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R. G. Currell

CALLISTO

1998, R. G. Currell, Science Fiction Theater

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500 Words

     Garvey Tomkins shook his head, as he closed the thick, hard bound book and tossed it onto the floor beside his bunk. Not only was it the thickest off-world book he'd ever started, but it was the only one that he had no intention of finishing. "And this is the rage of Callisto?" he asked himself. He scratched his scraggly beard, yawned, and then told the computer to turn out the compartment's light. He found his present boredom a busy sand man. Would he dream of Callistian Literature? He hoped not, as he wadded up the spongy pillow in his arms and closed his eyes.

     Garvey Tomkins turned in his dreams of the busy Spaceports there. Crowds of the pink Callistians walked by rows of untended shops, where they selected things and deposited money in unlocked drawers. Ownership was precious as things.

     You find it in all the Literature from Callisto, the third planet of the Vega System. "Stories" about things. Not about people. About things. Reading their Literature is like thumbing through a descriptive Sears and Roebuck catalogue. No pictures. Finely-detailed depictions of things follow one another like scenes. And ownership ravels them together like plots. There are no heros. There are no villains. There are no characters. There are just things. Minutely described things.

     The next afternoon found Garvey walking through the Spaceport of Ammeron, a place that vaguely reminded him of the chilly afternoon he'd spent in Anchorage Alaska a few summers before. None of the natives gave him more than a second glance, as he meandered around with his hands in his empty pockets. He noticed how the patrons left their things just lying about unattended. The females left their purses on benches and the males would leave their packages against walls. And Garvey wondered that they were untouched. Then a commotion caught his attention.

     Another off-worlder from the Callistian point of view, a big gray person, had taken something without paying for it. The Callistians were outraged. Offended. And who knows what else. They took him or her and forced payment. Then they honored his ownership.

     "Hm," Garvey said to himself. And he wondered, "If Earth's literature places such high regard on our people, why don't we honor them as these people honor their things?"

The End