The rain forest. Much like it's natural name sake, water perpetually drips from above. The tram rolls by, silently splashing through the shallow puddles, taking the other nobodies to their nowheres. People out on the streets keep to themselves. After all, you would only be this low if you were an undesirable. Or undesired. I duck out the wet.
The door softly slams behind me and I come face to face with an undesired, a false grin plastered on him like an inexpensive painting. "The delivery man is here!" Jimmy chuckles. As if anyone else would want to be here. The barrel of a man pulls me in for a big hug. The sent of his cheap, expensive cologne filling my nose. Expensive enough to project an air of authority. Cheap enough to expose the authority as a thin veneer. His gold facade scratches my face. I pull away.
"Ah common! Were's your love for old Jimmy?" Jimmy was neither old nor loveable. He worked his way up the ranks using hard knocks. He's kept around by the Don because hard knocks can be useful, not because Jimmy is. But no one has told Jimmy that.
"Package weight and dimensions." Small talk is cheap so I go straight to business.
"What? No how you doin' Jimmy? No how's life Jimmy?" The barrel grins. His mouth is full of fake gold foil covered teeth. Like I said, small talk is cheap.
"Package weight and dimensions." I want to be moving. The twelve hours of twilight down here will be over soon and I don't want to be moving at night.
"You should be polite" Jimmy is starting to think he's a someone. Someone's aren't down here, Jimmy. "The Don wouldn't like you being rude to him." Jimmy is right, the Don wouldn't. Jimmy isn't the Don.
"I'm here because I'm the most reliable. Others may be faster but none have my delivery rate. Package weight and dimensions or tell the Don to find someone else." I like putting the squeeze on Jimmy like this. It scratches at his veneer and the goons around him can sense it. But we both know it's just a show. No one turns down the Don.
"Fine. Fine!" Jimmy gives up. "50 and 1.6" Jimmy smiles and chuckles to himself like he's just told the greatest joke. No one else in here thinks he's funny.
He's short two dimensions but I am tired of him already. I can't imagine what the goons in here think. "Show me."
Jimmy gestures to a door way. "Bring her out" A petite woman is guided out of the back room. About 1 meter 60. About 50 kilograms.
"Her?" I don't do people. Well, not like this. I've helped people escape a sticky situation or two but I'm no trafficker. I do packages that need to get to where they are needed. No more no less.
"Her." Shit. "You have the destination."
I look over the woman. Short. Cute. Golden hair gently flowing around her heart shaped face with ringlets bouncing around her shoulders. Rosy lips gently reflecting the soft light of the lamps. Hazel eyes you'd want to get lost in, twinged with a sadness. A dress that fits just so. Someone like that down here is trouble. And not the good kind.
"My price has gone up." I want to reject the run but no one rejects the Don. Well, people do but then they don't get to talk about it.
The barrel laughs. "The price was fixed." Except his face says the Don knew it wasn't.
"What did the Don say he'd raise it to?"
"He didn't. Price is fixed." Another lie but this time Jimmy knew I knew. I take the opening.
"I do the run and the Don gives me who I want." Jimmy looks confused, a look that's well lived in. "Tell your boss to give me who I want. He'll know who I mean." And he would. I need to get them out of this life and taking this package to where she has to go is the ticket. Jimmy just stands there, dumbfounded.
"Fine." He agrees. This package must be important.
"Lets go." I head back out under the canopy of buildings and the package silently follows.
I want to know why the package is so important but my rules still apply. Don't ask about the package. Don't open the package. I just hope that trouble doesn't find me.
We emerged into the park. A soft orange glow outlined the trees while the moon reflected gently off the pond. The light breeze stirred the leaf litter but the rest of the world was still. There was no clue that we had just arrived.
My body tingled in a way it had only ever done once before: when I left. Yllas gently grasped my had. I tingled again. Maybe I had felt the sensation more than once. "You spoke of your world as if it were but cities of great buildings.", she whispered, "I am pleased it is not true." She snuggled into my arm. "Which way do we proceed?"
I looked around. I honestly couldn't remember the way to my flat. I'd lived in the city for two years before I left but I'd never been one for going out. As a result, I'd never become familiar with most of the city. "Uh... That way?" I answered, pointing, "I think..." Yllas just smiled her warm smile, amused.
"You were with us for a short time and never once became unfound. You have lived here for longer and are already displaced." Yllas teased.
"This way!" I bellowed with fake certainty. Yllas just laughed.
We finally managed to find my flat, more luck than judgement I'm sure. I fumbled with the keys and the door opened. Yllas went to enter but I grabbed her hand. "There's a tradition amongst my people." With a flourish I scooped her into my arms and lifted, made easier by her light frame. "The husband carries the newly wed wife across the threshold." Yllas just giggled.
My flat was always dim, even in the hight of summer. In the middle of a November night, it was pitch black. I fumbled for the light switch, hoping my muscle memory would find it. A slight click and the room was bathed in light.
"I thought your world had no magic!" gasped Yllas, "Yet you banish the darkness with but a wave of a hand."
"We don't. It's just a light."
"Light like this can only be summoned by powerful mages. You know this." Her eyes shone with what looked like wonder.
