I remember the doorbells of neighbours, the birdcage, and the tiger followed by pitter-patters, pulsating sharply close from the source, dropped stringy, bellowing airs, lowering, dispersed far from the source.
Red and yellow ribbons parades crowd to crowd, palettes of umbrellas blot the assembly ceilings with helium balloons
Cyan, cadmium yellow, red-ish, pink-ish trim deck sheets lined the walls around the auditorium. Simple portrait windows painstaking, poorly painted frames lets peek through to bricked streets stained with colourful chalks and pastes and oil-based paints.
Pearlescent tags poured through the curtains on stage, teasing in and out. Porcelain hands choked the Great Snake of Time as it arose from its paperbox slumber. Black sticks protruded behind the paper dolls. Children laughed, children cried, and parents felt the peace and serenity found in the innocence of children and smothered them as they should.
Stained wooden stage glistened faintly by candlelight, we let the flags fly, the ribbons flutter, and the lagoon lapped, if you look past the treeline, youth blossomed as young men pummeled and rushed another into the buoyancy of the dock, the pig skinned buoys keeping the pallets afloat.
Morning sun soft on skin, a couple minutes before noon, begotten young men close their eyes, standing, bathing, sucking in the pinkish-yellow shades beneath closed eyelids.
Kayaks, applied deeply against the coming of wakes, soared then depressed into calmness. Sands shifted ashore as children sprung from the waters surface and into the embrace of their mother stretching a towel into that same peace and serenity we talked of.
Dirtpaths littered with balloons and ribbons, and the people loitered as they looked on as we looked on.
The makeshift villas, the loghouse, the trenches raised into slums and the platforms which fended the rocks from tumbling over the skirts of the land from the otherworldly appearing treeline of nearby hills, slated, marbled, aggregated and agitated by pestering fauna and the bracken.
Without notice, Cathro pivoted the captured branch wobbling my hammock, bringing me to wake. Frustration flurried out as words incomprehensible, I called him the son of a horse, and that Cathros mother was the townbike, as he continuously kicked the hammock into a swing and I fell face first into the grass. The cold spring-feel, cool mists, the smell of cut grass made me sneeze painfully from the throat.
Bum, Cathro called me. Join in on the celebration, a little at least, live a bit, find love … Cathro had his hands on his hips and his eyes wide with a childish glare. He had this gleaming aura emitting from the radiance of the afternoon sun. My dampened hearing slowly took in all the noise that were already present, desiccated whirrs fell when childrens laughter enveloped, I surveyed what was around me with drooping eyes.
Cathro lobbed the noose upon the same branch, pulled to tighten, nodded and left it as it was. I had a cats grin watching him be pleased with himself, then he flung the exposed tail of his muslin cloth around his neck and chucked me mine, Im still reeling from the blow, muslin cloth smelled of that crude oil applied abundantly upon fabricated pulleys. Cathro clasped my hand and twisted me up, both of our cloths below our chins, flowing colours bled into the shape of our tartan jackets.
I took the 95 route, I butted, Im late because of that, so let me sleep. We trudged on the dirtpath which skirted around the courtyard. Fences, old, new, marked the distance from here to there, backroads into the perimeter of the homestead.
Smug face replied, thats the 7pm tram, thats really late, in fact thats the busiest, Cathro drove his knuckle into my shoulder, parroting what Sycrose excused me for earlier, resulting into Taner being furious for me being late, flinging the latch to free the gate swinging it in, it slammed against the fencepost with a shimmer and a light thud.
And was he? I had my eyes leer from every word hanging.
He hates the routine which rhymes with you.
Him shouting my name in the morning doesn really help. Especially with how the gumboots parade and drum throughout the dorm corridors. The steel double doors just clumped the air made when shut.
Its better than him calling you out in front of the foreman, I suppose.
Right. The foreman, too, hates my guts.
Your fault for not driving the fencewires into the holes proper last week.
Fencewires could have been an easier job if Taner and Mate grooved the fenceposts like I asked them to. Cows scratched their hides against the posts, fencewires were all wavy when I got there. People need reminding more than instruction, and thats a teachers job, not mine.
Cathro rose to his feet, brushed off the mangles of tallgrass and leaves from his bottom down to the cuffs of his ankles. Looked straight at me with a smirk, then shifted his head twice gesturing to continue, I followed suit, not caring for my appearance, jeans and back of my longshirt were damp, so was Cathros.
