What’s the story?


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Recently the famous writer Clive Barker held a Halloween writing challenge. The challenge was to interpret one of his paintings as a short story. Here’s my interpretation. Thanks Clive, it was lots of fun.

 

Men of the city.
An interpretation
“Our species once numbered in the thousands, now there is only a handful of us left.” Darwin Steinbeck said to the room filled with residents.
“Something has to change, we can’t continue the way we have or our species is destined for extinction.” Darwin had said these same words to these same people on so many occasions that it made his face feel numb to repeat them once more.
Mayor Percival Lynch wasn’t happy. He screeched “But I have a successful business. What you are proposing would destroy my business and the businesses of most of the people in this room.”
Darwin desperately tried to speak over the crowd who cheered and clapped the Mayors comment.
“If something does not change there will be no businesses to thrive…” It was no use; Darwin knew that he had lost the crowd. With his shoulders slumped he yielded the microphone to another and crept from the stage.
Darwin returned to his small apartment on the third floor. “What’s wrong with these people?” He spat his words into the empty room. “They are going to destroy us all with their greed and their stupidity.”
After grabbing himself a drink from the mini-bar Darwin sat at a small desk by the window. He looked out across the dry, dusty landscape and sighed. He could see one Skyscraper where once there would have been hundreds. Darwin remembered his childhood and how green and full of life the valley had been. He watched as the Skyscraper took a few listless steps and then sat down, an exhausted look upon his face.
The Skyscrapers were great creatures that towered into the air. They carried sometimes many thousands of residents above their eyes. With long awkward arms and legs the Skyscrapers moved slowly under the weight of their enormous foreheads. But they only moved when the residents within voted. They only walked when the residents told them where to walk.
Food in the valley was almost depleted. A whole city once flourished in this valley where the skyscrapers had lived for centuries. If the Skyscrapers did not eat, then there was no food for the people who lived inside of the Skyscrapers.
“We need to leave the valley and find food elsewhere.” Darwin mumbled into his freshly filled glass.
The sad giant picked in the dirt for a morsel to eat. This Skyscraper was fairly small, perhaps only twenty stories. The larger Skyscrapers had been the first to die, their appetites were large and they had thousands of residents to feed.
A red light flashed on the wall of Darwin’s apartment. The residents meeting was over and it was time for Darwin to vote. He hadn’t voted in days, after all, there was never anything worthwhile to vote on.
A series of multiple-choice questions came onto a screen that was mounted into the wall.
Should the Skyscraper feed in the southern part of the valley? Yes or no?
 
Should the skyscraper forage or should it hunt? Hunt or forage?
 
Why did they bother? The answer was always forage. The larger game had disappeared years ago.
It made Darwin angry, he looked to see if the questions he had put forward at the residents meeting were there; but of course they were not.
A Skyscraper could only do what the residents voted on and even though most of the Skyscrapers had perished, the residents still wouldn’t jeopardise their position within the building for anything, even survival.
Within this symbiotic relationship the Skyscrapers were trapped in a cruel trick of evolution. They could only respond to the majority collective vote. They were forced to follow the status quo.
He couldn’t blame the residents for not listening to his ideas; after all he was only a third floor resident. Unlike the Mayor, who subsisted in the entire top floor penthouse. Any wonder he didn’t want change. His food rations were proportional to the size of his apartment.
Darwin’s parents had once lived in the penthouse, but they saw the starvation coming and the more they voiced their opinions the further down the skyscraper they seemed to fall. After his parents passed away, Darwin continued his parent’s fight, his subversive views causing him to plummet down the Skyscraper to the very lowest floors.
A sharp cracking noise forced Darwin to turn his attention out of the window. The Skyscraper he had been watching earlier pitching forward into the dry earth. As its face hit the ground shards of stone and rubble shattered into the air. The noise was like an explosion and enough to rattle the windows of Darwin’s apartment. A bloom of dust and smoke soon completely engulfed the Skyscraper as its body continued to crumple into the ground.
A wave of dust billowed into the air and a red cloud replaced the blue sky. Darwin walked over to the window with his mouth ajar. All of those people. He thought. Probably as many as eight hundred residents and they would all be dead. The residents needed the Skyscrapers as much as the Skyscrapers needed the residents. When the dust finally cleared there was only a pile of debris.
A tear ran down Darwin’s cheek. He knew that it was just a matter of time before the Skyscraper he lived in died too. What was wrong with the residents? How could they be so blind?
 
