my not so secret world

The Ghost Children

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The ghost children leave their garden at dusk to play on the swings at the playground next door to my house. I watch them from behind my drapes, careful not to move in case I frighten them away. Real children – by that I mean the children still living – impatiently queue.

‘C’mon’, complains Tom, ‘we’d like a turn too’. ‘You have had all day’, says Angel swinging higher and faster. It looks odd the ethereal way that her unbody is swinging and yet still behind the swing, and also in front. Tom says, ‘we don’t have all day, we have been in school, and then doing homework, and chores. While you are swanning around in the clouds playing harps and stuff’.

Astral gives a peal of laughter that sounds like garden chimes tinkling in the breeze. ‘When I was alive I thought death was like that,’ she laughs. ‘But it isn’t really. At least it depends how you died’.

And how old you were’, says Angel softly. ‘So many of us are killed in wars, or die of starvation. Those ones cry and cry, they don’t always realise they are dead. It takes such a lot of time caring for them and so much energy. No matter how much you feed them it is never enough. And children who have been bombed, they scream endlessly and are forever looking for their limbs. Then there is this one’, she says, and they all turn to look at the third swing where an angry black boy swings endlessly. He looks at them through angry eyes, tears running down his cheeks. ‘You can wait till hell freezes’, he shouts. ‘This swing is mine, mine forever!’

Today I had to carry a baby that had drowned,’ Astral says. ‘I couldn’t get him dry and he was so cold.’ She shivers. ‘I felt like I was carrying his father too. So much grief’. ‘What happened to heaven?’ asks Tom. Astral rolls her eyes. ‘Stupid stories for stupid people. Do you want to know if God exists? Maybe. But he’s a lazy bastard if he does exist. Watching over us? Don’t make me laugh. If God was a woman we might have some action. But too many men are filled with greed and they don’t care about sharing with families and women and children. They take everything for themselves.’

Angel floats off her swing and offers it to Tom. But Tom lifts his school pack from his back and lifts out a little brown boy whose legs are black and blue. ‘I found him down the street’ he says, ‘he is too little to speak or perhaps too frightened. I think maybe he was trying to find his way here to you. There is a label on his jersey, it says his name is Moko.’

Moko looks up at them with his huge brown eyes, shaded in purple. He smiles, a rather wobbly kind of smile. One of his arms is bent at a strange angle. Tom and Angel carefully lift him him onto the swing. They push it gently and the little boy chuckles in delight.

I can’t watch anymore. As darkness falls I am closing my drapes.

Pohutukawa-Rina-Eveleyn-Page

I feel so lucky. I was browsing through Trade Me when I came across an auction for a print of this painting. Starting bid $8NZ. Just a small photo of a print of a painting but I fell in love with it.

I love the naturalness of the models. They’ve just been for a swim in the sea and they are drying out in the warmth of the day. You can tell it is a very hot day because they have sought shade under the pohutukawa tree. You can practically feel the warmth of the sun on their skin. And they are naturally naked but not sexual. This is not a picture aimed for the gaze of men. This is a picture about women being women. In a natural way.

And this picture has a familiar feel. I think I have seen it somewhere before but I cannot remember where. The memory eludes me.

Some hours out from the auction finish time someone else places a bid. Until then the auction seems to have been ignored. Now I am tense. I wait. The auction will not conclude until around 10.30pm. I check the auction hourly, no other bids have been placed. I hold my fire until the very last minute of the auction. I bid. $8.50. It is a long minute but finally, I have won. Oh wow, it is mine.

When I go to collect the picture it turns out to be bigger than I thought it was. Luckily I always travel with bunjy cords. The seller, a very nice man, helps me to to tie the picture firmly onto Flora (my bicycle). He wraps her in firm cardboard, I cover her with my high-vis vest. I tell him, thank you, I love this picture. He says, google it when you get home. Pohutukawa Rina is the real name of the picture. She was painted by someone famous. I googled it a couple of years ago myself, but I have forgotten the name.

