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“Only the foolish visit the land of the cannibals”.

(Maori proverb)

Untangling himself from the three women lying in various stages of nudity under the fine Fijian cotton covers covered with sheep skins, the Bookbinder shifted his considerable bulk out of bed and bleary-eyed made his way through the freezing hallway to the kitchen. New Zealand had certainly become warmer over the decades, but when it froze the weather really had a go at emulating a proper 20th century winter day. Not that this sort of thing happened a lot these days in Otago. True to the predictions in the early twentieth century, the South Island had become generally warmer with more regular rainfalls, much to the delight of the farmers who were able to reduce the amount of irrigation and switch from dairying to the far more lucrative art of farming Wagyū beef.

The Bookbinder's pride and joy (apart from his women) was an ancient Italian espresso machine from the turn of the century. When he ambled into the kitchen it was already heated up and ready to deliver the first in a neverending chain of cups of delicious strong bica (his preferred portuguese name for strong, small doses of coffee with plenty of sugar), made from the best German coffee beans. Sitting under a large portrait of the Victorian renaissance man William Morris he finished his first two cups with gusto, before attacking his ancient stove and frying up a pile of white pudding with bacon and eggs. Suitably nourished and with the remains of his hangover slowly vanishing, he showered, got dressed and checked on the women in his bedroom: all three were still vast asleep, likely still getting over the copious amounts of Greenlandian whiskey that were ingested the night before. Chuckling, he left the house through the back door and stepped into a glorious winter's morning. The silvereyes were fighting over the generous amounts of bird food that was regularly left out for them, and the bell birds were everywhere, filling the morning air with a symphony of melodious thirds and quarts.

Born in the 2003, he was the only son of the first bookbinder in the little coastal village his family made their home. His father, a true iconoclast, had come here in the 1980's from London to establish a local arts and crafts movement and even had been moderately successful. Apart from their little bookbindery there was a blacksmith, a herbalist, a woodturner, a basket weaver and dozens of allied crafts fuelling the tourist trade and the local council coffers, as 'Made in Taranui' had become a mark of luxurious, hand made items only affordable by a small sliver of the global ultra rich. Since the South Island had separated from the rest of New Zealand (the Chatham Islands and the North Island forming the 'Pacific Republic of Aotearoa') because of the immigration issue and installing a new capital in Dunedin, the young country had done very well for its modest size. The climate change was noticeable but quite benevolent (apart from the vicious autumn storms that regularly killed dozens of careless farmers) and certainly had done wonders for the hydro-energy and photovoltaic sector. Cloudland (as the country was now called) provided energy via a concentric web of cables to Antarctica, the North Island, the remainder of Australia and the few Pacific islands that were still habitable. The Wagyū beef and the rest of its agricultural produce sold very well to a starving world, and so were the luxury goods from Taranui.

Attired in comfortable linen, the bookbinder wore his Victorian uniform of plain black trousers, a white shirt and black vest with a little dainty hat. It was always important to keep the tourists happy and he never liked the synthetic fabrics that the various Chinese states had swamped the world with over the last thirty years anyway. His only concession to modern technology was a very modest and well hidden communicator that he had affixed to his R biceps and that was now vibrating like mad. He quickly opened the little zipper above it and had a look at the screen (he preferred it to be silent, as the tourists wouldn't be pleased to find that he used modern technology): Bente. His dutch exwife must have left him a message.

He clicked on 'Play'.



Qaqortoq: Chapter II | Qaqortoq: Chapter III | Qaqortoq: Chapter IV

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