.”
Nathen sipped his drink – his tea, this cafe was the one that Leo had a deal with, and there was proper tea here – and wrote a few things in his journal. But look, you mind was an amusing argument. He liked it.
“That’s no argument at all! What happens if — if someone comes for me?”
“That’s not legal here and you know it. Freedom of speech. Not freedom from the consequences, so someone might deck you for saying it, but that’s different.”
“What if they-“
It was clear the friend was getting a little tired of this. Nathen wrote a paragraph about something else – the tea, to be specific – to fight the urge to turn and see what their faces were doing. As long as they thought he was focused on something else completely, he was functionally invisible to them. The minute he moved, the paranoid one would probably run off.
“Look, seriously. You can hate the government as much as you want. You can hate the Mayor as much as you want’. Nobody is going to stop you. Hell, if you’re that bound and determined, I can point you towards the meetings they have sometimes, the ones where they talk about everything that’s wrong with the Mayorship and the city. But I have a better idea.”
Nathen hid a smile with his tea. The paranoid one sounded super suspicious. Nathen didn’t blame him.
“Make a list of everything you actually don’t like in the city. A big list. Talk to your other friends. Make it comprehensive. Send a copy to the Council. And then-“
There’d been a moment where the paranoid one was about to talk right over the either sensible or brainwashed one. The friend just kept going.
“-then, pick the thing you hate the most, decide what you need to do to fix it, and then do it.“
“What? What do you mean? Just.. kill the Mayor?”
“Of course I’m not suggesting attempted assassination! Come up with a plan. And make sure the Mayor is the thing you hate the most, too. Look, if you’re that worried, I’ll sign the letter, too. There’s some things I don’t like here.”
“But you’re still here.”
“So are you, my friend. So are you.”
Nathen took his teacup to the counter and thanked the proprietor. It sounded like the paranoid one had a lot to think about — and so did he.