Draft One: After Ice: TRADE
by Pauline West, ed. by Stuart Rickard
They stand in the shadow of the Brotherhood’s spaceships in the Ni Chee Desert, some three days outside Phayara Khado, the greatest city of Phyrnos. The Phrynosian has ducked away from negotiations with Brotherhood leaders taking place aboard the main ship. Their meeting is hasty, in secret.
The man, Robert is brave, loyal, softspoken. He is selling illegal zuulite to Abtin in exchange for the release of his friend Walker, recently captured by Phyrnosian slave traders. If Walker is not released, he will be sold as a gladiator or a slave. He might also be used to grow organs and limbs for the black market. But Robert is a soldier and a philosopher: he knows better than to try to intimidate the Phyrnosian. The Brotherhood of the Rush is still weak on Phyrnos.
Abtin is advisor to a Phyrnosian warlord, Eriphet. He is meeting Robert to procure zuulite for Eriphet, a junkie. He is the warlord’s uncle, and comes of a powerful house.
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Camera sweeps over the dunes to the silhouette of a man walking towards ships.
Cut to: Robert (quietly): “Abtin?”
the Phyrnosian, Abtin: “You must be Robert.” (he looks him up and down with disdain.)
Robert (lightly): “Never seen a human before?”
Abtin (sneers): “You’re small. Have you brought it?”
Robert (pats his belt, where a small bag hangs by its tassel): “I keep my promises. Where’s Walker?”
Abtin (steps closer. In a low voice): “They will change the guard when the suns set. I will distract them.”
Abtin (holds out his hand, wriggles his fingers twice): “The zuulite. He’s waiting.”
Robert (puts his hand on his belt, covering the contents of his bag: three vials of an illegal drug called zuulite): “And Walker is unhurt?”
Abtin: “He’s unhurt.”
Robert: “You haven’t run any tests?”
Abtin doesn’t answer.
Robert: “I know where you sleep, jelly.” (He smacks the bag of vials into Abtin’s hand.) “You know, you could just use blanks for the tests. (holds up his hand) I get it. What could be more decadent than a garden of men? Sell them on the black. Extra leg here, change of face there. Untraceable, too. Lots of us willing to pay for that. We need all the edge we can get here.” (he hisses) “And we have what you want.”
Abtin: “On Phyrnos, it is kill or be kill. The sharper the claw, the cleaner the carving.” (he whispers) “And you are soft.”
Robert (tightly): “See you tonight.” (He stalks away.)
Abtin (smiles after him, creasing his heavy jowls. His teeth are long, uneven, like a crocodile’s): “See you tonight.” (he pockets the zuulite, walks away. Camera follows him, coming close to his back and then glances up at the sky, the two suns of Phyrnos glowing low, like dying embers. There are the silhouettes of huge, leathery birds crossing the sky. The suns fade, become the following:
Coming January 2014
brought to you by Stuart Rickard
P.Z. West's first novel, EVENING’S LAND, is a Library Journal Self-e Selection, winner of the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Award and recipient of the Carol Marie Smith Memorial Scholarship for the NOEPE Center of Literary Arts.
Pauline West's books on Goodreads
Candlemoth: A Holy City Romance
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Candlemoth Volume 2: How To Spend It
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Candlemoth Book 3: A Twist of Fate
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Stalker: A Gothic Thriller
ratings: 4 (avg rating 4.25)