Darwin refilled his drink and stared at the rubble of the recently fallen Skyscraper. His head filled with images of his parents desperate pleas to the other residents. His eloquent Mother being shouted down by the ignorant mob. His proud father trying to quiet the crowd. That was the day they had been evicted from the penthouse. He remembered his mother carefully unpacking her beautiful dinner plates and exhibiting them on the cabinet he still had in his small living room. It was one of the only possessions he still had of his parents and several times he had come close to selling it just to feed himself. But instead he went hungry. He looked at the plates and thought how lucky he was to not sell them. The food would long ago have been eaten and he would now have nothing.
Darwin had emptied the best part of a whole bottle when there was a loud knock at the door. The only time he had knocks at the door seemed to be when he was being relocated to another floor. After his insistence that they leave the valley he presumed that he was about to be moved down to the second floor. He didn’t mind so much, he had become quite accustomed to the smaller rooms of the lower levels. Each floor having slightly smaller apartments than those on the floor above.
Again, there was a loud wrap on the door.
“OK, OK.” He said as he stood to answer the door. He staggered a little as he made his way to the door and steadied himself for a second to clear his head.
As Darwin opened the door the Mayor nearly fell into his apartment trying to knock on a door that was no longer there.
“Mayor Lynch! I do apologize. Come in, come in.” Darwin stammered to the Mayor, who was already in.
While Darwin fussed about trying to pull up a chair for the Mayor, the Mayor took in his apartment in one quick glance and grimaced.
“Darwin my boy. I don’t get down to the lower floors very often… It’s quaint, yes very quaint.” The Mayor said as though he had eaten something that tasted dreadful. “Darwin, you have been like a son to me. And as you know I was very close to your parents.” Neither of these things were even remotely true. In fact the Mayor had almost single handedly been responsible for the demise of Darwin’s parents.
The Mayor plonked down in the chair Darwin had found and he waved away the two very large men who were standing in Darwin’s doorway.
“My boy, once again you have disappointed with your nonsense about leaving the valley.” The Mayor shook his head as though Darwin was a naughty puppy who had pooped on the carpet.
“You’re such a bright young man Darwin. Why do you insist on trying to make me look bad?” Darwin went to speak but was cut off. “I could use a man like you in my team. You see, I am thinking of leading our Skyscraper and our residents… never mind, I was wondering what information you have to back up your ramblings. Do you have any evidence that anything exists outside of our valley?” The Mayor asked.
Darwin had wanted to tell someone about this for years but no one had ever wanted to listen before. He almost jumped out of his skin to tell the Mayor everything he knew. “In the ancient scrolls or the ‘Title Deeds’ as they were called there is a suggestion that the Skyscrapers may have moved into the valley from another land. Indeed there is a possibility that outside of our valley there are vast areas of land and perhaps even other valleys. Also indicated on the Deeds are directions that lead to these other lands… My parents were sure that these distant lands do exist.” Darwin said.
“Good, good my boy. And where would I get my hands on these Deeds as you call them?” The Mayor said.
“I have them all.” Darwin said. “It will take me the best part of the day to find them but I can have them for you by tonight.” He said.
“Good, I’ll have my men pay you a visit this evening.” The Mayor said as he stood to leave. He turned his back to Darwin, a sneer on his face. “Goodbye my boy. You have been most helpful.”
Then Darwin’s apartment was quiet and Darwin was left with only the sounds of his own thoughts. Like an often spanked puppy, he was happy to finally have some love and attention. Though there was something not quite right about the Mayors sudden interest, Darwin was still very happy to finally have the chance to prove to everybody that his theories were right.
Darwin’s parents had devoted their lifetimes to collecting information on the subject of possible life outside of the valley. He spent the rest of the day finding everything he could, maps, mythology and even a recount from an old man who said that his Skyscraper had once ventured outside of the valley.
Finally they were listening to him, Darwin was as happy as he could ever remember being.
When the door exploded open Darwin was asleep in his chair. “Where’s the information?” A gorilla of a man shouted as he lurched at Darwin striking him with a heavy piece of wood.
Before Darwin could say anything he was hit repeatedly.
“Where’s the stuff? We were told you’d have maps and stuff.” Again the gorilla hit Darwin.
With blood pooling into his eye, Darwin could only point to a table where the Deed, maps and every piece of information he had collected waited neatly for the Mayor’s return.
Once the gorillas realized that what they had come for was neatly stacked on the table, they turned their attention back to Darwin. The man with the stick took two steps towards Darwin and brought it down brutally onto Darwin’s skull. But before he could deliver a second blow, one that would probably have killed Darwin, the room shook and the gorilla lost his balance.
Darwin felt the apartment shift and tilt to one side. His mother’s dinner plates fell from the cabinet where they had been on exhibition and smashed onto the floor. The last thing Darwin saw before his Skyscraper collapsed and everything ended was the red light flashing over the resident voting board.
He smiled at the question.
Should our skyscraper leave the valley in search of food? Yes or no?