Flora and I ride carefully home. We are gentle over the bumps. At home I unwrap her. She looks perfect in my house. She seems to sing. Where will I hang her?

But first I google Pohutukawa Rina. And I find her story. I also find her for sale on line price $74.95! Chur!

Then I check a book I happen to own. And here is her story again, this time on pages 118 – 121 of New Zealand Women Artists by Anne Kirker, published 1986 (Reed Methuen).

The painter was Evelyn Page, nee Polson. She was born here in Christchurch in 1899 (just two years after my grandmother, she is of that generation, both of them born after NZ women won the right to vote in 1893). She was the youngest of seven children. She attended Sydenham school. Her parents encouraged their children in art and music., and Evelyn followed her two sisters into the then Canterbury School of Art which she attended between 1915 – 1922. We are told by Priscilla Potts that the art classes included drawing from the antique, still life  and landscape classes with Cecil Kelly and drawing and painting from the life with Roger Wallwork and later by Archibald Nicholl.

A group of friends from art school shared her art and literary interests. Ngaio Marsh, Ceridwen Thornton, Margaret Anderson, Viola MacMillan Brown, James Courage, Rhona Haszard, and Alfred and James Cook comprised the nucleus of painters who formed The Group, sharing clubrooms and exhibitions in Christchurch. In 1933 Evelyn Polson was a foundation member of the New Zealand Society of Artists.

By 1926 Evelyn Polson was exhibiting at the art societies of both Auckland and Canterbury. Three of the works on show were nudes: Sunlight and Shadow, The Green Slipper and Figure out of Doors. In a time when many NZ artists were mostly painting landscapes and figures were clothed, there was some comment. Anne Kirker shares this excerpt from the Auckland Star, 22nd June 1926: “‘Surely there are enough doubtful and suggestive pictures to be seen at the theatres without the Society of Arts having to cater to a class of support they would be better without,’complained Purity“. Argument raged for several weeks in the newspaper. Such was the backwardness of NZ art and the rarity of nude painting at the time. One wonders if she attracted more comment because she was a woman.

My friend Denise visits while I am hunting out this information and it is she who finds the right place to hang Pohutukawa Rina. I will think about it, I tell her. Later I decide she is right, and Pohutukawa Rina is hung on the east wall of my living room.

It turns out that Pohutukawa Rina was painted circa 1930, but where it was painted in New Zealand I cannot discover. Because of the pohutukawa tree I would guess the North Island, Te Ika a Maui. Pohutukawa Rina was exhibited in several exhibitions in 1935. Eventually the original painting was acquired by the Robert McDougall Art Gallery in Christchurch which had first opened in 1932, funded by a gift of twenty-five thousand pounds from Mr Robert E. McDougall. The collection was predominately works from the Canterbury Society of Arts and something called the Jamieson Bequest. It is closed on the 16th of June, 2002 in advance of the new Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu opening in May of 2003. This gallery is closed for some time following the 7.3 earthquake of September 2010, and then closed again following the 6.3 earthquake and aftershocks of 22nd  of February 2011, where 185 people were killed and more were injured. The building remained closed as a gallery , instead becoming Christchurch’s Civil Defence Headquarters. It was only reopened as a gallery on the 19th December, 2015, following repairs and refurbishment.

Another friend, Zeta, visits. I know something about this artist, she says, my mother told about a famous artist coming and painting nude pictures at Karamea. Evelyn Polson went to Karamea in 1927. The most known painting she painted there was December Morn, shown below.

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This original of this painting is/was also held by the Robert McDougall Art Gallery.

Evelyn Polson became Evelyn Page, marrying New Zealander Frederick Page in 1938, whom she met while in London. They went to live at Governors Bay on Banks Peninsula and had two children. Evelyn Page continued to paint, going from strength to strength. A television documentary was made about Frederick and Evelyn Page in 1982. and one on Evelyn in 1987, neither of which I recall seeing but they were busy years for me back then.

