Author : Phillip Riviezzo

Mother warns me not to go too high, to stay safe and not ascend too many decks. It’s where the Things Above live, and they are dangerous. They hate us and want us all dead – thankfully, they’re too soft and weak to come down to our homes. Not that Mother need worry, since climbing too high hurts. I went up twenty decks once, the furthest I’d ever been, and I think I almost died. The gravity was so strong there, I could barely move, and I could feel my heart stressing to keep blood pumping. Supposedly, there are fifty decks, and past the fiftieth deck, the world ends. So we live down here, and They live up there.

According to the storytellers, passing down ancient songs and tales, it was different once. We didn’t always live here, in the belly of our Ark, kept warm by the glow of Mother Core and lulled to sleep by the rumbling of Father Drive. Once, the storytellers claim, we lived on an Ark that was round like a ball, not long and cylindrical. On the ball-Ark, everyone lived on the top decks, and there was no difference between the Things Above and us. But that Ark broke, the stories say, and we left. The people of the round-Ark moved to our Ark, and we flew away. They say this was a hundred grandfathers past, so no one knows what is truth. What happened next, though, is more interesting.

In most stories, everyone lived close to Mother Core and Father Drive at first, and were all happy. But some people were weak, or lazy, or stupid – they had no skills or knowledge that was useful to all people, and they refused Mother Core and Father Drive the reverence and worship they deserved. So they were cast out, banished to the far upper decks to live their lives and the lives of their children exposed to the darkness of the nothing. As they left, Mother Core cursed them, froze their bodies so that they and all who came after them would remain in the shapes they were. They would receive none of Mother Core’s gifts, gifts she bestowed upon those who remained loyal and useful, to make us better at what made us special first.

There are other stories, though. They are less popular, and people do not tell them when the Coremen are around, since it makes they yell about heresy and hit people with their clubs and claws. The other stories start like the first ones do, with all the people leaving the round-Ark in our cylinder-Ark, but they are the opposite of the first stories. In the other stories, all people started high, at the top decks. But there was not enough room for everyone, so some people went down. It was decided, the stories say, by the size of one’s pockets – people with bigger pockets stayed high, while those without were forced down, closer to Mother Core and Father Drive where the ‘shielding’ was weak.

Sometimes, I understand why the Coremen dislike these stories, because they make no sense. Wouldn’t people with big pockets be better to carry tools, and so live closer to where tools are needed? Why wouldn’t people wish to be close to Mother and Father? They care for us, and in turn we care for them. It is us who heal Mother Core when she is sick, and soothe Father Drive when he tires. Can the Things Above claim to be healers for their dark gods? I don’t know, or care – I like it down here.

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