The Emulation of Keekik

garlic farm

Rows of garlic on a farm. (Photo: Gary Weathers/Getty Images)

The other local farmers had an easement agreement with Straen so they could cross his land and water their herds, but Keekik’s passionate desire for emulation put him above the law, or so he believed. True, he had no herds of his own, being only sixteen, and a stable hand on Logi’s farm, but now, crouching behind a tree at the edge of Straen’s property, he felt that ownership was inherently evil, and that resources should be available to all who desired access.

Experiencing an almost ethereal since of giddiness at his self-assigned empowerment, the excitable lad sprung from his hiding place, across the artificial boundary between Logi’s and Straen’s farms, and ran with enough vigor to clean his employer’s stables for a week (though he loathed the task).

Racing past the soil enhancement equipment, he knew exactly what he was going to say. His words would be exoteric when he arrived at the lake where all of the caretakers for the farmers were watering the herds of cukol.

Finally, he passed the last open gate that gave him entry to the gathering at the water. The thin, pale skinned boy climbed up a dozer machine that was sitting idle for the moment, took a wide stance, raised his arms above his head and cried, “Brothers and sisters, hear me,” as loud as he could.

Nudrak, Fene, and the others turned away from their placid animals who were contentedly lapping, to see what all the fuss was about.

“What the hell are you doing here, Keekik?” Fene ran the herds for their mutual employer Logi. “Shouldn’t you be sweeping up the stables? Logi will be cross if you don’t have them cleaned up by the time he brings in the vrus beasts for their feed.” She looked at him with the expression of a stern mother who had found her most troublesome child once again misbehaving.

“Forget about the stables. Forget about Logi. I appeal to you all as kindred spirits. Don’t you see that the rich farmers are exploiting your labor? Throw off your yokes and your chains and join with me. Together, we will share all of the wealth and make each farmer’s property into one great collective.”

He was sweating with excitement, expecting at any minute for the herdsmen and women to cheer him, and embrace his ideals for freedom and equality. Instead they laughed, and not just a few chuckles, but full-blown belly laughs, as if Keekik was a comedy act, and a really good one, too.

“You’ve full of biscuits, boy,” shouted Nudrak.

“Go home and suck on your Mama’s teet until you grow up,” yelled Olgoli.

“He’s been reading his books again, the ones from old Earth,” taunted Fene, which really hurt the boy, since he thought she’d be the first to support him.

“What books?” Custu was new to the farms, having moved to Ai province from Tah less than a season ago, so he was unfamiliar with Keekik’s reputation.

“Some garbage written by…wait a minute…on the tip of my tongue.” Fene scratched her head in mock confusion. “Oh yeah. Someone named Marx, I think.”

“I thought it was Mao,” Nudrak added.

“No, I remember now, it was Stalin, or was it Hitler?” Fene was having way too much fun at Keekik’s expense as far as he was concerned. Then she took a more serious tone again. “Go back to the stables. You’re lucky to have the job you do. Go back before Logi finds out about your foolishness and fires you. Then you’ll have to slave away at some sweatshop in the city, and believe me, I came up that way, and it’s nothing you want to experience.”

“And stop reading all that nonsense, boy.” Nudrak had ceased laughing as had all the others. He walked over to the dozer and looked up. “Get down here.” The boy complied and stood before the wide-built, dark bearded herdsman, his head hung low.

Nudrak put his hand on the lad’s shoulder. “Now see here. Straen, Logi, and all the other farmers worked hard to grow crops, breed herds of transport and food beasts. They were the first generation colonists that came here fifty years ago, and they could have died. Instead, they labored night and day, sacrificed, did without even the simplest things you take for granted today. You’re too young, but I was a boy like you in those days. Now go home. Do what we did. Work hard. Show Logi you’ve got potential. Maybe he’ll promote you to the herds, or the harvesters if you’re good enough. There’s no short cuts on colony worlds. You either make it, or you don’t.”

“Yes sir.”

Keekik trudged back down the road, kicking at rocks, trying to hold back his tears. He’d studied the texts every night for months and thought he understood what was wrong with the world, especially the part where had to shovel vrus dung. Where had he gone wrong?

I wrote this for the Bonus Wordle “The Letter E” writing challenge hosted at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. The idea is to craft a poem, short story, or other creative work using at least ten of the following twelve words:

Exoteric ((adj.) suitable for or communicated to the general public: not belonging, limited, or pertaining to the inner or select circle, as of disciples or intimates: popular, simple, common place
Emulation ((n.) effort or desire to equal or excel others: jealous rivalry)

I used ten and bolded them in my story so the reader could pick them out more easily.

It was the word “Emulation” that set the tone for my story and the naiveté of youth, some of them, anyway.

6 thoughts on “The Emulation of Keekik

    • Glad you liked it. Thanks. I do sort of take a stab at those folks who’d like to see the U.S. economy based on some form of socialism as well as critics of what has been called “meritocracy,” but in a frontier kind of environment, everyone really does have to pitch in and do their jobs, plus people who have worked really hard to build something should be able to keep it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree with that. The utopian concepts are just that. The workable model is what is being practiced by the developed world . Look at Germany! They are willing to pay more taxes to help not so fortunate. But nobody prospers by the forced “equal distribution “ of wealth.

        Liked by 1 person

      • In a frontier environment, a more communal or socialistic approach may actually be a necessity for a limited period. This phenomenon characterized the early restoration of the modern nation of Israel. As development progresses, however, it becomes necessary to reward exceptional workers and thinkers and planners and contributors for their exceptional contributions, at a higher level than that awarded to those whose contribution was less. Such reward, whether greater or lesser, becomes the basis of capital and the opportunity for a more complex economy that spurs even greater development — and begins to approach the prophetic ideal of individual enjoyment of the fruits of their labor, as each man is envisioned as able to dwell under his own vine and fig tree, with no threat or cause for fear. This also has been demonstrated in the Israeli economy that has left behind most of its socialistic beginnings and developed greatly in many fields — though we’re still working on the part about eliminating security threats. [:)]


  1. I found it a challenge worthy of at least a small amount of research to compare “exoteric” with its better-known cousin “esoteric”, the difference being that the latter is intended for an “inner circle” while the former is intended for an “outer” or general one. But I was not entirely sanguine with your use of “emulation”, which is to be like someone or something else, and to operate as they or it does. Your definition that includes the notion of trying to surpass them does not fit any usage with which I am familiar, though it is true that I am most familiar with its application in the computing realm where the purpose of an emulator is to mimic another program or application as closely as possible. In the case of this story, however, I don’t see your protagonist trying to do anything more than what was advocated by Karl Marx whose ideals he was trying to emulate and apply. I can, nonetheless, envision the practice of emulation as a tool to pursue a jealous rivalry, though I would never include the rivalry as a characteristic of the word’s definition. It is the extraneous notion of rivalry, I suspect, that impelled the sense of trying to surpass rather than merely to emulate. Thankfully, your story did not attempt to exploit this characteristic that I consider somewhat foreign to the essential definition of emulation.


  2. Well, the ideals of Marxism again falling short of bringing about any change when the proletariat is rather getting along with this subjugation to the colonizing masters. I found it a critique of the current global system where Marxist literature is the bulk of what is studied and opined in academic circles and intelligentsia and yet the neoliberal market economy has come to prevail almost everywhere.
    I really liked your setting and the history that you build on for this conversation. 🙂


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