The whole affair started on January 3rd.
I was off duty that day, but my therapist, Dr. Sandra Helena, had asked me to accompany her on an errand of mercy. Dr. Helena informed me that the Hawthorn Lunatic Asylum had been ordered by the state government to close by December 31st, having released all of the inmates into community care. I was informed that all the inmates of the facility had in fact been relocated, except for one. A young woman who was kept by herself in the isolation wing. This young woman was a mystery, Dr. Helena informed me that no one knew exactly why she had been placed there. So far as she could tell this mystery woman had no criminal record nor a diagnosis. Yet the director of the asylum, Dr. Silverman, was continuing to keep her there even after all the other staff had left and the facility was officially closed down.
Dr. Helena was worried that Dr. Silverman was somehow abusing this woman, however, she had no proof of this. Rather than file a formal complaint against the venerable Dr. Silverman she thought she should confront him herself. However, she asked me to come along, in my police uniform, even though I was off duty. She said it was partly for moral support, but partly to intimidate Dr. Silverman into releasing this young woman whom Dr. Helena was certain was being held illegally.
Continue reading “The Bacillus – Chapter One (Keane)”
Once upon a time in a land far away there lived a little girl called Rachel. Rachel was out walking by herself in the woods when she heard someone singing. The songs were so joyful and beautiful her ears drank them down and begged her to seek out this delicious singer in the wood. She crept up to a small clearing and peeked through the undergrowth expecting to see a woman singing. However, the clearing was empty, empty but for the biggest fairy toadstool she had ever seen. At first she thought the toadstool was singing, but as she looked more carefully she noticed a stone perched right at the apex of the toadstool.
Rachel watched and listened to the song until at last she could not contain her curiosity anymore, she stepped out from the undergrowth and asked politely who was the one singing such beautiful songs?
But at once there was silence in the grove. Rachel was undeterred and walked up to the stone perched on top of the toadstool. She gazed down upon the stone, which looked so common to her eye, and considered if indeed the wonderful singing came from such a humble stone? Continue reading “The Enchanted Singing Stone”
Allaynah’s eyes eased open slowly. It took her a few moments to remember where she was and why so much of her body was stiff from pain and the cold; but at last the realisation drifted into her awareness that she must have fallen asleep during the night and what little reserve of adrenaline she had left was released into her blood stream. She threw her arms out frantically as though anticipating an imminent attack. However, she ended up getting tangled with Rosha who had been sitting beside her attempting to coax a feeble spark into a flame against from kindling. Rosha explained that she had woken up and found Allaynah fast asleep and didn’t want to wake her as she needed some sleep too.
Allaynah untangled herself, and sat cross legged looking around her dumbfounded. It was a regular cool late Spring morning, the birds and animals were silent, and there was little activity in the camp around her beyond Rosha and about a dozen other women trying to start fires without enough kindling to keep one going. Obviously, none of the women were confident enough to ask the Bellamani women for an ember from one of their fires, nor for some proper firewood.
There were a hundred or so Paximani women huddling together after enduring the cold night out in the open and were obviously similarly cold and stiff as she was. There was no sign of her sister Printara anywhere. She looked at Rosha who was gently uncovering something from underneath from her meagre pile of kindling. With delight she realised Rosha had a bark plate with two fistfuls of berries and a mushroom on it. Before she even thought to ask where the berries had come from Allaynah devoured the mushroom whole without washing it and gorged on the berries devouring even the empty skins of the berries that had burst during their picking. The meal was small but it lessened her intense hunger pains enough for her to think clearly again. Continue reading “The Paximani – Part 5”
The forest is never more deadly than at night. Even an experienced and well armed hunter fears being alone in the prehistoric wilderness after sunset. The painted woman was not only alone in the forest, she was naked, unarmed, tired, and hungry. Although she had leapt at the opportunity to escape from the Bellamani she had also realised that the Matriarch had probably given her a death sentence; and perhaps also a death sentence to poor young Rosha. It occurred to the painted woman that this may have been the Matriarch’s intention: kill off the strongest Paximani woman. In truth, there was a voice inside the huntress that beg for death. After watching all her friends, the men of the tribe, slaughtered and mutilated by the Bellamani, and the subsequent easy capitulation of the remaining women of her tribe, had filled her heart with so much woe and despair that death seemed like a welcome avenue of escape from her current situation. The ultimate way to destroy your enemy is to trick or convince them into destroying themselves. Despair and misery are just another two weapons of war no less important than a spear or a bow.
