Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "The Blue People"

Based on an audience poll, this is the free epic for the August 4, 2020 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] lone_cat, [personal profile] bairnsidhe, [personal profile] nsfwords, and rix_scaedu. It also fills the "Beach Getaway" square in my 7-1-20 card for the Winterfest in July Bingo. This poem belongs to the Polychrome Heroics series.

"The Blue People"

[Thursday, July 11, 2013]

Isla Carlisle woke with an aching head
and no idea why she was lying on the ground.

Looking around, she saw a sea of people
sprawled around her, all naked and
all in varying shades of blue.

Naked was nothing new in
the True Nature nudist colony,
so what the hell else had happened?

She'd not simply got smashed in
the middle of the day for some reason,
because everyone around her was
passed out on the ground too.

Right ... she'd gone to Jolly Plaza
over lunch break to catch the speaker
who'd put up flyers about racism.

That was something naturists
generally tended to disapprove of,
on account of all things being equal
once the fancy trappings came off.

This was so not what she'd had
in mind, and for a moment, Isla
wondered if the speaker had
caused, well, whatever it was.

Then she saw him sprawled
across the busking stage,
so that seemed unlikely.

The others around her
were just starting to stir.

Isla sighed and pushed
herself up. Most folks just
weren't as resilient as she was.

Well, she'd taken first aid and
community response for her job
as a shopkeeper; might as well
start putting that to use.

Someone was bound
to have gotten hurt falling
on hard concrete and
need a trip to A&E.

Isla used her vidwatch
to call 999 for assistance.

The dispatcher seemed to think
she was taking the piss.

Isla hung up on her and
called the number meant for
flickering kids. Whoever was
on the other end of that line
immediately believed that Isla
was blue, everyone around her
was blue, and this might be
considered a problem.

The flicker dispatcher
wanted Isla to stay on
the line and keep talking,
but she couldn't do that and
do first aid at the same time.

So Isla went to the nearest box
that held emergency supplies and
started patching up what she could.

Mr. and Mrs. Bodymead were
both trying to sit up. He was fine
other than having cracked his glasses.
She was favoring one wrist, so Isla
wrapped it and advised finding a medic.

Several children had scrapes and
bruises that were easily treated.

One boy, probably Brindian,
ran about declaring himself Krishna.

A louder noise made Isla look up.

Some nutter was clinging to
a statue of Gerald Gardner on
a pedestal and ranting about
now they'd see how everyone
dealt with real blue people.

Isla rolled her eyes, shook
her head, and went on trying
to help whomever she could.

Fortunately there weren't
very many injuries, at least on
a physical level -- but emotionally
was a very different issue.

Some people seemed all right,
aside from being suddenly blue,
but others looked gutted.

Isla managed to find
an EFA kit stocked with
things like essential oils and
honey-chamomile candies,
which she distributed to
those in need of comfort.

The wanker on the pedestal
was whinging about the chav
as if anyone gave a rat's arse
about what he had to say.

"Do any of you lot recognize
that bloke?" someone said.

"No, but he seems a bit dodgy,"
said Mrs. Bodymead. "I shouldn't
wonder if he caused this mess."

"I don't think he's that smart, mum,"
said Isla. "He's wonky, all right,
but I'd bet someone else is
the brains behind all this."

"He may have set off a bomb
that somebody else built,
though," said Mr. Bodymead.

"What bomb?" Isla yelped.

"I think I remember something like
that going off," said Mr. Bodymead.
"I was looking more or less that way.
I thought it was just a prank, you know,
a bit chalk thrown on a lark, but well ..."

Whatever they'd been hit with, it
wasn't chalk and it wasn't coming off.

"Someone ought to get him off of
that pedestal before he hurts
himself," said Mrs. Bodymead.
"Even the schoolboys know that
the ones with statues aren't
meant to be climbed upon."

A teenager laughed. "If he wants
to fanny about up there, I say let him,"
said Beatrix Wellbylove. "Maybe
he'll fall and break his bloody neck."

