The Poor Little Ants
Born with a purpose; a whole life dedicated to one reason. There are no complaints, no, like some poor Woody Allen existentially trying to escape him fate, desire to be something, I would say more, but I shall go with different. A simple life, in terms of intention, if not execution. A life of preparation building up to completion.
Finally, the day comes… today the chosen ones will stretch their wings for the very first time, will launch themselves into the open skies, experiencing freedom of movement for a brief time, then to consummate their purpose…
Poor creatures… With all the dark irony of a cruel universe (and we shall go into the black comedy of our living universe in many other places), they are born to a garden rife with well-fed birds. The owner, a god-like being as far as these little, winged creatures are concerned, has inculcated an absence of fear; this is, for the birds, a garden of plenty, and without a tremor of usual fear… they descend.
A thousand ants have broken free of their life-long habitations and are on the verge of taking wing; their slender membranes stretch and dry for the first and only time, and landing without ceremony, without thought to the hopes and dreams of these tiny things, they gobble them all up, or snatch them by the dozen for their hungrily chirping young to devour.
Make of it what you will…
North Korean and Meningitis
Something a little more aggressive today… Once upon a time there was an angry little lemming. This lemming was a leader, and persuaded all the other lemmings to charge straight over a cliff, for it had somehow convinced them they could fly… Alright, it’s not a great metaphor, but it will do for my purposes.
All I want to do for the first section of this piece is to pose a few questions:
Why does North Korea posture against the United States (and one does note a certain insecurity often analogous with limited… dimensions)?
Is it a tool to keep the people of the country subservient, or is that too simplified and shallow a reading?
Why does the media hold North Korea up as an actual threat (if you do a little research into their actual capabilities, you will discover, as I did just today, that in a real conflict with the States they would last about as long as a teenager with a supermodel…)?
Why are certain actions not implemented to limit what they do (today an intercontinental missile splashed down in the Sea of Japan; surely this should dictate some form of response – I shall keep you informed on possible responses – so long as I can maintain interest)?
Are there political reasons, not just within North Korea, but also within Western countries, which, for complicated reasons I shall look into, wish us to see an outside threat, that want us to fear (without causing undue panic – massive distance being quite a perfect buffer), and with our external fears, allow for control and/or manipulation?
One other thought… has this been allowed to escalate so an intervention will be welcomed by the general public (or at least allow for the possibility of a supported, if not encouraged, intervention…)?
Now, the original analogy (above), becomes less obvious… who are the lemmings, and who are the lemming leaders (and are the leaders, lemmings at all – ooo!)?
I, in no way, want to lessen the very real concerns people might have for Meningitis, or any other serious disease. This article is about scare-mongering, and possible reasons behind such tactics.
This morning I watched an interview in which a professional appeared on the news making certain claims as to the rise in cases of Meningitis W, over the last eight years. While on the whole cases of Meningitis have been falling (an average between all the different forms appearing to have decreased from five hundred cases in 1999 to just over one hundred cases in 2016), this expert claimed Meningitis W, to have been ‘doubling’ since 2009.
‘Doubling’, is a significant word, a specific word, a word which could, under the right circumstances, cause strong concern… it’s a troubling word. The thing was… they didn’t give a starting figure, and they didn’t say how many ‘doublings’ had occurred…
Perhaps, in 2009, there had been one case, and in 2011 there had been two, 2013, four, etc… if so, ‘doubling’, could simply be an error in statistical evidence considering the tiny numbers analysed.
It turns out there were twenty-two in 2009 and 209 in 2016. I’m not exactly sure how the ‘doubling’ fits into these statistics (although it clearly can), so I wonder at their use of language (especially the purpose behind it – and more importantly, why a [theoretically] neutral news programme allows for this linguistic bias?). It also turns out that while the example they used to exemplify the seriousness of the problem – the death of a poor girl – they neglected to mention to the public that only one in ten of these cases is fatal.
Now finally, for those of you particularly observant… I hope you notice the discrepancy in my own research. From two reputable sites, I have different results – but I shall leave you to search that out for yourselves…
Eyes wide shut…
Down the Drain
Late evening, a window facing away from the sunset, pale blue slowly darkening to black, the wind has died, the birds fallen silent, and the peace of late evening only disturbed by the occasional car, annoying the air. Silence, solitude – moments to enjoy, or to wallow within. The body controls the mood, to a certain extent. Obsession, the great habit maker, driving one to extremes, and in extremes we discover truths, terrible truths, utterly inapplicable to any who might gravitate into one’s orbit… or are they…?