In 1986 the Robert McDougall Art Gallery showed “Evelyn Page: Seven Decades, an exhibition to share her achievements and to make her work accessible to audiences throughout New Zealand. And, no, I did not see that either, I was busy in Lyttelton with three children, and  half-renovated cottage. I wish I had.

But this wonderful print of Pohutukawa Rina hangs on my wall and I feel lucky.

The End

I wrote this first around 2001, 2002. I dreamed it in the night. I woke up feeling utterly desolated. It was my first post on the Multiply , I think, certainly one of the first. Sadly t is still relevant. Perhaps even more so.

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The context was already known to us down here, the world had already been told that the end was coming, we had heard it on the news via the radio, via the tv, via the internet. But we did not know if it was really true or maybe just more lies created to further someone’s obscure political ends, we did not want to believe, and in any case, we could not comprehend the enormity of what we had been told. We knew that “up there” somewhere in the northern hemisphere the bombs had been thrown, so many that the fallout would engulf us all, that there was no chance of our survival. We knew the fallout was expected to arrive here in Christchurch at about 9:30am. But this was an intellectual knowledge, it was not real to us, we did not know how to believe it, we did not know what to do.

Because this had never happened before, we had no idea of how to act.

So we did our normal things. It was a weekday so we went to work, because if it was not true, and how could it be, then we could not afford to take the day from work when we had bills to pay. We could not risk losing our jobs by taking this day off work. So here we were, in the factory and our children were at their schools.

A peculiar atmosphere pervaded the factory, feelings of uncertainty and tension. Some people worked as normal, fast and hard, making their bonuses, and becoming annoyed at those people who were working more desultorily, clearly uncertain as to whether they should be here in the factory at all, wondering if they should have stayed at home with their families. I remember I started to work at my normal speed, then slowed, and stopped altogether, listening instead to the factory radio.

At 9:15am the factory hooter blew. Over the intercom, a disembodied voice told us to go and spend our last fifteen minutes of life outside. We filed out.

It was a beautiful spring day outside in the factory garden. The sky was blue and cloudless, the sun still shone. We all stood around, on the green grass, in small groups, wondering what to do now. Some of the women wanted to go back inside and thoroughly clean the factory. They wanted to leave all in order for the next people who would come to the factory, in case we really did die. They were unable to comprehend that there would be no next people, that what was imminent was the finish, the death of all human life on this planet forever.

I lit a cigarette and wandered down beside the river, choosing to be on my own. I stood under a tree, near a bridge, and listened to the birds in the trees, suddenly realising that they were unlikely to survive the fallout either. I could hear the sound of vehicles travelling down the nearby road just as they always did. And I thought about my children in the playground at school, probably playing in separate areas. I thought about the three of us all dying in separate places and afraid. I thought about their fear. We should have been together.

But also, I knew that if I left to go to the school, and then the world did not end and life did not finish and the fallout did not arrive, then I would lose my job when the hooter called us back in to the factory.

Another woman had walked down to the river, and I asked her what the time was. She checked her watch and told me the time was now 9:25am, and I knew the school was ten minutes away by car, and of course, I do not own a car, so I knew I could not get there in time anyway.

So I thought about my children who would have to die on their own, and I knew my own incompetence and failure, and suddenly I knew it was all true, and we really were all going to die, and the birds and the animals were going to die, and maybe the trees and the plants as well. I tried to visualise what kind of barren wasteland would be left, and tried to imagine if any form of life would ever exist here again on this planet, and how many millions of years it would be before any kind of life could evolve. And then I could no longer bear my thoughts and I walked back up to the gardens and away from the river, back to where the other people were all still standing around, some talking together in nervous whispers, others just standing silent.

