Voice town welcome virus suddenly
Dusty complete plague flew trail
Fell party change attention crying
Walk move drama married experiment
Arthur baby showed deal stress
Rose legs aren luckily doctor
Resumed worn shaman spotted focused
Throwing cool arona giant secretive
Considering cave mangled pearl offer
Cousin Lisa came calling yesterday morning and she tells us there’s some in the Village have come down with sickness. Of course it would be Lisa being the bearer of such news, her face lit up when I tell her I have heard nothing. Cook, over hearing our conversation, which was private but Cook is always sticking her great nose in where it is not required, she’s hung braids of garlic at the front door. I caught her telling the children it was to keep away the evil spirits that brought death. Poor little Jimmy couldn’t sleep last night he was that afraid of the spirits bringing death in the night. He asked endless questions, how will the garlic stop them? Can the spirits get in through a window instead? He got his sister afraid also and the pair of them wouldn’t sleep then for crying in fear. I told Cook off roundly this morning for speaking to them thus.
The master came home filled with drink, crashing around like the damned drunken fool he is nowadays. He shouted at the children for their crying and shouted at me for not keeping them quiet. At least he did not raise his fists for he wanted to lie with me and I nearly retched with his stinking breath coming close and thank God for His mercies that the fool passed out before he could do the deed. I may have done harm if he’d tried for the brass bell was sitting there on the table (and it is a heavy thing) and I was seeing at it as he came close and there was a moment I could have picked it up and crashed it to his skull. May God forgive me.
He makes my skin crawl for I know what he has done that he thinks I don’t know. But all will come to light if not in this world then the next. I am more sure than ever I must get away and the children with me.
She’d felt like crying and had to pop in the little dog in the room to whine insistently and express her frustration.
Ailill had said she wasn’t at fault, but management, blahblah. She would have loved to strangle him at the moment; all her efforts, her successful pop-ins, and the gruesome timeless experience trapped in the Doctor’s crystal… That ought to be worth something. She was still dedicated to her work and her vision to help people around. Rather that than being hanging around with blissful dudes in an ethereal after-life.
“Where is the fun?” she’d asked to the vortex Ailill had made when he left. The vortex had answered in sparkles and she’d suddenly felt connected to her friends. She felt confident their story was now in their own capable hands, and she was free to explore new dimensions. There was potential in a tart wreck repackage. It finally brought an inner smile back to her thoughts before she jumped in: “To boldly go where no man has gone before!”
Suddenly May had a doubt. She had been so focused on her inner ramblings about men’s reputation, prostitution and what knot that… something felt awfully wrong with the baby. Not the shouting and crying, not even the smell from the dark ages. No something more subtle that kept her awake. She had to be sure.
She woke up and put on some a brown woollen gown on top of her silky night gown (her little pleasure). She had to be sure nobody would pay attention to her, but she couldn’t resist the soft touch of silk on her skin. Anyway, she went rushing in the baby’s room and unclothed it.
There it was, right in front of her. It was not baby Barron, it was a girl! She had been fooled by the clothes and the awful mess the baby had done in its pants. And for sure she had looked away because the smell, and she didn’t really liked babies.
“Oh Look who’s awake!” said the voice of June, thick with bad Maotai.
May felt the blood drain off her face. She dressed the baby back up to hide the missing appendage.
“Oh! Nice baby Barron,” she said trying to hide the quiver in her voice. “Look who’s back, your two favourite Aunties.” May turned to face the two au pairs with a forced smile on her face. The baby started to cry.
I wish now that I’d had the sense to open the letter in private. I can’t imagine why I didn’t think of that, but I didn’t. I tried not to make a drama out of it, I didn’t make an announcement or anything. One morning after breakfast I untied the string and opened the letter. It wasn’t any of the things I had expected. Clearly printed in large capital letters at the top was written DON’T TELL MATER.
