“By Appointment to the Throne” by Alter S. Reiss
(Originally published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies #155.)
Getting up early enough to open a kitchen hurts. Leaving a warm bed before second watch makes your head ache, and you can feel the chill going from the cobbles through your feet and into your soul. When it’s wet on top of the cold, it’s the nearest thing to hell. But once I’m there and I’m in the rhythm, it just moves. I check the carcasses as they come in, kick up a fuss if they try to give us short weight or diseased animals, and then I lift them up, bring them in, and take them apart. Hook and cleaver work for two, sometimes three hours.
A lot of the Xac refugees working at the Mountain Pine are Sisori, so the hour before dawn, they’ll do their prayers out in the garden. I don’t mind, even though it slows us down when we need to speed up; I’d rather work with people who stop for prayers and stagger through fast days than with children glittering on juice, or gangs, or spirit.
Just after the Sisori came back from morning prayers one of the dishwashers ran in, bloody and yelling. My first thought was one of the gangs had taken a knife to him. Uncle Cestin owned the Mountain Pine and he paid protection most months, but sometimes not, and gang kids have more glitter than sense. But the washer was bloody, not bleeding, and he was yelling in Xactan about a girl named Meica.
Alter S. Reiss lives in Jerusalem with his wife Naomi and their son Uriel. According to his mother, his first word was “book”, which seems about right. He likes good food, bad movies, and hopes that at some point his apartment won’t be under construction. He is occasionally on Twitter as @asreiss, and he has a somewhat bare-bones website at altersreiss.wordpress.com.
About the Narrator:
Roberto Suarez is a higher-education professional who loves all things fantasy and science fiction, comic books and board games He is the co-host and producer of A Pod of Casts: The Game of Thrones Podcast and Radio Westworld: The Westworld Podcast. You can find Roberto on the web at robertosuarez.me, or on Twitter via @PuertoGeekan.