The afternoon sun was hidden by clouds, and the estates range were bobbing hills and deep crests, the flatlands where crops were planted could be seen just past small crest jumps, latch behind us clanked with a shiny, tinny sound.
Mountains far from the open field were flat paper, their looming shadows jutted over a single winding road.
Our homestead could be seen waiting with a single eye open, the head foremans offices light were dim but distinguishably yellower than the rest of the dorms.
Winter break in the middle of July was going to be a time I would never want to forget, returning from the fields, children run from one post to another, as mothers placed empty shopping baskets end to end, opposite another.
A boy took hold of the oversized hackysack and tossed it into the basket, he stood tall, his shadow upon it. That boy couldve been tackled, another boy of his height had the means to do so, to tackle, its part of the game. This would alert the guards though, the thirteen hours of required work had not finished, and they were reminded of it: the red and yellow tents fluttering canvas bodies failed to hide the weakened state of men working overtime producing tools.
Did you expect a modest life?
This was the Honeycomb Hive after all. A place of work. A place of stay.
Here many refugees come, and none want to leave. Ive been told.
Porcelain skin made is better than actual skin taken. Ive been told.
What the ** are you staring for? Go back to your **ing place! Ive been told.
Though it pains me to trade sights with the locals, I had business with Cathro back in the estate from across the checkpoint, the captain of the guards in their blocked eyes let Cathro and me in.
Treading upon dirtpath, it circled the skirts of this Honeycomb Hive, tailored and kept by Ned Beaurs family. This was his answer to the influx of refugees from the Darkwoods, from a stretch of tarnished lands incapable of producing vegetation, a supposed ecosystem for wildlife, and was practically dead land.
I couldn blame that fancy stubble-ridden bastard and his wavy head. His answer to the boundary wars across the main continent was practiced by many lords. This was his domain. This was to appeal to the orders he despised.
Id rather try and wrap fence right for the hundredth time and get scolded by the foreman than instigate whatever the ** Cathro told me this was.
Why are you even drunk? Its not even close to supper. Taner and Mate were loitering in the sheep pen while the herd sullied the newly patched grasses with their iron teeth.
Im home Tinsley. I don give a **. Proceeded to hasten my leave and slam the gate against my stomach.
Cathro and I hopped over many fences and trespassed many workers.
I flaunted my uniform, as I hopped on over, our trespassing had Cathro harrass the guards until they parted their files away from the small window the cook called his ake away. This side was for the guards, the opposite is for the bees. I chuckled to myself that this might be the ass.
I knocked on the counter, called the cook by his name, Morand! Morand! You son-of-a-bitch know what I miss about your cooking? The smell of coconut, garlic, ginger, onions and soy sauce in the morning, then the smell of vinegar replacing that soy sauce!
Morand popped his head around back, he almost had a tray fall on him, caught its rim, replacing it.
Fucking hell. Tinsley! He propped himself against a tile wall in the kitchen, juuuuuust in sight.
I didn think Id see you again after that forestry job in Owaerwa.
That job? That job was a dream, I couldn **ing sleep because of those harnesses and hooks and weirdly fabricated rope extensions. I don remember seeing you rostered for cooking, but since you
e here, I need you to tell Sycrose on the rotary, to tell Taner and Mate, that they
e day-drinking is making them loiter in the sheep pen.
e asking me? Sycrose, eh, have you seen how bloodshot his eyes are, still in his office, lights been on since dawn broke out.
Morand scratched his head. Unglued himself from the tile wall and hunched over the counter, hands clasped together, his long curly hair fell upon his face. I could tell hes searching in his noggin. Hes got a nugget in there, he just needs a shine on it.
Sycrose. Sycrose. Sycrose … He shook his head. He got them Imperial letters.
From where, Morand? Cathro leveled his chin with his.
Further inland, he said. Maybe from the capital. Theyve need of people like him.
If theyve need of him, then hed had likely bring about his Mk. II with him out front alre-
-No, Cathro. No Mk. II. I know what you
e gonna say. Hes not doing any form of official response work. Hell, theres been none other get-up like the arborist, rappeling, homesteading and emergency response gear they lend us.
So, no mountaineering equipment, no tower scaling … the likes?
No. Morand raised his voice, his chin he brought forward. None of that.
