vii. the quidams

They were called the quidams, a derogatory designator given by the orbs, who saw no point to their originality and freethinking natures. Many orbs even felt threatened by the existence of the quidams, without understanding why. This vague menace they sensed was beyond their comprehension, for the quidams represented the collective shadow side of the orbs themselves, a vast dark river they never swam in, blocked from their sight as it was by the rigid conditioning of their own lifestyles.

Before the world had changed, the quidams had existed as a loose association of practitioners of various arts. She had known several of them at university, and it was at one of their art galleries where she had come under the poisonous spell of the destroyer. After the change, the quidams had melted together into the darkness of the city, for they knew their survival depended on a separation from the orbs, who would not hesitate to seek their banishment. And so they studied the illusionary arts, taking what they needed from the depot and other sources using sleight of hand and other tricks. In addition to basic thievery, they utilized elements of permaculture and even alchemy to provide for their small community. Recently an alchemical breakthrough had led to the development of an ingenious method for purifying the toxic rainfall. This became one of the quidams’ most valuable and closely guarded secrets.

The quidams did not live in a single permanent location. Instead they maintained well-hidden supply caches in various sectors of the city. They camped or squatted in the vicinity of a cache for a short time before rotating to the next one. In this manner they avoided attracting the unwanted attention of the orbs.

She didn’t know how the quidams would react to her, an outsider. Though not an orb, she was not a quidam, either. She was a rare solo thinker, lost in a divided world where individuality was fast becoming a liability. She decided to initiate her search for the quidams at the art gallery owned by her university friend. It was unlikely that her friend would still be there or that the gallery would even still exist, but perhaps she would find some clue as to where to look next. At the very least it was a place to start, a place to which she never thought she’d return.

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  1. Riveting.



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