"Inspiration and work ethic – they ride right next to each other." ~ Jack White
Out in a walk in the woods, over the hills behind the house, we saw the darndest thing:
You’ll have worked out what that is, of course. But it wasn’t til we got to the heath you can see in the background that we realised what we’d gleefully taken photos of. Oops. There are countless stories you could write off of this, but here’s the one that came to mind. And here’s the end of saladonions for the year. Thanks for reading, see you next year!
Ma and Da gave Harry to me when I swam twenty-five meters without floats, and how far is that you ask? Twenty five meters is the distance we have to walk one two three four five SIX seven eight times to where Harry is now when we want to visit him and talk to him through the little hole in his lid. I drag best friend and other-schooler Tobias Finch out the back door down the brick steps around the stone frog under the climbing vines and round the rosebush that I used to think held fairies though that is a baby thing to think and not the attitude of a SIX year old never mind one who is halfway to seven.
Here is the Seeking place. There is a knack (a knack is a trick for grownups) to Hide and Seek and that is to Know The Terrain. I know the Terrain like the back of my hand which we drew in Art and then filled in with paints and since mine is now on the fridge next to other important pieces of paper (e.g. Shopping List and Faulkes Rise Funeral Parlour Invoice) then I know my hand. I know every patch of the garden from the beech tree where we let Harry stay because he always used to watch for birds under there to the bench where Nana would sometimes let me sit when I was being good though now she isn’t here anymore I don’t really want to because the bench is too big for one.
I cover my eyes and say okay Tobias ready steady GO and count from one up to twenty, then I keep going to forty because Fair Play and also it is nice to know that I can. Forty is the number of steps from one end of Nana’s I mean our house to the other. When we first got there for living rather than just visiting it seemed too big, with loads of creaking rooms filled with rocking horses and old books and no TV. I sat down on the creaky bed that was supposed to be mine and started to cry like I’d seen Ma do on the telephone the week before when she found out the news. That was when Harry jumped up next to me, and bopped me on the head to say okay Catrin, it en’t the end of all, and slinked out the door flicking his ginger tail which has always meant come and look at this in our language.
Tobias may have his own boys’ knacks for Hide and Seek, because he is not behind the shed, he is not under the brick steps, he is not even inside the fairy bush. When Harry played Hide and Seek with me he always went somewhere new and scary, in attics and bedrooms that Da hadn’t yet cleaned out. Once he meowed from under the stairs and I had to go in. I never would have gone but cause it was only a game I sort of could, and that’s how I made Nana’s House into My House, and why I can show new best friend Tobias Finch around and let him hide. But he is clever in a way that makes me have these memories, and so I have to explore further.
It is five times twenty five (one hundred and twenty five) metres to get to the tangle of thorns in front of the Secret Garden. The wind is cold, but I don’t have my stockings on because I’m being a boy today, so getting through will be difficult, but I straight away know that is what Tobias realised too: that sacrifices must be made to win. Da had said girl, you have to know when to let go, and he had pushed the box containing Harry into the flames and I had screamed so loud it must have gone twenty-five twenty-fives, then we sat on the bench for a long time watching the rain sink into the ground, and I knew somehow that things had to go back to where they came from when it was time.
I have a cut in my leg like a tiny road but it’s worth it because beyond the thorns there beside the beech tree is the defeated Tobias Finch and he is pointing at-
“I di’ent mean to-”
White dust cakes the toe of his black trainer. It streaks in one line like snow on the snow, right from where he’s sitting, back to the tree, back into Harry’s upturned jar. There is a tiny white grain on the rim.
Tobias scrambles to put it back in, “I di’ent know, Catrin!”
But the winter wind blows through the garden, picking up ash and sprinkling it through all the trees, over the bench, out into the fields and maybe beyond forever, and when Tobias Finch sees my face he smiles, because I’m smiling that Harry will be happy with his hundred hiding places.
Efficient city designs, as long as gravity/mass isn’t an issue.
Real-time Buzzfeed success stats for the writers to obsess over. A data-based sword of Damocles.
(sword of Datacles)
Tickertape splurts out the dash onto my lap and Peterson, who is now such a showoff at doing this it’s no longer funny, runs his hands along the perfs to read our orders directly before punching a hole in the space marked ‘ACKNOWLEGE’, and feeding the tape back into the slot.
"You’re not going to tell me where it is, I assume."
“Relax,” he says. “990 ears we’ve got to, and you still don’t trust me?”
He flicks the car into drive.
“Home straight, right partner?” he says.
This district is actually in good shape; the mayor’s office and the PD sit within two blocks, as though the city’s powerful decided to make their stand at this beachhead. The few middle class families left cluster in the buildings between those two icons. Patronage will save us all. When Chuck E. Cheese put a school down next to our house, and that was a new idea back then, my mom couldn’t have been happier. I could learn good enough grammar for a job, and mom could spend my tokens I got for learning times tables on bicarb toothpaste and detergent. Georgie won’t have it so lucky, not unless Peterson and I make a thousand and one ears and I get promoted, off of Cleanup, into Administration and a comfortable life of paperwork: a model motherhood. A flyer for the Felton Eradication Partnership catches on the windscreen and we turn down an alley.