Cathro had that sour-faced grin hed show when bad news struck, knew what kind of situation that official work entailed. Sycroses and Neddy Ned Beaurs work were hard to swallow.
A refugee camp with very fragile order.
An estate both inherited and obligated to lead and adhere by.
Winding roads with hardly any government officials maintaning them, sometimes we have the refugees come along with us with a concrete mixer and some shovels and gumboots just to make the roads tolerable.
Hard to believe sailors … disappeared in a storm just outside of Neds domain.
News like that spread like wildfire. Bad for freight logisitics. Cathro pointed at the number two special on the paper menu flapping at the edge of the counter.
Morand smiled and was glad his favourite pulled pork snack was finally chosen.
I floated still, eyeing Taner and Mate drink in the sheep pen as they watched over their care, grim, somber faces, hunched over the fence, eyes blank and without a care.
They were spurting incomprehensible slurs and slangs, until Taner broke off from his sad reluctance listening to Mate mouthing off absurdities.
Horse girls, are weird.
Horse girls are always weird.
Whattabout horse boys?
Weird-as em horse boys, girls, theyve got that horse voodoo connection I hear from the farmhands in Soundford. Makes you wonder why people even marry into them.
Maybe horse people attract other horse people. Horse people are like tight knit that way.
Horse people …
Horse people. In union, and in awful agreement, their laughters bounced, consoling and trying to find respite in their incomprehensible humour.
Speaking of horses, bracken and the brush got wilder, thicker-
Yeah, the more we got back from the wet market, or, you know, maybe the rain was too thick to see through on horseback.
Yeah … clouds were pretty heavy lookin today. They said itd be like a nine percent chance of rain, turns out the ninety-one percent just ended up raining on us and only on us.
Yeah, weird. Taner and Mate lined two more empty bottles of beer on the wooden fence, shaking their heads back to sobriety, Taner poorly whistled to their dogs Mako and Sprucer, ears didn prick up, he whistled again and this time Mako and Sprucer rigidly plopped up onto all fours then sprang into action rounding up the herd into the pen with Taner and Mate still faffing in the 12-by-12 confine.
Sycrose informed those two. Cathro linked up with me. They don drink beer of that class. Theyd drink beer from north of here, locally brewed stuff just isn to their liking, but its the most accessible right now.
Oh yeah. Yeah, I know, brews closer to the equator just have the right place to make em. Weird sciency craft beer, I read about those once in a discovery poster they put up in the library.
Well have you heard of news about this one: transport ships haven passed through the Strait since this morning. Maritime, the Navy, have limited, constricted, and bound us all before the stretch of the sea could be seen past the banks.
The mountains to the North-West of here felt like a looming giants shadow upon us.
A question clouds over: why would commercial transport ships traverse through stormy seas in the dead of night? How could seasoned men of the seas be compelled with such a task?
The world compels men like you and me to go into the unknown. The world had better been the sound of Sycroses voice, but the rotary was the otherwise.
Sycrose called us into his office that same evening. Taner and Mate were already present. Cathro was just waiting on Morand. I fumbled with the corner of the tempered glass, rubbing the base of my thumb against it.
Stop that. Don do that. Sycrose ordered me.
Morand packed his favourite pulled pork snack into the room, everyone caught a whiff of it and scrambled to drive their entire hands into the paperbag.
Sycrose had a taste of the pork snack, he didn like it one bit.
You couldve chose something better than this.
This is better than leftovers, Sycrose. Id rather stomach this over the ingredients they have us use for the fried shrimp paste.
Bastard cooking is what we call anything that comes out of Morands kitchen. Fried shrimp paste was more than a delicacy, it was great with capsicum curry, an acquired taste, preferred over the appearance of the black pudding. Has anyone even tasted the black pudding, aside from me? Its taste was worthwhile, but I wouldn admit my defeat to Morands cooking.
Ned plummeted into the door after tripping over Mates sandals just outside of the office. Mates socks were already shot, but this didn stop the Midsman to act like a barbarian even in a Northerners estate.
What the **!? Mate! Again?!
What of it?
What of it!? … Ned was already hunched over Mates sandals ready to use it as ammunition against the Midsman. Before a heated argument took place, Sycrose intervened and began laying out the documents and letters he had received from the capital.