Quickly I folded it over, dropping it discreetly into my lap under the table. “Any more nettle tea in the pot, Bert?” I asked and feigned a casual yawn.
“Well?” asked Mater.
“Well what?” I asked.
“I can read you like a book,” she said, to which I replied hotly, “Well then I won’t need to write one, will I.”
“What did the letter say?” she pressed on.
“What letter?” I said
“For crying out loud!” she said.
“Pass your cup then,” said Bert, giving me a piercing look. Over the top of Mater’s head he mouthed a word, with a questioning look. I’ve never been any good at lip reading, but it looked like he was trying to say Jasper.
“Who?” I mouthed back, but Mater saw me, so I pretended I had a bit of nettle stuck between my teeth.
I told Prune how I couldn’t follow these internet link thingies everyone’s so fond of. Didn’t grow up with computers I guess; it was all letters in my day. I said to Prune, “Will you just tell me who Jasper is, for crying out loud?” Cheeky begger told me not to worry about it and would I like a cuppa? Then she asked how old am I! “I was born in 1935,” I told her. “You do the bleedin’ maths!”materParticipant
“For crying out loud.”
“It’s a long story,” she warned and Lucinda smiled encouragingly.
“My father’s brother, Uncle Fergus, fell out with my father many years ago. I don’t know what it was about.”
Maeve took a sip of her licorice and peppermint tea.
“I just know that one day, Uncle Fergus turned up on his Harley Davidson and there was a huge fight. Father was shouting and Mother was crying. And Father shouted ‘Don’t ever darken our doors again!’
She shuddered. “It was awful.”
“I am all ears,” said Lucinda.
“They aren’t that bad,” said Maeve looking at her thoughtfully. “And your hair covers them nicely.”
Her hand flew to her mouth as she realised what Lucinda meant.
“Oh gosh, I am sorry, I see what you mean … Well anyway, I didn’t see Uncle Fergus for many years and I was sorry about that because he would always bring me a gift from his overseas travels — he went to the most exotic places — and then one day he turned up at my apartment out of the blue. He was most peculiar, looking over his shoulder the whole time and he even made me come out on the street to talk ‘in case there were bugs’.”
“Bugs? Oh, like the things spies use. Wow,” said Lucinda. “Did he have mental health problems or something?”
“I wondered that at the time. I mean Uncle Fergus was always endearingly loony. But this time he was just … just scared. And there WAS someone following him. I saw her. And she was clearly a spy. She was wearing a black wig and and fishnet tights and thought we couldn’t see her hiding behind a lamp post.”
Maeve rolled her eyes.
“I mean, how cliche can you get. Anyway, Uncle Fergus gave me a big hug, like an Uncle would, and whispered an address in my ear where I would find a satchel and he said that inside I would find 12 keys and 12 addresses. He knew I made dolls and he said it would be a perfect way to send the keys to the addresses, inside a doll. ‘Important people are depending on you’ he said.”
“So I did it. I sent the last one a month ago to an address in Australia. An Inn somewhere in the wops.”
Finnley presented the plate of freshly baked round cookies to Liz who took one and watched it warily, not sure how to feel about them. Certainly the herbal chocolate made her mouth watery like the Niagara falls, but…
“Why on earth did you give them those baby faces?” she asked.
“I’ve been taking pottery class recently and thought I could do extra practice at home. I have a project you know.”
“Have you heard of nailed it?” Liz asked, biting in into the cheek of one chubby little cookie with melting sugary blue eyes. It distorted its laughing mouth in such a way that it looked like it was crying now. She felt a bit guilty about it, but the chocolate taste exploding in her own mouth made her forget all about it and she swallowed the other cheek.
“Look! they can move!” said Roberto. He was pressing on the sides of one particularly creepy little face, making its mouth talk. “Give me milk!”
“Stop playing with food, Roberto,” said Finnley. The hispanic gardener looked at her with puppy eyes and swallowed whole the baby cookie. “Showy,” he said his mouth full.