 

 

The story of Gung-Ho


This is the true, however short story of an orphaned child who only managed to survive his first six years of life thanks to the charity and good-will of villagers in the small village where he lived. The child’s name was Gung-Ho.
On the day of his sixth birthday, or what was approximated to be his sixth birthday, as he was orphaned and no one knew his exact date of birth, Gung-Ho left the village where he was raised. As the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child”…or is that “an idiot?”
He travelled far, and with his feet scuffed and bleeding from the journey and the cliffs he had scaled, he finally climbed the steep steps to the foreboding wooden gates of the Peril-Takisong temple, a Monastery that trained boys into Monks.
Here he hoped to be one of the very few boys chosen to become a Monk.
For three days he sat outside the Temple, the ground was cold and hard, but he sat and sat. He ate the last morsel of his food, a stale biscuit. He knew he had no food left should he need to return to the village.
His strength had abandoned him, and the cold began to engulf him, and take him into a never-ending slumber, he heard the sound of steel sliding on wood. It was the bolt that secured the wooden gates. The gates opened, pushing aside a pile of fresh snow, and young Gung-Ho was carried unconscious into the Monastery.
When Gung-Ho awoke several days later, he had been nursed back to health and taken under the wing of a kindly old Monk.
Soon he began instruction in the art of Penzai; or as it is commonly known, Bonsai. Bonsai is regarded highly as it trains boys to be patient, and caring, and nurturing, and as a Monk, these are pivotal areas of study and reflection.
“When you have mastered the art of sculpting the tree you will be ready to leave the Temple.” Is a rough translation of the old Monk’s words.
Gung-Ho was a diligent. As diligent as a student can be.
Sometimes he would be forced to wait months before he could trim a single leaf, but using Zen, Gung-Ho was able to sit for hours and visualize the shape the tree would take.
By the time Gung-Ho was twelve years old, his skills were unmistakable… he had none.
No matter how much knowledge the kindly Monk bestowed, the boy seemed completely oblivious. Not a clue did he have, not an iota of skill or ability.
The old Monk persisted, as Monks are very patient.
Gung-Ho was schooled for hours in aesthetics, shape and form.
His mentor was tireless, teaching him everything he knew about composition, presentation, display and other artistic elements of design.
But it was useless. Hopeless.
Gung-Ho was terrible.
He didn’t simply lack sensibility; he was a butcher.
At eighteen years of age, he was expelled from the Monastery and sent back into that cruel world he had been saved from all those years before. Gung-Ho would now have to fend for himself.
Many years have passed since Gung-Ho left the Monastery, and you will be pleased to know the story has a happy ending.
Gung-Ho finally found his place in life. He now lives a happy, contented existence. And he has the perfect job.
Gung-Ho is an arborist (tree lopper) for the Sutherland Shire council.

 

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WHAT DOES IT MEAN IF A ZOMBIE CAT LEAVES ITS SCENT ON THE FRONT LAWN OF YOUR HOUSE?


