Thursday, September 2, 2021

Microstory 1704: Aquarius

This is it, it’s finally happened. Out of all contenders, I have been chosen to succeed my predecessor in the highest rank possible for someone of my station. Today, I become the Sovereign Supreme’s Aquarius, and I could not be more honored. I’m too excited to fall asleep naturally the night before, but I need to be well-rested and alert, so I ask my friend to sneak me some polpenroot. It’s not illegal, but the Sovereign Supreme doesn’t like his personal staff using drugs, even for medicinal purposes. When I awaken, I rush up to the palace, eager to begin my duties. The current aquarius is waiting for me at the reservoir, perhaps remembering how impatient he was when it was his turn. In the meantime, he gives me a tour, even though I’ve been here a million times to train. Water is sacred, and I know everything about how we conserve and utilize it wisely. It will soon be my job to collect, transport, and protect the Sovereign’s personal water rations. Of course he deserves the most out of anybody, but he never takes too much. He’s trained his body to survive on less, as we all have. Still, people are envious of his power, and they attempt to steal rations from him more than anywhere else, not only to make their own lives a little easier, but to make it harder on him. I won’t let that happen. No one has managed to steal from the Supreme in over thirty years, and I’m not about to end that trend. My predecessor finishes the tour, and instructs me to go to the Great Hall, where a breakfast banquet is being set up. It’s not just in recognition of me. Many other positions on the royal staff are being backfilled today, and I am only one. I believe mine is the most important job, but I imagine all of the others say the same about their own.

The Sovereign Supreme is pacing back and forth in front of his throne, rehearsing his speech. I watch him in awe. I’ve seen him before, but he looks even more glorious now that I’m a part of his detail. I am humbled in his presence. My predecessor comes in, but he’s not alone. He and a team of reservoir workers are rolling in a tank full of water. It is the most I’ve ever seen in my entire life outside of the reservoirs. These banquets only take place every several years, and attendees can reportedly drink as much as they want, but I’ve never heard confirmation of that. I hope it’s not true, as it would be so wasteful. The people are dying of thirst, and the reason I admire the Sovereign Supreme so much is that he’s fair and just. He understands what his people need, and he does everything in his power to keep us alive. The current aquarius and his team continue rolling the tank to the other side of the hall, and through another set of doors. Curious, I casually follow them in. I’m not sure I’m allowed to be in here, but this will be me in a few hours, so it can’t be that big of a deal. There’s something weird about this room. A beautiful shimmering light dances upon the walls, mesmerizing me, and keeping my eyes from seeing where I’m going. Out of the corner of my eye, I see the tank stop. One of the workers warns me to look out, but I don’t hear her in time. I slip on the edge, and fall down. I don’t hit the stone, though. Instead, I fall right into water. What is this, a secret reservoir? I scramble back to the surface, and struggle to stay up before realizing that my feet can touch the tile floor. I stand and look around. I’ve never seen anything like it before, but I’ve read about the way people lived long ago. This was back when they were frivolous and wasteful, and did not have to ration their water. The current aquarius is laughing. “It’s not time to swim yet! Wait until after breakfast!”

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