Abortive Starts

“Next time you’ll know what to do.”

“Certainly will. Thanks very much.”

“No worries.”

Thank fuck he was gone. Not to return, I hoped then. While I still had hope, that is, or was. Hope goes, you see. It never hangs around for long.


Yep, that was a good start to nothing. Excellent. Real worthwhile use of time.


How about:


At the far end of the back yard, a wilderness in reality, known as a yard in part to sound like everyone else’s rear part of their property, behind their house, several hundred metres away from the back of the Montague mansion, where strong porch lights designed for use in gale conditions could not penetrate there was a stirring. Shadows gave way to gloom, and an intermediate zone of indistinct and uncertain shapes and contours acted as a kind of horizon to the darkness. The real darkness. Beyond this zone was unknown, and could not be seen, even by little Francis Montague, sitting on his embroidered chair at his rather powerful telescope, in the position he usually took up on the battlements at this time of the evening.

Looking across what the Montague’s referred to as a lawn, a grassed area, with intertwining pathways, and flora of all the most aggressively thorny and poisonous varieties, in all shapes and sizes, from the least pleasant places on the globe, Francis could pick out many familiar features the little world he played in. Some pathways were lined with torches. Small lanterns hung from trees and even smaller lights floated in the ponds. An apparently radioactive foam bubbled and gushed up from a rocky outcrop near what appeared to be a small ruined temple. It was known as Ned’s folly, it looked like a little slice of ancient Greece, and someone decided that the fountain near the nymph statue would look better if there was a blue light shining up through the water. It didn’t look better. It looked weird. Salamanders slipped into and out of the water features, and passed scorpions and Tasmanian Devils on the pathways, as they hurried about, doing the sorts of things that Tasmanian Devils, scorpions and salamanders do in that period where evening has just slid into night.

These things were all visible, three stories up, and an awfully long way away, through the lenses of Francis’ telescope.

But then there was the hill, known as Ned’s hill. (Several things in this giant backyard were named after Ned, Francis’ uncle, who routinely explored the Montague empire, and named everything, all over again, every year. He named everything after himself. It hardly seemed worth renaming the same geographical and ornithological and botanic features, the same names, after the same man, every year, but in doing this Ned had become an expert on the Montague empire – an authority without parallel, as the French would say, if they spoke and wrote in English. But I digress …) Ned’s hill was strange and held fears for Francis, however he knew its layout and had spent time recording its forms and inhabitants. He knew if you were careful then you would be safe.

But beyond Ned’s hill? Ah, now that was a different story.

Beyond Ned’s hill it was darkness now. In fact, when you got close, even during the day, it was always blackest of black on the other side of Ned’s hill. Creepers and thick, viney tendrils wound their way thickly about one another producing a kind of tough, solid bracken impossible to pass under, over or through. This mass of matted grey fingers wove their way away from the hill and suddenly there was nothing. If Francis extended an arm and gently felt with experimenting fingers for what he could not see, he detected the thorns and spikes on the continuing impenetrable body of knotted and gnarled material. Sometimes he waved his arm again, and often blood was drawn from a fingertip as a result. If he was really feeling brave, Francis occasionally had a third go, and sometimes would hear a hissing sound. These brave moods usually came when Francis was carrying his uncle’s exploring binoculars, and he could look through them, back, all the way to the house, and see his grandmother setting out a raspberry pie on the second floor balcony. At times like these, Francis would gather his scientific materials together, and go off in search of his uncle Ned, usually somewhere nearby, worrying the salamanders, an activity which did not require the use of binoculars, which is why he had lent them to Francis in the first place.

Francis always felt that Ned’s bracken seemed to look back at him, when he looked down all that way away, at it through his telescope. He fancied he could feel the hiss too. To repeat, something seemed to stir, as he looked down at the far end of the backyard of the Morgan empire.


OK. So that’s something. Something crap. But I’ll persevere …

Published in: on June 27, 2011 at 7:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

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