The Old Queen

stained glass radiance
at omnos

The old queen sat quietly at the bar of the izakaya and smoked an electronic cigarette. Her mascara had run and there were tear marks on her cheeks. She had been crying. Her breath smelled strongly of alcohol. She had been drinking heavily.

Compare adverbs and adjectives:

quietly – quiet
strongly – strong
heavily – heavy

Present Perfect Continuous describes a past action leading to a present result. But the present result is in the past so we use past perfect continuous:

has been crying – there are tears
had been crying – there were tears

has been drinking – smells of alcohol
had been drinking – smelled of alcohol

The Entry of the Novelist

The novelist opened the door of the bar and stepped inside. He looked about for a place to sit. There were a few vacant stools by the bar but none at the tables by the windows. The young writer chose a barstool opposite the Old Queen and sat. He ordered sushi and beer and sat quietly chewing and sipping. He looked at the old queen but she did not look at him. He concentrated on his drink while she concentrated on her drink and her memories.

The Old Queen was once a construction worker. She had been a man but she had had gender re-orientation. She had had a sex change. She had had it with hormones and an operation. She had been a man but now she was a woman.

looked about
there were
looked at
did not look at
concentrated on

Past Perfect Tense is earlier in time:

had been
had had
had been
had had

We use past simple tense and past perfect tense together to show a sequence of events or two streams of events and one is earlier.

The Heroes of Universal City

Construction Workers are the Heroes of Universal City. Some of them are rude, rough and uneducated, but the skill in their hands and the bravery in their hearts is what keeps Universal City above the Ooze. Without construction workers from the Top Down Maintenance Teams, the pillars of Universal City would decay and collapse. It is the Construction Workers who make survival possible for everybody in Universal City. They make survival possible. They make life possible.

We use present simple tense to explain details:

would decay
would collapse
make possible

General Questions

Is this the only life that we have?
Did we have other lives before this one?
Will we have other lives after this one?
What do you think?

The Habits of the Old Queen – Her Routines

The Old Queen liked to sit among the construction workers and listen to their conversation. She was often at the robot bars around Pillar Seventeen where construction workers from Pillar Seventeen mingled with Robot Workers from Chinatown. Crowds of office workers from Universal Station walked to Pillar Fifteen which is the major accommodation Pillar for the area. They also dropped in at the popular little bars and eating houses (many of them illegal but tolerated by the authorities) around Pillar Seventeen. The whole designated drinking area was a temporary zone which had sprung up to accommodate the repairs on Pillar Seventeen but had never been shut down.

liked to sit
liked to listen
was often at
often mingled with
walked to
dropped in at

The designated Drinking Area around Pillar Seventeen

The Universal Police liked to keep their eyes on the people who frequented the area but they did it with surveillance cameras and robots, not by intervention. They watched everything carefully. There were not enough of them to watch everything that happened. The lack of interference made people in the designated zone feel free and relaxed. They talked easily and confided in each other and a kind of friendly drinking culture had sprung up around the area. Even MIC card holders from the upper levels came down there to let their hair down a little.

liked to keep
were not
had sprung up
came down

Another attraction of course was the robots. Nobody knew why the robots came there or why they drank but they were a good source of revenue since many robots were quite wealthy since the reforms of DapOne had changed the political landscape of Universal City after the Universal Railways Train Crash. Robots had more rights and some of them had a lot of money. They liked to spend it in bars and they liked to meet other robots and to meet people too.

This was what the Old Queen liked. Humanity. She loved humanity. She loved life itself. The mystery of human life. Each human being is one long story which weaves and intersects with the stories of other human beings. That in itself was interesting enough. But now with robots living their lives in the city side by side with humans and enjoying the same human rights as humans, whole new fields of human behaviour had opened. With the line between man and machine blurred, people acted differently. Society was evolving rapidly.

carefully – careful
rapidly – rapid

Link to the Story of the Old Queen

An Overview of the Tenses

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