Like the Prose: Challenge #7 – Write about a culture you know nothing about and give your protagonist a profession you’re unfamiliar with. (I confess: I cheated a bit and invented both the culture and the profession.) Photo courtesy of the Facebook FlashPrompt group.
The truth is, Fenella resented that she was required to carry the blade with her. She had never believed the horned buzzers would revolt; she knew they enjoyed the service they provided to their humanoid companions.
And it wasn’t as though they were enslaved.
When her ancestors had come to this world, decades before, fleeing the polluted environment and equally polluted governments of Old Earth, they had taken with them only positive ideals.
Equality. Unity. Socialism where it was necessary, but capitalism where that was more beneficial. A two-tiered financial structure where people bartered where they could and only used credits when bartering wasn’t practical.
You couldn’t really barter a bushel of apples for a new roof, for example; it wasn’t practical.
But you could trade those apples and an equal number of yams, and maybe a monthly supply of field greens for a side of beef.
It wasn’t a perfect system, but it was working so far.
A blend of old and new.
Just like the professions.
Fenella’s parents had wanted her to go into a Traditional Profession. Her mother was a surgeon and her father enjoyed being a greengrocer.
But she was a child of this world and she insisted she wanted to be entirely of it. And when she had met one of the Wranglers outside her school one day, she’d fallen in love. Not with him – he was far too old for her – but his buzzer had let her touch his furred side and, and she’d felt herself in harmony with the great winged creature.
They had smaller buzzers on this world too. The ones bred from Old Earth honeybees. They were pollinators.
But the horned buzzers… they were bred up from carpenter bees, and their mass made them able to carry baskets capable of transporting goods or people across the great continents, or even the oceans (though it required stopovers on small islands en route).
They weren’t entirely sentient. More than a dog or a horse. Less than a human. Easily directed. And they could work in, well, swarms, if a job dictated it.
Still, every so often, they said, a horned buzzer would go rogue. It was pheromones. Or resentment. Or exhaustion. No one was sure. And for that reason, the Wranglers carried the blades.
The first step was to make the blade vibrate and touch it to the buzzer’s horn. It would sort of… reboot its nervous system.
And if that didn’t work, well, there was a reason the blades were sharp.
As a catch-and-release Wrangler, Fenella wasn’t assigned to just one buzzer, and she was glad of it, because if she had a hard time just carrying the blade, how much harder to consider having to put down a creature you worked with every day?
Not that she believed it would happen.
A voice came over her headset. “Five buzzers, income.”
“Catch and release station six, ready,” she responded.
Fenella stood on the cliff watching for the impending arrival. She felt it before she could see it. She could feel their buzz.
Buzz by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.