Thursday, March 3, 2011

Heavy Type - Jacob's Walk

by John Prins

Jacob walked out of the front of his apartment building into the early morning fog. Helios hadn't risen yet, and in the darkness and mist he could barely make out the building across the road, let alone the intersection down the street. But after seven cycles of early morning walks to work, his feet new the way without needing his eyes to guide him through the twisting streets of Mekong.

It was almost proverbial that Mekong never slept, and while this was true, Jacob couldn't help but think that the morning fog was just the kind of blanket the city needed to put it to bed. In less than an hour Helios would crest the horizon and burn away that blanket; in two hours the civilian shifts would change and the city's arteries would be clogged with traffic like always. But for now, in the fog and darkness, Jacob could have been a thousand miles from civilization for all the life the city displayed.

Like every morning, his feet carried him past the small Bhuddist shrine sandwiched between two tall tenements. And like every morning, the small priest that cared for the shrine sat before the shrine lost in his morning prayer. He seemed oblivious to the fog that had soaked his orange robes with dew, but Jacob wasn't surprised. Like him, the priest could be found here every day at the same time, no matter what the weather. Jacob stooped to drop a few coins into the priest's begging bowl. Truth be told, he was a Jerusalemite, but anyone who prayed for peace every morning was alright by him. After all, keeping the peace was his job too.

The priest acknowledged the sound of the dropped coins with a slight bow, not stopping in his prayers. In the seven cycles of mornings on Jacob's walk, he and the priest had not spoken one word to each other. When Jacob's shift was over, the priest was never to be found when he passed by on his way home. Jacob's feet, as if impatient, renewed their walking without intruding on his thoughts.

His feet carried him to the Fourteenth Precint, a few short blocks away from his small apartment. He smiled and nodded to the gate guards, who hadn't bothered to check his ID in over two cycles. Jacob was always the first of the morning shift to arrive, so everyone on the night shift new him by sight. The rest of the shift would arrive shortly after, but it was Jacob's arrival that signaled the end of their long night's watch, more than any clock.

Jacob walked past the half-empty parking lot towards the garages, their doors wide open to recieve the returning night shift. Tendrils of fog reached past the lights in the parking lot to rest briefly on the few slumbering gears resting within. He paused to watch the beading dew collect into a large drop on a midnight-blue police Iguana's head and run down its plating to drip off the dimmed sensors. Like some mournful tear shed by the machine, kept within the garage for whatever reason when it would rather be out in the night and fog, keeping the city safe. Gears shouldn't cry, Jacob mused, continuing his walk. Their tears only turns to rust.

His feet finally bore him to his destination, the steps of the precinct building itself. Jacob forced himself to stop and stared up at the fog-shrouded tower, its top lost in the darkness; today was a special day. Seven cycles ago today he had taken his oath as a Peacekeeper. Seven cycles ago today he had arrived for his shift, just as early as he had today. As he was every day. And every day he stared up at the building, a building he could by now see without even opening his eyes.

Officers on the night shift often asked him why he stood and stared up at the precinct building every morning. He never answered them, just smiled and shook his head. They didn't understand. They couldn't understand.

It was just a part of Jacob's walk.

[Next: Jacob's Bell]

[John Prins] [Heavy Type]

The above article was archived from Heavy Type: A Heavy Gear Fan Fiction Website as part of the Hermes 72 Archive Project. It has been edited from its original form and is used without permission.

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