Nico (vilakins) wrote,

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Ficlet: How Many?

I just realised that I forgot to repost this to my journal from the 3daychallenge on characters mixed with water. It's a songfic with Vila in the Gauda Prime rain.

How Many?

Vila trudged down the muddy road, splashing heedlessly through puddles. His boots had long ago filled with water and his clothes clung wetly to him. About the only good thing about the rain was that it cooled the seared spot on his back where the blaster shot had not quite missed him. The dark pine trees either side of the road seemed to droop with the heaviness of their watery burden and weep, as Vila had for a while, his tears mixed with rain.

The road went straight on ahead of him, maybe forever, right round the planet to bite its own tail. It felt like forever after six hours anyway. His feet hurt and some of the moisture in there was probably from blisters. He wished there was something to distract him from thinking about what had happened, but the world seemed to contain only road, trees, and grey sky, ponderous with yet more rain.

For some reason, he thought of the banned road song he'd heard workers singing softly and secretly back on Earth. How did it go?

How many roads must a man walk down
before you can call him a man?
Stupid words. What did that mean anyway? You were a man or a woman or whatever you felt like being (because he'd known people who'd considered their chromosomes an arbitrary mistake) regardless of how many damned muddy roads or corridors you walked down. Didn't make sense at all. Then there was something about a white dove. That stood for peace, didn't it, and that was always treason if you lived in a society that survived by taking over others.
Yes, and how many times must the cannon balls fly
before they're forever banned?
Must be an old, old song, from back when they threw rocks at each other. Plasma bolts or neutron cannon: same thing though. The answer, they used to sing, was blowing in the wind. He'd never been sure whether that meant it was there for the taking, or there just wasn't one. Well, he knew the answer to that question anyway: they'll fly till entropy turns everything into lukewarm space soup.

The rest of the words were beginning to come back now.
How many times must a man look up
before he can see the sky?
All their bloody life for most people he knew back in the dome, like his mum. Vila lifted his face to the grey sky, but had to close his eyes to keep the rain out. People talked about being washed clean, but he didn't feel like that at all. Just wet and cold and numb. More than wet but not quite numb enough.
Yes, and how many ears must one man have
before he can hear people cry?
Just two. And those words made him cry out himself for the first time in hours.
Yes, and how many deaths will it take till he knows
that too many people have died?
"Too many" he shouted at the sky. "There've been too many! No more!" he shouted at the trees. "No more!"
How many years can a mountain exist
before it's washed to the sea?
"Not very many at this rate," he muttered, and oddly enough, it made him feel ever so slightly better. Yeah, keep going. Always keep going because if you let them beat you, you didn't have anything left because you didn't even have yourself.

Was that thunder? Vila put his hand above his eyes and stared over the trees at a bright, rising point of light. A ship. This was the right road after all. The spaceport couldn't be far ahead.
Yes, and how many years can some people exist
before they're allowed to be free?
All their lives, in most cases. Nothing any of them had done for the last four years had done a blind bit of good. Still, if you narrowed your sights a bit, one person could be free. He'd been once, slipping under the system, his own boss, answering to no one till they caught him and sent him off to Cygnus Alpha. Hadn't been free since then, not really.

The trees had thinned out and he could dimly see the buildings and lights of the spaceport ahead of him now.

It'd be easy enough to stow away, or even to take a ship of his own, and find a planet with clear blue skies and dry roads with something good at the end of them. He could be free again. Once the pain wore off.
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