Isla checked the height of the pedestal,
the steps below it, and the flimsy grip
that the punter had on the statue.

Falling was a very credible threat.

"Oy, tit-head!" someone shouted.
"Get your arse off the statue
before you fall and kill yourself!"

"That's not helping," Isla scolded
as she tried to find the heckler.

Having no luck with that, she
made her way toward the statue.
"You really should climb down.
It's not safe up there," she said
as she held out her hand.

Clinging to the statue, the man
glared at her. "Oh, you'll see!
Now everyone will hate you."

The tosser had totally lost the plot.
Apparently people helping each other
was not what he had expected.

The wail of a siren cut the air,
and Isla abandoned her attempt
to get him down, instead making
her way toward the sound.

The coppers had finally arrived.

Isla looked around for the arsehole
who had probably caused the problem
in the first place, only to find that
he'd decided to leg it after all.

The police were displeased
at missing the suspect, but
they did find pieces of what
they believed to be the bomb.

Isla left them to their work and
went back to helping people.

Some of them were starting
to get upset about appearances.

Several men had put on clothes,
and one girl was frantically trying
to wash herself at a water fountain.

Another woman was rubbing a hand
over her arm, as if hoping that the color
would come off. "It's not changing back,"
Cassidy Adams said. "I thought that
superpowers didn't last very long."

Isla frowned at the big clock in the park.
"You're right, they don't," she said. "Most
don't even make it an hour before they
wear off. I've heard of a few things that
last for a day or so, but that's pretty rare."

"Then it sounds like someone is
a dab hand in the lab," said Beatrix.

"Maybe it's like henna?"
said Cassidy. "It might just
take time to get off, like dye."

"Yeah, but if it hasn't worn off
after a day, it's not acting the way
superpowers usually do," Isla said.
"It might be different. It might be ..."

Permanent. They were all thinking it,
even if most hadn't said it aloud.

"I think it's piff," said Beatrix.
"Check it out, I'm teal. I look
like a famous statue."

Isla chuckled. "All right,
I'll grant you that much ...
Queen Boudicca."

"Look around, though,
there must be thousands
of us," Beatrix went on. "If
this doesn't fade, we've got
Minimum Viable Population.
We'd be a whole new race."

"Hey, we're still human!"
Isla protested. "We're still us."

"Yeah, but we're all blue now,"
said Beatrix. "We're the Blue People."

The color didn't fade, and the name stuck.

* * *


Isla Carlisle -- She has sky blue skin and eyes, with long wavy hair of slightly darker blue. She is sturdy with shallow feminine curves. She is 24 years old in 2013 when she becomes one of the Blue People. Isla lives in the True Nature nudist colony just outside of Kingston upon Hull, Britannia. She works in a convenience store there, for which she has studied first aid and community response for emergencies. A good citizen and resilient worker, she is popular in her community. Isla dislikes being alone, though.
Qualities: Good (+2) Citizen, Good (+2) Emotional Intelligence, Good (+2) Nudist, Good (+2) Resilient, Good (+2) Shopkeeper
Poor (-2) Being Alone

Don Bodymead -- He has sky blue skin, eyes, and goatee but is bald on top. He wears glasses. He is 40 years old in 2013 when he becomes one of the Blue People. Don is the husband of Amelia. He brews and sells artisanal liquor in the True Nature nudist colony just outside of Kingston upon Hull, Britannia. Jolly and practical, he is an anchor of the community. He is out of shape, though.
Qualities: Good (+2) Alcohol Tolerance, Good (+2) Brewer, Good (+2) Community Spirit, Good (+2) Jolly, Good (+2) Naturalistic Intelligence
Poor (-2) Out of Shape