So many checks and balances, walls and cul-de-sacs, placed in and around insight; tricking halves is such a small way to learn. Desperation, exhaustion and coffee induced, driving decision making, stubborn decision making, until there’s nothing left but burnt bridges and regret.
‘CHRONIC REMORSE, AS all moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.’ Huxley, Brave New World, Forward.
If only it was so easy…
Rain poured, but then that’s what it does. If rain isn’t pouring it’s not really rain, just a sprinkle of something, something refreshing, something annoying, something troublesome, something inspiring, but not rain. Within rain, at the very centre of every droplet, falls mass.
Gravity drew each huge drop; the ground embraced the torrent. What little light the day had held faded. No stars could be seen, no moon lit the night between haunted shadows, and hardly a soul ventured the atrocious weather.
A wind blew, but its valiant bluster was muffled, all but silenced by the density of the downpour, until little but a whisper touched the very edge of any with ears to hear…
The street was flooded; rushing waters, gurgling in drowning desperation, sought escape from their confinement. Rushing along their prescribed direction, little by little they fell away, flowing away through drains, leaving without any trace, replaced a moment later by identical repetition, and tomorrow, when the sun shone once more, when the skies beckoned blue, all evidence of their futile bid for freedom would be wiped from the land.
The pavement was equally soaked, but here the waters had no direct path to take; the puddles milled about… growing, joining, massing their ranks, but unable to rout.
Tucked into a cracked and chipped, hard plastic box, cleverly turned on one side and wedged upon a step still managing to maintain its eminence over the rising waters, sat a figure. Ragged hair, clumped into unwashed, matted strands, dripped upon loose, dirty, clothes. These clothes, leached of all colour but sickly streetlamp by the pitch night, hung from narrow shoulders, ballooned around this emaciated figure, and fluttering, unrestrained, a little… under the caress of the wind, gave no indication as to the gender of this solitary character… caricature.
It didn’t matter whether the figure was a man or a woman. It didn’t matter that their only shelter on this bleak night was a battered shell of a box and a few clothes worn through the ages. It didn’t matter whether the figure was hungry or thirsty, cold or wet, exhausted or sick. All that mattered was the drumming patter, the gushing struggle, and the gurgling desertion of the gutter.
I started… I was pretty sure my client had said something I was supposed to respond to… but as I’d been half day dreaming and half sleeping, I had absolutely no idea what it was… I thought back, wracked my brains, while managing to smear a contemplative mask over my desperate visage. Something about… no, I had no idea, and the expectant innocence patiently waiting didn’t help at all!
Some moments are just plain awkward!
There are those times in life: caught in a lie when you have absolutely nowhere to retreat, asked a question knowing the right answer, or rather, the expected answer, and finding you simply can’t lie, to satisfy their stupidity, no excuse for not finishing something you should have done, a girlfriend popping round while you’re… entertaining, shit like that…
‘Honesty is the best policy’ I learnt this some time ago, but understanding that this doesn’t mean not lying so you don’t hurt others, but rather not lying because you’ve grown beyond what others think of you (and let’s face it – expectation is one of the hardest words in all the language), is nearly as difficult as actually living up to such a realisation…
“I’m sorry, I simply can’t work for you anymore.” That was about as good as it would ever get, and to be honest my interminably boring client shouldn’t press for more detail… but, of course, they did…
White lies: there’s this place within us (when I say ‘us’ I mean those who will understand what I’m about to say – what is worse than listening to people speaking for humanity, or a nation, or a people, gender, art class, etc… as if they have met them all, asked all the really important questions and received honest answers…), that will do as it wills. I’m going to tell this person the truth (whether that truth will engender trust or emotional damage), I’m going to lie to this person (whether that lie alleviates their pain and worry, or twists the knife before you decide to leave it right where it is…), and in the end, it’s all in the service of… ME!
