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Subject: Last of the Line – Chapter 132 Last of the Line by badboi666 =============================================================================== If sex with boys isn’t your thing, go away. If, as is much more likely, you’ve come to this site precisely to get your rocks off reading about sex with 14-year-olds then make yourself comfortable – you’re in the right place. Don’t leave, however, without doing this: Donate to Nifty – these buggers may do it for love but they still have to eat. fty/donate.html =============================================================================== Chapter 132 I wasn’t altogether sure that wine was the ideal accompaniment to lentil soup followed by sticky pudding, but hot food and alcohol were needed, and the evening looked likely to turn into a long leisurely conversation before bed (with or without sex) beckoned. Those two upstairs would want a pause to gather their energy, particularly as Hamish would be entering the lists fresh. Just to be on the safe side I opened two bottles. Inverthrum was built in a period when solid masonry was the norm, but despite this the sounds of ecstatic coupling from upstairs easily reached the kitchen. Hamish grinned. “My turn soon,” he said. I wondered whether a stomach full of nursery grub would slow Iain down and decided that it probably wouldn’t – not with Jack and his fine cock to drool over, and Hamish’s delights to sample as well. ***** Iain settled in happily, and certainly during the few weeks before Billy and I headed back to Uttoxeter life at Inverthrum was boisterous as well as busy. Even during the early months of the year there was plenty to do on 130 acres, and Iain soon found that he was expected to do his share of the tasks Jack allocated. Time was found for serious training, and Jack spent several hours with him, as well as with Billy and me, getting us reasonably competent with a variety of guns. I was familiar with a shotgun of course, and I found a rifle pretty easy to master, but the automatics were very hard to control. Iain, on the other hand, got to grips with the things very quickly. By the time we left Jack assured me that the village was well-protected. Iain, needless to say, was walking ten feet tall. The afternoon before we left I said I needed to talk to him. It was the middle of March and a balmy 70 degrees or so: it would be hotter for the next several months. I took him into the little room I still used as an office and gave him a beer. “How are you enjoying it here?” I said. He looked at me. “Do you need to ask, Dab? Apart from being with Jack – and Hamish of course – I love being up here. There’s so much I’ve learnt – about what grows, what needs to be done about pests, how the fruit develops – so many things. Jack’s a wonderful teacher.” His eyes sparkled. “He’s a wonderful lover too,” he added quietly. “It sounds like you want to stay.” He looked up sharply. “You’re not going to throw me out?” “No, Iain, of course I’m not. I was merely being glad that you have settled in and are happy here. You leave when you want to, not a day before.” “I’ll never leave,” he said firmly. ***** Those were the words of a boy of 16, in love for the first time, living with his lover 24 hours a day, expanding his horizons in so many ways – on the land, with his guns, in bed – and I had no doubt that at the moment he said them they were the truth. But life isn’t as straightforward as it seems to be when you’re 16. It was a surprise to hear from Hamish a couple of years later that Iain’s eye had lit upon ‘a pretty lass of 17 in Lairg’ one summer. It was a bigger surprise to hear some months later that Iain had had a heart-to-heart with Hamish about how he – Iain – couldn’t face telling Jack that he was in love with Fiona, and she was in love with him. “What will Jack think?” the poor boy had asked. Hamish was in no doubt. “You know the rule, Iain, you say what you want. If you want to leave here and live with Fiona, and that’s what she wants, then that’s what happens. At least, as far as Inverthrum is concerned that’s what happens. Fiona’s parents are your problem, not ours.” “But what about Jack?” “Be honest with him, Iain, tell him what you’ve just told me.” “Won’t he be mad with me?” “Why would he? You’ve loved him for over two years and he’s loved you. The three of us have shared some pretty exciting times. Nothing can take that away. Jack won’t be mad – he’ll be sad right enough, but life’s got its share of sadness, and we have to face up to it. He’d be a damn sight sadder if you didn’t go and live with your Fiona because it might have hurt him. Think what that discovery would do to someone you’ve loved. I’ll keep him warm in bed – don’t worry.” Hamish’s letter went on to say that Fiona’s parents were happy for them to live together – no-one married any more, and Gregor made some kind of formal arrangement – not least because the two years Iain had spent at Inverthrum had made him a fine catch for any village girl. “And Iain, for his part,” Hamish went on, “seems as happy fucking Fiona as he was fucking us. His queer past was neither regretted nor disguised.” ***** I wish I had time to chronicle the next 20-odd years in the kind of detail that a historian of the collapse of a civilization would find useful, but it would be a depressing tale indeed. By 2097 Billy and I were the