Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Letter O Makes Holy Sound So

They were tall and lean, shuffling through their lives; angled frames casting painfully pointed shadows- as if in their world it was always dusk. In a sense it was, the soft light from the sun was filtered through an emerald cloud, and did nothing to colour the grey flesh which stretched across their bones. When there was a crowd of them, they jutted against each other- a copse of bare winter trees- intimate and yet remote from each other.

As the windy season began, however, the world of the Tall Ones was changed forever.

In small bottles they carried their meals, scooped off the barren tables in the late morning and strapped to their sides. Where they dwelt, the salt had long been mined and scraped away from the soils, and the livestock had fallen prey to fanciful husbandry methods. The indigenous cattle had been bred with foreign strains to encourage swelling of the flesh around the most prized cuts of meat, until, through greed and ignorance, the beasts had mutated into nothing more than stumbling fillets, more rump than their spindly legs could hope to carry, and the breed was lost.

In the gales that strafed the mountains and the plains, the Tall Ones searched for food. They leaned into the wind, so that when in shelter, they tilted slightly forward. A small push in between their sharp shoulder blades would have sent them falling. Failed agriculturalists, they scoured the landscape for abandoned seeds and withering plants, doomed to wander the planet in order to survive.

Their faith was slight- if mustard seeds had still existed, they would have dwarfed the tiny hope that the Tall Ones carried- the hope that somewhere out there lay a new beginning, an unlocking of the shackles that bound them to this desolate existence. They were all priests, and yet none of them were, in this age of unbelief.

And it happened that one of them- it doesn’t matter who- for they were identical in feature and demeanor- fell upon an abandoned tomb. Using his shaking fingers, he pried open the ancient sarcophagus, wheezing at the dank air that billowed out at the interruption of its seal. Within, he hoped to find some remnants of the food the Old Ones had packed in with the desiccated corpse, in order to speed him to some forgotten heaven. Usually, the practice of grave-robbing yielded a handful of dusty morsels.

The robber stumbled from fatigue in the dim light and fell to his bony knees with an audible crunch. The remains within the casket shifted, and the skull tilted, as if in slow-motion, and rolled to the stone floor. With the brittle noise of a cockroach being bitten, it spilt apart. The searcher blinked. In the gloom of the crypt, even as the dust settled, a miracle lay before him. From the impossible darkness of the shattered skull had rolled a smaller skull. Surely that was what it was, with its yellowed roundness and toothy underside. As he peered closer, cautiously, fearing what horrors could be born from the inside of another, he gasped. There was not the inscrutable stare of hollowed eye sockets, but instead a green shoot from the tiny head’s skullcap.

A living plant. Unthinkable.

This kind of news spread fast. They did not speak very much- parched tracheae and elongated larynxes prevented much speech, but, within hours, the entire population knew of the Skullfruit.

They recognized this as the chance to be free from the land of starvation and despair, and also the importance of not destroying their chances. They could not allow greed to rob them of this opportunity for rebirth. Should they share this one miracle fruit among them, they would partake in a fatal sacrament which would usher in their ultimate doom.

Sadly, common sense had long since been distilled by desperation and hunger, and they lacked the ability to act wisely. Sharing one common thought, they turned on each other. Using untrimmed fingernails, they gouged they eyes from their kin, seeking to gain access to the inner reaches of their skulls. Predictably, none of these moist places housed any more of the strange fruit, and so the Tall Ones almost vanished. The only one left, for their numbers were not even, sat on the floor of the bloodied crypt, and slowly leaned forward, gazing at the skullfruit before him. In this world, he was alone, without hope, and doomed to wander the plains forever. He bowed slowly, and muttered a rasping prayer. The skullfruit rustled in the breeze of his supplication, and enjoyed the blast of oxygen which it had missed during the time it had bulged into being inside the skull.

The skullfruit grew. It swelled and spread, sending out roots and leaves, and, finally, occupied the skulls which lay littered about the dusty floor.

In this abandoned place, with just one witness, the skullfruit became first a miracle, then a prince, and finally a king. Just before the last Tall One gave in to the rigours of starvation and loneliness, he had a small vision. In his mind, the onion, for that was what it was, grew legs and became a god, a beautiful being whose inheritance was the universe, and whose powers surpassed the generations of life before.

He gasped a terminal prayer of thanks to the divinity that was within the onion, and surrendered his own life at the roots of one stronger and more magical than he.


  1. Oh my word Squid this is awesome ^-^

    Well done - I'll never take an onion lightly again :D

  2. your way with words always leaves me speechless

  3. Absolutely brilliant. Been telling everyone about this piece. Your writing is a like a good story tellers voice.

  4. Hey- Shane, Sally and Robyn- this was just a challenge to write on a random topic handed out over a beer- "the divinity of an onion: Nothing too serious- and in fact- a little out there :) But thanks for reading....


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