He walked, alone. The city opened to him.
The lake was poison. It was a disease, its infectious purples and blacks seeping from the creek and onto the ground, flowing through the grass, withering it away and replacing its luscious greens and yellows with browns and oranges. The sun didn’t help. It was red, burning everything and only revealing the lumps of garbage that loftily drifted on the lake. That lake was horrible.
Tom was stranded by the roadside thirty miles north of Ti Tree. His supplies, which had been meager to begin with, had diminished to a few tins of bully beef and half a canteen of water. He had felt no misgivings a week ago when his ride, a Land Rover from a local cattle station, melted into the desert, but he knew he would soon have to decide whether to continue on to Darwin, still three hundred miles north, or return to Ti Tree for as long as it would take him to replenish his supplies and then hitch another ride north. The thought gave him the first sense of anticipation he had felt in days, a small thrill of novelty that persisted even though he knew the option was false. It had been two days since he had seen a vehicle traveling in either direction.
Ensign Ronda-12 tapped the door to the ready room as she entered. Her long, slender legs devoured the space to Captain Blade’s desk in five strides. The captain arched his eyebrows. “Sir,” she said, “you have to exempt Lt. Hickok from the Jalatis Large landing team.” More arching. She wondered if a human’s eyebrows could ever touch their hairline. “It’s too dangerous.”
The fork in the display case glinted under the lights. It rested on a shiny black plastic podium, and impaled on its tines was what appeared to be a human finger. He was pleased with the finger and gave a grunt of satisfaction. It was his own finger, pinkie of the left hand, plaster cast thereof. Title of work: give/take/eat. Listed in the catalogue as item no. 17, price £6,000.
On the surface this may seem an odd story for publishing on Christmas Day. However, here in LS Towers we like to think that we are a thoughtful bunch and you’ve already had a couple of ‘almost’ traditional Christmas Tales.
This piece blew our minds when it arrived – We have always known what makes ‘good’ writing is not comma placement and clever verbiage, what makes a good piece in our opinion, is passion. This writing is so powerful we wanted to share it, as it shows that the degree of passion in a piece can override grammatical and constructional anomalies, it can be cathartic and it can be moving and leave you feeling as if you have been slapped in the face by it.
So, why this – now?
Well, we agreed that apart from anything else this piece of writing reminds us all that at this time of the year when we are all pressured into ‘jolliness’ there are many for whom it’s a struggle to simply exist from day to day. The bloke at the table next to you, wearing a Santa hat and reading Christmas cracker jokes could be falling apart inside. Maybe not the usual Christmas message but if it makes us just a bit kinder to each other – we reckon this story is probably a gift to us all.
You can touch Shax, but only by “appointment.” First you have to establish eye contact with the old tom and at the same time make a “scratchies” gesture with your index finger. If you correctly spy permission in his imperious gold eyes, then, and only then, may you apply a “scratchie” to the surprisingly short distance between his ears. Any failure to comply with this procedure will result in a personal math system based on the number nine.