Nov 2, 2012

Stories from Shatensite: Part Six of Ninety

The town of Shatensite and surrounding countryside exist where the line between perceived reality and nightmare dims. Those who enter, do so at their own risk to body, mind, and soul.

6.  Records in Shatensite are kept using a variety of medium including linen scrolls, leather folios, and clay tablets.  The banks of the Fluss River feature rich deposits of dark gray clay, so tablets compose the most common method to make records.  Important clay records are fired in a kiln and stacked in special shelves, while temporary records are softened with water and re-formed for use.  Both the University of Shatensite and the Praxis (children's public school) prefer using clay because of its low cost and ubiquity.  Students, in fact, often create their own tablets for writing practice.

Shwesta, a precocious child has recently lost her much-loved brother, Tod, in an usual accident; he was trampled to death by a crazed horse on a public street.  A harsh father and apathetic mother, neither of whom recognized the exceptional characteristics of their children nor have likely cared if they had, through their lack of affection, brought the siblings together in an extremely tight relationship.  Shwesta was devastated by her loss and left alone to follow the precise cremation directions Tod left behind.

Tod has explained to Shwesta that, if he were to die an untimely death, to mix his ashes with clay from the river banks and use the compound as her new writing tablet.  She followed his precise directions and soon thereafter Tod began to communicate to Shwesta from beyond the grave by writing messages on the newly constructed tablet.  Each time Shwesta re-forms the tablet, however, it becomes increasingly difficult to read.  Shwesta is frantically communicating with Tod to follow his unusual directions; to fire his last message and sneak it into the city's official shelves for storage with the other important tablets.  Some of his messages are friendly and loving, but others are marked by an odd fear, unusual language, and vague references to evil beings in Shatensite.

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