The world probably hates us after reading those headers. To whoever signed their unintelligible name below all these letters, drive a nail through my hand, Id rather it be that over this. ODR prefixed within the headers which was a standard most branches of the Empire knew was the professionals means of practice and conduct. Its prefixed words before the colon was Lord Lewey Which meant it came from someone adorned as an official and as a lord, of course! Taner chuckled at that remark, Sycrose continued to explain the letters layout and conventional writing, after the lords name and the colon was Utmost Importance. In Regard to The Matilda. Which made our impatience run rampant.
The world truly hates us …
Nothing we can do. It was just within reach of your domain, Ned. Sycrose already relieved himself of his 12 hours duty. Neds eyes were drooping and having him loom every single word in the first letter and document side-by-side.
Its worse than I had imagined. Sycrose continued his findings. I believe the capital wants us to conduct an investigation. We were under Master Garretts apprenticeships when we were wee lads. Now, they
e having us set against the world as big dogs.
e saying, Sycrose, is that they want us to seek out bureaucratic evidence, things that are, I presume, not even meant for a homestead.
Even so, Ned, you
e the lord of these lands. I ask you to take a great deal of time before conveying to the bureau what compensation youd ought to be obligated to.
I don want compensation, Sycrose. I don want anyone to be a part of this. This is undermining my lands already, logistics are up and down the Strait. There is no compromise in this!
I placed myself between Sycrose and Ned. To postpone these calls to action as our feelings and influences run rampant further undermine us.
Call me stupid … but itd be best, to, uh, take these documents and-a, begin setting out tomorrow. I stuttered my words, drawling each syllable out, These documents date almost two weeks prior to the disaster that befell The Matilda. See the written leather between the bundled pile, look at the soot and the markings on the letters after it, just right under there! I skimmed through the leaves, flourished the feel of the botched leather between my finger and my thumb, shavings and half varnish, markings of oils from kept hair swept by hands. Id say this was internal strife already brewing before our involvement.
Truly, the world hates us … Remarked Sycrose.
Confusions reflect the world around us, it is hard to determine the best course of action when no one has experience in such a situation. I am being heady with my proposal, Sycrose understands how we must compel the bureau to settle with us and our gripes. We won find answers in this little homestead, wed have to battle it out in front of a system.
Garrett doesn have anything to do with this. Surprisingly Mate conveyed what we all wanted to hear. It wouldn surprise me if this had something to do with who was Captain of the Matilda. Someone we know.
Mate, Taner encroached upon his ear, reeled himself in and unpacked We can just assume.
Ned crept up to the two, shook his head, brought up his eyes to say, Taners right. We can assume. I know Alex, too, he was a good ear at the docked bar there. I know how you feel, but can I ask of you two, to let your heads make way over your hearts right now?
Taner and Mate lowered their heads, preferably locked eyes and a nod would have sufficed, but for a Midsman and a North Islander, this was just their upbringing and their way of showing respect.
Taner peeked his head around the entrance, hands in pockets waking his path through the beige carpeted, vinyl corridor, his hair falling over the place. Mate already had his sandals on, his heady movements shadowed Taners. Morand crumpled the paper bag and stashed it in his pocket and gave distance between him and the other two, he trudged behind looking past the foggy tall arching windows.
I fell behind shortly after. I was furious with how jarring this all was. I wanted no part in it.
We left Ned and Sycrose hovering over all of us until they either agreed or disagreed in its finality.
And Cathro was nowhere to be seen.
Ned Beaurs cutting motion led to his hand testing rising waters. Tugged a sack of salt close to his side, shoved salt abundantly, without care, into the tub as Elize observed her father from beneath a flaky doorframe, with careful eyes, her sickliness shadowed her, a frail, fragile looking girl, cheekbones protruding, fat cheeks now caving against clenched teeth, pale skin youd mistake her for an apparition.
Her father, Neddy Ned, hunched over, eyebrows furrowing, eyes light distancing. Couldn warrant her fathers fear, to Elizes belief, shed never conceive it nor convey it, for her father was a cold, calculative and cool man, yet clouds above made this belief waver.
Elize hardly spoke anymore. His once energetic daughter now reduced to this, held her silhouette in contrast to Tinsley.
She got it from one of em kids, a shoulda never let her play with em. Tinsley, I need help getting Elize into the tub, well wait out Cathro wherever he is.
You can expect us to pack salts and a tub into carriage, horsesd collapse and the wheelsll go into themselves-
-Later. Ned sighed, Well pack her belongings and necessities into the carriage. Two horses tugging each. Maybe four carriages to tow.
