By Ingvar: “Trigger, darling?”
Sheriff Snowflake looked up from his desk, at Mrs Coraline Snowflake, his beloved life.
“I’ve been invited to join the board of the System Literature Conference.”
“You have? That’s marvellous news. SysLiCon is truly the biggest event in poetry and other fine written art.”
“But I am a wife now, how could it possibly be correct for me to participate?”
“Beloved Coraline, you are indeed a wife, and it is therefore no longer proper that you own and run a business. But SysLiCon is a charity and volunteer organisation. And thus entirely proper.”
“Well, they’re planning on holding the next conference over in Ytterbium Valley, so it would be quite close, as well.”
“That’s excellent news. Would you like me to talk to Sheriff Scrogginski about possibly helping him out with public order during the event?”
“Would you? That would be lovely.”
“I will despatch a message this evening, that’s early enough. Was there anything else?”
“No, dearest husband. And thank you, for being such an understanding and gentle husband.”
Trigger let his eyes wander back down to the paperwork. While Fort Corallium was, on the whole, a quiet settlement, it seemed that the day-to-day life of half a thousand people still managed to generate more forms in a week than Trigger could easily file away in half a morning per week. Sometimes, growth comes with pain.
“Welcome, all. This is the third meeting of the board for this upcoming SysLiCon.”, John De Viance lifted his chair’s mallet. “I wish to, on behalf of the entire board, extend a warm welcome to Mrs Coraline Snowflake, hopefully well known to all of you, by name and reputation if nothing else. Any other remarks before we start?”
Thirty seconds of quick glances being exchanged in silence. John took a deep breath, “No pre-meeting business, good. Hereby I declare the third SysLiCon board meeting open.”
The mallet landed on a small leather pad, with a satisfying thunk.
“First item, where are we with the venue? Pete?”
Pete Gentle grunted quietly, “Spoke to Ytterbium Valley Lodge, there’s been a delay with the extension. But everything is still on track to be finished three weeks before we open our doors. That means we won’t have final floor plans until about then, rather than the three months we were hoping for. Still, on track.”
“Good, good. Next, Erica, membership?”
Erica shuffled the papers in front of her, then looked at the top one.
“We have 764 signed-up attending members. They have all acknowledged our Code of Conduct, as simple as it is. Looking at the names, I recognise five to ten known Sulphur artists, but as they’ve all agreed to the CoC, I feel we don’t need to do anything. We’ve also received a supporting membership from Rick ven Fleerbo, which I guess most of you have heard of. I think that’s about it from the membership division.”
Pete nodded, “good, good. And, finally, from the security division. Urbel?”
Urbel Scrogginski took a deep breath, then slowly exhaled.
“Well, these Sulphur artists, I am not so sure about. They’ve caused some problems over in Fort Corallium. But, I guess, as long as they behave, they’re as welcome as anyone. We could probably do with some more level heads during the event, though. So I would ask the board to allow me to inquire of Mrs Snowflake, if it would be possible to have Trigger Snowflake available for the conference?”
The entire board looked at Coraline. She fidgeted, not used to being under such obvious scrutiny. “If it is the wish of the board, I will certainly ask my dear husband if he can find the time.”
It was a fine morning, the dust haze at an all-record low, as the doors to SysLiCon opened. A long queue of raucous novelists, poets, song-writers and others who express themselves through textual forms started snaking through the wide double doors, up to the reception, where they were duly signed in.
Standing just inside the doors, to either side of the queue, were Trigger Snowflake, on the left, and Urbel Scrogginski, to the right. The attendees walked past them, both Trigger and Urbel scanning them for signs of problems.
About an hour later, the queue had dwindled to nothing, and the two lawmen nodded to each other, walking separate ways to give the halls a quick once-over.
Half an hour later, they met back at the security office. Urbel sat down, looking at Trigger.
“Did you see anything, Trigger? Far as I could see, it was quiet.”
Trigger looked at the other empty chair in the office, sighed quietly, then walked over and took a seat.
“Saw? Well, I did see Slem ven Pocketry, who represented ven Fleerbo at Luna, ix months ago. Problem? Don’t think so, he’s signed off on the conduct code, hasn’t he? So it should all be well. Might behoove us to keep an eye on him, but unobtrusively, of course.”
Urbel scratched his chin.
“He one of those Sulphur poets?”