“Where is Godfrey, now,” she muttered, “Everyone needs to taste one.
Fox woke up in the mud. He felt thirsty and confused, not knowing where he was or when it was, except that it was night time. He looked around him and despite the darkness he was seeing clearly. He was in a small glade, surrounded by tall trees. The grass had a strange greenish glow and seemed to float around like tentacles trying to seize whatever passed near.
An emotion rose from his heart and jumped outside of him before he could feel it. It had a colour. it was blue and had the shape of a drop of jelly, darker in its center. Fox looked, fascinated, as it taunted the blades of grass. His heart jumped as a longer tentacle almost caught the drop, that’s when he knew he had to take it back. He couldn’t let it out into the world like that.
Not with the others so close.
Fox felt puzzled at the thought. What others was it referring to? He heard someone crying, it sounded like someone miserable. He felt something fall on his hands, droplets of water, and realised he was the one crying. He stood up and was surprised by the height. He found a little pond and looked at his reflection. The lonesome face of a troll was looking back at him.
Am I dreaming?
The darkness and gales of wind aroused feelings which he had rather not face. He curled below the bed, unaware of the other’s animated discussions, afraid to be terrified.
You know this is how it starts… the voice was familiar, warm and gentle, grandfatherly. But he didn’t want to hear it. He had too much pain, and the voice was driving him away from the pain.
Listen to me, just listen. You don’t need to answer, just open yourself a little. Let me help you with the pain, and the fear. You’ve had it inside for so long, too long.
Alright, I will go for now. You just need to call if you need me. But you need to hear that.
No! I don’t want! You can’t force me!
Just remember that is how every cycle ends: death for your love, then death for all of you, before new painful, forgetful lives begin again for all of you. If you don’t break this cycle, it will end, and start again. You know it’s time for you to break that cycle of revenge, and manipulation. They have greatly suffered too for their mistakes. Let them see you as you are, and learn to forgive them.
“You can go to bed,” said Gorrash. “I’ve been used to spend the whole night alone with only a couple of shrews, insects and crying bats when I lived in that garden.” He sounded more bitter than he had wanted, so he smiled. But even his smile was forced.
“Yes, you’re right! I won’t be of such good company at that late hour,” said Margoritt. “I’m afraid your friend also need some sleep for now. He’s exhausted.” They looked at Fox who was sleeping soundly in a side bed. Tak was looking after him with curiosity in his eyes. As if he had recognised the touch of Gibbon in him. Margoritt had helped remove the blizzard curse before she let Fox entered the house. It was a mild curse which he had certainly caught as they passed the melancholic spring the day before. Gorrash wasn’t affected because he was in his stone slumber at that time.
“I don’t know why, but lately visitors seem to always need some sleep,” added Margoritt. “Anyway, I know an owl of good company that often fly around the house at that hour. If you want to wander around, feel free to do so. I’ll let the door ajar so you can come and go as you please,” she said as she stood up. “Tak. Time to go to bed too.”
The young boy looked at her, then at Fox.
“He’ll be there in the morning, don’t worry.”
That seemed to be enough for Tak who went to his own bed. Margoritt went to her bedroom and the house soon became silent. Gorrash decided to have a conversation with the owl and left the house silently.
As the crow flies, Glenville is about 100 miles from the Forest of Enchantment.
“What a pretty town!” tourists to the area would exclaim, delighted by the tree lined streets and quaint houses with thatched roofs and brightly painted exteriors. They didn’t see the dark underside which rippled just below the surface of this exuberant facade. If they stayed for more than a few days, sure enough, they would begin to sense it. “Time to move on, perhaps,” they would say uneasily, although unsure exactly why and often putting it down to their own restless natures.
Glynis Cotfield was born in one of these houses. Number 4 Leafy Lane. Number 4 had a thatched roof and was painted a vibrant shade of yellow. There were purple trims around each window and a flower box either side of the front door containing orange flowers which each spring escaped their confines to sprawl triumphantly down the side of the house.
