Who Repairs What Is Broken

I am not going to write anything about the story here, simply because I don't want to spoil anything. I hope you still want to read it tho c: Would mean the world if you would take a look at it. And please feel free to leave feedback!


1. Prolouge

A lonely rook landed on the broken brick wall, the wind from its wings sending up a cloud of ashes. It looked curiously around before wandering to the other side of the wall, then gliding the way down to the ground below. The naked beak got pushed down into the dust that covered the ground, searching for something edible. The bird had a coat of dark feathers that shone blue in sunlight, but it was not sunlight now, but as grey as the ground, and the bird resembled a piece of lost night.
Voices approached, a handful of light, excited ones, and the rook took off with an annoyed cawing, swung around in the air and laid the ruins behind it.
“But are you going to tell us a new story?”
The voice belonged to a skinny girl, maybe eight summers old, with light, thin hair and small, delicate hands. One of them was tugging in an old lady’s clothes, the other one holding one of a young boy with darker hair. Behind them trailed a little flock of children, maybe five or six, all excitedly walking though the ankle-deep ashes of former times. All of them were wearing thin cloth over their noses and mouths, transparent enough to look through, and still protect their eyes, if a duststorm should raise.
“We’ll see, little Circle,” replied the old woman and smiled at the girl, a web of wrinkles spreading over her face like a drip of wine on a white cloth. “We’ll see.”
“Aww, please?” the girl kept on, “I know what kind of people lived there and you’ve told us so many times, can’t we have another?”
“I think it’s cool to know ‘bout these things,” said a boy that appeared to be a bit older than the girl, but just as light-haired and skinny. “They had these cards that they could talk to each other though, and a screen where they watched pictures that moved, like some living theatre, and a box around this size,” he made a gesture with his hands to show how big, “Where they just put in their food and then it got all warm and jum-jum, and a huge box where they put their food and it didn’t get spoiled for weeks!”
“Yeah,” said the child called Circle, “but they never did exciting things. They didn’t hunt and they didn’t fish, they had no clairvoyant or storytellers and they didn’t go on walks to see polar bears ‘n stuff.”
“Some of them did,” said the old lady. “They even wrote books about it, with pictures in. They called the pictures photographs, and they were exact copies of reality. They also wrote about birds and plants, and gave them all names. Sometimes more than one name.” She turned her head and pointed at one of the black birds soaring high above. “We call those rooks,” she said, and all heads turned. “But in the books from the information age, they are both called rooks and Corvus Frugilegus.”
The children stared at the black birds. One of them mumbled “Corvus frugilegus,” but most of them were quiet, spellbound by the information of this mysterious other name.
The old lady pulled the flock out of their trance. “But I didn’t plan on telling you about the age of information today.” They had reached the ruins that the rook had just left, and she sat down with a sigh on a broken wall that the wind had softened over time. “No, I was going to tell you a story from way later than the information age. But first, I want you to look closely here and tell me what you can see.”
“Walls,” someone pointed out.
“And ash, and stones,” a helpful voice added.
“Yes,” said the old lady, her patient voice filled with smile. “And what is between the walls in the dust?”
There were a moment of silence before the boy who was holding Circle’s hand let go, pointed and said: “There’s a phone.”
Under a layer of dust, a black piece of technology rested in peace. All the other kids stared at it, jealous that they didn’t see the black, shiny object with the broken glass first.
“That’s right, Hugin. Well seen. And remembered,” she winked at him, and he suddenly became very concentrated on his leather shoes. “Now, if everyone tries to find something and come back with, then I will tell you a story about these things.”
The children hurried into the ruins, as sudden as a flock of starlings will raise from their nesting places if a hawk appears, leaving the old lady and the boy called Hugin alone.
“Aren’t you going to join them?” the lady said.
“Nah,” Hugin replied, not looking at her. His mind was filled by the piece of lost times that he had before him in the ashes. He picked it up, careful not to touch the broken glass, and turned it around. There was a mark on the black surface. It looked like a weird potato, or maybe a turnip, with a leaf on top. Someone had bitten in it. “Apple,” he thought aloud.
“Exactly,” the old lady said. “You have a bright mind, Hugin.”
Hugin, who were sitting on his knees in the ashes now, looked at her with both embarrassment and pride. “You reckon so?”
He wasn’t used to people appreciating his interest in the information age. His parents said it was over, and that he should concentrate on doing well in life instead of thinking of times that were long gone. Some other people said that those times were evil. The old lady had told that it was because it hurt too much, but Hugin did not understand what she meant.
“Come over to grandma and let’s look at that piece of communication,” said the lady and clapped at her lap. Hugin ran to her and clumsily crawled up the wall, leaving a waterfall of dust behind him. His dark brown hair almost looked grey from it already. Then he sat on her lap and handed her the phone.