only people still living in the house in Uttoxeter. All the others had died or left us years earlier. Mrs Morley, Miss Weelkes, Pam, Hester – all dead. Dunstable had retired when he was 75 in 2053, not that long after the Inverthrum Experiment had started. I tried to persuade him to go on living on the estate, but he told me that he wanted to spend his last years with his partner, who had a cottage in a village 40 miles away. I had no idea. He told me that they had been together for nearly 60 years, but had never wished to live together. “Until now,” the old man said with a sad smile. “I was the pretty lad, and he was everything I wanted to be – sophisticated, wise, attributes at which you can guess, Dab – and now he’s almost 90 and frail, and … well, it’s time I went to love him properly.” For the whole of my life I had known this man, accepted his wise guidance, given him the management of my affairs. I knew there was a someone, but Dunstable had never wished to discuss the matter, and I had respected that. And they had been lovers for longer than my lifetime! When Miss Weelkes died that left just Billy and me. We were both damn near 80, and rattled about the house as best we could. Simple cooking, ample wine, a warm loving body in bed, centuries of ‘do-you-remember’ to keep us sane. By then whatever had been growing round the estate had thoroughly gone wild kayseri escort as there had been no-one working the land for many years. We kept a small vegetable patch going, a cow and enough chickens to supply eggs. And then, on the last day of March 2098, Billy fell and broke his leg badly. He’d been up a ladder shooing a pigeon out of a window (there were lots of broken windows by then as glass was unobtainable) and the ladder must have slipped. I heard a crash and got to him as quickly as I could. On his 70th birthday in January 2088 Billy had announced at breakfast that he had Something To Discuss. The capitals were evident from his tone of voice, so when I had my coffee I said that I was all ears. “According to the Bible I’m supposed to die today, so it seems like a good idea to talk about old age, Dab. When we were boys old people could go to hospital if there was something wrong, and as often as not they came home again after and lived another goodness knows how many years to annoy their children and grandchildren. We both know it’s not like that any more. I want you to promise me something. If I get some illness – a bad one, not just a cold or something – or if I have a serious accident I want you to promise to finish me off quickly. I don’t want to did a lingering death, and I certainly don’t want to die in great pain. Without doctors it’s like being in the Middle Ages, and anyone reaching 70 hundreds of years ago hadn’t got a great deal left. Promise? I’m being really serious, Dab.” I agreed of course. Not least because I wanted the same for me if it was that way round. We didn’t discuss how such a mercy might be carried out, but each year on his birthday we reminded each other that a promise was a promise, and as the years went on we both knew that unless the first one to die had a heart attack and went out like a light, or died peacefully in his sleep, the day was coming closer when the thing would have to be faced in reality. So seeing Billy lying under the ladder with his leg obviously broken I knew that the dreadful day had come. If it had been broken in just one place I suppose I could have tried to set it and put some kind of splint on it, but the damage to his ankle was massive – it was practically twisted backwards – and he was in a lot of pain. An injury like that in 2098 meant gangrene within a few days. I lifted the ladder off him and his groan tore me apart. I ran to our bedroom – I hated leaving him – and got a bottle of aspirins we’d bought years before when it looked likely that simple medicines would no longer be available. I went to the kitchen and poured half a glass of milk. I crushed 50 aspirins – I had no idea how many would be needed, but I couldn’t believe 50 would be insufficient – in a tea-towel and tipped the powder into the water. It was a thick soup. I was away no longer than two minutes, but they were the longest two minutes of my life. I got back and knelt beside him. “Drink this. It’s horrid, but I’ve got a biscuit if you’re good.” He managed a thin smile. “I love you, Dab. Never forget that. Now let’s do what’s needed.” I held the glass while he drank – it was an effort for him – and he chewed the biscuit as soon as the stuff was down his throat. He looked up at me, tears in both our eyes. “Hold me, love.” I held him for what felt like an eternity. His features relaxed as the pain-killer effect kicked in quickly. I told him how much I loved him, how much his being Billy, safe, warm, always there, utterly reliable, devoted … so many things … meant to me. I told him that I was the luckiest man alive to have someone as wonderful as him to live with and love for so long … I looked down at his face through my tears and kissed his lips for the last time. Gently I closed his eyes. I sat there on the floor with Billy in my arms for hours before gently straightening his body out. He looked so peaceful. Billy’s was one of the last burials in the village churchyard. There were two more – both children under 5, just like it had been in the Middle Ages – during the rest of 2098, and two more – old women – in 2099 before the village was attacked last August. Jillies came one night from the east and there was a fierce battle early the next morning. I heard gunfire and was ready to fire at anyone coming to the house, but the noise was never nearer than a mile or more away. Even so, I was alert all that night. The next afternoon, when there had been no noises for some hours, I went carefully down to the village with my guns ready. The church was on fire as were several houses nearby. There was no sign of anyone, though I could see several bodies, many of whom I recognised. Burying them was out of the question – there was no-one to dig the graves and the jillies might appear at any moment. An old man of 80 couldn’t put up much resistance. That was when I decided that I had to abandon Uttoxeter and try to reach Inverthrum. Making my plans took weeks, and as you know I didn’t set out until after Christmas. ***** I’ve been here now for nearly three months. Iain and I had a long talk not long after Gregor had put him in charge of security – I wanted to talk to him on my own to see whether he wanted Stewart to know about how things had been when he had lived with us. “I don’t mind, Dab,” he said, “the whole of Lairg knew I was ‘rutting up at the Big Hoose’, as Gregor – he was Young Gregor then – put it. Fiona thinks she tamed me, and maybe she did at that. Dab, I’ve never regretted those two years, but I made the right choice when I met Fiona. Jack and Hamish and I have always got on well, and there’s never been any awkwardness.” “That’s good,” I said, “what about Finlay – does he know about his father’s interesting past?” Iain shook his head. “I doubt it.” “I’d like you to bring Fiona and Finlay up for a meal – we’ll all behave ourselves – to get to know your family. Will that be all right?” “Yes, Dab, they’ll like that. From what you’re saying Stewart’s taken my place in your busy lives up here?” I smiled. “Will that make taking orders from him difficult?” He shook his head. “One thing I learned when I lived here was that it was important to keep upstairs and downstairs separate. It would be a good idea of you explained about me to him, but not when my family’s sitting beside me.” I grinned. “And don’t waste your time on Finlay, Dab – he’s got his eyes firmly elsewhere … and as I remember you and Billy were always making jokes, they’re not the only things that are firmly elsewhere. I’m really sorry about Billy, Dab, I liked him a lot.” “Aye, and he liked you, Iain.” I got up. “Bring them up for lunch on Sunday.” Finlay at 20 was as gorgeous to look at as his father had been at keçiören escort the same age. It was as well that Iain had told me what he had – even at 80 the old Adam could still be stirred, as Stewart had done not that long ago. I knew Stewart and he were already friends – Finlay’s shooting skill had seen to that – and that made everything a lot easier. I hoped that by the time lunch was over the only fact still not generally known and, with luck, accepted as the way things were, were Iain’s adventures at Inverthrum a generation earlier. I needn’t have worried – the social relationships within Inverthrum were known to all, and demonstrations of affection that might have happened in any household – Hamish’s fond arm on Jack’s as wine was poured, my hand on Stewart’s face – went unremarked. All I could detect (and I looked carefully) was the hint of a wry smile between Iain and Stewart when I stroked his cheek. Finlay, like all males with a good meal in front of them who were not on the prowl, noticed nothing. Fiona was keen to know what I thought was going to happen – why was there a sudden interest in security. I looked at Stewart. “You tell her.” He did, with more detail that Fiona might have wanted. Iain put his hand on hers. “We’ve been lucky so far. Lairg’s remote, but with so many desperate folk half-starved it won’t take much to lure more here. That’s why we had to do what we did last week. We can’t have news getting south that we’re worth attacking. No survivors means no news gets out. If the jillies had people waiting to hear how they had got on then silence will make them nervous about coming after them. It’s horrible, but it’s necessary.” “I know,” she said sadly, “but I still hate it.” “We all hate it, Fiona,” I said, “but look how poor Andrew was treated.” ***** When you’re 80 and all the work is being done by much younger men there is time to reflect. Soon after that lunch with Iain’s family I was able to devote more time to going back over my life as the last of the Cunliffes. There were bits of the story I needed to amplify, and a few I decided to leave out. Billy’s death had left a huge hole and there were some things I’d written which were too painful to see again. If anyone ever reads this they may feel that there is precious little about the boy – the man – with whom I spent 65 years, whom I loved with every nerve in my body. There is enough, I hope, for them to get a picture of him. I wonder for how much longer people will be able to love each other. Jack and Hamish are solid familiar presences. They have each other, and they wrap me in their love too. Stewart is special of course. He is the last love of my life – a love quite different from the other loves: Billy first and foremost, but Jack, Dodo, Hamish … Bertie and his – my – forebears. Amos was born mearly 300 years go. Am I the