Pinnol, said Birte.
I want you to really think about this question before you answer it. Will you? Will you think about this question really very seriously before you answer it?
Pinnol smiled and Birte took a breath.
Do you remember the first time you came to Deathcamp? What were your impressions? I remember the way I used to think before I came to Deathcamp. Can you remember the way you used to think before you came to Deathcamp? How childishly you probably thought? I thought very much like a child. I’m the first to admit. After all, I was a child, a literal child. The cut-off age then was basically what it is now, isn’t it? Wasn’t it? I thought like a child before I came to Deathcamp and so I was afraid of Deathcamp because I was a child and thought, childishly, that Deathcamp is a Deathcamp. Can you remember thinking that way? Now be honest.
Useless, said Birte.
Useless, I mimicked.
The sun climbed high on arrogantly tiny stairs with mincing steps like the prelate. The prelate was known to prefer high vantage points. The sun seemed to shrink as it climbed and backed down a little and zigzagged off-piste if it felt like it until the sun finally seemed to stick itself in the dome’s pinnacle like a blurry marble in the likeliest notch for a senile nap. Noon seemed to last all day until you remembered that wasn’t the sun and noon was not legal. That burning blur in the dirty dome over the churning laundry pool was not really the sun at all.
Birte and I had our poles at our sides, all of both of our hands clasping a pole around the notched brass collar near the hook-end, sort of leaning, or hanging, on the poles because there was nowhere to sit since Pinnol had kicked the stool in the churning laundry pool. The stool bobbed up occasionally but we were never quick enough to hook it when it did. Birte claimed there was a cycle to the stool’s breaching the churning surface of the laundry pool but we hadn’t had enough experience or memory to make enough observations to determine what the cycle was. Since Time was named the Enemy it has been very difficult to calculate cycles.
The sun climbed the domed sky as though it had been tasked with delivering a message until you remembered that wasn’t the sun until you realized that was the message.