Today was my birthday. I turned ten and everyone in the family was with me in the family room to celebrate it. Everyone except Dad; he went downstairs to get grandpa out of the cellar. This is the best part about my birthday; it’s the one day of the year that I get to see my grandpa. He lives there underneath the house for the rest of the year. No one ever goes down there except my dad, and sometimes my aunty, too. We live in a big house; it has fourteen bedrooms, two kitchens, a study, a reading room, a classroom, a rumpus room, a family room, and a dining hall. My house is on a big property surrounded by gardens and trees. I live here with my parents, my five brothers and sisters, my aunt and uncle, and my four cousins. My grandpa also lives here of course, locked away in the cellar unseen by all except my dad, but for one day every year dad opens the cellar door and lets grandpa come up to see me on my birthday.
Grandpa didn’t come up right away, he needed time to wake up, eat some breakfast, and for Doctor Allenson to run some tests on him. Dad also said he needs to explain to Grandpa what’s been happening since he last saw me and the rest of the family. Then when it’s lunch time, up comes grandpa. He looks exactly like I remember him being the last time I saw him. He smiles warmly and always gives me the first hug, then he hugs all my siblings and cousins. We have lunch together in the big dining hall. As the birthday boy, I sat at the head of the table, my grandpa sat in the middle, and asks everyone in turn what they have been doing since my last birthday.
We spend the afternoon out in the garden, some of my friends come over and we go off and play by the creek. My dad usually comes with us, but he spends all his time with Grandpa today. I thought that funny because he checks in on Grandpa every other day of the year, yet he talked to grandpa today like he’s not seem him all year! I think it’s unfair that Dad gets to see Grandpa so often, but I only get to see him for one day. I remember when I used to see Grandpa every day. After my friends leave, we have a family dinner together and Grandpa falls asleep. I really miss Grandpa. I kissed him goodnight and, as I went up to bed, I knew during the night my father will take grandpa back down to the basement and I wouldn’t see him again until next year.
Continue reading “My Grandpa is Locked in the Cellar”
After the first month on Hollandia, things started to gradually go downhill for the colony. Up until that time, we had been living mostly off the fruits, roots, and vegetables native to the region. Because there were so many of us, we had quickly exhausted all those natural resources. The colony had to be broken up into twenty smaller colonies and each colony moved to a new part of the island with their own access to fresh water and food resources. Spreading out the population helped reduce the over-harvesting of the island’s ecosystem at the cost of little further technological advancement. For the time being, we were locked in the Iron Age. It took about a month to resettle everyone and then each colony set about trying to solve the problems caused by so many people living off uncultivated land.
By the end of the third month, it was clear to my father and the leaders of the other nineteen colonies that despite our efforts to cultivate the local vegetation, it just wasn’t going to be as high a yield as the crops we grew on the mainland. We needed the crops our ancestors had selected, modified, and cultivated for us over hundreds of generations and brought to this land with them. The blacks on the mainland have no history of farming and no idea where the crops they eat come from. The wheat, barley, quinoa, and corn they depend on each day are the blessings of the white settlers to Zakhanda— blessings they are seldom, if ever, grateful for. If the supply of roots and berries on Hollandia were to run out, we would be forced to rely on fishing and goats, which might keep us alive to the end of one year, but after that, famine would overtake us and our population would collapse just as President Muza had wanted to see, albeit a year later than he expected.
One morning, I was walking along the beach with my brothers, looking for crabs and clams to boil for dinner. My younger brother, George, started shouting, pointing to a great wooden head moving behind the crags that looked like a dragon. We scrambled up the beach and hid in the undergrowth, watching what at first looked like a sea monster. It turned out to be a great wooden boat being rowed by two dozen men at oars and a single sail made of vines and goat’s wool. The men manning the boat were all like us: blond with blue eyes, so we reasoned it was safe and started to approach the vessel as it was coming to shore. My father soon appeared on the beach and joined up with us. Continue reading “Hollandia – Part 2”
“Millie, wake up! Wake up, my precious!” I heard my father’s voice whispering urgently to me. I was confused because it was still the middle of the night. Why was he waking me up now? It was then that I heard the sounds of people shouting in the distance. I quickly got up and started putting on my clothes just like my father had trained me do in dozens of drills. I grabbed my bug-out bag; each member of the family had one; mine was small, as was my younger brothers’ bags. Mother’s was bigger, but Father’s was so big it made him look like a dwarf when he carried that thing on his back. We were all assembled in the kitchen of our shack and by this time the shouting had grown quite loud. Outside the window I could see torches and fires glowing in the distance across the eastern horizon. They were distant, but coming closer to us. There were people and children on the road outside, mostly staring dumbfounded at the fire glow.
Looking back, it beggars my belief that these people were still not prepared for the government attack. Just a few years earlier, they’d been living in cities, in comfortable middle class homes, and working jobs as teachers, accountants, and engineers. The Zakhandan government, under black majority leadership, had taken away their right to work and forced them to live in this shanty town. They were not protected by the law anymore and robbers and murderers preyed upon them all night and day until they dared not leave their corrugated iron sheds. The murder rate was so high here it was worse than during war time. All this because of their skin colour, because they were white. Yet despite years of systematic persecution against them for being whites living in Africa, they stood there gaping incredulously that the government was now actually burning down their shanty town. Such is the poison of thought crimes: it paralyses the victims so they are unable to act in their own self-interest anymore. Continue reading “Hollandia”
Gods walk this land, it is hallowed by their footprints. He who dies in this land will die only in their body; their spirit shall live on. If they have lived a life of virtue then Osiris will guide them out of this realm to the after life. No Egyptian travels far from his homeland for if he dies in a foreign land his spirit will be cursed to wander the Earth in eternal lamentation. No Egyptian would ever willingly leave this land blessed by the gods.