To where? Sorry … where should I have the coaches move?
Not a city. Not a town. A home for the homesick. A place that doesn touch ugly or holy ground. Far from here, far from this ugly country.
Such a request. Requiring us to have an airship always in air, supplies, resources dwindling————unsustainable.
Can you do something about it, Tinsley?
Tinsley could confide with Sycrose, who always————the head————could do something about it. Hmmmm. Whereas Taner and Mate could arrange someone to guide us to the islands, albeit, itd be a gamble.
Ill relay to the foremen the contingencies. Neddy, well get help once we
e over the Strait and in Filin Vesna.
Neddy chewed the morts between his teeth. He stared intently into his daughters eyes, Elize had that glare which conveyed her angst. Shed blame him, then herself, then him again. What a cycle. Neddy as a father could see himself in her, and he could see her mother sometimes in that ghastly visage.
Tinsley held Elizes hand, nodded, then he led her into the tub with Neddy taking her right hand, gently they let her dress float above the waters surface, as they all absorbed the salty essence, Elize hovered in the air, with Neddy now left to watch over his daughter as Tinsley left the scene with clenched fists and an aggressive gait.
Foremen sprang from post to post relaying their last few to-dos from their errands list and criticals and their notes as to what the dos and don s were before lights end. Their lieutenants and their men rushed the guards out from barracks, patrols and stations and into the big assembly hall where they began their announcements of federating the chain of command. Captains alike, contractors, employees, they knew this day would come, contingencies conceived way before Tinsley and Cathro came back from forestry and their probation tests and inductions into the Honeycomb Hive.
Do-da-this, do-da-that! Blackboards were being written and erased as fast as an hour could give, scrapbook papers were tossed into paper-ball-piled mountains, children were driven out of the assembly hall numerous times because of the chaos which ensued as Sycrose raged on with the PA system, tinny, whirring, static noise bellowed and pitched like snorts, and sinuses.
A tartan jackets colours flourished as his figure heightened upon the stage, Cathro was already there, Tinsley shifted upwards on the podium steps on call. Cathro had relayed Morand his duties beforehand, stationed Morand before the airship port. Taner and Mate were beneath the double-doors leaning against the frames, keeping chaotic children from prying their small bodies through their biceps.
Taners ear, in surprise, was lend to Mate, his eyes widened, eyebrows rose and his best donkey rearing kick shut the door splaying inwards, filtering people through Mate.
Tinsley was then hauled by his arm from the podium stair and into the small kitchen utility, a couple of cooks and a hubbub of men stood in a circle passing sheets of papers and one man in an over-sized, gray, woven long sleeves read aloud their duties.
Taner led themselves to tread through a garden maintained with forget-me-nots and sunflowers, hedges being pruned, ladies running the nasty, brutish biscuit moulds past a wall of hot, fanned air, swirling humidity out through a filtered pipeline which broke down the concrete boulder, Tinsley guessed it was early cowboy work.
Gaudy, ain it?
Briskfully he chucked himself over the railing and into the pit, sand piles and other granules sectioned off, another hill of aggregates. Streetlights gave little light for our bare eyes to see.
Look at that reach! There are pipings and silos leading into that warehouse and out back. Rusty-as looking towers, bet housed lottaem char-tar. Taner launched a rock into the air and caught it briefly then fumbled it right after. If we were as we were, Id still be maintaining it, I just don wanna up and leave. He reminisced over an implication, implicit in description of the job. Hardy, heavy duty tape kept most small pipe burst at bay, gauze were hastily applied here and there, no indication of bursts, leakage, the sorts, his Magnus Opus.
Dainty, drab, deserted we stood before a smelter, refinery, I could see a toolshed at the corner of my eye————no lights, windows dimmed reflections. Stainless steel trimmed panels laid well into frames, the silhouettes are the shoulderbones of this complex, high and wide, tells by how the middle of it just dips into the pool of its collarbone, magpies marched along, gawking and cawing into the deepness of the looming rock mounds.
Lets dooh-dah up these rocks here, lay em in a nice lot for collecting. Taner began lumping me with his selectable sorts lobbing rocks at me carefree.
Yes, lets. I dodge a few but he got one true, right on the groin. Oomph! Hit me with another good lob on the pit of my left shoulder, I flinched, squeezed my stomach in recoil. Dooh-dah the rock pile, he said, stead hes dooh-dahd me!