But another voice also spoke inside her head. A voice of an old warrior, Tannas, she had known him as a little child. She could hear his deep cavernous voice echoing inside her head, “The most dangerous foe is not the one who strikes you down with his spear, and not even the foe who can convince you to lower your guard foolishly, but the one who can convince you throw yourself on the point of your own spear. For this reason you must learn to conquer the despair in your own heart before you attempt to conquer enemy.” Continue reading “The Paximani – Part 4”
Anxiety and I are on first name basis. See, I have trouble sleeping, or I used to until I discovered that working lots of hours helps me sleep. So last year I started working 50+ hours a week every week, often working on Sundays too. The result was that I was earning a lot more money, falling to sleep far easier than I had ever been before, and just being productive. However, the anxiety hasn’t gone away as much as I hoped it would. Instead, I’ve been anxious in new ways. Ways I’m only just wrapping me head around now that I can understand how they’ve been altering my thought process. Another problem with working so many hours is that I often feel run down, and writing is an intense intellectual task. It might not put much pressure on the limbs, but the brain consumes a lot of energy writing and the level and quality of prose I’ve been producing has suffered with my increased working hours. So something in my life needs to change. Continue reading “Writer’s Diary: Anxiety Based Decisions”
Printara managed to push Allaynah down underneath her, she placed both her legs across her stomach pinning her down. Allaynah tried to push her off but Printara managed to pin one of Allaynah’s arms between her legs while holding her other arm down by the wrist. With her free hand she raised a fist to pound it into her defenceless sister’s face. Her fist landed with a dull thud and Allaynah tried to cry out but was half choked by the weight on her chest. All around them dozens of pairs of eyes watched passively, none of the women were willing to intervene in this violent dispute. None except the painted one. Printara’s fist rose up in the air ready to strike again but was captured in mid air by the painted woman who then yanked the confused Pintara up onto her feet and pushed her away. Allaynah was dazed and struggling to catch her breath from the beating she had received, but Printara bared her teeth furiously at the strange woman, “she stopped me from going with the other women. I am teaching her a lesson!” Printara cocked her head down and prepared to throw herself onto Allaynah again.
The painted woman drew back her right arm and proceeded to land a punch so hard it caused Printara to flip over and hit the ground flat on her back with a thud. Printara was now too breathless herself to get back up. The painted woman leaned over her threateningly.
“Your sister saved your life, and if you ever try to hurt another one of our tribe again I will beat you so hard you won’t ever get back up again, do you hear?”
Printara nodded in stunned submission. The painted woman turned around to face the other women of her tribe, “that goes for all of you. If any of you attack another woman of this tribe, I will deal with you swiftly. Attacking a fellow Paximani is treason, and traitors beg to suffer and die!”
Continue reading “The Paximani – Part 3”
The Matriarch’s camp was situated in a field not far from a river. It was surrounded by a wall made by binding hundreds of thorn bushes together and dragging the assembled chain of brambles into a perimeter line. The wall wasn’t straight at all and so the camp was shaped more like a splatter mark than a well organised military base. There were only two entries to the camp and each was guarded by at least six of the Matriarch’s warrioresses armed with spears, clubs, and bows. There were no towers overlooking the perimeter, nor any huts. There were several open fires burning throughout the camp interior, around them were clusters of tents made from saplings and animal skins stretched over them. There was something that troubled Allaynah about the things the Bellamani built. Weaving brambles and nettles together to create a wall was something the Paximani never did. On the few occasions they had built walls they had used wood, dirt, and stone; that much she knew. But the foreignness of this wall troubled her. It was like a long thorn studded snake weaving its way into her home. While looking at the wall she vaguely recalled the men of her tribe talking about the challenges regarding the building of walls. She wished she’d paid more attention to what the men had said.
When Allaynah’s group first arrived they were made to wait on the grass just inside one of the camp entrances. Small groups of Paximani women were then escorted down to the river allowed to drink for the first time that day. Allaynah was careful to wash Rosha’s wounds. She found some leaves from a herb that helped wounds to heal faster, but lacking a mortar and pestle she crushed the leaves up in her hands as best she could before applying them to Rosha’s injuries. She would have used her teeth but the same herb if ingested would make one sick. Allaynah was aware that the painted woman was staring intensely at Rosha while the teenager’s wounds were being treated.
“Are you a medicine woman?” asked the painted one.
Allaynah shook her head while quietly making eye contact with the painted woman. The painted woman rose up onto her toes and crept closer to Rosha to peer down at her curiously. Rosha’s face had several gashes on it and one of her eyes was almost completely squeezed shut by the swelling. A large purple lump dominated the right side of her face. She looked up at the painted woman and shivered.
Continue reading “The Paximani – Part 2”