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The Ex-Bibliopolist, botanical dystopian cyberpunk short story

So, I wrote a short story as part of my application to attend the York Antiquarian Book Seminar this year. I wanted to compose something that culminated all of my interests: rare books, plants, cybertech, dystopiana, and rogue female characters. The continuation of the story might even include some alchemical magick! Whole short story is below. I guess I did well, as it was enough, to secure a scholarship! I’ve never wrote anything like this before really, so there are some compositional issues, alas a work in progress. Enjoy!

Jessica Smith art, from Pinterest [Art of Animation]
Jessica Smith art, from Pinterest [Art of Animation]
The Ex-Bibliopolist

I wiped away the rain-slicked hair matted to my forehead, just in time to see the midnight Nachtkomme regime change. I teetered on a rail just above my next attempted visit. I don’t think I’ve been dry for millennia. I grimaced between my own teeth, but the cargo is there. Although, I’m wearing an impenetrable woad tunic, plexiweight kaftan, and byterunner boots, I felt the drench. I reached down to my oilskin pack underneath my waterlogged neoprene tunic to feel the small goatskin bound block resting snugly against my side and a small glass bottle of undisclosed liquid. Good… dry paper, no broken glass, but damn, I’m soaked.

Quietly, I cursed for a hot stone in my pocket. Only a few days ago, I was in the underground metroCentre stealing noodle wrapped hot figs when I spotted the white flag barely sticking out  between two bricks. Oh fang! I guess the Dealer needed a run and I could use the bitrations. I better snag that blasted flag. Everyone looks suspicious down here, so my raised cowl is both familiar and cautious; luckily for a DarkAge like myself, I blend in.

With spindly reflexes, I slid behind a Tunisian peddler wearing a maille armor apron, wielding a machete, hoping he was stimulating enough of a distraction, so I can snake by and nab the marker. The Dealer pays fine coin for these peculiar jobs, usually involving a delivery of printed goods. Printed; meaning, books, papers, newspapers, journals, letters, etc. anything that the Nachtkomme forbids circulating. Yes, printed text is forbidden, handwriting, even worse. The new regime controls communication in digital form only, anything else is decommissioned, archaic, censored, even destroyed, toppled with the Athenaeum. Thus, the Dealer operates on a level of secrecy, delivering paper goods to “clients,” for reasons, I don’t personally don’t ask. CryptoSmugglers, we don’t ask, we deliver.

Read entire PDF: ExBibliopolist_Schwenk_2016

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