The Future According to Marvin: Episode 5

Syrus knew this so-called Gen education was going to be a big waste of time, but the compulsory changeover class is the ultimate ultimate. He's known all that stuff since he was nine years old, for shen's sake.

Syrus finds it satisfying to swear in Simelan, even if it's only in his head.

Syrus is sitting at a table by himself in the school lunchroom, having scraped together a salad of sorts from the available veggie food. If more in-T folks are going to wind up living out-T, something will have to be done about the food, or Syrus will wind up changing over into a rabbit. He ~~ chuckles ~~ at the thought.

Krobia approaches him, carrying her lunch in a bag.

Krobia: Uh. Can I sit here?

Fooyun dawdles along behind her friend Krobia. She doesn't particularly want to become acquainted with the kid from Simeland, but Krobia has some questions for him.

Syrus: Of course. There are plenty of seats here. But why do you ask?

Krobia: Uh. Just being polite I guess.

Syrus makes a note of that to add to his large mental file of "Bizarre Out-T Behaviors"

Syrus: In that case, please do sit with me.

Krobia sits down and starts taking food out of her lunch bag.

Syrus looks up at Fooyun.

Syrus: Please sit here too.

Fooyun flops down next to Krobia with an elaborate display of ~~ unconcern ~~.

Krobia: Uh. My parents think I should eat lots because I won't be able to when I turn Sime. Do you want some stuff?

Krobia offers a sandwich, a bag of carrot sticks and several doughnuts.

Syrus's eyes flash.

Syrus: Carrots! Excellent. What is between the bread?

Krobia: Patay. It's good. My mother made it. And lettuce and tomatoes.

Fooyun is opening her own lunch.

Syrus gingerly accepts the sandwich, opens it, and sniffs it.

Fooyun: That's better than nutpaste. My mother has no imagination.

Syrus: I do not wish to be offensive, but... this is meat. People from Sime Territory, we don't eat that.

Syrus carefully recloses the sandwich and offers to return it.

Krobia: But we're not Simes yet.

Krobia takes the sandwich back.

Syrus: That is true. It is just one of those things. Simes used to make the rules for everyone, and anyhow it upsets their stomachs.

Fooyun: It seems to me some of the Gens would get around to explaining that it doesn't hurt their stomachs.

Syrus: There is still the smell. I guess if you don't grow up eating meat, you don't really want to try later on.

Fooyun: It's better than living on nutpaste.

Fooyun puts down the uneaten half of her sandwich, making a face.

Syrus: May I try it?

Fooyun: Sure.

Fooyun pushes the half sandwich across the table.

Syrus takes a bit, likes it, and smiles.

Fooyun: Do you eat a lot of nutpaste in Simeland?

Syrus: I've never had it before, but I still like it. And it's not meat, so no problem.

Fooyun: What about cheese? Do they let you eat that?

Syrus: Yes. I like cheese. Or most kinds, anyhow. But what will you eat if I eat your sandwich?

Fooyun: I've got a hardboiled egg.

Krobia munches her patay, thinking she won't have a chance to do so for long.

Fooyun: Do Simes eat eggs?

Syrus: Yes. I know they are an animal product and all, but for some reason Simes don't have a problem with them.

Krobia: Uh. Syrus... I was wondering....

Krobia looks uncomfortable.

Krobia: Uh. In Simeland, is it true that Sime women have to work all the time?

Syrus chuckles.

Syrus: Unless they can get someone else to do it for them, I guess. But most grown-ups work, sure.

Krobia: I'd rather just get married and raise a family, like my mother.

Syrus: Well, okay, but who's going to pay your selyn taxes?

Krobia: Uh. My husband?

Fooyun: What if he can't?

Krobia: Well, he has to. He's my husband, isn't he?

Syrus: Well, if he were a Gen, then yes. But most people want to marry someone who'll be a partner in life, not a freeloader.

Krobia: I wouldn't be a freeloader -- I'd be taking care of the house and kids. You mean only Gens have normal lives like that?

Syrus: Well, my dad does that and he's a Gen, but that's pretty exceptional -- he works at home, which brings in money too.

Krobia: And he gets donation payments, just for doing nothing, basically. It isn't fair, is it?

Fooyun looks as ~~ smug ~~ as only a pre-Gen in Genland can.

Syrus: Is it fair that Simes have to have selyn to live?

Krobia: Well, they can't help it.

Syrus: Also, Simes can work longer and harder than Gens, so is that fair?

Krobia: Well, they shouldn't have to, if they'd rather stay home and look after the family. The women, anyway. I mean, that's the normal way to do things.

Syrus laughs.

Syrus: Normal for Upside-down Territory, you mean. For us, whoever wants to and is better at it takes care of kids.

Krobia: Right. And the husband brings home the money.

Syrus: It's not like Gen men are stronger than Sime women, after all. And anyhow, we have machines for most of the muscle work. There's no real reason why you out-Territory Gens have to be so... rigid.

Krobia doesn't think it's rigid at all. Of course, the women are the home makers, and the husband looks after them and the children. That's what 'husband' means, after all.

Krobia: So I should marry a Gen instead of another Sime. But isn't it a problem when you're in need? Not killing him?

Syrus laughs again.

Syrus: We'll never be allowed to get that deep in need. Anyhow, having Gens around makes need bearable. The old-time killers must have been half nuts all the time living with just Simes and Pen Gens.

Krobia nods. Okay, now it's clear. Not only will a Gen husband support her financially, but he'll make it less awful to be Sime.

Fooyun: Well, they'd have to be nuts, wouldn't they? Killing someone every month isn't exactly a sane thing to do.

Syrus: And yet you eat meat. Juncts thought Gens were animals.

Fooyun: That's silly. What kind of animal talks? And builds houses and everything?

Syrus: Pen Gens couldn't do those things And as for Wild Gens, they just didn't think about them at all.

Syrus figures the role of Official Explainer Of Things Sime is better than his previous role, Invisible Man.

Krobia: But they used to come up here and kidnap people. So they saw that we had houses and stuff.

Syrus shrugs.

Syrus: How much do you think about the fact that the animals you eat are murdered? Or do you think they don't feel pain like humans do?

Krobia: That's what they're for. And it isn't murder to kill an animal for food. Besides, we don't kill them, we buy meat at the store.

Syrus shrugs again.

Syrus: That's what Gens were for, back in the day. And I don't see how it matters if you kill your own animal or pay someone to do it for you.

Fooyun: It's a silly comparison, anyway. Animals aren't people. You can't have kids with them.

Syrus: Well, that's something we can agree on, I guess.

Syrus smiles for the first time since escaping that awful changeover class.

Krobia thinks Syrus has kind of a nice smile. Too bad he's going to be a Sime.

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