Oh, for crying out! Stop that! His cheeky grin, this buggard, kept lobbing rock upon rock on me, indirectly pleading me to do the same, but I stood firm, kept my composure, and made a stone fly on over the shoulderbones which undulate, contrasting, its shape against the night.
There Was a Frosty Mirror Whichs Reflection in Time Gave Their Due, and it was always there, even before, throughout, and after the war. Tinsley pondered on the significance of such a humongous, arching, towering mirror enhancing the cascades of lights shimmering on and over the town. Snow-swept town slept peacefully beside, and alongside, the spine of the country which was shaped by the longest river and capped at the tail by the largest glacier in the country.
This was that glacier, swept and frozen by time, by that same river which we named the Soundford. The blue tinge, off-white aura of this giants wall may house the giant heard in folktales, and its fall wouldve resounded through the ages. A fall so mighty it wouldve shocked the nation, had ever the federation of Imperialists invaded our waters, and they wouldve done so in secrecy mind you, I still shake from the precognitions I have of an alternate reality. I could still grasp into my deeply shoved down, suffocating memory the tremors, its bassy-ness, imagining shelters as coffins, migrating in platoons sneaking underneath caving tunnelways, hands and knees scraping, and rasping, against aggrevated aggregate. Wed grope for coat tails and the flatness of walls, our ears gambled with our surroundings. Children played Marco Polo in the darkness, someone forced out a chuckle, there was a light in the ever enroaching darkness, and this memory served me well until I realised its unattainable glory.
Continuing to traverse through this snow-swept town, my errand to relay and mark out flooded roads and snowed in impasses, a newly born fawn had its stomach revealed to me, it played dead as if its some sick joke until a small wolf poked and reared their blooming furry head from behind the fawns vallying backside, gnashing teeth clamped hard on a long, rum coloured ear still attached to a piece of scalp, scrapes, and sinew; silky strands of arteries readily frozen. I couldn tell apart from my own bodily heat, conserved by thick brown sheep wool interwoven around my neck, serrations stitched into my cow leather jacket, as to how unforgiving this southland could be regardless of season.
Once wooded country, now snowy wooded country. Pine trees were decorated ready for the holidays, rising valley roads jutting out into spurs skirting mountain ridges, barricades fending off the rotting blemishes of weed and bracken ridden country hills.
I sighed, Taner berated me for not being good with my hands, glorified his Magnus Opus of clockwork gore: vacuum tubes, steam pipes and a whole lot of gaffer tape and fencewire.
Ordered to report to the outskirts of town, where the logging was well underway for additional firewood, deadwood for training and wildfire prevention.
Tough denim pants bound to the waist with boiled, oiled leather belt, cuffed at the ankles packed into the scruffs of boots gaped open necks down to the tardiness of steelcapped toes.
Kick your heel into the butt of your tapered maul and drive splinters to part right, parts left, then do it all again with the next rounds. Hook cut log rounds into a roll down the hill and into the small lodged pits, top soils removed revealing dark dirts, the boys are chilling in their canvas pants braving the winter chill hacking on now beaten ground.
Lowering sheepdogs tails rasped against the brush, riders hollered other homesteaders to reel in their lot and plop down their tools into their wagons. Small stringbags of barley candy were handed out by the foremen, the acidic smell of sweat and downpour made them cover their noses with their elbows.
Day-drinking frequented greatly in the winter. Alcohol made your tummy warm, made you warm. If there were any other heatsource apart from campfire or fights behind wall canvases, Ned would have procured it.
Homesteading cannot be watered down as just housekeeping, gardening, maintenance, farming, so and so on, rather its a means to give your entirety to an entity called a homestead and to see your jobs through.
Y-you watered it down though!?
Imma tellin you, this is what means to-do homesteading on a payroll.
God, your profound crap is just insufferable.
Smalltalk in a circle, beers in hands, sheepdogs beside and campfire warmth hugged the air. Watery chicken soup boiling in a copper pot hanging on a three-part stick trap: two smaller stick crossed over a longer stick with a hook over the end for the pot handle.
Campfire raged until dusk bled bottom-up in the sky. Sunbreaker tents, windbreaker tarps and four-man canvas tents played shadow puppets of men gambling over books, musical instruments or more booze, maybe all three at once caused mens sorrows to wail into the night. Brass cufflinks could be heard clattering on ceramic plates as the flutter of paper cards shaved against the ceramic. One, two, a few more pops of old vintage wine flung corkscrews, big canvas tents shielded the outside world from sprays of white wine perverting cold air.