first love of Stewart’s? I think so, but maybe I’m a foolish old man who sees kindness and devotion and, yes, sexual excitement and mistakes them for love. I hope – I desperately hope – that I won’t be the last, but there is nothing I can do to bring that hope to reality. It’s July and something very strange has happened. Jack is worried that there doesn’t seem to be any summer. I said that was silly, maybe 2100 was one of those years with unusually cold weather. He shook his head. “Up here, Dab, there’s never been a spring like this since I came here over 50 years ago. Gardeners keep records, you know. May and June have always been in the 80s just about every day, and on the rainy days it’s rarely below 75. There hasn’t been a single day in May or June in the last 35 years where the temperature has not reached 73. Today it’s 66. That won’t matter if it’s just a week or two, but if it lasts longer we won’t be growing anything next year.” I’d noticed it wasn’t as hot as usual, but not having lived permanently at Inverthrum before I hadn’t seen the significance. I wish now that I’d paid more attention – not that any of us could have done anything. With hindsight we’d have cut down the orange trees and ripped out the vines and gone back to the staple that had kept the Sutherland people fed centuries earlier – potatoes. If anyone is left to read this you will know what happened. Or what I think happened – there was no way to find out for certain. Lairg was dozens of miles from the sea, so none of us ever actually saw an iceberg, but the climate made a sudden change – much more rapid than the gradual heating over the last century. The winter of 2100/01 was hard, as hard as winters had been when they were children, according to the three oldest villagers (all in their 90s). The summer of 2101 was dry, but at no point did the temperature reach 70. The following winter was appalling. From early December right through to mid-April there was snow on the ground. Every crop died. Seventeen villagers died – almost all of them old – and it was impossible to bury them. When the third one died at the turn of the year Gregor and I decided that it was impossible to store the bodies any longer in the hope that we might get them into the ground in the spring. “We have to burn them,” he said, “just like the Vikings used to do.” At least there was plenty of wood by then – the growing conditions had been ideal for decades – so Stewart and half a dozen of his guards felled enough wood to make a pyre. Gregor had to invent a ceremony for the burning, and he managed to combine the dignity that the poor dead folk deserved with a mid-winter almost pagan fire-based defiance of the winter gods. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Those were the last words Dab wrote. I am Hamish Gunn. Jack and I found these papers on Dab’s desk after his death. Two mornings ago Stewart woke up knowing something was wrong. Dab was cold beside him – he must have died peacefully in his sleep hours earlier. He was 83. Yesterday, the last day of March 2103, Lairg honoured him with the largest pyre so far. As the flames died down Jack, Stewart and I came back home. For the first time there was no Cunliffe at Inverthrum. How long there will be anyone at Inverthrum, or in Lairg come to that, no-one knows. There’s very little food. Stewart gets deer as often as he can, but you can’t survive on meat alone. There have been jillies more and more often since the snows came, and Stewart’s men are expecting more as soon as spring appears in a few weeks. If they come in any numbers we’re done for, I think. ***** We’re low on ammunition as well as food. Thank God Dab didn’t live to see his beloved Inverthrum burnt to the ground. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ ankara kendi evi olan escort It has taken several years from the discovery of the collected writings of “Dab Cunliffe” to their publication today. They were found during the Third Return by a team of explorers in 422. Unlike the discovery of ancient texts from what was called “Classical Antiquity”, often written in lost scripts, these writings were in a form – written text – and in a language still familiar, for the most part, to scholars today. Certain words have meanings which are lost to us, and we shall discuss this more below. Once the discoverers had made a preliminary study of the text it was clear that much of the subject matter was, to put it in its mildest terms, distasteful. The behaviour which “Dab” describes would now be repugnant and would, in most cases, render those involved liable for Termination, or permanent exile to the Prison Colony. For this reason scholars from a wide range of disciplines have debated the wisdom of publication. The strongest argument in favour is that the texts, including those “Dab” represents as being the memoirs of his ancestors, throw light on events now lost to us. While the practices described are repugnant, the social circumstances in which they take place are worth preserving in the historical record. Some of the legal minds consulted argued strongly that, as there was no proof that “Dab” had ever existed, the whole collection could easily be a work of fiction, rather than the memoirs of a living person. They suggested that, in the context of a memoir written in 2099 and 2100 (Old Reckoning), it was unrealistic for conversations which purported