After the marmalade
What happened was dire. Was shredded skin, was peeled fingernails
frantically scraped down to the quick, was broken teeth and a shattered
The day started well, however, with marmalade and sunshine. How it
ended was dire. Do I dare go on?
After the marmalade, the sunshine shone no more. Clouds twittered
behind bare trees. Birds, all of them, flew on.
Mud, oozing under greasy grass, sucked shoes from feet and held them
fast. No chance to run when the moment dictated.
All morning the pall of smoke, thick as a giant's braid, twisted into
the dancing clouds. Twirling merrily had it not been a warning.
We knew, but we did not know. Just as we all know that something dire
is about to happen. Sometime.
Lunch was potatoes, salad and slices of cold red and brown meat fanned
on a grey plate. A knife here. There a fork.
We trembled as we contemplated our colourless repast.
Nudging and forcing bonhomie, sitting around that round table round
which we had placed our round-backed chairs.
Grey plate. Trembling fingers. And, later, a shattered foot.
The three of us. The seven of us. We spoke and some were silent.
Then the monster roared down the hillside, clanking breastplate,
grinding jaw, flailing arm tight in metal bands.
Blood flew in sheets and spurts, on the grass in trails, in the air in
arcs. Eardrum-piercing throbbing. Thunderous stamping.
What can you do but cower?
The grey plate rattled off its meat. Potatoes popped one by one. Salad
slithered from the table, that splintered and pierced our skin as we
shrunk beneath it.
Marigold was first, followed by Carey and Shallot. All three squeezed
into the reptilian clutch.
Gregory, fighting off the coils of the thin-as-thread tail, gulped into
Running under the swaying boughs, bent low with the pain of fear, I
flew headlong into the tight woollen flank of a tall sheep, swung away
and panted through a lattice of raspberry canes.
No, no! The whine increased in strength, the thunderbolts closed
I opened my mouth but it was already open.
I breathed in and the air cut my lungs.
I picked up my foot to step upwards and it was...and it was...and it
was...and it was hanging.
Shattered bone. Splintered bone. Scourged bone.
And mashed flesh.
The sheep landed, flung from a height that cut off the sun. Diseased.
Worms waving from the eyes.
Sheep bone, bared bone. My bone, pinned to the mud by a giant putrefied
"Marigold! Gregory! Carey! Shallot! Zamir! Champanile! Sulley!
Some answered. Reedy cries from the distance. Pale voices.
No-use voices. "Help me!!"
Through the raspberry canes the long metal-clad digit probed my
The eye, a milky eye, rotating. A vast eye that clicked with every
movement. A digit with a nail of transparent light.
The nail ripped its way up my clothes and flapped them off.
And the whine cut into my head.
And the thudding moved my feet.
Stuck! Stuck under a massive sheep!
Scrabbling to get free.
Marigold, where are you? Gregory? The silent ones?
If this is death then I must die. Under a huge woolly mass that presses
"Help me now!"
The eye clicks, clicks, rolls and clicks. What does it see, this thing
of immense height?
It sees me, a squirming worm. Marigold, perhaps, in her private