Her father, Kevin Cotfield, was a bespectacled clerk who worked in an office at the local council. He was responsible for building permits and making sure people adhered to very strict requirements to ‘protect the special and unique character of Glenville’.
And her mother, Annelie … well, her mother was a witch. Annelie Cotfield came from a long line of witches and she had 3 siblings, all of whom practised the magical arts in some form or other.
Uncle Brettwick could make fire leap from any part of his body. Once, he told Glynis she could put her hand in the fire and it wouldn’t hurt her. Tentatively she did. To her amazement the fire was cold; it felt like the air on a frosty winter’s day. She knew he could also make the fire burning hot, if he wanted. Some people were a little scared of her Uncle Brettwick and there were occasions—such as when Lucy Dickwit told everyone at school they should spit at Glynis because she came from an ‘evil witch family’—when she used this to her advantage.
“Yes, and I will tell my Uncle to come and burn down your stinking house if you don’t shut your stinking stupid mouth!” she said menacingly, sticking her face close to Lucy’s face. “And give me your bracelet,” she added as an after thought. It had worked. She got her peace and she got the bracelet.
Aunt Janelle could move objects with her mind. She set up a stall in the local market and visitors to the town would give her money to watch their trinkets move. “Lay it on the table”, she would command them imperiously. “See, I place my hands very far from your coin. I do not touch it. See?” Glynis would giggle because Aunt Janelle put on a funny accent and wore lots of garish makeup and would glare ferociously at the tourists.
But Aunt Bethell was Glynis’s favourite—she made magic with stories. “I am the Mistress of Illusions,” she would tell people proudly. When Glynis was little, Aunt Bethell would create whole stories for her entertainment. When Glynis tried to touch the story characters, her hand would go right through them. And Aunt Bethell didn’t even have to be in the same room as Glynis to send her a special magical story. Glynis adored Aunt Bethell.
Her mother, Annelie, called herself a healer but others called her a witch. She concocted powerful healing potions using recipes from her ’Big Book of Spells’, a book which had belonged to Annelie’s mother and her mother before her. On the first page of the book, in spindly gold writing it said: ‘May we never forget our LOVE of Nature and the Wisdom of Ages’. When Glynis asked what the ‘Wisdom of Ages’ meant, her mother said it was a special knowing that came from the heart and from our connection with All That Is. She said Glynis had the Wisdom of Ages too and then she would ask Glynis to gather herbs from the garden for her potions. Glynis didn’t think she had any particular wisdom and wondered if it was a ploy on her mother’s part to get free labour. She obeyed grudgingly but drew the line at learning any spells. And on this matter her father sided with her. “Don’t fill her mind with all that hocus pocus stuff,” he would say grumpily.
Despite this, the house was never empty; people came from all over to buy her mother’s potions and often to have their fortunes told as well. Mostly while her father was at work.
Glynis’s best friend when she was growing up was Tomas. Tomas lived at number 6 Leafy Lane. They both knew instinctively they shared a special bond because Tomas’s father also practised magic. He was a sorcerer. Glynis was a bit scared of Tomas’s Dad who had a funny crooked walk and never spoke directly to her. “Tell your friend you must come home now, Tomas,” he would call over the fence.
Being the son of a sorcerer, Tomas would also be a sorcerer. “It is my birthright,” he told her seriously one day. Glynis was impressed and wondered if Tomas had the Wisdom of Ages but it seemed a bit rude to ask in case he didn’t.
When Tomas was 13, his father took him away to begin his sorcery apprenticeship. Sometimes he would be gone for days at a time. Tomas never talked about where he went or what he did there. But he started to change: always a quiet boy, he became increasingly dark and brooding.
Glynis felt uneasy around this new Tomas and his growing possessiveness towards her. When Paul Ackleworthy asked her to the School Ball, Tomas was so jealous he broke Paul’s leg. Of course, nobody other than Glynis guessed it was Tomas who caused Paul’s bike to suddenly wobble so that he fell in the way of a passing car.
