Okay, so in the shower this morning I was thinking about Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” and then I got cranky, as one does, and then I wrote this. It could probably do with a an editing pass or three, but for now, I present it to you as-is: Those Who did Not Walk Away (but neither did they turn away).
Content warning: there is a lot of sacrifice mentioned in this story. None of it is described in any detail at all.
“So you want your little town to thrive.” The demon lounged inside its summoning circle. It looked comfortable, relaxed. It did not look human, which was a blessing of sorts. Its legs were too long, its skin too leathery, its horns – well, it had horns. And a tail. But it looked humanoid, and that was nearly enough. “I can do that. You know I can, of course. That is why it was me that you summoned and not some other being.”
Either the thing was flattering them or it had garnered that much from the carefully-researched phrasing of their request. Dr. Hoge, the putative leader of their group, nodded. “We know you can. To thrive within the definitions we’ve provided here – good health, good lives, good chances in life as per the outside world, good opportunities to help others.” That had been a very important point in all of their arguments leading up to this discussion – they needed to be able to do good outside the town limits if they were going to do this.
“I can do that, exactly as you’ve asked, and with no loopholes, no traps. Of course, there will be a price.” Continue reading