Ever noticed how the unconscious has absolutely no problem compromising itself? I do find that so refreshing, while others, on a conscious level, find it nothing more than an excuse to pick holes in perfectly misunderstood arguments…
For whatever reasons… I decided to go with the white lie: perhaps it was because the client was actually quite nice; you can’t blame someone for being boring, it’s like blaming grey for being so… plain, perhaps it was because I simply couldn’t be bothered: imagine trying to persuade someone you didn’t want to be around them anymore because you didn’t want to…
a.They believe you and you hurt their feelings (and if they believe you it more than likely means they already have a negative self-perspective).
b.They don’t believe you and try to argue for all the reasons they are interesting, and fun to be around… where on earth could that argument possibly go…?
c.They become angry (possibly in a self-defence mechanism, possibly in one based on security and arrogance, and all the other ten thousand mechanisms), and that goes nowhere.
Actually, this was nothing to do with my client. I’d reached a mid-life crisis (and I’ve been having those since I was seven), and it was damn well time to do something about it… again!
Labels are wonderful things, aren’t they? I’d once read a fascinating article arguing that by giving something a name we were murdering it…! The idea being something along the lines of a triangle is so much more than a triangle… it’s also straight lines, inclusion and exclusion, a representation of hierarchical structures, the shape of my poor old, well boxed, nose, etc… but when we give the thing a name, which draws attention to a very specific possibility of the thing we murder all the other possibilities – perhaps this is where the idea ‘thinking outside the box’, comes from…?
Mid-life crisis… what the hell is a mid-life crisis? Apparently at around about the age of forty, we are supposed to feel we are heading towards death, and find the need to do things we would have done when we were young, if we had the means, to reclaim some kind of feeling of youth and eternity…? Does anyone around about the age of forty, using this as an excuse, now feel like a bit of a prat…? I realised I was going to die lying in bed one night when I was about seven (which might well explain some of the ‘tomorrow never comes’ attitude choices I’ve made over the last forty years…)!
However, I digress (but that’s the point isn’t it…?), I simply smiled a kind of vacant smile, picked up my things and wandered back out into the world…
(Fugit inreparabile tempus) Virgil’s Georgics, ‘gather ye rosebuds while ye may’
The golden age of malfunction...
The corporatisation of the presidency
The final step in world domination by the multi-nationals: a billionaire, ‘heading’ a cabinet of billionaires, and the reaction of the working class - ‘nobody works for a poor man’. Finally, the public has utterly forgotten the president and government... work for them (although, people are poorly equipped today to govern themselves; is this the most sensible replacement when lacking Platonic, philosopher kings...?).
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed, to me:
I life my lamp beside the golden door.”
As globalisation increases (such a delicious oxymoron), xenophobia runs amok (within individuals, if not necessarily within the statistically liberal - the statistically... stable). It seems almost impossible to comprehend those who cannot understand ‘mainstream’ rationality. Unfortunately (or, perhaps with the greatest of fortune), rationality is based on such variated foundations.
‘Mum and dad were such hard working souls. Never stinting when it came to providing both the necessities a child needs to live, and the time and affection a child needs to grow. Some of my fondest memories are of a fussing mother, overly concerned for the smallest things, and a magnanimous father, content in the object of his affections...’
However, while the majority, within our first world countries, our first world, Christian countries, stand sure-footed upon such immobile rocks, there remain the minority (and don’t let that word fool you), who might appear to stand in unison, statistically speaking (and the vast masses raised within entirely different familial, social, and environmental situations), are nothing but deviants waiting to happen... Is it fair to say Trump’s support consists of such splintered boards?
Possession is nine tenths of the law...
A soldier was shot yesterday crossing the border from North Korea to South; a defection. He was shot by troops from his own country for trying to leave his own county. Two points spring to mind. 1. Today, in so many places, it is very difficult to just go and live in another country (we shall return to this). 2. There are also many countries which refuse its citizens the right to simply leave. This is the point I would like to examine first, or perhaps a combination of the two...
We would struggle to solve the political (I mean this in the largest sense of the word: that all relations between people are in some sense political acts), problems of the world in a single paper - one can only take arrogance so far on a Tuesday morning - but referring to a point made previously: governments, and leaders, are nothing but administrators acting to alleviate the day to day [national/international] ‘housekeeping’ from busy lives in an increasingly compartmentalised world, it is understandable why there should be careful checks and limits to how many people can enter a county (economic and criminal reasons spring immediately to mind), but to prevent people (at least people who are not in debt or under observation for some reason), from leaving strikes me with a sense of possession. They may have no where to go, refused entry, but to be unable to leave...
