Welcome to Saturday Morning 5
At the door, a beaver Aesop guard lazily filed his teeth.
Carisk took a deep breath and swallowed hard. His Aesop
accent turned out to be similar to a Dutch accent to
the Portuguese language of the Amazon Commonwealth.
Since he was the one who figured out how to modulate the
sanstring...no, the radio (think in Amazon dialect) signals
from the Commonwealth for easy understanding, he found
himself appointed a sort of ad hoc "ambassador" to the
Amazon Commonwealth. Wim Lubbers, his Amazon counterpart,
probably was someone who found himself in his position
just as abruptly as Carisk had, although he had not
probed into this aspect of his background.
This was perhaps the biggest diplomatic job in his
old world's recorded history. The Amazon Commonwealth
had technology which was, as far as they could tell,
as good as magic - perhaps the real military of the
Commonwealth could kill everyone in Brasil with the
push of a button. If nothing else, they could use the
nuclear bombs so many other timezones seemed to have
bitter experience of to turn his timezone into a
poisoned desert. Since Carisk did not know if Aesop Domains
functioned in this new world, even in this timezone, it was
imaginable that Aesops could soon be rendered forever
gone - extinct - vanished. Carisk thought about that...
no more Aesops ever again, any more than the giant
dragons of millions of years ago. Not one person of his
kind anywhere. No wonder his friend Lemuel brooded so much.
"Come in Carisk."
"Here I am Wim. I hope that this exchange can be
productive for both our timezones."
"Carisk, I am going to have to get the worst over with
in this exchange. We have 843 confirmed dead at your
hands so far, and we are still counting cases. There are
as many injured to various degrees. In almost every case,
your aesops were the ones who initiated hostilities.
What will Brasil do to recompense us for this?"
"We could print and send you thousands of millions of
pecunos, if you wished. Perhaps some collectors would
want them. Or perhaps you could use them for toilet
paper, if that is preferable. I would think a more
imaginative reparation would be in order, however."
"What do you propose?"
"Many Aesops here were servants of individuals,
corporations or governments. Many resent this,
but some would certainly be willing to serve to help
avoid a war. Would this be acceptable?"
"We have machines to do virtually anything that
your Aesops would be capable of doing. What do you
have in mind as service?"
"How about our very unique existence? Would entertainment
be a possible service?"
"Like live action cartoons, you mean? Interesting.
I will pass the suggestion up channels. But I am not sure
how much trust we can have in your behavior, after what
we have seen in it."
"Mr. Lubbers, have you heard of the Third Reich,
and the Nazis who ruled it?"
"I have heard several stories from the United Kingdom
about them. I must say I find it hard to credit them."
From what Carisk knew of Avalon, he found the tales
very credible, indeed. "What the Nazis felt for Jews
is an echo, a shadow, an afterscent of what the Avalon
humans feel for Aesops. The Nazis figuratively demonized
the Jews. The humans of Avalon literally demonized us.
Any human who so much as spoke with an Aesop, even if
many years ago as a child, was guilty of witchcraft
and according to the Bible was not to be suffered to live.
They actually killed and leveled virtually everything
north of the Gr - the Amazon River. There were some
snafus" great word, that "and a number of bridges over
the river were left. So the survivors of our army - which
had been twice as great as the one that so impresses you -
had to fight south of the river. North America had
drained its people into the war, and Aesop came from
around the world to fight them. We evacuated every human
close to the Amazon...the edge of the evacuation zone
seems to be the border of our timezone. Any human found
there would be presumed to be an enemy. If your people
were in the same situation, would the death toll be less?"
"Perhaps. There is so much my nation has to offer
one such as yours...you seem to be almost a century
behind us in scientific development. And I was a fan of
animated cartoons as a child...I would like to actually
see an Aesop. I will see what I can do. Can any animal
become an Aesop?"
"What is a piloso?"
"A boned animal with hair, whose females make milk."
"We call them mammals."
"Mammals. Wim, there is something else..."
"We are now a grossly overpopulated country. We have
a population of 150 million in an area like yours, which
supports a mere 60 million. Many of them must eat meat...
like myself. Before, many nations exported food to us -
they did not like our liberal policies toward Aesops, but
they liked Avalon's insanity even less. Also they depended
on Aesop labor, and killing all the Aesops would deprive
them of that even more than freeing us would. But now that
is gone. We need all the help we can get to feed our
population. Your help, and the help of other timezones
that you can influence."
"Why should we help you in this regard? We do not
have that much excess food, especially excess meat."
"If we are hungry enough, we might consider simply
taking what we need from our neighbors."
"Would you wish to die by a bullet? Or by a mushroom
"Yes." snapped Carisk. "I would rather die quickly
in battle than slowly starve to death!"
A long silence. "I will do my best, my mongoose friend.
But charity not guaranteed. Do you have anything to exchange
for this, being as underdeveloped as you are?"
Carisk felt his eyes itch. He was getting a bit tired
of being reminded of how backward his world was. He decided
to play a hunch. "Just because we are not as developed,
we are more virgin. We likely have more plant, animal
and mineral wealth still available than you are used to."
"Maybe. I will mention that possibility, as well.
I will have to report now to my superiors, and see what I
am instructed. Tomorrow at the same time and frequency."
"Over." Carisk took another deep breath. He had
the distinct impression in these talks that the Amazon
Commonwealth was no more eager for war than Brasil was.
They seemed if anything to be a fairly peaceful land,
before they were thrown into this mish mash of jumbled
histories and societies. Perhaps they did not even
have these nuclear bombs themselves...not that Carisk
was particularly eager to find out the hard way.
But the negotiations were going as well as could be expected.
What looked like inevitable disaster a week ago,
in the chaos of those first hours, seemed to be averted.
DRIZZLE DRAZZLE DRUZZLE DROME
TIME FOR THIS ONE TO COME HOME