Slo-Man, Writing

The Mercy of Strangers


(c) Getty Images

The Race normally went to the Swifts. The Swifts were a family, a large, loose family. They hunted together and they kept it all within their own. Outsiders were never welcome. Family growth was based on word-of-mouth and secret initiation ceremonies. The Swifts dominated because they were speedy, agile and changeable with a sharp sense of smell and a malleable nature. To break them down you had to overwhelm them with sarcasm, but you had to have lots of it and be willing to expend it by the barrel, for the Swifts banded together and came on in packs. They did not waste time counting their losses, but were able to respawn and continue their blanket methods, overpowering any and everything with the sheer numbers and short, sharp thrusts. They cared not an iota for the rules, rules that had evolved over centuries. They destroyed it all in their onslaught, making no apologies, for they were not even aware they should.

The Swifts were only challenged by the Shows. The Shows were initially a breakaway group from the Swifts. Where the Swifts touched anything and everything and turned it into their own dusty playground, the Shows were different in two major ways. First, they believed in turning dust into gilt. This was the main reason for their breaking away from the Swifts. The Shows were always credulous, they believed in sublimating dust where the Swifts treated dust like they treated everything else. The Shows were also specific. They had a target and they stuck to it, glorified it, showed it off and actually copied it. They assumed the persona of the target as their own, sublimating themselves as they sublimated their targets.

The Tops came in a distant third. The Tops were good, powerful people. They were well-read and astute. They were thoughtful and erudite. They were rather like a tribe of Canutes, struggling to quell the waves of Swifts and Shows. It is clear now, that The Tops fought a long and lonely battle, finally managing to deflect the Swifts by their brave and unflinching regard for the Principles of Grammar. The Shows despised them but did not have the intelligence and wit to stand up to the Tops. The Swifts were awed and instead chose to ignore them. So the Tops flourished in the little towns, ignored by the Swifts and sneered at in private by the Shows.

The Middles were a tribe all their own. Middles had no family to speak of. Middles looked up to the Tops as kindred, but evolved Middles. The Tops, on the other hand, respected the Middles for what they were, honest, hardworking types, doomed to mediocrity. Middles came in different classes. Some were more affluent than others. At the bottom were actually reformed Swifts, rebels without the wherewithal to rise higher into the Middle classes. At the upper end of the Middles were failed Tops, or aspirants.

There were other small groups, loose bands that more or less kept to themselves, the largest and most annoying of them being the Mommies, the Pols and the Worshippers. They weaved in and out of the world, at war within themselves and with the others in their own bands. They were steadfast in their purpose and zealous to the point of lunacy. They read the news avidly and they watched TV avidly. <TV was a propaganda vehicle controlled and watched by Pols and Worshippers. The Shows also subscribed and so did the Mommies.> These groups sometimes found Causes and when they did, they morphed into Swifts. Luckily, the Causes were often short lived, allowing the rest of the groups some peace while these tribes searched for the next Cause.

A typical lower class Middle toiling away on his blog.
A typical lower class Middle toiling away on his blog.

In this entire period of turmoil, the ones who suffered the most were the Middles. Squeezed out of the feeding grounds by the Tops, surrounded by the Shows, suffocated by the Swifts they were constantly fighting off raids from the Pols and Worshippers. Even the Mommies managed to extract a few Middles. The Middles were quite defenceless. A few had friendships to sustain them, a few close communities thrived in small pockets here and there. Most of them , though, had to traverse the world, roaming far and wide for a few tenuous friendships. Some were sustained by the meager gleanings from the family table. Most had no family to speak of, for the families did not understand the Middles desire to tilt at windmills. And so the Middles survived.

Survived on the Mercy of Strangers.

 

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