Genres: Dystopia, Technology
Escape Pod 881: Wild Geese
by Lavie Tidhar
With rustling wings the wild geese fly
Round fields long strange to hand of toil
Called by the officers in charge,
We labour on the desert soil.
—Trans. from the Shijing by James Legge (1871)
With the end of summer the wild geese appeared, heralding the changing of the seasons. In the bazaars on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar the usual crowds of Silk Roaders engaged in ever more heated commerce. Soon it will be winter: ice and dust storms, and the train crews grumbling and swearing on the tracks, and any sensible hobo would be long gone, to work out the winter as far south-west as possible. Now boots and fur coats made their grand appearance on the stalls of the Naran Tuul, and Silk Roaders from Tehran and Yekaterinbug, Gdańsk and Dushanbe argued bitterly with each other and haggled over wholesale prices, shipping berths and train routes.
Efrem knew they would soon be gone. Traders were like wild dandelion seeds, ubiquitous and easy to take flight. Efrem, who rode the rail to Ulaanbaatar from Yiwu the year before, considered themselves almost a local at this point. Now they chewed on a khuushuur and contemplated the chase.
The first wild goose of the season had been spotted, somewhere to the west of Dalanzadgad.