The List People

This is an essay written by a character in my dream on Wednesday night, and one I thought might entertain you at least. One of my most memorable writing exercises in college was the task of writing a diary entry from the perspective of one of my characters, and I found myself repeating sections of this essay to myself as I woke up and wrote it down, in order to learn more about the person who wrote it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Introduction

To some, they are pests to be hunted and disposed of. To others, they are household spirits of luck demons. They are short-lived pets in some cultures, and according to one crafty mom blog, they can even be trained to help with simple household tasks. The List People are a living mystery, though there are so many of them, we know very little.


Anatomy

Each of the List People is 3-5 inches tall, humanoid in shape, and though they appear as other living things do on our planet, they are creatures of language as we are creatures of carbon. They are hardy and difficult to damage or injure, and may become angry when they feel threatened. A List Person may be summoned by writing or typing a command code attached to any given word. The word and command will disappear from the paper or screen, and a List Person will appear near where the written command was. Example: [(code):breach]


Lifespan

The List Person summoned by the previous example would live for 1-2 weeks, aging as the letters of its word are used up. [Breach] would become [reach], then [each], and finally [ach], which is not technically a word, but is a recognized exclamation, and will support an aging List Person. (I've tested it.) When the word's letters are used to the point that it is no longer a word (in this example, when [ch] is all that's left) the List Person dies, and its body becomes code again, which drifts like shed pet hair and leaves stains when it gets wet.


Other words would be less well-suited to the life of a List Person. For example, a List Person summoned with the word "strength" would die young and leave behind a lot of wasted letters. Other languages, such as Chinese, are better for summoning List People, since their symbols can be broken down into smaller meaningful pieces than most English words.


Usefulness

When left to themselves, List People will make nests in the room or house they were summoned in, stealing what materials they need to make a comfortable life for themselves. They do not speak, but seem to understand the language in which they were summoned, so can sometimes make deals with their summoner. (Example: do X in exchange for Y.) Like with people and animals, some List People are more cooperative than others. I have not yet succeeded in convincing one to help me clean my room.


Conclusion

I believe that the List People should be considered intelligent and treated with the same respect we might show to a dog or a cat. The use of List People as a prank or as an excuse for us not to work is not acceptable, and should be discarded as old-fashioned and disrespectful. List People are lives that we summon with our words, and so are our responsibility.

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©2020 by Eleanor Taylor.

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