“Don’t know, actually. I suspect he runs with the Sulphur crowd, otherwise I can’t see why he represented ven Fleerbo. And he’s Venusian, of course. Most Sulphur artists are, although I can’t right say how many of the Venusian artists run in Sulphur circuits.”
“Well, we should make sure one of us is in this office throughout the conference, this is one of those touchy matters I would prefer is handled by a full lawman, rather than a deputy.”
“As you say, Urbel, as you say. Touchy things, literary conferences.”
“Especially SysLiCon, we’ve so far had a perfect record, and I would really prefer nothing happens on my shift.”
As the days of SysLiCon passed, this was as exciting as the security office managed to get. There was one instance of a member being over-inebriated and gently escorted back to his room, and one misunderstanding that was quickly straightened out, stemming from a dialectal difference, where one person expressed admiration for another’s work, with words that were insulting in the recipient’s dialect.
With SysLiCon over, and his beloved Coraline fÃªted and celebrated for he stellar contribution on the committee, Trigger relaxed back in his comfortable office. All of a sudden, Coraline burst down the stairs, waving a magazine of some sort in the air.
“Trigger, darling, have you seen this?”, she said in an obviously distressed voice.
Trigger looked at his wife, “No, beloved, I have not. But if you give it to me, I can read it now.”
She handed the magazine over, opened to a page head-lined “Why I Will Not Go To SysLiCon Again”.
Why I Will Not Go To SysLiCon Again
This past week, I attended SysLiCon, a literature conference that I have for a long time considered my “home conference”. And I will never go back. When I started going to SysLiCon, it was a warm and welcoming event, where everyone was treated well and everyone respected one and each other. There were even displays of extreme gratitude and respect, once in a while. But over the eleven years I have been attending, I have noticed that SysLiCon have slipped further and further into Social Justice and Safe Space worship. No longer are Sulphur artists welcomed with open arms, instead they’re only catering for non-Sulphur poets, writers, song-writers and others.
They have even instated a so-called Code of Conduct, that require and mandate certain behaviours. It is disgraceful. I no longer feel welcome in such a stifling environment, coddling people and demanding that the conference is a “Safe Space”.
I had heard that this trend so common in the literature circles had finally caught up with SysLiCon, but being that I have so many fond memories of chats, talks, panels, workshops, and, yes, excellent food at previous SysLiCons, I did not believe what I had been told. But, this year, as I was about to demonstrate thankfulness and respect, having earlier had an excellent half lobster, some asparagus and some delicious Sauce Bearnaise, something quite suitable for the level of respect I felt, I was told, in no uncertain words, by a known hater of Sulphur artists. I was told that showing my respect would be against the Code of Conduct, by no one else but Trigger Snowflake, who abused the court system to have my dear friend and Sulphur colleague Rick ven Fleerbo legally required to stay on Venus! Yes, this is clearly an injustice and an obvious sign that the Safe Space mentality has finally conquered SysLiCon!
From now on, I will only attend literary conferences where Sulphur artists can feel free to show gratitude and respect, in our own manner!
Slem ven Pocketry
Trigger looked at the article. Then he looked at Coraline. Then he looked back at the article. After a while, he sighed.
“Beloved Coraline, nothing in this article seems to bear any resemblance to what I saw in the security office. None of our deputies reported any interaction with ven Pocketry, and trust me, we made it very clear that any incident involving a Sulphur artist should be reported. I will confer with Urbel, I suspect we’ll have a written report from our end for the Board, within a few days.”
Later that day, Trigger knocked on the door of the Sheriff’s office in Ytterbium Valley. A few moments later, the door opened and Urbel Scroggisnki looked, with quite a surprised face, at Trigger.
“Sheriff Snowflake, what brings you to Ytterbium Valley? I take it from your serious face that his is not a simple social visit?”
“I wish, Urbel, I wish. No, I am here on a SysLiCon matter. We need to get all the deputies in, one by one, and compile a report for the Board, in regards to this.”, Trigger handed the magazine over, opened to ven Pocketry’s article.
A few minutes later, Urbel nodded.
“Yes, I think you’re right. If you step in, I will start making calls.”
A considerable number of hours later, with much paperwork, the final report for the board was completed. In essence it read “We have read the SysLiCon report by Slem ven Pocketry. While we cannot comment on his state of mind, we can with confidence say that none of the people in the security division interacted with him in any manner, especially none that corresponds to anything in his report”.
And with that, the wrapping-up of the latest SysLiCon could continue unhindered.