If ‘man’ is an end in itself, rather than the means to some end, then there seems no reason to deny choices which affect him as that end. If man is a means to an end it places him in the realm of ‘object’, and as such has no choice when manipulated as such (manipulation on a personal level, or a national one). What ‘greater good’ can be applied to a thing in itself...?
I’ve just been reading about the exchange between Trump and Kim Jong Un: Mr Trump ‘tweeted’, feeling insulted by being called old, saying he would never refer to Kim as short and fat... It staggers me that two of the most powerful men in the world are just plain wallies! These two are responsible for not only the millions within their own borders, but everyone else either willingly or unintentionally caught up in this escalating cock swinging contest... Apologies, knee-jerk reaction by being enriched by maturity. Don’t misunderstand; in no way do I support someone who intentionally reconditions an entire population with irrational fear developing nuclear weapons and the ability to shoot them around half the world...! However, are we so sensitive we feel the need to return comment when children say something bitter with intention to hurt - I should hope not, rather you simply pull down the child’s trousers and give them a good spanking for being naughty...
and to finish...
What do you read when you search online (interestingly relevant question)? Someone searching the word ‘stranger’ in England or the States are unlikely to find this site pop up first, or even a thousand pages later (not sure those figures are entirely accurate)... because I don’t pay a fee to the company for either preferential note, while in some countries you might not be able to find me at all. There remain plenty of reasons why certain sites should be censored, and they seem to entirely revolve around keeping children safe.
I have a great many conversations with people who have read something online, so blatantly impossible as the be laughable (if it weren’t so tragic), to hear it repeated back, but stupidity really isn’t a crime (unless acted upon in particular ways). To limit information tantamount to lying; if you only give me half a story, or no story at all, you limit my chance to make an informed decision, and are thus manipulating me into either no decision/view, or a very particular one... which seems awfully close to manipulative lying... once again, it seems, we are being relegated to a position of ‘mean’, rather than ‘end’...
‘It is what it is’, seems to getting a little threadbare...
I Am a Wind God
I am a rain god, and how do I know;
Whenever I travel, wherever I go,
The wind, into my arms, will blow.
It will tumble as in some race,
Gather itself, into my embrace,
And lay passionate kisses across my face.
It matters not if in the morn,
I head east into the dawn,
The wind refuses to be forlorn.
At noon I might well head off north,
Bravely I’ll sally forth,
The wind to will change and mountains dwarf.
Then trying to escape it wrath,
I’ll do a uey and head down south,
It’ll still seek out my mouth.
Then eve will call and home I’ll head,
The wind would rather end up dead,
Than not love me till my homestead.
If I leave so brighter climes,
There in peace compose my rhymes,
Blow it with, just all the time.
I’ll seek a shelter in some place,
But my path it’ll unerring trace,
And worm its way into my grace.
Sealed up tight in wooden casket,
Thinking ‘in this haven I’ll outlast it’,
Through smallest cranny it will flit.
And I’m pretty sure that when I lie,
In state, of to Heaven fly,
It’ll pay no heed that I die.
And there across Heavenly field,
With blustery kisses it will wield,
Until on my knees I finally yield…
Ashes to Ashes
I read the advert on the way to work…
Here at Together… Forever… we understand loss,
We understand the bond of time and the loyalty of love,
We understand the pain of bereavement and the desire,
In the face of such a theft,
To have those we cherished so much in life,
Remaining close to our hearts,
After their souls have passed on to a better place…
You can rest assured,
Consuming your loved one to our gentle pyre,
To receive their remains,
Carefully prepared and preserved in a unique urn of your choosing,
Is an action we will render for you,
With utmost respect,
The minimalising of your grief…
Our care and attention to detail,
The personal attention we devote to each and every loved one,
The skill and compassion of our highly trained staff,
Our state of the art equipment,
The hygiene and strict regulatory adherence to proper procedure,
Are a matter of pride and pleasure…
Our prices are reasonable for the level of professionalism we offer…
For details please contact… (and so on…)
Well, that was us, at least on paper, and I was nearly late for my shift, as the heavy bag slung over my shoulder had caused some problems using public transport, and two taxi drivers had actually been a little rude after they had noticed the smell. I ran the last few hundred metres, my baggage bouncing on my back from where I’d slung it over my shoulder, but slowed for the remaining steps before turning the final corner and trying to look unhurried as I approached the entrance.