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A really sick looking stray cat slowly walked from the curb, across the median strip onto my driveway. I think it came out of the drain. It wasn’t one of the neighborhood cats so I stopped to see what it was up to.
The cat was grey and looked as though it had been run over by a semi trailer and then stitched back together by a cub scout. It seriously had whole sections of hair missing.
I grabbed my phone with the intention of taking a photo and checking the cat out. As I walked from the door I noticed that it had a bell tied around its neck, but it was cutting in like the collar was made to fit a cat the quarter of the size.
I took a couple of steps towards the cat when something made me stop. Something wasn’t right. It had muscles in its neck and shoulders like a pit bull. I stepped one step back and tried to gauge its size. It looked the size of a Bobcat, at least twice as big as a big male house cat. The bin is 22 inches wide.
The cat turned to watch me as I retreated back into the house. It had white eyes, glazed over white eyes. Not just a bit milky, these were spooky white eyes. It just stared at me for a while bobbing its head up and down like a lion sniffing out prey, then it walked onto my front lawn arched its back and left its scent.
As it walked out of my yard it once again looked at me with its white eyes. It was totally demonic. Straight out of Stephen King’s Pet Cemetery.
If the lady across the street hadn’t seen it and I hadn’t taken pictures I would swear I had lost my mind.

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It’s enough to make your blood boil.


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You know what it’s like, you can never find a thermometer when you need one. This is the collection from my house and sure enough  there is at least four others I couldn’t find.

When I was a kid, a mercury thermometer held pride of place on our kitchen’s window sill. It was an important weapon in my mother’s medical arsenal. And more importantly, it worked.

The price range for the thermometers here is from about $130 down to just $6. Just as the prices vary considerably so do the temperatures each device shows.

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This thermometer is the pits, it gives a different reading each and every time it is used. It fluctuates by as much as five degrees Celsius and It’s also one of the most expensive.

(See what I did there; pits, arm pits.)

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This thermometer is probably the most accurate and one of the cheapest.

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In my opinion you can stick most of the new electronic thermometers up your bottom. Which is where they often end up. The surest way to stop my temperature from rising is with an old fashioned mercury thermometer. A thermometer that actually works.

Let me die in peace.


Why is it that when you are having an asthma attack and cannot breath someone asks you a question like? “Are you OK?” And you feel obliged to answer.
A sneezing fit. “You OK?”
Coughing your lungs up. “You alright there?”
So for all those caring soles who ask a question when you are least able to respond, here is the answer.
“FUCK OFF, I’M DYING!!!!”

Don’t wait to be told.


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My four year old daughter and I recently spent a few consecutive days parking in an underground parking station. We parked pretty much exclusively on levels B1 and B2 both popular characters in the Bananas in Pajamas kids show.

As we entered the lift my daughter was singing the theme song from the Bananas in Pajamas show. The lift was packed and I asked someone to press the button for level ‘O’.

In a loud voice my daughter said. “Do you have BO Daddy?” And then triumphantly she announced to everybody. “My Daddy has BO.”

Cub Scouts on Rampage.


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Elderly Lady: “How dare you! This is a walking track, it’s not for pushbikes. It’s just dangerous.” Bits of bile gathered at the corners of her mouth as she spat her venom. “Are you people imbeciles? Taking a group of this size out. Somebody’s bound to get hurt. it’s just idiotic.” … and so the rant continued, getting more spiteful and bitter by the second.
My daughter was invested into Cub Scouts last night. To make the investment a bit special the troupe cycled along a fifteen foot wide dirt track into the bush. A sign clearly stated that it was a walking and a cycling track.
As the elderly woman got more wound up she got nastier, she called the cub leaders names like “Foolish” and “dim-witted”. The leaders were very gracious, to the point where they politely said ‘Have a nice day.”
But it didn’t end there. When we passed her on the way back she once again gave us a verbal tirade.
I am not polite, I’m not a cub leader, in fact I’m a complete arse hole. So all I wanted to do was to verbally tear this very proper pompous woman to shreds.
I had all the lines swimming around in my head.
“If these children cycling on this cycleway worry you so much you should call the police. You’re clearly not very smart so I’ll help you out, the number is OOO. I can see the headlines now. CUB SCOUTS ARRESTED FOR CYCLING ON CYCLEWAY. “Police commissioner cracks down on gangs of cub scouts.” “Cub scouts banned from wearing their colours in public.”
I even had visions of the Police Commissioner standing in front of the media and saying: “It’s proved way too difficult to tackle organized crime and the Bikie gangs that supply crack cocaine to our neighborhoods so instead we’re cracking down on marauding gangs of Cub Scouts. We’re making it illegal for these groups or gangs to operate. Finally Old Ladies who want to cross the street unaided can rest easily.”
With all of the children standing around I stopped myself from causing a scene. But I’m thinking of putting posters up on the walking track so that the Elderly lady can see them. What do you think?
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Kawasaki’s


