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On going to work for Todd.

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            The meal would be ripe.

            Sanchez turned the throbbing orange vines around in the muck with a long tool. There was a boiling sound coming from the fat round melons that bounced here and there. The purple twilight had begun to oppress the sun, dusk birds chirped.

            Turning, Sanchez hung the tool from a branch and made for his humble shack.

            He put tea on the stove and sat in his chair facing the open door, watching for the scheduled visitor. Soon the man called Todd, who had first come a month ago with his opportunities and his promises, would return to hear Sanchez’s answer.

            He was apprehensive about the answer, for it meant to leave the hill and go down the long road until the metropolis loomed up, and there to go into The Service. Which being joined would one day, maybe, eject you back to your little hill and you could take up dining with neighbors.

            He was apprehensive, because he was accepting. He’d turned away the agents many many times prior, but something in the way the corn had been growing had also made him think maybe he should escape to the guaranties of Service a while and figure a way back for sure, and maybe make so his life wouldn’t be threatened again.

            Out on the hills, the threats came. There were creatures roaming always, and not all of them benevolent. There were marauders who rode packs of beasts and muscled their needs from the farmers. There were endless natural catastrophes: volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, drought, and endless rain, all of these tormented by fierce winds and violent heat and cold.

            In the metropolis there was much more to do. More to do. Everybody knew this and chatted about it. It was the whisper in every bedroom at night.

            This Todd man had really made a fascinating case. Sanchez, finally, had been convinced. So he would sign the papers and give over his land for four summers, ply a trade in the metropolis, in the Service, and return enriched and vibrant to find something of a new outlook. To become one of high mind at parties.

            The road went up in a cloud and a rumbling grew nearer, Todd at the helm of a beastly vehicle tore ruts up the fragile hilltop road and groveled to a halt at the porch.

           Slam! The door of the vehicle rattled the foundation of Sanchez’s well balanced roof, the thunderous footsteps of Todd nearly brought down the walls.

            Then he stood eye to eye with Sanchez and leered and slurped while Sanchez signed everything away. Then he took Sanchez’s arm and bottled him up in the vehicle and Slam! Slam! They were off rumbling down the hill, kicking up dust and rocks.

            Back on the hilltop there was a sound of wings beating, giant wings. Then a terrible machine landed and walked up to the little shack and destroyed it with a red burst and a sound of tiny thunder, then planted itself in its scorched footprint and grew into the hillside with groping alloy roots, probing and hardening and merging with the hillside, toppling every tree to a pile in the valley to be gobbled by machines.

 

            Sanchez stared out the windshield, Todd stomped the gas pedal and the vehicle roared through the countryside toppling things and raining debris. Hill people dove aside, some of their crude shacks crumbled as they went by. Others had been toppled on his way up, and wary people merely stepped back and shouted in their rage at the horrible craft as it butchered its way through again, back toward the massive iron wall of the metropolis from whence it came.

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