Author: David C. Nutt

This is the worst part of my journey. Around me are the decaying sins of my ancestors. Giant earth chewing machines, empty vats that still have the acrid reek of gluttony and greed. Tangled pile of cables, some as thick as my leg, and everywhere in this cursed place the powder fine dust that chews one’s lungs. Once, after passing through the valley my cousin coughed blood for two days, and it was another four before he could work his fields.

I volunteered for this, and do not know why. So others would not have to? Beyond the valley, at the far end, lies a pile of gears and cogs of all sizes. The elders, after months of debate have decided that we should harvest the gears to replace the wooden ones we have fashioned for our mills. “It will be decades and decades before they wear out.” They tell us. “The gears will serve our villages for generations.”

Why this need? As soon as wear begins to show in the mill, we carve replacements. The master miller now has us carving gears for each to sit as a replacement. In two years’ time, we will have enough to replace all the gears that are worn as they fail. Why is this not good enough?

I cough up some dust. My mule has what my granddad calls a filter mask. I wish I had one rather than five winds of my scarf. Praise the powers for my goggles at least. My granddad also thinks ( as do many others,) the council is wrong about the gears. “It is a precedent that ignores the past.” He says. “Bad enough we kept the generators and lights. First gears, then diesel, then war. Others will see our ease and surplus and they will come. Bad to pick at the bones of long dead dragons.”

I see dragons everywhere I look in this valley. Earth moving blades larger than our town hall, easily eight stories. Rock crushers that scale the canyon walls itself. Flying machines they used to seek out more to devour. My granddad said some were even fitted for war. I shudder. Fire and death from the sky. Abomination! I heard our village cannon fire when I was a child and although it was in celebration it terrified me. I hold that terror in my heart today.

And that is enough. I will have no part of this. The elders are wrong. I do not know how they will sanction me, but my trial will give me a voice. I will not pass through this valley.