You Skyscraper Kind

A long time ago, someone scrawl’d the story of the dust men on the fire escape wall. It say dust men come an’ take our wives an’ children. They come sayin’: ‘You skyscraper kind livin’ in drowned old world places. Come north we got real food an’ schools and people got the smarts to fix up the water sickness.’ But we happy here an’ know how to boil the river bugs out for a drink.

Now, John’s goin’ round sayin’ a big mob’s sailin’ boats down the River of Grids again, real yakka types.

First, they say John Dory’s dreamin’, as he talks fibs all day, but others coo out sayin’ they seen them too and then the whole floor’s a headless chook. Some sayin’ we wave ‘em down an’ more others sayin’ we climb up to the penthouse an’ just gander down like stars from up high.

I’m sayin’ they’re no danger, they just nomads tradin’ tucker. Come lookin’ for paperclips to make fishhooks an’ what not. Camp’s all undecided ‘til Ol’ Nell said it’s them folk who started old world wars an’ make the great ice cap melt back when. She pointin’ down the main street river sayin’ the River of Grid’s them fault an’ they make the water too sick to drink.

Them dust folk come from where no water poolin’ puddles on the ground, just dust an’ bush like the wars an’ waters never happened. Dust folk never need to leave their boats. They got little plastic birds, old world tech, that fly remotely way up to look through buildin’ windows for camps for tradin’ with. Many camps hide ‘cause some dust folk just lookin’ to take by force, an’ not just food an’ tools either. These folk aren’t lookin’ dangerous; they got no guns an’ spears.

Camps fracturing ‘cause some say we need tucker an’ others sayin’ better hungry than dead. There’s angry whisperin’ as if the dust men far down in their boats gonna hear us. Then Strong Gus says enough warblin’ an’ takes knick knacks we got no use for an’ heads for the fire escape toward the river below. Some followin’ so I join but others’re callin’ us dead men. ‘You forgettin’ last time!’ They shoutin’ spikes at us and holdin’ their children’s should’rs.

The shoutin’s got everyone quiet as we walkin’ down the spiralin’ staircase to the water. In chalk an’ paint, wall’s got written stories of us and those past, some of those taken by dust men, some who befriend’n dust men. Too dark to read ‘em without fire or flashlight, but even in darkness stories stay written.

From back up camp level someone shouts down, echoin’ off the dark walls ‘What ‘bout last time? What ‘bout last time?’

About the Author

Nicholas Brooke is a writer from Melbourne, Australia. He writes about the weird and wonderful of life and language. He is a publication virgin, but not a prude. Want to learn more about Nicholas? Follow him on Twitter!

Nicholas Brooke