The straight drops and heaving bulge of inclines died with each turn off from the spurs which shaped the countryside. Its body of bushes had been burnt by the summer heat, not much to address when so little of the land was unkept like the wrinkling back of a cows hide. Hills were marred dark without their greens: the beaten grounds and the cow dung were the same, and the dark mounds of their wavy bodies were slick with the dew of a good morning shower. The sand banks had slow moving waters, deep and deadly. Currents bubbling, swirling at the surface.
Seemingly harmless but stands to reason, signs saying: Danger or Keep Clear and the dry figure of bones imposed as an X symbolising the No Swimming like the other five or so signs leading up the banks.
Lately, those same pools had cropped up signs signifying the turn of the century: deadly, asphyxiating bacteria capable of destroying the respiratory system of an adult man.
An arses farces arias! I croaked, submerged in the waters.
And I didn rise again until the authorities dragged my body up while paranoid in heavy scuba diving gear. Body hung over a fallen trunk walling and redirecting the river diagonally. I recalled that day, I just spat out words of regret, of not jumping into those waters to drag him out. The piercing gazes shifting from his body to me.
The homestead thought this wouldve been the last theyd ever see me, yet the revitalising of my mind, and my body exposed me from the clutches of my dreams. The sweat and heat from the hovering face of summer and the faint sound of music brought myself closer to the edge of the bed, scantily cladded I crept away from the edge, tucking the seams, creasing the blanket close to my chest.
How long was I out? I became restless, the thought of me being in a coma increased the edge. All I had right now was tunnel vision, a burning chest, perhaps my lungs were doused in fuel dumped in the river? Still, the edge increased, that was until Cathro came into my vision and took my left hand and observed the fingers down to the wrist.
No frostbite … You just passed out from the cold nearing the edge of the camp. I told you, take a wagon with a frontside snowshovel attachment. Youd decided against it.
I slowly, was now able to, set apart dream and reality.
Ive been trying to escape from the haunts, from the cigs even, found escapism in hard stuff. I was so lost in my thoughts traversing the delicate terrain. I was thinking about a lot of things.
I tried to cut down on the substances after it dissolved my connections, broke down relationships. All came down between her or my newfound escapism. I chose wisely. I knew that relationships won last long with me, ever since I dropped out of secondary just to chase numerous roustabout jobs in the outskirts south of Owaerwa.
When it came down to having the general things in life, whats expected of you and from you, although, to be blunt, being a city cowboy, and an employers worst nightmare, was far from anyones wishes————became the acid in the mix.
Outstretched goals were the unbecoming of me, as I tried to help out with the arborist jobs, the forestry service and fire brigade, trying to make North Island work————work. I was struggling with getting reports done due to my lack of education or rather the fact I was a bit of a nomad I had no interest in writing like a civilised man, in dim light, a single speck, in candlelight, room illuminated as far as two arms length, the stretch of shadows melted with the cold air coming through the open window, shadows own encompassing being perverted the room with its own deepness, deriving, branched out from the night.
Cathro called my occasional downward spirals sometimes The Orchard Pit, a reference to poetries he read growing up. He said I was like the season itself, mood changes depending on the weather, but I was persistently heady and impulsive. I broke out in cold sweat frequently, I was feverish and always had a wanting look.
I could never accept how he sees me.
When day broke over I was already with pens clicker poking my rightside temple.
I had an idea of what I wanted in poetry, detailing out what I was told to mark out. I wrote out my details in poetry because of the fact that before equations were written in a standardised language we had been writing poetry to describe as to how we reached a point in our findings.
I remember my mother teaching me these things, she was sciency, and I was always a mess. Like I said, secondary did not go well with me.
You should omit the little biography you wrote for yourself in your journal. I said to myself. Although the more I thought about it, the more I was reluctant to keep it.
I guess my sad reluctance has a means to keep me still.
e lost within that head of yours again. Snap out of it. Stop trying to find an excuse for almost getting yourself killed.
It looks like it, huh.
Looking down yourself, eyes with a hard stare in, I know a man trying to put themselves in self-retrospection when I see it.
I guess the more I show myself to Cathro the more hes right. Laying into yourself, not being able to separate failures as an entity from your own entity was just going to drag me down.