“You could have fucking killed him!” she had shouted at Tomas.
Tomas just shrugged. This was when she started to be afraid of him.
One day he told her he was going for his final initiation into the ‘Sorcerer Fraternity’.
“I have to go away for quite some time; I am not sure how long, but I want you to wait for me, Glynis.”
“Wait for you?”
He looked at her intensely. “It is destined for us to be together and you must promise you will be here for me when I get back.”
Glynis searched for her childhood friend in his eyes but she could no longer find him there.
“Look, Tomas, I don’t know,” she stuttered, wary of him, unwilling to tell the truth. “Maybe we shouldn’t make any arrangements like this … after all you might be away for a long time. You might meet someone else even …. some hot Sorceress,” she added, trying not to sound hopeful.
Suddenly, Glynis found herself flying. A gust of wind from nowhere lifted her from her feet, spun her round and then held her suspended, as though trying to decide what to do next, before letting her go. She landed heavily at Tomas’s feet.
“Ow!” she said angrily.
“Okay! I promise!” she said.
That evening there was a gathering of Uncle Brettwick and the Aunts. There was much heated discussion which would cease abruptly when Glynis or her father entered the room. “Alright, dearie?” one of the Aunts would say, smiling way too brightly. And over the following days and weeks there was a flurry of magical activity at 4 Leafy Lane, all accompanied by fervent and hushed whisperings.
Glynis knew they were trying to help her, and was grateful, but after the initial fear, she became defiant. “Who the hell did he think he was, anyway?” She left Glenville to study architecture at the prestigious College of Mugglebury. It was there she met Conway, who worked in the cafe where she stopped for coffee each morning on her way to class. They fell in love and moved in together, deciding that as soon as Glynis had graduated they would marry. It had been 4 years since she had last seen Tomas and he was now no more than a faint anxious fluttering in her chest.
It was a Friday when she got the news that Conway had driven in the path of an oncoming truck and was killed instantly. She knew it was Friday because she was in the supermarket buying supplies for a party that weekend to celebrate her exams being over when she got the call. And it was the same day Tomas turned up at her house.
And it was then she knew.
“You murderer!” she had screamed through her tears. “Kill me too, if you want to. I will never love you.”
“You’ve broken my heart,” he said. “And for that you must pay the price. If I can’t have you then I will make sure no-one else wants you either.”
“You don’t have a heart to break,” she whispered.
Dragon face,” Tomas hissed as he left.
Glynis returned to Glenville just long enough to tell her family she was leaving again. “No, she didn’t know where,” she said, her heart feeling like stone. Her mother and her Aunts cried and begged her to reconsider. Her Uncle smouldered in silent fury and let off little puffs of smoke from his ears which he could not contain. Her father was simply bewildered and wanted to know what was all the fuss about and for crying out loud why was she wearing a burka?
The day she left her mother gave her the ‘Book of Spells”. Glynis knew how precious this book was to her mother but could only think how heavy it would be to lug around with her on her journey.
“Remember, Glynis,” her mother said as she hugged Glynis tightly to her, “the sorcerers have powerful magic but it is a mere drop in the ocean in comparison to the magic of All That Is. You have that great power within you and no sorcerer can take take that from you. You have the power to transform this into something beautiful.”
Glynis could barely breathe when she thought about leaving the home she had created for herself here in the enchanted garden. Yes, for sure she was lonely and the months … or perhaps it was years … had done little to ease that pain; the birds and other creatures she interacted with on a daily basis were companionship but it was not the same as having friends of her own kind.
But she had made a life for herself and it was bearable. At times, for example when she was engrossed in learning a new spell, she felt something akin to happiness.
And she always held the hope that one day she would stumble upon the spell.
And the alternative … to leave here … she felt ill. But she could not deny the restless pull she was feeling even though she did not as yet understand it.