Amelia Bodymead -- She has sky blue skin, brown eyes, and sky blue hair cut short. She is 46 years old when she becomes one of the Blue People. Amelia the wife of Don. They live in the True Nature nudist colony just outside of Kingston upon Hull, Britannia. There Amelia serves as the hostess of Don's brewery. Observant and long-lasting, she makes a good worker. She also tends to worry about what could go wrong. As a hobby, Amelia enjoys gardening.
Qualities: Good (+2) Gardener, Good (+2) Hostess, Good (+2) Observant, Good (+2) Stamina, Good (+2) Work Ethic
Poor (-2) Worrywart

Beatrix Wellbylove -- She has teal skin, brown eyes, and wavy teal hair that falls just below her shoulders. She is 17 in 2013 when the Blue People manifest. Beatrix lives in the True Nature nudist colony just outside of Kingston upon Hull, Britannia. She can see the good in almost any situation, and dives into life with great enthusiasm. She loves traveling and wants to become a World Citizen someday. However, her youth and inexperience mean that she often gets in over her head.
Qualities: Good (+2) Energetic, Good (+2) Optimist, Good (+2) Traveler
Poor (-2) Inexperienced

Cassidy Adams -- She has teal skin, brown eyes, and long wavy chestnut hair. Her heritage is Irish and Britannian. She speaks English, French, German, Greek, Irish, Latin, Manx, Spanish, and Welsh. She is 28 years old in 2013 when the Blue People manifest, which has left her with body dysphoria. Cassidy lives in the True Nature nudist colony just outside of Kingston upon Hull, Britannia. She preserves heritage Celtic languages by writing poetry, short fiction, creative nonfiction, and articles in them. She also loves reading in any language.
Qualities: Good (+2) Bookworm, Good (+2) Celtic Culture, Good (+2) Graceful, Good (+2) Linguistic Intelligence, Good (+2) Writer
Poor (-2) Body Dysphoria

Little Krishna (Bansi Ranganathan) -- He has ocean blue skin, black eyes, and short black hair. His heritage is British Indian, or Brindian. He speaks English, Hindu, and Sanskrit. His father is a doctor and his mother is an artist, both with an appreciation of the human body. They live in the True Nature nudist colony just outside of Kingston upon Hull, Britannia. Bansi becomes known as Little Krishna or Bālakṛṣna (Sanskrit: Child Krishna). He is 7 years old in 2013 when the Blue People manifest. Bansi enjoys school and already plays the flute well. He likes exploring big questions, but breaks down on practicalities.
Qualities: Good (+) Existential Intelligence, Good (+2) Flute Player
Poor (-2) Impractical

The term "British Indian" is cumbersome, and "Britannian Indian" even more so. Terramagne use therefore contracts to "Brindian."

Worth noting is that Hindu people see blue as extremely auspicious, all-inclusive, and magnetically attractive. The Hindu families among the Blue People are seen as blessed, but all of the Blue People are respected and welcomed by the Brindians. This draws their ethnic groups closer together.

Mary Burn (Mary Bernadette Relish) -- She has toffee skin, black eyes, and wavy black hair to her shoulders. Her heritage is Britannian, Indian, and Sudanese. She speaks Arabic, English, and Hindu. Mary grew up obsessed with skin color in societies that focused on caste and race. Her attempts to bleach her skin lighter left her with superpowers instead. So she turned to super-gizmology through chemistry, and discovered a way to turn people blue. Frustrated by people's blithe references to crayon skin tones, she built a bomb to be deployed at the True Nature nudist colony just outside of Kingston upon Hull, Britannia. This created the Blue People. As a hobby, Mary collects photographs of India and Sudan.
Origin: A skin-bleaching product failed to change her complexion but left her with superpowers.
Uniform: On duty, Mary wears lab clothes, usually a white coat over white shirt and black pants. Off duty, she cares little about clothes and favors practical women's wear. She favors brown or silver accessories.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Logical-Mathematical Intelligence, Good (+2) History of Colonialism, Good (+2) Photography Fan, Good (+2) Needs Little Sleep
Poor (-2) Interpersonal Intelligence
Powers: Good (+2) Super-Gizmologist (Chemistry)
Motivation: To control skin color.