There were the usual couple of families entering and leaving, wearing a mixture of sorrow and satisfaction on their faces, content that their loved one’s final small measure of attention was being respectfully and tenderly taken care of, and trying to keep my bag as concealed as possible I made my way deferentially through the small knots of mourners.
Once inside the tastefully decorated foyer I headed away from the welcoming rooms, the galleries exhibiting the different types of urns, the mock services rooms, exemplifying potential ceremonies and the administration offices, peopled by sombre suited men and women, humbly seeing to the needs of the grieving customers, and slicing my card through the security lock let myself the entrance to the crematorium complex, where a circular stairwell, allowing the workers who actually did the real work here, to make their way into the burning areas beneath the far beneath the building.
I entered the locker room, dropped my heavy bag to the floor with a grunt of relief and opened my padlocked locker, withdrawing my work clothes and donning them as quickly as possible, then with only a little reluctance slung my burden over my shoulder again and walked through the double swinging doors into the main burn room…
Over to the right, working hard at a long bench with a good solid bone saw, Jeff was looking rather disgruntled as he faced a long day of limb dismemberment with little or no help whatsoever (it was after all late winter, and the lack of interesting external activities always made sex initiated heart attacks pick up our pace a notch or two).
A long row of bodies had been slung on the bench, and his duties had far exceeded his ability, for now the tumbled remains of some twenty or thirty more cadavers were already filling several barrows left dropped off at the end of his crowded bench.
As the arms and legs fell to the floor a couple of young apprentices gathered them up into buckets and ran them over towards the burn-machine; now and then jouncing the occasional limb out of the buckets to fall and lie around on the floor, slick with fluids and clumped damp lumps of clotted sawdust, until they could spare the time to gather them up.
Keeping my bag close I sauntered over beyond Jeff’s backing up table to where the bodies were trundled into the room by benign looking orderlies. Here Steve was stripping them naked of the fine clothes their loving families had decided to send them off in. I immediately spotted a lovely silk Armani pale beige shirt and quickly nodded to the item as I slipped a packet of smokes into his pocket as down-payment.
There was a smashing pair of Italian leather shoes on the same corpse, but they’d already attracted quite a bit of attention from the orderlies, who were even now bidding for the things with various items and promissory notes for Zippos, Casios and various other small bits and bobs they managed to pilfer away long before the dead ever reached the burn room; there’d be no chance of getting my hands of them, that’s for sure.
Turning back a little wistfully I nearly slipped on a larger than usual puddle of bodily fluids (oh, how I hated leakers!), and cursing kicked a great gobbet of the fluid into the air. A general mixture of bodily fluids pattered down on poor Jason as he sliced into the mouths of a few of the bodies suspected of having in their possession gold or platinum teeth; he cursed me with language you’d not want your mother to hear, but didn’t make any effort to retaliate as he had half his hand buried in the mouth of some fat old woman who seemed intent on retaining her expensive, and now completely useless (well, to her at least), tooth. He kept jerking at the thing but the only result was her head would lift for a moment in concert with his hand and then bounce back down onto the table with a dull, damp thump.
My irritation exhausted for the moment I headed towards the burn-machine, passing Mona on the way; she was at work trying to extricate man-made implants from the few we suspected might have them. We weren’t always right, as we couldn’t actually get our hands on their medical records without offering the mortician a sizable bribe, but there was often a tell-tale scar to indicate the introduction of some technological marvel to the body, and you’d be amazed what you could get for a pace maker or hip joint on the black market.
At the moment she had both hands deep in the chest of some old man. He lay on the floor and she had both feet on his chest as she hauled his semi-rigid with rigor mortis body up and down, left and right, straining to yank the thing out of his torso.
The end of the massive machine nearest to me was in constant use as Tiger poured the general leavings into urns of varying quality. It was all much the same confusion of remains tumbling down into the pots, whether bought from us or some family memento deemed significant enough to contain their beloved’s last remains.