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A couple of weeks ago my 8 year old daughter developed a rash. We took her to the medical center and the doctor sent her home saying it was SLAP FACE and that SLAP FACE is a virus so antibiotics won’t help.
Four hours later, after she vomited everywhere we had her back at the medical center with forty degree temperatures. “It’s not SLAP FACE, I think you need to take her to emergency at the Hospital, she either has HAND FOOT & MOUTH or KAWASAKI’S disease.” This time we had a different doctor, and thankfully this Woman gave us a referral that contained the word KAWASAKI.
In Emergency she was seen by at least three different doctors and a couple of Pediatricians. After spending the whole day in emergency she was discharged and sent home to get over whatever virus she had. Still with temperatures that were bordering on forty degrees. She was radiating so much heat that you could feel it several feet away. Just before she was discharged the nurses crowded around her and roasted marshmallows on her tummy while singing Kumbaya.
That night my four year old daughter started coughing uncontrollably like she had WHOOPING COUGH.  She couldn’t breath at all. If we had called an ambulance I dare say that she would now be dead. I drove at light speed to the hospital, the same hospital we had been at all day with the other child and the little one was rushed in and treated for CROUP.

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The youngest was discharged and we all breathed a little easier. But the eldest just seemed to be getting worse. Her rash, now all over her body, was going dark like it was bruised. And we couldn’t get that temperature down.
So we managed to bully our way in to see her GP, usually a two week wait. “I would have discharged her from Hospital too. It’s either just a virus or it’s KAWASAKI’S disease. If her joints start to ache then I’ll give you a referral for the Children’s Hospital.”
Several hours later after being asked every five minutes if her joints were hurting, my daughter says “I think my ankles are hurting.” We waited an hour or so “I think my knees are hurting too.”
“What do you mean you think they are hurting?” I asked. “Either they are or they aren’t.”
“I suppose they are.”
My wife telephoned the GP and the GP said. “You’re just putting words into her mouth. If it gets a lot worse call back and I’ll give you a referral.”
Two hours later my wife called the GP back and was put on hold for twenty minutes.
“Sigh, I’m sure she’s fine but take her back to the Children’s hospital if you must.” No referral.
My wife took her to Emergency at Randwick Children’s Hospital where it took them all night before she was even seen. When she was eventually seen she was sent home. “It’s just a virus, there’s nothing we can do. Take some Panadol to keep her temperature down.”
This is where I would have given up. But to my wife’s credit four hours later when my daughter was vomiting and looking still worse, maybe even a bit puffy, my wife took her back to the Children’s hospital emergency department and eventually she was admitted into the hospital proper.
Finally teams of specialist hovered about her, all speculating on what disease she might have. The team of dermatologists were convinced that it was KAWASAKI’S. Had she been kissed by someone with HERPES? Our Rabbit scratched her. They looked at all the possibilities.
That night when I saw my baby in hospital her head had swollen to the size of a soccer ball and she was barely breathing. Her kidney’s were failing so they gave her fluids intravenously.
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They still had not yet begun treatment. The doctors didn’t know what disease it was and any treatment would only mask the symptoms if it were in fact KAWASAKI. They could not treat it until the fifth day, when more symptoms would show.
By the fifth day her body had started to win whatever battle it was fighting. The consensus was that they were pretty sure that it was KAWASAKI’S so she received steroids and immunoglobulin. The positive effects were almost immediate. After the tenth day KAWASAKI’S starts to attack the vascular system and more specifically the arteries that lead from the heart. If it is not treated there is a good chance of heart attack or heart damage.
She spent the next week in hospital and needed a second dose of the immunoglobulin. Now, several weeks after being discharged she is still suffering from red eyes and muscle and joint pain, but she is alive and for that I am truly grateful.
The last night she spent in hospital she was moved into the ward where they look after children with cancer, usually undergoing chemotherapy. The other beds contained brave little toddlers with no hair, their mother’s sitting by their bedsides often crying. Unlike many of these little kids my daughter got to go home.
It turns out that the cure for KAWASAKI’S is not a couple of Harley Davidson riders with a Tyre-iron, it is in fact the team of outstanding professionals at the Randwick Children’s Hospital and breakthrough medical science.