"If you think that was impressive." A couple of quick prods and my computer springs to life. Yllas stares as the screen in disbelief.
"You promised you would never lie to me." Her look became accusatory, her tone gained an edge. "You swore an oath that you would tell no false truths to me, that we would only ever be true in heart and mind. Yet here before me: your world's magic." The pain in her eyes stabbed me deeply.
"It's not magic, it's electricity. Lightning harnessed to be useful." She stood firm, rigid. "We make electricity in a... a kind of factory. It's transported by wires into peoples homes. We use it for powering things like the lights and the computer," I pleaded. "It's not magic. It's made by blowing steam through a fan that spins magnets in coils of wire."
"You use fire, an element, to heat water, an element, to make lightning, an element, and claim this is not magic? Do you think me a youngling?"
"It's not." I grasp her hands in mine, pleading, "It's just science"
" 'Just science'," she pulls her hands away.
"Yes. I... Science..." I laugh. "Advanced technology..."
"You find this deception amusing?" she yells.
"No! No, no, no! It's just something I heard once. 'Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic'." She stares at me. "I guess... I guess we do have magic." I try meekly, "We just wouldn't call it that."
It wasn't that I hate Humanity; no one could hate Humanity. It was just that something about them... what was the phrase humans used... insected me about them.
About a millennium ago, they had left the galactic community. Their plans to increase their energy production were constantly, as they saw it, delayed and interrupted by the Kadaian members of the Senate. The Security Council was concerned by their high investment into their Defence Forces, fearing a repeat of the Ifacian Rebellions, and forced a reduction to \ Humanity's military research and production. Humanity also saw the number of seats allocated to them in government as not representative of their long service and contributions, despite being representative of their small population size.
So they left. They were given their local cluster of a couple of dozen stars and went. One diplomat, upon signing their withdrawal treaty, is reported to have said "If you Richards ever find the poo moving laterally, give us a domed, metallic percussive instrument. Otherwise urinate elsewhere". The galactic community could never understand Humanity's obsession with waste products but since that day, members of the Senate have been known fondly as "Richards".
There were a couple of attempts to contact humanity. When the emission of a small number of stars suddenly shifted into the infrared, the Kadains sent an angry communique, condemning their use of Dyson Spheres and demanding their immediate removal. The message went unanswered. A large explosion, larger than any supernova, was seen near Epsilon Eridani. The Security Council sent a message asking if they needed assistance. Again, no reply was sent. Eventually, the galactic community stopped sending messages.
Beings from out side our galaxy arrived in the Suctum-Centaurus Arm. We welcomed the travellers with open upper limbs. They responded with aggression the likes of which we had never seen. Our defence force put up a valiant fight but slowly and surely, they push us back. Our ship yards could not keep up with the demand. Where they could, we did not have enough energy available to power them. Where we did, we were out gunned.
The Security Council had decided that the "poo was now travelling laterally" and asked me to contact Humanity. So I am. I'm sending the message, the first in centuries. I ask, beg, that Humanity help. To use their power supplies and weapons to push the invaders back, back into dark space. I can only hope they choose to reply.
Now, we wait.
"They call him the Librarian," the old figure began, "The last Human, immortal."
"What is a Human?" asked one of the youngsters, enthralled.
"A Human is a person, just like you. Tales say they stood as tall as me." The elder stared off into the half distance, absently stroking his smooth head. "And had a head covered in fur."
"Where are they from?" asked another.
"They came from a distant world, deep in the Arm of Orion. A pale blue dot they called Earth."
"What happened to them?" erupted a third.
"Shhh..." The frail figure smiled sadly at the child. "No-one is sure. It is the only story the Librarian will never tell.
"Some say that the Humans expanded into space, always curious, always wondering. Eventually hey had seen all there was to see and so moved on. Or ceased to be." The elderly story teller looked down forlornly. "Others say that they never left Sol. That they were destroyed by themselves, by their greed and lust." Another sad smile crept across the ancient face. "What ever happened, the Librarian was left behind."
"What does the Librarian do?" whispered the first child.
"The Librarian collects," was the reply. "collects everything they can about the Humans. Records and histories from the Earth were gathered first, but the Librarian cannot die. Soon all of the Human's secrets were catalogued and filed. So the Librarian moved on."
"Where did he go?"
"Shhh now. I was getting there" the old figure smiled sadly at the child. "The Librarian left Sol and travelled out into the galaxy. Travelling to every inhabited world, recording tales and stories of the Humans, much like this one. Never alone, but always lonely..." A tear rolled down the wrinkled face.
"Why was he lonely?"
"Because," the elder sighed, "there are no more Humans left. Now, these old bones need rest. Run along and play." The frail old figure slowly creaked to his feet. Slowly, he shuffled away.
"He always seems so distant." I looked up from my tablet to the children's mother, stood beside me.
"He's been around for a long time." I replied, running my hand through my hair, "Eventually life starts taking away. At his age, I'm sure it has taken away nearly everything."
"Do you believe the Librarian exists" she asked, still watching the elderly man.
"Perhaps. Perhaps he's still looking for more tails." I close the transcript. "Perhaps you've met him without even knowing."