Her old, bony hands carefully turned it around. “My grandmother showed me how to do this,” she explained. “She found a manual for one of these when she was out playing, and her father could read.“
She peeled off the back of the phone and instructed Hugin to not touch the silvery liquid on the inside. “It’s quicksilver, and it’s toxic. Only look at it. Here,” she pointed, “is the battery, and in this tiny little piece of plastic, everything that the phone could remember was stored. Who you want to talk to through it, and when to play sounds to get you up in the morning, and what photos you’d taken, and everything else.” She put the cover back on and handed Hugin the black phone.
They sat in silence for a moment, Hugin looking at the cobweb in the glass and enjoying to be with Grandma, who would not tell him to let the past be. Grandma watched the boy with amusement, while thinking about how to make this story most exciting.
“I found a pen!” someone shouted.
“That’s a pencil.”
“No it isn’t!”
“Yes it is!”
The old lady shook her head and made a sound that was not quite a sigh nor a laugher. “Come over here and let me look at it,” she shouted, and the two arguing kids ran to her and pulled in her sleeve.
“Look, it’s a pen, it is a real pen, one of those that colours blue instead of black like ink does.” The girl handed it over to Grandma, who took it in her hands.
“Yes, it is a ballpoint pen,” she said after a while, then handed in back to the girl, who stuck out her tongue at the other and held the dried-out ballpoint pen close to her chest, like someone would wish to steal it.
“I found a box,” someone said, lifting a rusty, round cake tin in the air.
“And I found paper!”
The children rushed to Grandma, handing over old pieces of cloth, ragged books, broken statuettes, little pieces of wood, broken kitchen equipment, pieces of colourful wrapper, bits of wires and other useless junk. She took the time to acknowledge every child’s efforts, telling what she knew and coming with guesses about what she did not. Hugin fled from her lap.
“Now, I guess you’re curious as to why I wanted to show you this. Sit down behind that wall. Then I’ll tell you a story.”
There were a bit of arguing and pushing before the children got settled, but as soon as Grandma spoke again, they went silent.
“We can’t use this for anything,” she said, holding up the pieces of garbage. “We need hunters and crafters. Some of you will become strong hunters that can take down reindeer for us to eat. Some will be warriors and fight off people who want our land. Some of you will craft clothing and tents, and you will make a family that will do the same. But there is someone who can use the things you have just found.”
She made a pause, and the children pushed each other and whispered.
“It’s someone we call Who Repairs What Is Broken When Time Is For That. She doesn’t hunt. Not in the usual way. She sets up traps to catch the animals. She befriends them. Some people say that she talks to them. She is sitting on the back of a reindeer that walks on dust, dirt and ashes as was it snow, and she sends a large, spotted cat to catch the food she needs. She lives in a building from the information age, a large one, large as a mountain. And she scavenges for things in old buildings. What burned down here many, many hundred years ago is her treasure, and she gathers them and carries them home on her reindeer. She lives north for our home. Who knows,” Grandma lowered her voice. “Maybe she’d even been here.”
The children looked warily over their shoulders, but there were nothing to be seen but rooks.
“But if she does not hunt, aren’t she hungry all the time?” Circle asked.
“She had a cat to hunt for her,” said a boy. “Grandma just said.”
“A cat is tiny,” a red-haired girl declared. “It won’t be able to take anything but rats.”
“Oh, but this cat is huge,” Grandma explained. “It is as big as your father’s dogs, Caroliva, and it got large claws and is as golden as the sun. It has spots like someone spilled ink on it, and it can run faster than a hare. And Who Repair What Is Broken also eat rats.”
“But rats are so small.” Caroliva argued, “If this huuuuge cat,” she spread out her arms wide, “ever gets any food, then there aren’t any rats left for this repair-person.”
“She breeds them,” Grandma said, and then, when Circle began to say something, “be quiet, I’m telling you now. She lays out nuts and meat on the ground, and then she sits down beside it. When the rats get hungry enough, they come and eat it. She moves closer and closer for every day, until she can just take them,” The children jerked as Grandma reached out and grabbed an imaginary rat out of the air. “And she puts them in cages, a male and a female. Then they’ll get baby rats, just like your father’s dogs gets pups, Caroliva. And when these rats gets older, she takes them and put them in another cage. She feeds them and wait for them to grow up. Then she can just take them from the cages and eat them.”
“No, no, she’s not a polar bear. She cooks them. Make soups of them. Salt them. That’s just the way she gets the rats.”
“Why don’t we do that?” a kid asked.
“Because it takes a long time to get the rats to come, and you have to feed them for a long time before you can get meat from them. Many people think it’s a bad idea. I actually don’t know why she does this either. Oh! Look at the sun, we better get back.”
“Aww!” It sounded collectively from the audience.
“What about that I tell you about her reindeer while we walk home?”
When the group of people were far enough away from the ruins, the rook landed again, picking at the items that they had left behind. Then it cawed, took a piece of string from the pile and flew off.


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