Tiger still hadn’t gotten over the nasty cold he’d been battling for the last few days and just as I passed he released an almighty sneeze, blowing up the chaotic and randomly mixed remains of twenty or so dead and powdered people up into the air. A good portion of the stuff bounced from the back of the ash box, leaving a fine film of remains coating his face, which he wiped away with the back of his hand, smearing some with the fluid escaping his running nose, while the rest flew up into the air, to hang in a light mist which I was forced to walk right through; oh, thank you so very much!
Sammy was at the business end of the machine, piling the last of the twenty or so torsos you could fit into the giant burn-machine, and just starting to ram in the loose arms, legs and heads Jeff had so diligently sawed off to allow for a little more machine space efficiency.
As I reached her she’d just picked up the shovel and was cracking it into the arms and legs draping over the circular entrance to the huge machine. I opened my back and dropped the contents onto the floor. She sighed and looked weary askance at me at the sight.
“My dog was hit by a car last night while I walked him; I don’t suppose you could fit him in there?” I inquired as I passed over a limited edition CD, The Alternate State, as recompense for her trouble. Her eyes immediately lit up in glee and she picked up my faithful old dog and somehow managed to jam it into the overflowing mass.
I turned and made my way over to my office, rifled through a little paperwork, and then selecting the correct urn moved out through the back elevator. As I rose to the ground floor I checked my appearance in the lift’s mirror; straightened my tie a little, brushed a little of something, I think it was damp ash, from my hair and putting my most sombre, but understanding, expression on, exited the lift, walked through into the chapel area, approached the small knot of grieving family members waiting there and presented them, with all my well-practiced respect, their chosen urn.
“My deepest condolences for your loss; we here at Together… Forever… hope that in some small way the care and compassion with which we carry out our work might allow this difficult time to be as painless as possible…”
All the King’s Horses
All the pieces lay scattered over the sun-baked ground, a myriad if ever there was one. The strange thing was, if you read the instructions, information, and histories scribbled neatly on the concave lining, in the minutest script imaginable, it just didn’t make sense... This piece gave directions to a place of marvel and wonder, while a piece lying quite nearby seemed to give conflicting bearings. Over there a recipe for some miraculous elixir, while far off to the outskirts of the debris another named it the deadliest poison.
It had lain here for what seemed eons, undiscovered until a wandering philosopher happened upon the site. He scoured every piece, carefully jotting down the writings in endless tiny notebooks, which he labelled carefully depending on the general or specific topic the notes referred to; there were so many pieces, and the writings so fine, it was almost a life calling rather than a fascination, but after several years of fanatical determination he had finally faithfully copied down each and every scrap of inscription.
Marking the site clearly for others who might follow in his footsteps he returned to ‘civilisation’, and tried to make sense of the mysteries. He summoned great minds from across the continents, consulted famous and obscure texts, and even challenged the general public to make sense of the disparate words, but the paradoxes remained.
While nothing could be collectively made out from the work, it was not a fruitless exercise, for many new sciences were born from the diligence, but some theory unifying the collection... that was forever beyond the ken of man.
“You’re late!” It was spoken quietly and firmly, but the unhappiness contained within the depths of her eyes was something profound.
“I am, but...” He tried to get the words all out, but before he had more than a handful flying she cut him right off...
“You’re late again, and tonight... why would you be late tonight?” Into the words had slipped a hint of growing despondency.
“Well, yes... I’m late pretty often, but tonight was different...” Once again, as soon as the admission was out, all that he meant to say after was cut staggeringly short.
“You knew tonight was important; you forget most everything else, but I actually reminded you this morning... how could you be late tonight?” The gloom had grown, now each word seemed weighed down with melancholy lethargy.
“... but I didn’t forget...” was all he managed to get out this time; at the confession, without explanation, her shoulders bent with despair.
“I don’t want to hear it!” She forestalled with a raised hand, moving to the small table beside the door. Before he could get another word from his astounded mouth she picked up her purse, and walked out of the door.
He starred incredulously for a moment at the inside of the closed door, and then his eyes swung back to the table and settled onto the keys she’d clearly left intentionally behind...
It had been three days since the plane had crashed. All he could remember was people shouting and screaming, the aircraft seeming to lurch in the air, then spinning and spinning as it whined straight down; bits of luggage and other items had fired back and forth like projectiles, one of them had struck him as he tried to secure his safety belt so hard he’d beenknocked all but senseless... the next moment the plane seemed to lift a little, to almost right itself... and then a concussive blow and he’d been knocked out.