And then I turned and I looked behind me, and I saw the end arrive. I saw an impenetrable metallic grayish-white mist,  like fluffy steel wool, come rolling in, a mist with so much sound, hissing and crackling and fizzing as it seemed to slide along the grass, and as it rolled thickly along its implacable path towards us, it blotted out all the landscape behind it. I saw it growing ever thicker, larger, and higher, blotting out the sun and the sky too, so they could no longer be seen. I felt my own horror, heard the gasps of horror from the people around me, found myself foolishly starting to back away when there was absolutely no escape, no possible retreat, nowhere to go. And then a woman behind me seized my arm, and pulled me into a small hollow on the side of the hill with her, as though to gain a few more pointless seconds of life, and I saw the mist rolling around at the entrance of the hollow. I smelt its foul stink, I felt the burning moistness of the chemicals as the mist swirled onto my skin and entered my burning eyes.

And I wanted to be holding my children.

Ghouler

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I think it is going to rain soon. I can see thick grey rain cloud coming up from the south, the fridge door is open, and it’s blowing up straight off the Antarctic. Straight off the frozen top of the world.

And she is coming towards the gate. She is coming towards me. My friend. My staunch loyal friend. The wind is whipping her dress, slapping it against her legs. The gates, not shut properly, crash and clang loudly, unceasingly.

It was the gates that hurt me. I was coming through them, heading towards my den, with bloody bits of moa to feed my small cub. And me. And the gate, blowing shut, hit me with its clasp, the clasp ripping down my side, ripping my skin open. I scream in pain. I howl like a wolf. As you do. Blood pours from my side. I am like, oh shit, now what? And I try to drag myself and the dead moa dinner towards the den, but it is hard work and I faint for a while.

When I come to, I am lying in congealed blood. The pain is horrific. In the distance I hear my baby yipping loudly. He sounds afraid and hungry. So I made a few more dragging steps and then, quite suddenly, she was there. She gave me a heck of a fright, I had no idea that one of those creatures was around. It just shows how badly I was hurt. So off my game. I should have known she was there, I should have snarled and leapt upon her, I should have got her throat and ripped it …

I am still thinking that thought when she makes her primitive communication noises that those creatures make, babbling to each other, incomprehensible sounds. But she is making holes in me, she is pulling stuff through it, she is tying me together, wrapping me in some skin-like stuff. Oh my god, now she lifts me, carrying me to the den, I am beside myself in pain, I snarl and pass out again.

I come around again and discover she has hauled that cub out and he is suckling on me. Thank goodness. She is sitting in front of me and offers me some pieces of that dead moa. I try to eat but my head spins dizzily and I throw up. Then I die. Then I am nothing.

Mary sits back on her heels, shocked and horrified. I thought I could save you, she whispers. Poor mummy wolf.

The wind howls down the carriageway, icy cold. Trees float like curtains. Baby wolf cub nuzzles at his mother, wondering why she doesn’t move. Shit, thinks Mary, what to do now? In the end she pushes the mother wolf over to the side and under the trees. The swampy ground slowly absorbs her. Mary quickly siezes the cloak she had wrapped around the wolf, and wraps it around baby wolf instead. Standing up, she shuts the gate, this time properly, and shivering with cold, she scurries back to the castle, holding the wrapped baby cub close to her body.

In the bathroom she washes the cub and then herself. She tucks him up in her enormous bed covered in silks and cotton and wool blankets. It’s an odd room, black draperies hanging from the huge windows, a lamp which is made from a skull with a golden candle inside. In the corner there’s a huge cage with a Tasmanian Devil family inside. Mary goes downstairs and gets a bottle with milk in it and a plate of casserole for the baby. Baby feeds hungrily and then goes to sleep, cuddled happily in Mary’s arms.

And that is how it was, this is how Mary found Ghouler, her pet wolf and companion …

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This weekend, Queen’s Birthday Weekend, (June 2016), I have been attending our national Green Party Annual General Meeting here in Christchurch (actually at Lincoln just outside of ChCh). Our Aoraki Greens Province hosted and I was a delegate, also Accessibility Co-ordinator. We had an awesome and even historic meeting this weekend with the current leader of the NZ Labour Party invited on Saturday afternoon to speak to us, following this weeks signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Green Party of Aotearoa (that’s us) and the NZ Labour Party.

