Five years ago today, there existed a controversy about posting professional quality writing for free on the internet. The writers who posted items for free (including myself) adopted the slam “Pixel-Stained Technopeasant” as their own, and declared the day International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day. These folks all posted something new online for free.
You can read more detail about it here, on John Scalzi’s blog, where most of the action took place.
Today marks 5 years of what I had hoped would become an annual event. It did not, but in retrospect, the day did show just how many people “got” the new publishing industry all the way back in 2007. A lot of this is no-brainer stuff today.
I’m interested to hear everyone’s thoughts on this anniversary. Not only that, but to celebrate the fifth anniversary, here is one of my unpublished stories, available only here, and completely free.
This was written in 2006.
FREDERICK THE SAVAGE
“I donâ€™t know how you can be proud after what Iâ€™ve done.” Frederick leaned his head against the bars. His father stroked the thin and patchy hair atop his radiation-mottled head. It was noticeable, it was always noticeable. Clammy fingers on the bare sections of scalp would always be a blunt and permanent reminder of what Frederick had done
“We do as we must. You sacrificed hundreds to save thousands.”
“No,” Frederick said, shaking his head by rolling it on one of the bars. “There must have been a better way.” He paused for a moment to squeeze out a few tears. “I killed my own people!”
His father put leaned into the bars, placing his head against Frederickâ€™s forehead they way he did when Frederick was still a young boy. It always helped to dampen the pain. “Son,” he said, “you prevented what might have escalated into full-blown nuclear war.” He put his hand through the bars and let it rest on the back of Frederickâ€™s head.
The son pulled free from his fatherâ€™s grip and walked toward the back of the cell. How could this old man act like the crime was stealing a bicycle? How many fellow patriots died for this treason? Frederick shouted at the top of his lungs. “There was no excuse! I am a traitor to my country!”
“No, son,” his father said. “You made the decision you had to make. How many would have died if the missile reached the target? Thousands? Tens of thousands?” His father grasped the bars in his two hands to pull himself as close to Frederick as he could, but Frederick turned to face the wall. “And how many more of your countrymen would have died in retaliation?” his father asked. “You saved the world from itself. You should be proud of what you have done, just as I am proud of you.”
Frederick snapped around, pointing a finger at his father. “I disobeyed direct orders, and worse yet, I sabotaged the warhead.”
“You obeyed the orders of a higher power, He who answers to no one.” His father gripped the bars tightly. “Your actions were a clarion call. Washington reconsidered their decision after that warhead detonated inside the silo.”
“Then why am I here, in Leavenworth, condemned to die for treason?”
His father pulled away from the bars and paced with his hands clasped behind his back. “Your reward will come on the other side.”
Frederick walked to his bunk and sat. “Then why do I feel like I should have obeyed orders and let that city be leveled. Why do I feel hated?”
“History will remember your actions as they should be remembered, as a bold feat that saved the world from itself.”
“They call me Frederick the Savage, did you know that?” He coughed up a resigned laugh.
A guard signaled for the visit to end. As his father was walking to the door, he turned and said, “Iâ€™m proud of you, Frederick the Savior.”