Continent of Dreams

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Re: Continent of Dreams

Postby Questers » Mon Mar 04, 2019 4:21 pm

Variashipore, which sits on the Ghaghara, is said to be – by people who live there – the place where Hermachendara wrote some of his poems. Even if this isn’t true, it is still a pious city. Pious cities are often good places to have a demonstration. The main street of Variashipore, misted up as it normally was with the smoke of diesel minivans and motorcycles running on recycled oil, was frankly not the best choice for a demonstration, but still, there were demonstrators. Rather – there had been demonstrators, and now there was simply violence. Quite a lot of it, also.

Not six weeks ago there were rumours that a dosa bakery, on the main street of this small town of thirty thousand souls, was hiding a few more souls – and then a few more became ten, thirty, one hundred, so on. At first, the rumour said, with the great confidence of gossip, that a witch was living in the bakery. That witch quickly became a vampire, and then ten vampires, and then a collection of witches, vampires, dangerous dwarves, and other things don’t exist. And then the gossip reached its truthful, terminal point: inside the dosa bakery were living Oswinites.

It was obvious, local faithful Dharmans all decided. There had been a spate of very bad weather, known to be brought on by the proximity of Oswinite rituals. A great number of rats had been spotted around the bakery, but these were not normal Dharman rats. These rats were fat, and black, and had green, glowing eyes. Cats daren’t approach them. It was all confirmed when a few of the Oswinites living in the bakery decided to tempt some local children with boiled sugars, no doubt to be violated and murdered, or worse, converted to the foreign religion.

So set off the crowd, which at first was small, and by the time it proceeded to demonstrate, had grown to seem to be more people than actually lived in Variashipore. The mob, headed by ten preachers each claiming to be leader, invested the bakery, throwing up barricades around it made of cargo pallets, and demanded the Oswinists appeared to have fistly and bootly justice meted out to them.

At this point the local Yeomanry arrived, standing off next to the mob. They donned black gas masks, rolled up their khaki sleeves, and leant on their rifles. Lathis – big thick wooden sticks somewhere between a truncheon and a quarter-staff – hung from their belts. “Are they really Oswinites?” the Captain asked his Subedar.

“Oh, Yessah, definitely sah. The Captain could see the Subedar’s moustache tickling the inside of his mask. “Definitely Oswinites sah. You can smell them sah.”

“Yes,” said the Captain, through his gas mask. “Well, let’s just see what happens then.”

What happened was the mob forced the Oswinites out and began to beat them severely. It is quite a thing to see thousands of people trying to beat up on fifty people.

“Should we intervene sah? The public peace sah – she is being violated, sah. Shanti banae rakhane ke lie pavitr kartavy and all that, sah.”

“Er, no,” the Captain said. “Give it a minute.”

After a few minutes of heavy beating, the Captain gave the order, and the mob was dispersed with a volley of smoke grenades and a storming lathi charge, in which dozens of locals were heavily injured. Others were dragged off and put into a lock up overnight, and then released in the morning, as if they were drunks who had pissed on a statue. The Captain hauled all the Oswinites up and sat them in a circle.

“Now listen here,” he said, in heavily accented Ghagharan, “Who is your leader?” A young man, blood streaming down his face, put a hand in the air. The Captain pointed his lathi at him. “Look here young man. This sort of thing just won’t do. I can’t have you coming here and breaching the peace with all this kind of thing. If you don’t take it elsewhere, next time I can’t guarantee your safety.”

However, while the Oswinites did leave, they returned the next week and re-occupied the bakery, at which point it was promptly burned into the ground by the mob and all the Oswinites either beaten to death or thrown into the Ghaghara, where they would certainly drown. Nobody could say they weren’t warned. And anyway, they were troublemakers. Just the day before, a storm had blown in and the roofs of several houses were torn away, and, as everybody knows, the baking of Oswinite bread causes storms.
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