Get changed. Ned and Sycrose want us to get on horseback, and to scavenge the parted wreckage of the Matilda before the end of the week.
If I could say myself, this wreckage from the Matilda is just part of it, it was an entire dormitory, living and operations subsection of it. You should be able to find bodies here but the Imperial forensics wouldve gotten to it before any civ.
Fuck me. This is what they want us to show up before them for?
Theres compensation promised, but I think Neds lands are shot with this present. Its the people Tinsley. People make all sorts of problem, like the self-centred beings they are.
The sandbar took over whatever was left, now it was an extension of the trench.
Margins dictating each subsection of the ship was already done in and submerged, rusting and tearing apart at its weaknesses.
Cathro was able to tell apart the accuracy of the tracking of an airships shelling. Ordnance shrapnel split into fragments and weren just made in steel too, it was in paper and wood as well. Blisters of paper, hammered in wooden splinters and slivers made to look like a part of the wreckage.
Thats a **ing war crime. No wonder they didn want us to start our investigations on our end here. Ever since the Midsmen and the Bactaggards warred with the Jermaines and the Seperatists, shoebox mines were annexed from The New World Order.
Fuck me. Well, Cathro, I know you know Imps wouldn resort to these.
Eh. Unless they want somebody really dead. So dead that they wouldn be able to detect fragmentation of paper and wood in their body. A casualty and collateral homicide special right here.
Doubt wed find the bodies.
e too late for that.
Deathly crawls enroach upon the encampment where bitter men reside and in their reluctance to be sad drink and commemorate self, future and deaths to better days. A drastic contrast to the merry lives of many living within the invisible twine of fate and her many choices all so endearing.
End of shift nigh, and God has closed the sun off to enable the moons own self shimmer upon the waters many refer to as a moangata which is North Islander tongue the Old Boys say in their honeycomb hives, their black pool for eyes reflect moon and stars like the inner machinations of their minds.
Tinsley brought with him the cape of his family crest, the face and uncanny shape of a daemon of upholding virtues, for none have illustrated daemons unlike angels – yet it piques human curiosity the demented kind which are otherworldly.
And with the sun setting behind them, Cathros shadow was upon Tinsleys crest.
I guess, when you inhabit your very own Inland Empire, like a bad actor, you let the demons reside as residents in your incorporeal world.
Now, a little motivated moved blackberry bushes enticing its poison upon a man lapped by the waves into the sandbar. Its glimmering, soft, black skin made the man both thirst and hunger for poison. Tinsley watched this man crawl for life, clearly he wasn dying but it was clear he was abandoned and now clinging for something just in sight.
Tinsley rolled the cape and strapped it against his leather knapsack. There is time for conversation, he says, trudging down the rotting wooden steps into the skirts of the sandbar.
Tinsley grabbed the man by the scruff of his tunic and dragged him into the flats, turned him over onto his back, rummaged through his belongings and handed a sandwich in which he himself despised to eat. Tuna sandwich, yuck, he poked his tongue out in disgust.
Cathro seemed pleased with Tinsleys motives.
This strange man he hovered over wolfed down the sandwich. Pitying the man, he dried him with his own cloths, took off his coat to envelop him with warmth, and finally let the man let him lean on him readying to bring him back to the hive.
Distance him from yourself, Tinsley. He is a strange man with conditions unknown. He could be diseased! Cathro was agitated, they were still investigating the beachside.
Pity the fool. Tinsley remarked, Death hovers over him and you whine over whether youd have food and drink for tomorrow even though You and I know an extra mouth to feed will not decline both morale and health from us.
Tinsley then the man lay upon his shoulders.
There is an agreement in place, and Cathro let his worries buried deep in dirt.
It is the tribal thinking of people in this ugly country which makes the work of men like Tinsley all the more harder than it should be.
Tendencies like these should be buried, Tinsley muttered. Tinsley rested the stranger onto Cathros shoulder, when he took out his foil and his throwing knives and lay them out in front of the captain of the guards before the estates checkpoint.
I am now naked. His eyes were of level intensity. Now, I am a stranger to you and to myself. Know that my blade is my religion yet I forego this which in turn exposes your own defenses. I who captain over men who now have no leader, all will be uncertain of cause.
The words Tinsley relayed was the creed the captain of the guards with their blocked eyes held with deep respect, and they let them in, and let another mouth feed.
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