I check my Cleaner for jams and gas levels. Eleven more to go. For Georgie I can do eleven more. Hopefully they’re quick ones, injured ones where the tail’s been caught under a car and they’re both easy to corner, and sort of waiting to die. One of those proper Feral Felo’s was my first: a real wheezer, found tearing holes in a tenement basement by a bulbous landlady who was more interested in her land values than Public Health. The poor thing’s fur was hanging off, dripping like caustic tar, mottled with welts from where vigilante Felo hunters had beaten it. In that state, the holes in the basement looked more like the beginnings of an escape tunnel, like it was trying to escape with the lives it still had. That first day, I would have let it if the landlady weren’t standing in the doorway behind me, spraying spittle and anger down my neck.
Rogers had handed me the factory-new Cleaner, said, “just point and pull,” and a jet of orange gas had shot out, enveloping the room and the creature in a second. By the time we’d sucked the gas back in, it was dead. Rogers cut the ear off and bagged it for the lab, and we burnt the body in the street outside. In the flames, it didn’t look so monstrous. That was the first time Georgie welcomed me home, unbolting the doors to my special knock, and her little face said “how was your day?” like she’d seen people do on the TV. All I could do was run past her to the sink and scrub at the ash under my long nails, telling Georgie all about the funny characters in the precinct and the free Koffee machine so I wouldn’t have to think too hard.
I’m the one who cuts the ears now. Rogers works in Purchasing, got a pension plan. Well deserved: he keeps us all in scalpels and gas masks.
We pull up to an abandoned car dealership. A great inflatable green creature lies limp like it’s been slain. Sprawled across the dealership’s cars, the nylon figure died as it lived, in the name of CRAZY VALUES. UltraSave offers a 5% discount to members of the PD, so I’ve been trying to teach Georgie fractions. 990 down makes one percent to go. She’d beamed at me when she worked it out, like she’d woken up to snowfall.
Masked up, we creep to the glass doors. They were transparent at one time, now they’re scratched to an opaque haze by the creature.
“Full adult, according to the tape,” says Peterson. “A real spitter.”
Howarthy at the lab said they’re only truly dangerous when they’re in the breeding cycle; when they’ve got something to protect is when the acid glands start up, the claws extend and serrate, and the Felo brain becomes - weaponised, he calls it. I say they’re all weaponised. An unloaded gun is still a gun, and you wouldn’t find me putting it in my mouth for anyone. I keep my Cleaner trained on the entrance as Peterson slips a crowbar between the doors, and wrenches the dead mechanism open. Inside, it’s textbook nesting behaviour; all the shelves and plasterwork have been melted and manipulated to create a cocoon. They say it’s plastic that helped the creatures nest so well, and the compounds in the plastic that turned a domestic animal into a plague - but looking at those yellow eyes in the dark, hearing the guttural hiss, it’s hard to believe it was ever safe. It doesn’t leap up, it just curls tighter around its brood and waits.
“Gas it,” Peterson says, and I do.
Afterwards we torch what it, what she, was curled around. It’s too bad you don’t get any ears for taking care of their young, but they say prevention is better than cure. If only they didn’t look at you with those big eyes before they breathe in. Howarthy went private in the spring. He says the Felton Partnership pay better, and they do this thing called a “pension.”
Peterson agrees to drop me off at the corner, a routine in place since ear two hundred when I decided that walking the streets covered in ash wasn’t an image I could bear. We’ve called it a day early, which is against code, but we’re at nine-nine-one: nearly there. Nearly.
As I root through my jumpsuit for the apartment’s keycard, I wonder what kind of pen I shall have at my desk. I wonder what size pencil case I’ll get for Georgie. She won’t expect me back now. It’ll be nice.
There’s a flurry of activity as I push the door open; what sounds like Georgie hiding a diary, some love letters from a boy on the corner maybe. I peep around the door frame, ready to mock-catch her in the act. It’ll be a real mother-daughter bonding moment. We’ll look back on it and laugh.
And I see two pairs of eyes. The wide eyed fear of a little girl, and the yellow slits of-
“Georgie…” A mewling.
The Egyptians saw something in them. But you only build statues for two things; what you love, and what you fear. It laps at a dish of milk, as tiny as itself, and I don’t know which to feel.
“Can we keep it?”
— Philip Pullman. NaNo Pep Talk, 2009. Nineteen days to go, guys.
Joker - (STAGE 6)Desert labyrinth
Joker - (STAGE 9)SPECIAL STAGE
Joker - (STAGE 5)ISLAND YM2612
Four Tet - Kool FM (Champion Remix)
I need to mull it over…
At the mascot games
fun and sweat win every time.
Dignity is last.
Sorry for the slightly gestört presentation.
Here are some links to the projects...