Glynis took a deep breath and pulled away the cover she had placed over the mirror in her room; it was actually an old drape she had found in the main house and made from the most beautiful blue velvet covered with little embossed hearts.
It was a long time since she had looked at herself in a mirror.
She took a deep breath and willed herself to see.
Her hair was luscious. It reached to her waist now and was a deep auburn red colour. The rosemary and other herbs she used when washing her hair meant it was shiny and thick. She was tall and slender and the red gown with little pearl buttons down the bodice—she had discovered a whole wardrobe of wonderful dresses in the house—fitted her beautifully.
Glynis resolutely forced her eyes to focus on her face though they seemed intent on disobeying her. She shook her head in an effort to clear the blurriness and realised she was crying.
That’s what the Sorceror had called her. And certainly, it was an apt description. For Glynis’ face was covered in ugly green scales and a small horn protruded about an inch out on either side of her forehead.
She’d broken his heart, he had said. And for that she must pay the price.
As a statue, life was never easy. When day breaked you were condemned to stand in the same position, preferably the same as the one you have been made, cramped in a body as hard as the rock you came from. The sunlight had that regretable effect of stopping your movements. But as night came light was losing its strength and nothing could stop you anymore. At least that’s what Gorrash believed.
He could almost move his fingers now. He tried with all his might to lift his hand and scratch his nose where a bird had left something to dry, but there was still too much light. If he tried harder, he could break. So he waited patiently.
Gorrash had had plenty of time to think and rething of his theory of light since his placement in the garden. The only thing is that he never had anyone to share it with. There was no other statue in the garden, and the animals were not very communicative at night time. Only a couple of shrews and night mothes (the later soon eaten by the erratic crying bats)
But nonetheless Gorrash was always happy when darkness liberated him and he was free to go. He could feel his toes moving now, and his ankles ready to let go. He loved when he could feel his round belly slowly drop toward the ground. He chuckled, only to check the flexibility of his throat. He had a rather cavernous voice. Very suiting for a garden dwarf.
When the night was fully there, Gorrash shook his body and jumped ahead to the pond where he washed his nose from the bird dropping. He looked at the reflection in the water and smiled, the Moon was also there, fully round. Its light felt like a soft breeze compared to that of the Sun.
The dwarf began to walk around in the garden, looking for the rodents. Chasing them would help him get rid off the last stiffness in his stone heart. He stopped when he saw something near the window of the house.
“Bloody ridiculous if you ask me, asking for trouble,” replied the young trainee janitor, Godwin. “I could have told her, it’ll come to no good tampering with mother natures emotions,” he added, wiping a tear from his eye.
“Steady on, what are you crying for? Pull yourself together, boy, and go and clean them toilets.”
Godwin gave Flanigan a withering look, and stomped off towards the lavatories, sniffing loudly.prUneParticipant
I dreamt about Mater last night. She was her old self, brilliant and snappily dangerous.
It’s been the first dream I’ve been able to remember in weeks. I don’t know why I expected the great beyond space to be less… claustrophobic, but there’s no escaping the confinement.
I was telling her I was missing home, the air, the smell of eucalyptus trees, the rains before winter. I think I even became sentimental about my sisters. Hardly a news from them these days, but how could I blame them. They are always busy on some down-to-earth cause, and I know better than to criticize those on the ground actually doing something to change the wrongdoings of the world.
When I started to cry uncontrollably, Mater told me I was a baby, and that I should man up. Typical Mater. Dido would have called her names under her breath, I think that was her way to express her love for her. People are silly.
In the dream, I stopped crying but the tears had swollen into a river, and I was starting to drown, things became hellish and I could barely breathe, but somehow I could still feel Mater’s presence, like a beacon. I made it out of the torrents onto an island. There were many refugees. The doctors had the strangest blue eyes, and Mater’s voice told me to trust the process but not the doctors. Then I felt all the blue eyes looking at me, and I woke up in a sweat.