This MOU means that our two parties will now be working together to Change The Government over the next 18 months to the next national election and we are very likely to form the next government together, how that will look depends on the percentage of votes each party is able to get under our MMP voting system here in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

It is so important now that we do change the government. Our current government brings shame upon our country and our people. Under the current government we have witnessed a level of corruption never seen before in this country. We have witnessed our waterways contaminated to the point where it is no longer possible to swim in our rivers anymore. Dogs have died after drinking riverwater. Most of our rivers are mountain-fed and up there high in our mountains our water is pretty pure, but then as it travels down to our coasts the water becomes highly contaminated by cowshit, pesticides, and fertilisers, then industrial waste.

Down here in Canterbury, our democratically elected Environment Canterbury (ECAN) has been fired and a government appointed ECAN board has replaced them. This board fails to punish any transgressions made by rich corporate farming, so much so that when Hugh Fletcher’s cows were photographed by a tourist, walking in and shitting in a conservation lake in the high country, practically no action was taken and the Fletcher dairy cow have actually been photographed again, walking and shitting in those same lakes. Sir Hugh Fletcher’s company, incidentally, was appointed by our current government to drive the Christchurch Rebuild. This rebuild has many issues around it also, not necessarily connected to Fletcher’s. That’s another story.

This current government has also seen to be deceitful internationally. While giving lip service to reducing emissions in Paris, in fact, over the time the government has been in power New Zealand’s carbon emissions have actually increased. This while companies have been encouraged to buy fake carbon credits from Russia to make it look as though we were lowering our emissions. Shameful.

And then there are the Panama Papers from which New Zealand has been shown to be enabling the very rich and rich corporations to avoid paying taxes in their own countries ( which probably includes taxes your countries should have received) and also enabling illegal and criminal groups to launder their money). Why? Because the law firms here that create those ‘trusts’ earn millions of dollars in fees. Oh no, says Mr Key, that would never happen here. Well it does.

One could fill books on the corruptions, lies, deceits, of this government. In fact Nicky Hager already has, starting with The Hollow Men.

During the terms of this government which is all about money, let us be very clear about that, we have also seen the ever-widening of the gaps between those that have and those that don’t. It is now estimated that one in every hundred of children here are living in poverty, living in cold, damp homes. Rents have risen astronomically, especially in Auckland and in Christchurch, and now we have more and more homeless people. We have families living in cars. We have children as young as 11 living under bushes. We have children going to school hungry and not having a lunch with them. A while ago, Hone Harawira of the Mana Party introduced a bill to feed the children in the schools and this National/Act coalition voted it down. They really did. They voted against feeding kids. That is how low they are.

#Changethegovernment

Liz: Jeeze, had to find my own picture.

Gillian: continue …

Terry: Sorry, been a long day.

A killer whale jumps out of clear blue water

Anyhow:

Poor Princess Mary has escaped the evil mermaid only to wind up in the mouth of huge Orca!

And Pirate Captain Kim is tied up and marinating in Neptune’s underwater palace.

Witchy Iri and Horatio were chasing the orcas to rescue Baby Mary but they’ve been left behind.

What to do? Iri and Horatio head off to the nearest fish and chip shop for a feed.

With all this distraction Pirate Captain Kim realises that the marinating stuff has made his wrists slippery and he quietly slides them out of the manacles. He finds his ship chained to the railing of an older drowned ship, and manages to coax a passing swordfish to saw through the chain. The pirate ship creaks and groans. A school of pufferfish swim under and puff and blow and the ship begins to rise. Then twenty seahorses allow themselves to be harnessed to the ship and they pull and the ship begins to rise. Up, up, through the salty sea, higher and higher, octopi, sharks, schools of frilly fish turn to stare. Gee up horseys, gee up horses, exclaims Captain Kim as he smokes on some handy seaweed.