to have taken place some 60 or more years earlier to be other than fictional. Historians argued strongly against this. It was perfectly reasonable, they maintained, for a quasi-invented framework to be erected in which known facts with known outcomes could be studied. The Committee felt some sympathy with both views and it was decided to publish the papers without amendment, but with this cautionary note accompanying them. We mentioned above that lost words gave us a problem. Linguists consulted contemporary writings, including works of fiction, from what was then called the Twenty-First Century. Their recommendations have been incorporated into a lengthy Appendix explaining those terms. With very few exceptions these words describe sexual behaviour now wholly unacceptable, and readers who might fund such graphic description distressing might care to avoid the Appendix. Nevertheless these writings are published as an act of scholarship in the belief that how educated people behaved so long ago is something which could shed light on our New Life after the turmoils “Dab” describes are forgotten. We debated long and hard about whether we should venture into “Dab’s” domain by giving the reader a summary of events following his death. Some argued that appending historical facts to what – they suggested – might be a work of fiction lent verisimilitude to it. Others took the view that what it was proposed to add – the continuing collapse of Earth’s ability to allow the maintenance of civilisation, the process of Evacuation and the emergence of New Life and the Penal Colony – was unnecessary. All the physical changes described by “Dab” are matters of record. Throughout his life, and indeed well after his death, temperatures on Earth continued to rise until the Disease. The ocean current whose sudden reversal occurred as he described had reversed and resumed its former track many times in the geological record. Scientific evidence from the Second Return in 358 suggested that the cause was the sudden release of a vast quantity of fresh water from what had been an ice-cap several hundred kilometres across. There was evidence that this had taken place so quickly that waves perhaps 100 metres high had swept coastal regions. The cold deluge had affected the whole of the ocean into which it had flowed. Sea levels continued to rise, and by 2150 OR the majority of Earth’s cities were under water. Historians and scientists remain divided as to what caused the temperature increase to begin to slow down and finally to reverse. Even during “Dab’s” lifetime the global growth economy had ceased to exist, and there was a slow reduction in atmospheric pollution. However the most important factor, horrible as it is to contemplate, is the almost instantaneous effect of the Disease. And here we find the curious factor in “Dab’s” narrative. We know from the historic record that there had been many occasions in the thousand years before his time that there had been infections of great global intensity. Some 700 years earlier it was estimated that half the human population – then tiny, of course – died over the space of a few years. Again in the aftermath of what was then (with unintentional irony) called “The Great War” up to 100 million died of a different, but equally fatal infection. Something similar, albeit less costly in human lives, occurred when “Dab” was a small child, but he does not mention it. That should not surprise us, but it recurred throughout his early life, certainly into his teenage years. Why does he not mention it? The historical record is clear that at the time it had a major effect on the Earth’s economy, and it is unimaginable that it cannot have had an impact on him even if, as appears clear, he lived a sheltered life. This omission remains the greatest support for those who believe the whole thing is a fabrication. The Disease seems to have been an infection of the same type. As travel was almost impossible by 2102 OR it did not spread rapidly far beyond China (the globally-dominant economy) where it is believed to have first appeared, other than to neighbouring parts of other countries. The vaccines which had brought some benefits during “Dab’s” lifetime were of course unavailable by then, and those remedies which might have had some use were almost impossible to manufacture. The Disease ran uncontrolled throughout China – uncontrolled, that is, apart from brutal repression at a local level. It was not until some years later that explorers learned of the virtual elimination of the entire population of Eastern Asia – some four billion people – and of how a developed, if repressive, society could be destroyed so rapidly. We therefore present these collected writings to a wider public. We do so conscious that the material is controversial, both as to its content and to its authenticity. We publish it in the hope that future scholars will find something in it which might stimulate further research into the final century or so of human life on the desolate planet which the human race once called home, before Evacuation. Station Nova; 22 Seventh 437 NL =============================================================================== Drop me a line at net – that is after you’ve dropped a few quid. ===============================================================================

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