Speed Reads: Dispo and the Crow

Himali Thakur, Class of 2019

Reading for pleasure is a myth for most of us at Ashoka. It’s sad to see our reading habits slide into oblivion as classes assault us with a never-ending stream of papers and assignments. To save the voracious reader in you, The Edict brings the Speed Reads Series — stories handpicked to fit your planned/unplanned study breaks.

Source: Shutterstock

This week’s story is “Dispo and the Crow” by Rich Larson.

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia

Approximate reading time: 2971 words, approximately 15 minutes.

Link: “Dispo and the Crow” on Mythic Delirium

Synopsis:

Dispo did not have time for elegies anymore, but the crow brought him to bodies far more reliably than his old bioscanners. He started carrying two corpses at a time and burying them in tandem. The neat rows in the park skewed. Burial mounds appeared in other parts of the city, anywhere with 1.8 meters of soil.

On planet Earth, Dispo (short for “Post-Mortem Retrieval / Disposal Unit”) lives alone. Every day, he buries several corpses around the decaying city. His peace is undisturbed, until one day, a biological organism appears — a crow. The scavenger desecrates the bodies, ripping out their entrails as if they were nothing more than pieces of flesh. Angered and disgusted, Dispo tries to save the bodies from his ‘nemesis’. However, in the process, he forms a symbiotic relationship with the crow. The only barrier is Dispo’s firewall that repeatedly reminds him not to interact with biological organisms and the AI infections they bring with them.

Why should I read it?

Larson gives a twist to his Wall — E-inspired world by asking a simple question: what happens to our dead when we leave? The answer is not a zombie revolution, where the radioactive waves magically bring the corpses to life. They’re not even violated by scavengers because there are no scavengers to prey on them. Instead, they’re being piled on top of each other, to clear space for the return of ‘humankind’. Larson describes, in graphic detail, the background against which the plot of “Dispo and the Crow” unfolds. He reminds us of Leo Tolstoy’s question (that haunted many of us in ICSE): how much land does a person really require?

If you’re interested in writing for this series, email your recommendations (in the same format as this article) to edict@ashoka.edu.in.