And they surface onto a still, still ocean, under a bright blue sky. Kim hoists the sails to catch a gentle breeze to help the seahorses (remember he has lost his crew, they all got eaten), wagon train, sings Captain Kim, happy to be sailing again. Dolphins swim alongside, have you seen the orca queen, Captain Kim asks. The dolphins jump and fly over the boat, to and fro, chattering to each other.

Then, follow us, they tell the seahorses, don’t go too fast, squeal the sea horses.

They sail along, singing their songs; Kim cooks seaweed stew for everyone (well he can’t be cooking fish in front of the dolphins and seahorses, he’s a sensitive bloke).

And they arrive along the eastern coastline of Aotearoa where the orcas play. Queenie is organising her squad for the synchronised dance competition. Ahoy there, calls out Captain Kim, I seek the baby princess. She is here, answers Queenie, curled up sleeping under my tongue, what would you do with her. I would marry you and be your King, replies the irrepressible Kim, and we would care for the princess together. Very well, says Queenie because she knows full well that Pirate Captain Kim is really King Kim in disguise and has his own castle on the Island of Dreams.

So they marry, they do not tarry, they have a son, half orca, half pirate and they call him Terry. And Mary lives half her life in the castle and half her life in the ocean.

And Queenie scoops up a golden goblet from Neptune’s treasure chest under the sea, and she gives it to Kim for a wedding present.

Meantime, the witchy Iri and the winged horse Horatio, have finished scoffing their fish and chips. Man, I am sooo full, says Iri stretching, I think I have a touch of colic moans Horatio. Do you need a vet, asks Iri, nooooo, neighs Horatio, a good crap should fix it. I feel like a failure says Iri, I have lost the princess. Yeah, grumbles Horatio. Do we go back and tell the Sheikh. No way, says Iri, eyes widening in horror. He’d boil us in oil.

Horatio blanches. Damned if I am going to be horsemeat stew and fed to the dogs! Can’t you wave your wand or something. I’m too tired, says Iri. You know I always muck up my spells when I am tired. It has been a long day.

They are walking along the beach as they talk, scuffing their feet in the sand. Then suddenly Iri points ahead, look, she says.

Horatio looks.

It is the Black Night of Doom! The Black Void! The Black Hole of Nothingness. It is a Black Cluster of Clouds swirling. A Black Storm.

It engulfs them and they are falling, falling through the blackness, through broken trees and lightning, screaming voices, crows cawing, kookaburras laughing, all the nightmares come to roost. They are falling through a hundred, nay a thousand years, backwards and forwards, round and round the merry-go-round, hail Caesar, Heil Hitler, there are the death camps, the smoke from the chimneys, the smell of cooking flesh, and Horatio is falling head first and his neck gets twisted the wrong way and suddenly he isn’t alive anymore and Iri is screaming, screaming. She is falling and screaming. She is holding onto dead Horatio and she is crying.

How long has she been falling? She doesn’t know but suddenly she is landing on a slime-filled floor and skidding and slipping. And Horatio slips through the slime and disappears.

Iri grabs a hanging vine, holding on for dear life. Only it’s a snake and it hisses, oh shut up, she says. Enough already. How rude, says the snake, shocked to the core of it’s slithery self. Who do you think you are? Back at you, returns Iri. If you don’t want people to clutch on to you, why are you hanging around here? Well I fell of course, replies the snake. Have you thought about trying to climb out again? asks Iri. No, says the snake, rather startled. I’m all length and no brain you know. Do you think I could? I don’t know, says Iri, but I thought snakes could wind themselves around anything. I suppose so, says the snake. By the way, I’m sorry about the loss of your friend. Thanks, said Iri, he was special. We grew up together. The snake doesn’t speak but she winds herself around Iri’s body and gives her a hug.

