Thursday, December 08, 2005

End Of Season

The weed-choked tides slid greyly to and fro upon the litter-strewn beach. The morning had dawned brightly enough but now, by mid-afternoon, threatening clouds had built up; the Big Wheel, turning slowly at the end of a fore-shortened pier, was almost lost to the clammy clutches of the mist.

A few late departures of the deck chair brigade appeared decidedly lacklustre. With chip grease smarming their bodies like sun oil, they clambered up the shingle, with only a few words between them. Stern buxoms - with kiss-me-quick hats perched on their bee-hives - heaved themselves to the prom. Snow-chests - with rings in their ears and stale ‘bedroom’ eyes - shuffled along in their wake.

Suddenly, there was a loud ‘Halloo!’ from one of the beach huts. A shaven youth splattered out, limbs flailing like a wild pair of stockingless suspenders. He slobbered at those who had just evacuated the beach, pointed out at the sea and shouted so loudly his half-broken croaks seemed to come back off the waves like a series of echoey shipwrecks.

He ranted on of an enemy fleet that even now was slipping through the mist, its looming dark hulks of landing craft creeping in. Those on the Big Wheel could no doubt see them already, hence the screams they made.

The youth ran off towards the town, where he’d try to spread further panic and dismay...

One of the pleasure seekers on the Big Wheel was a man called Altin. He did not know why he had decided to have such a ride, for great heights to him were like great depths to Flat-Earthers. Every time that someone got on or off at the bottom of the Wheel, it seemed it was Altin who was left exposed, right at the very top, to the soaking of the down-towering clouds. As if the Wheel had only one way up, like the Christian cross.

And, then, during one of those inexplicably long stationary periods when he was thus aloft, he spotted a school of whales approaching over the sea, with jaws opening and shutting in rhythm to the waves. One was suddenly snorting as it beached itself upon the shingle. Another beached itself upon the first whale. The pier shook, as yet another lodged itself between the corroded pillars.

Altin closed his eyes in disbelief and actually became one of those whales, by several reincarnations removed. Except they weren’t really whales at all. They were the seabed come to life, chunks of it separating from Mother Earth as in some caricature of evolution. And if natural selection was involved they were surely the sweets left at the bottom of the bag.

The comedy came to a close, as the pier collapsed with all upon it. It was a happy ending, in a way, since the slobbering youths and deckchair dickheads had at last been pre-empted by, although a much deeper entropy, a far finer evolution, since sweets left at the bottom of the bag are often the best, when you’re eating them in the dark.

The whale-like creatures roamed the thinning, flattening Big Wheel discus of Earth Comestible. And the one that was Altin smiled its jaws beneath kiss-me-quick hats.

(published 'Beyond The Boundaries' 1996)

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