British Colonies in Africa Map

Dennis Bithersee -- He has burnt toffee skin, dark gray eyes, and nappy black hair buzzed short. He wears a short mustache and beard. His heritage is Britannian, Egyptian, and Indian. He is objectumsexual, with a particular attraction to statues or dolls that don't portray a recognizable human ethnicity. Dennis believes that everyone is prejudiced, and the only thing that gets their attention is violence. He takes whatever he can, because he feels that the world owes him for tormenting him. He fears being targeted yet again for being different. Emotionally volatile, he distrusts others, particularly monoracial people. Dennis was a violent activist for a while, but eventually fell in with a mad scientist and became a minion. He likes having a secure place in the world, which makes him loyal despite his generally nettlesome personality. He doesn't really care about how he looks and tends to dress in black thugwear. Dennis winds up deploying a bomb which creates the Blue People in the True Nature nudist colony just outside of Kingston upon Hull, Britannia.
Qualities: Good (+2) Chemist, Good (+2) Fighter, Good (+2) Loyal, Good (+2) Minion, Good (+2) Tough
Poor (-2) Preferred Target of Prejudice
(from The Emotional Wound Thesaurus, "Prejudice or Discrimination" p. 160-161)

Objectumsexual: Someone who is sexually attracted to inanimate objects. (In this sense, this is not a fetish, for the person sees the object as a partner, not a way to enhance a separate sexual relationship with another person)

* * *

Kingston upon Hull, or Hull for short, is a port city in the East Riding of Yorkshire, northeastern England. While not known for its beaches, there are some nice ones in the area.

July 11, 2013 -- A supervillain set off a bomb at a nudist colony in Britannia. Over 3,200 people were permanently turned various shades of green to blue including teal, jade, periwinkle, aquamarine, royal blue, midnight blue, and periwinkle. They came to be called the Blue People.

These are the most common colors.

Due to the nature of their collective manifestation and local community, the Blue People comprise the only currently known group of crayon soups who qualify as a race.

A heated argument concerns the reference to "strangely colored people" in discussions of colorism and racism. In Terramagne this is more fraught because they actually have crayon soups. Many people are rude to them. Some people, just as they always claimed, really don't care about skin color ... but they are a minority.

Smashed – Very drunk

noun BRITISH /ˌeɪ ən ˈi/
1 the accident and emergency department of a hospital

999 is the official emergency number for the United Kingdom, but calls are also accepted on the European Union emergency number, 112. All calls are answered by 999 operators, and are always free.[1]

Taking the Piss means to directly make fun of someone usually in a negative way

Head case/nutter = someone not quite there especially in a slightly psychotic way

Gutted – Devastated

Whinge – Whine

Chav – White trash

Bloke/geezer/chap: man

Dodgy – Suspicious

Wonky – Not right

Fanny about: to mess about.

Tit-head: idiot

Lost the Plot – Gone Crazy

Copper: policeman (NOT ‘cop’ as the tabloids now call them)

Leg it: Run off

Dab hand: highly skilled

Piff – Very good quality

Boudicca was a Celtic queen of the Iceni tribe. She led an revolt against the Roman Empire in AD 60-61.

Minimum Viable Population is the smallest number of individuals capable of sustaining the group over the long term. It is difficult to estimate. 1,000 is a common number cited for terrestrial vertebrates. (Some prey species need a lot less. One buck and one doe rabbit can successfully colonize an island, which has happened more than once.) Some estimates for a generation ship crewed by humans are also low, such as this one for 98. The usual MVP estimates range between 150 and 40,000 individuals. However, genetic analysis suggests a past bottleneck of 1,000-3,000 people. Consider these points:
5,000 – Viable population size without interventions.
500 – Genetic counseling may be necessary to avoid inbreeding.
50 – Maximizing offspring from different partners is necessary to provide genetic diversity.
Tags: community, cyberfunded creativity, ethnic studies, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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