I will need to eat first, says the snake and she spies a passing rat, reaches out and hoovers it in.

I suppose that is going to take a week to digest, snarls Iri. The snake looks shocked. A fortnight! she says. And what are we going to do down here for a fortnight, asks Iri, I have a princess to find you know! I didn’t know, points out the snake, I’ve been hanging around down here, remember.

We could pick flowers, said the snake. Iri looks around and suddenly realises they are in a beautiful, scented garden. Oh my goodness, she breathes, there’s a water garden and statues and fruit trees. Have an apple, offers the snake, don’t mind if I do, responds Iri. Oh it is delicious. This is like paradise.

She bites on the apple and the garden dissolves and she is falling again and the snake is whipping by, and the world is black and shrieking, and the earth rumbles and rips itself apart, forming chasms for trees and houses to fall into. Then it is hot it is roasting it is a volcano there is lava pushing upwards, there are rocks forcing themselves through the lava, and the earth shakes some more. And my books are falling off the shelf, thinks Iri, what the heck. The buildings are crashing to the ground, cars are crushed, all the nightmares came to town. Again.

We have fallen to the centre of the earth, whispers the snake.

Oh my goodness, whispers Iri.

Why are we whispering, enquires the snake. You started it, answers Iri.

Well, I’m scared, says the snake, I have goosebumps.

You are such a goose, laughs Iri, loudly, forgetting to whisper. Which was a bad thing to do because the earth started to shake again. And rocks rained down upon them and they had to jump and slither about to avoid getting hit.

After a week or two or three, the rockstorm finally stops. We have got to get out of here, says Iri. So you keep saying, groans the snake. It is a bloody long way to climb out from here. Mmmm, thinks Iri, thinking aloud even. I know, she shouts, don’t shout, shrieks the snake but it’s too late! Another week or two or three of jumping and slithering about, avoiding rocks and molten lava and all that stuff.

Ok, hisses the snake, when the centre of the earth settles down again. And don’t shout. What’s your bright idea?

Well, whispers Iri, instead of climbing up, why don’t we slide downunder. YOU BEAUTY! Shouted the snake in excitement, and, well you all know the drill by now …

Three weeks later, they are making a toboggan from petrified wood, glued together with cooling lava. Let’s go, says Iri, ok, says the snake. The toboggan moves forward slowly, then picks up speed, going faster and faster. Shit, says Iri, we forgot brakes, yeah, says the snake, and a steering wheel might have helped too.

They are hurtling downwards, bashing their way over rocks and lumps and bumps of lava, more dead animals, and sticky clay.

To be continued …

[I never actually meant to serialise this but the story and characters are writing themselves and it seems they don’t want to stop]

 

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It does. As you stand on the edge of the cliff, stand beside your winged unicorn. In despair. But in front of you is the wide sea, in front of you is the wide horizon, in front of you is life. Behind is the past, that boiling land of death and destruction. So you leap onto Horatio, the winged horse, go, you cry, and Horatio leaps forward, he tucks his front legs under his chest, springs from the rear legs, wings beat and he has lept forward, he has left the cliff, there is only bare air below him, he is flying through the wild air and you are on his back, you scream in jubilation and Horatio screams with you, and unnerving sound that echoes round and round the clear red skies…

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Kim (adding sound effects) Caw Caw!

My ravens are back! She screams in greeting, she urges Horatio on, the ravens follow, feathered wings thumping the air, in time, in rhythm, all together, like the thump of the bass notes from next door’s neighbour from Hell.

An unearthly cacophony of sound reverberating on the ocean below, notes assaulting the pirate ship ploughing through the skyscraper waves.

What next, sighs the bearded pirate captain, as he struggles to keep the ship from sinking. He and his crew are saturated with thick salty water. I wish I had never taken this job on, it has been like impending doomsday from start to finish. I am bitten by that freaked out wolf, I do battle with that wild woman, and the baby in the hold won’t stop bawling. Pirating is not like the old days when a pirate got respected, when a pirate was feared even. All those treasure chests of gold I stole, all those magical Arabian ladies stroking me, all those virginal maidens pandering to my every need. And then … Along came the feminist movement!

