Mad Crab Mojave: Chapter 28

In which Jones gets a rare moment alone.

Marta walked him up to a small room at the end of the third floor. It had a twin bed, with a hand-hewn bed frame, a small bookcase, and a desk. “We make everything here,” Marta said, waving vaguely at a rag rug draped across the floor.

“When we founded this place, we wanted people to come and learn how to produce textiles and ceramics by hand. Live a genuinely productive, data-free life. The BLM was willing to work with us. Many of our teachers had been named Enemies of the Economy due to their commitment to handcrafts. When they heard about us they were willing to leave their studios behind and come here to the desert and teach others, in return for the rewards of our cooperative lifestyle.” She fell silent for a moment, staring at the blank stucco wall.

“Wait here for a bit, I’ll send someone to show you around.”

Jones sat down on the bed. The mattress rustled. Jones smelled it. It had been stuffed with straw. He got up and went into the bathroom. The shower had been removed and was being used to store brooms. The toilet had water in it though, and he was able to use the sink to wash his face. Even when he turned the knobs the whole way, all that came out was a cold trickle. Above the sink, on a cracked mirror, someone had added a handwritten sign: “Please turn off the water COMPLETELY.”

Jones went back into the room and unloaded his pockets on the desk. He stuffed the notebook from the Virtual Vegas control room inside the pillow. Someone knocked on the door.

The man Marta had sent was tall with affable eyes, black curly hair, and a wide cotton scarf draped around his shoulders. He extended a hand to Jones. Jones shook it gratefully, relieved to see an open face.

“I’m Hassan,” the man said. “I heard you’ll be our guest for a few days. Let me take you on a tour.”