When he’d finally woken, woozy and nauseas, he’d first become aware of the bright, hot light. His eyes had slowly adjusted and he’d found himself in a broken part of the fuselage, fortunately he’d been far to the rear of the plane, apparently torn away from the rest of the plane by the force of the crash.
He loosened himself from his safety belt and levered himself painfully to his feet; while he was thoroughly bruised and battered he didn’t seem to have hurt himself too seriously, which was more than could be said for the rest of the crew and passengers; he searched as assiduously as the destroyed or burning remains allowed but after hours all he could discover were dead; burnt or mutilated, people.
He sat down exhausted and surveyed his surroundings more fully. In every direction vast dunes of sand rolled away into the horizon. The sinking sun, still hotter than summer in the country he’d left, illuminated everything into sharp bronze. A strong wind cut over the wasteland, whisking sharp grains of sand in a continual barrage.
He’d passed out, either from shock, exhaustion, the injuries he’d sustains or some combination of all three, lying against a twisted section of the wing... He’d been woken, not long into the night, by the rapidly dropping temperature, and while every inch of him now seemed to protest he managed to drag himself to his feet and gather a few of the in-flight blankets which had survived. While still cold he’d wrapped himself in the blankets, huddled amongst some of the wreckage and this time fallen into a more restorative slumber.
In the morning, as the sun exploded above the horizon and the temperature seemed to immediately shoot from below freezing to a summer’s day and just keep climbing, he’d woken again. He carefully scavenged everything he could find, which included a little water and a couple of amazingly undamaged flight meals and debated on what to do.
The sun rising had given him a direction, and he knew they were less than half an hour from landing when the plane had started to experience problems, and not really understanding how far a plane could travel in half an hour, decided to try his luck on reaching civilisation.
Using the sun as a guide he set out with all the supplies he could carry, swearing to ration the water as if it were gold. Unfortunately, the unbearable temperatures of the day soon demanded he continue to use his water at an alarming rate and by the end of the second day he’d exhausted his supply.
Once again he’d argued with himself, only now it was whether to try to return to the plane or not. While he truly thought it was the better option he was also sensible enough to realise his chances of finding the plane again were very small, and even if he did, he’d just be in exactly the same position he’d been in two days ago, so with what seemed little choice he shivered his way through another night and well before the sun rose he was heading east in the hopes that today he might find some source of water.
The sun burnt his fair skin, the heat sweated all the moisture from his body, the sand dusted his dry eyes, turned his mouth to ashes, and the huge dunes became more and more difficult for his fatigued legs to manage.
The he saw it, shivering a little in the endless waves of heat emanating from the sands, the faint ripple of green and silver. Hope leapt high in him; salvation was in sight, for it could be nothing more than an oasis – the kind you always read about or watch in books or TV people finding when lost in deserts.
Relief fed new strength into drained muscles and he found himself staggering forward at something resembling a jog... until he neared the enticing site... only to have it vanish before his very eyes as he lurched within a few metres of the mirage.
He sunk to his knees and had the moisture remained in his body he would have wept, but in the end, not being the quitting sort, nor having much of a choice, he dragged himself back to his feet and wobbled on, even more tired than before.
Three more times that day his imagination, or the haunting of devils, drove him forward towards what he was convinced was his deliverance, and each time he arrived to find nothing but more sand, identical to all the other sand surrounding for what seemed forever.
The search party found him, five days dead, not eight metres from an oasis... the only conclusion they could arrive at was he’d fallen to his knees, certain it was only yet another trick of his desperate eyes...
Thinketh thee this to be some tale of fading, yellowed leaves, clinging to aged, season darkened limb, thinketh this to be some mellowed tale of pale blue sky and creeping chill, of shortening day and rain’s portents… of those last bright days before doors are slammed tight, fires banked high and provision made for briefest of days… then thinketh once more and tangent, for those tales be for thy grandma, rocking while she hums yarns of her youth – this tale be something of falling; not the tumble and wail of a rushing child, prevented in his play, but the slow withering sob of decadence insidiously breaking the will of nations… this tale be the dissolution of strength, the profligacy of what was once held close and treasured as unique… this tale be your future… worse… look – those with eyes to see – this tale be your tale…
Cometh the spring when blood rises hot and angry, coursing the vein and overwhelming the muscle with joy and strength, and the mighty will hack themselves empire from rock and flesh.