Kim: Oh my!

She and Horatio espy the pirate ship below, we have caught it, she says, yes, nods Horatio, watch out, squawk the ravens, that things got cannons on it, far out, she thinks, I haven’t seen a decent cannon fight in centuries.

Mary interjects now: Kim’s sound effects bring the story to life. 

Mary: Caw Caw!

Kim: Boom Boom!

Liz: How did Basil Brush get into this?

We’ll bomb them, caw the ravens, and the birdpoo rains down onto the black sails, onto the faded pirate flag, onto the deck, onto the bearded pirate captain!

*#*#*# shouts Captain Kim, I cannot see! I cannot see!

The ship hits a wave on the wrong angle and goes down, down, under the water, under the ocean, it disappears from sight!

Kim: Fuck! I can’t see!

Dammit! She shouts! We missed a good cannon battle now and the baby has disappeared into the waters. Horatio neighs abjectly, and the ravens hide their faces under their wings in embarrassment. Shamed out.

She, her witchiness Iri, (giving myself a starring role this time), she gets out her wand and taps her neck and Horatio’s neck and gills appear. Don’t worry, she consoles the ravens, we know you were trying to help.

Kim: What about the baby?

Liz: Read on, good sir, read on!

Then – out of their comfort zone again – Horatio and Iri divebomb down to the ocean, they plunge through the surface, they swim through the ever-thickening salty water, their eyes stinging.

And now the Orcas, the fiercest of the Killer Whales are joining them, diving ever deeper to the bottom of the sea, to the green-bearded King Neptune’s lair. Neptune lolls on an expensive seaweed couch, glistening with stars and fairy lights, mermaids feed him cockle and mussels, alive alive, oh. Golden tendrils of salted netting drip from the shell encrusted ceiling.

Imagine, this huge cavern glistening, glittering and you suddenly realise you can hear music and you recognise the song. “Marina, Marina, I just met a girl named Marina”, and she glides in, deep sorrowful aqua eyes surveying you. Horatio and Iri shiver, this woman, this mermaid, this creature is known to them, she is evil personified. She is holding the baby, she makes clucking sounds to it. She is not going to let it go. Blood drips from her mouth, she has been in a feeding frenzy with her sisters, it isn’t every day an entire pirate ship drops down from the Airworld and lands with a thud and a scattering of coral, right at your back door!

Man, that crew was tasty, she murmurs (she always murmurs, she considers it sexy). So well salted. We have manacled that pirate captain into the roasting oven, he is being marinated. Cook says it will take at least a year, his flesh is so tough and his insides are all knotted in weed.

Good, exclaims Neptune, that captain is my twin brother, I always hated him, he used to stomp on me in the womb. Marina stares at him pityingly and croons to the baby. I like this baby, she murmurs (I told you she was always murmuring) it is a girl baby. I’m going to call it Mary.

Liz: You all had to know that baby was Mary, right?

Gillian: Yes!

Iri and Horatio are whispering to each other, trying to work out how they are going to snatch baby Mary (so am I, truth be told). The Orcas are swimming around violently, they are slapping their tails together, they are blowing hard through their blowholes, strange high sounds are emitted through their skin. Then it happens, the largest Orca, the wildest Orca, the most dangerous Orca of all, she swims hard out at Marina, she knocks the evil mermaid over, baby Mary flies out of her arms and into the wide-opened mouth of the Orca who immediately slams it shut, wheels around, faster than a speedy roadracer and sweeps out of Neptune’s cave, all the other Orcas following.

Iri leaps onto Horatio’s back and they scream around in a skid, flying through the water but not fast enough, and the Orcas get away, they are out of sight…

To be continued>>>

 

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