Yet high in the mountains south of Elephantine, the farthest boundary of Egypt, the desert sun was beating down upon a man covered in dirt and bruises. He struggled to climb up from the river valley below. He moved like an ant his thin body hauling a giant pitcher of water on a makeshift sled. Up he went dragging himself and the clay jug through a narrow passage between the sandstone rocks. He eventually reached his destination: a small alcove on the summit looking over the river valley. Here lay a small garden organised in two long beds in the only part of the alcove exposed to the midday sun. In this garden grew some shafts of wheat and a few vegetables. The thin man set the water jug down and rested for a few moments. Unfastening the stopper inside the top of the jug, he started to carefully hoist it up to pour the contents into a small pan that ran along into a canal that fed out to the garden beds. The journey up the hill had weakened him too much and he struggled under the weight of the jug.
“Let me help you with that,” said a voice and the man flinched as two strong hands appeared from behind him and gripped the jug. The jug would have fallen if the other man were not so strong that he could support the full weight of the jug by himself. The thin man scrambled backwards along the ground and watched the intruder carefully pour the contents of the jug into the irrigation channel for his gardens. Continue reading “The Egyptian Expedition”
In the town of Kaladon there lived a sculptor renowned throughout the land for the beauty of his statues. Vergan, for as he was known, made statues of dogs, lions, owls, fish, and bears that were used to decorate all the great buildings of the nation. Vergan was rightly proud of his work, and the crown prince himself had come to thank him for his services on more than one occasion. He believed in excellence above all else and worked long hours perfecting his skills.
However, the sculptor was now old and had no wife, and the loneliness of his days weighed heavily upon him. In the basement of his home he had built a large underground workshop where he put all his passion into a statue of a woman. The proportions and features of this woman were perfect in every way. The stone woman was young, fit, and sublimely beautiful. There was no living woman as outstanding as this statue which he kept hidden away from the eyes of the locals.
Vergan was feeling deeply sad one day as he gazed upon his work, and so he prayed to the god Archen.
“Lord Archen, god of excellence, your servant Vergan has laboured hard in your name to create works of beauty, come here now to gaze upon the most wonderful work of art that I have ever created!” Continue reading “The Marble Beauty”
“Eric,” huffed Steven, “You’ve got to come and see this! There’s a woman in the old farmhouse!”
Eric regarded his friend carefully, Steven was a slightly chubby twelve year old boy with a reputation for exaggeration. Eric was also twelve years old, but was wary of any story that seemed too incredible to be true. Since no one had lived in that big old farmhouse for years, he was duly suspicious of Steven’s account immediately. However, Eric was secretly afraid of going to the farm house on his own and since Steven was willing to do it that gave spurs to his courage to go there too.
Steven lead Eric around to the backyard of the old two story weatherboard house. The summer heat had killed off the garden leaving it a shrivelled and brown. There was a rectangular depression in the ground near a window of one of the back rooms. Eric looked at the weathered grey husk of a building and shivered. The atmosphere of emptiness within the building was so great that it seemed to be drawing the boys into its jaws. Steven was moving towards the back door as though in a trance so Eric tapped him urgently on his shoulder and pointed to something written on the waterboards next to the door. Steven looked groggy for a few moments before he focussed on what Eric was pointing out to him. Just faintly the word “WITCH” could be traced on the exposed wooden panels. Continue reading “The Old Farmhouse”
All my life I knew that I was different to everyone else. People would ask me how I knew they were near me and all I could express was that I just knew it. I could even let people know when doors opened or closed, when others were home or not, or if someone was walking or running behind a wall, and all without seeing them. The adults speculated that I had the second sight, while the children preferred to spread rumours that I had the devil’s touch. The adults informed us that this was nonsense and that no one had had the devil’s touch in generations, however, I could see in the faces of some adults the echo of genuine concern from generations passed. The children believed that I had the devil’s touch because I could also make the lights turn on or off without touching the wall panels. No one could see how I did this, and at the time I didn’t understand either. No one could point out to me what I was doing. I was a source of wonder and fear for everyone around me, yet I was still a small boy and my unusual abilities hadn’t gotten me into trouble yet.
My life was still relatively normal until when I was fourteen I woke up with the realisation that someone was breaking into my bedroom. I made the lights come on without touching the wall panels in my usual way and there standing in my room was a woman in a thick black jacket, she’d obviously smashed in my window to get into my room for the glass was so freshly broken it hadn’t started to melt into the floor as it typically did when broken. She signalled to me that she knew that I was the boy with the devil’s touch. Feeling that I had to reply to her, as she was an adult, I signalled back that she was correct. She unbuttoned her coat and it slid from her naked body. She was the picture of mature womanhood in full bloom. However, I was only fourteen and found her terrifying. She saw the fear in my eyes but signalled for me to keep still because she just wanted to lie in bed with me. Continue reading “The Devil’s Touch”