Hans is still deep in a peaceful sleep, so I went out of the bedroom to get some water and check on the piggy and her litter. They are always sleeping blissfully too. It’s a wonder when you think of it, that I thought it was just getting fatter when it actually was pregnant from before we left Earth. Now they’re mostly an open secret, as everyone finds them so cute.
The most difficult was to conceal them from the reality TV show’s cameras. The hysterical fans are always scrutinizing every move we all make, and keeping some privacy is tricky, but apart from the external prying eyes, pretty much everyone here know about them and it’s like a game of hide and seek. I like how it fuels the speculations and paranoia of the Mars bunker debunking association, who think we’re all part of a mass cover-up. I’ve spent some time on their website when I couldn’t sleep the first weeks when we arrived. I would probably have never known about it, but I just searched for myself on the web, and found this thread about the new conspirators. I had to laugh at the beginning, but they raise reasonable doubts in the middle of their rants. By now, I know better than to raise the topic, especially after all the religious nonsense. Seems there are some people that get really annoyed when I asked naive questions about it, like Maya.
Like I said. People are silly.
“It’s not hard, you know” said Finnley. “I don’t know why it bothers you so. You simply knock on her door and politely explain that you are doing her a favour by removing the cat from her patio before it dies and starts to smell. What’s the worst thing that can happen?”
“She will glare at me with her hateful beady eyes, and purse her lips and snort a bit,” replied Liz with a sigh.
It was Finnley’s turn to snort. “Why you rebel you. You fearless revolutionary, afraid of a sour old woman.”
“It’s pretending to be nice that’s the hard part! Smiling and pleading to be allowed into her patio, while all the time I’d like to knock her down and say You decrepit old boot, haven’t you heard it crying for 3 days? And then there’s the worry that i won’t be able to catch it anyway, and the battle trying to change my energy…”
“Would you like me to come with you, dear? Moral support?” asked Finnley in a moment of kindness.
Liz beamed gratefully at her friend. “Well if you’re going there anyway, there’s no need for me to come with you, is there?”
The blast ricocheted throughout the town. It set the dogs barking, chickens squalking and babies crying. Folks dropped what they were doing, in many cases literally: dishes and beer bottles crashed to the floor, as the towns people ran outside to find out what was going on, or ran for cover.
Bert, sitting on top of Plater’s Rock watching it all, slapped his thigh, whooped and then laughed until the tears ran like rain season creeks through the desert dry creases of his face. The unaccustomed unbridled mirth provoked a coughing fit: Bert balled up the phlegm that rose in his throat and catapulted gobs of it towards the creek below.
Well, that’s finally got that off my chest, he said to himself with another choking cackle.
The creek itself after the explosion was obscured from his sight by a thick pall of smoke, but the sputum projectiles were aimed with deadly accuracy at the bridge ~ or where the bridge had been.
There was no bridge there now though, not that anyone would have noticed its disappearance if he hadn’t made sure they did. Years he’d spent making that bridge, a bit at a time, with what he could find or chance upon, working on it as often as he had time for. He’d found what he could only describe as a “special place” over on the other side of the creek, it spoke to him and seemed to call on him to bring others. The only way to it from the town was to swim the creek, or drive almost 200 miles by road, via the closest bridge at Ninetown. So Bert decided to build a bridge across, so people could go back and forth with ease and enjoy the place on the other side.
Bert had finished the bridge three years ago during the dry season, and invited everyone over upon it’s completion. Four people turned up, even though he’d set up a picnic and brought coolboxes of champagne and beer, and a big bag of weed. Less than a dozen people used Bert’s bridge in the first two years, and he was the only one to cross over since the last dry season.
Finding the dynamite in the old mine shaft a few months back had given him the idea. An impulse had seized him after the unexpected encounter with Elizabeth. He blew the bridge up. It was over. He could breathe again.
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