Cometh the summer when blood is held in check by experience, filtering back through the whole, flooding the self with vitality, learning and advance, while still the limbs are strong and steady with trained maturity.
Cometh the autumn…
With the downward turn to season the strength began to ebb, for it had been diluted by surplus, charity, knowledge, and peace…
With excess came ease, and with ease came introspection and empathy, and from empathy came an end to wars, both external and internal… when worlds lay defeated beneath the jackboot, and the tribute they held up in supplication made their masters fat and slow the turning begins…
Those defected, those born unable to fend without the expenditure of those that cared, and in older days such souls would have been delimited to those members of family unable to bear the guilt of abandonment, would have been set to the menial, nor healthy woman nor effective man would have spared them a second scorn.
They should have laboured at in the midden, scurried for their betters, curried for the scraps and if offspring they had, survived, they too would have followed in such shadowed footsteps, or they would have become the fodder, the expendable, sent forth before the true might of the nations arms to soak the blows of the enemy before those of worth fell upon them with untapped vigour.
Knowledge flooded mind and time allowed the masters to dwell, and in living with such contemplation they foolishly forgot two eyes were eyes for all to see, and ears allowed each and every to hear the word…
They grew in false empathy for those they mistook for equal, for if they were educated would they not become so… but their logic was based on ignorance, an ignorance of the dissimilarity lying beneath the so familiar shells.
They taught the slaves like their hunting dogs and brave stallions, but the core was missing; the internal fuel allowing self-realisation to the targets and goals, to their place and responsibility, to the foundations, so unlike those faithful beasts, so ready in support, when the slaves acted out the same mechanical actions, were promoted to positions of responsibility, began to breed using currency rather than individual integrity to spread their progeny, they lacked the fibre to forsake the immediate, the covetous self-gratification, for the sake of the whole, the sake of tomorrows to come.
Slaves that would have been diminished as they were forced onto the tip of bayonet grew many, the civilised systems of judgement allowed them to face those that in older days would have sent them fleeing in terror of reprisal, they grew many as their natural predators had taken to book, hook and glass… the beginning had arrived…
The masters were at first too preoccupied to pay even glimmers of attention to the scurrying of their ants. They had fought their wars and forgotten the savour of blood, but the instinct to live had not left so they amused, fulfilled themselves, in the wanton, the debauched, the delusional…
They tasted upon flesh both of their own species and that of the slaves, who now might walk, speak and spend as their siblings. Their blood was watered with polluted taint and corrupted by the venom of their triumphant slaves, who forgot their place and began to convince their vast number that they were indeed the cerebral better.
They tasted of all the delicacies of the realm, creating new and more sophisticated ways to forget their wars and victories, fell beneath the spell of addictions most sweet and dreadful, until what remained of their wits were filled with pinning for unnamed, unremembered willing.
They were slowly, so very slowly, reconditioned by those very slaves that had once flinched at a glance, hidden at the sound of rolling footfall, until they saw what remained of their strength as an anathema – to be despised for making them stand, however tall and bright, out from the condemning herd of bleaters.
The end had arrived where the remnants of the masters, far removed from any recollection to their birthright, lived solitary hermit lives, tucked away on mount and crag, cave and mire; these wretched localities providing them with some illusory semblance of security from the witch-hunting herds of jealous carnivorous sheep.
They did little but distract themselves with idle amusements and tortured fears until the unconsciously well-understood axe fell to split their once-noble brow from enfeebled frame.
The winter was close now and all the once formidable did shiver at its imminence, but though their fall was now all but inevitable the world spared them not the slightest moments of regret, for she already had terminal plans for the ants now infesting her every magnificent realm.
The insects could not be allowed to flourish for long and she had well practiced implements with which to once more harvest their number. She had already begun to breed a new species; once more the young blood would scream its strength to the heavens, blessing the sun and hurling curses at winter’s rains.
Within a relatively short time they would break the bounds of their narrow lands and come storming into the now unprotected territories of the herd, slaughtering them for their flesh or enslaving the once again for their field labour.
Thus such was the way of things – as they were, are and ever shalt be…