I’ve just kicked off a new short story reading on my podcast. I Love Paree is a short story I co-wrote with Michael Skeet, originally published in Asimov’s Magazine in December 2000. It’s the story of a business consultant living in revolutionary Paris during an anti-corporatist uprising, and what he does after he’s conscripted into the Communard Army.
Power-armor fired a round into the ceiling, sending plaster skittering over his suit. The screaming stopped. The PA thundered again. “Your attention, please. These premises are nationalized by order of the Pro-Tem Revolutionary Authority of the Sovereign Paris Commune. You are all required to present yourselves at the third precinct recruitment center, where your fitness for revolutionary service will be evaluated. As a convenience, the Pro-Tem Revolutionary Authority of the Sovereign Paris Commune has arranged for transport to the recruitment center. You will form an orderly single-file queue and proceed onto the buses waiting outside. Please form a queue now.”
My mind was racing, my heart was in my throat, and my Gitane had rolled off the table and was cooking its way through the floor. I didn’t dare make a grab for it, in case one of the frères got the idea that I was maybe going for a weapon. I managed to spot Sissy, frozen in place on the dance floor, but looking around, taking it in, thinking. The trustafarians milled toward the door in a rush. I took advantage of the confusion to make my way over to her, holding her hat and jacket. I grabbed her elbow and steered her toward Power-armor.
“M’ser,” I said. “Please, a moment.” I spoke in my best French, the stuff I keep in reserve for meetings with snooty Swiss bastards who are paying me too much money.
Power-armor sized me up, thought about it, then unlatched the telephone handset from his chest-plate. I brought it up to my ear.
“What is it?”
“Look, this girl, she’s my mother’s niece, she’s only been here for a day. She’s young, she’s scared.”
(Image: Poor communards, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from moacir’s photostream)