Thursday, February 4, 2016

You’ll cry when you find out how this one weird task force saved this velociraptor

History was made on Monday when South Africa’s new Verbal Offences Special Victims Task Force was deployed to a crime scene for the first time in the country’s history.

The unit was called to the scene of Smiley Acres Kindergarten, where one Janice Groenewald (5) was detained after referring to her victim, Jonathan Albright (4), as a ‘stinkypants’ and a ‘dirty’ ‘boy’.

Jonathan, who self-identifies as a velociraptor with built-in machine gun turrets, survived the brutal attack and immediately reported it to his teacher who called in the Verbal Offences Special Victims Task Force.

A SWAT team, accompanied by two crack forensic linguists, was on the scene within minutes. Ms. Groenewald was taken into custody while Jonathan was airlifted to an ER unit where he underwent an emergency self-esteem transplant and a tear transfusion.

As doctors battled against time to save Jonathan’s self-esteem, investigators in specially constructed soundproof EMO-HAZMAT suits with 99% tint visors combed the kindergarten crime scene for evidence. A cache of nano-aggressions was discovered in Ms. Groenewald’s personal effects, as well as a volume of linguistic contraband, marked as the property of one ‘Roald Dahl’.

The following day doctors reported that Jonathan’s surgery had been a success and that he’d since responded positively to an experimental treatment involving a large chocolate medal wrapped in gold foil and a small plastic stegosaurus.

Speaking to reporters from the Intensive Care ward, an exhausted Jonathan explained what had happened.

“I was in the sandpit putting my spade in the sand and then Janice said can I have that and I said no and she said yes and I said no and then she said YES and tooksed it from my claws and I told her STOPIT Janice and then she attacked me and then the sky went black and then I told Teacher Viljoen.”

The ‘stinkypants’ slur is believed to refer directly to a traumatic incident involving a tablespoon of prune juice and a broken diaper that had occurred in Jonathan’s home three years earlier.

Ms. Groenewald’s parents have been taken into custody until a clearer picture emerges of how Janice, who first made contact with her victim in 2015, came into possession of this sensitive information.

The attack on Mr. Albright immediately made national headlines, drawing condemnation from the South African Incontinence Foundation, Plastic Trousers. Shortly thereafter pressure from the media and the National Association of Plum Growers resulted in the firing of four celebrities and a sous chef for making reference to prunes in public. A statue of Queen Victoria was then pulled down for refusing to denounce Ms. Groenewald's actions.

Meanwhile, Fuckup & Usurious, the country’s largest divestment bank, pre-emptively fired half its staff and burned its headquarters to the ground to avoid becoming embroiled in the scandal.

Kalashnikov R. Komrad, president of the South African Union of Marxist-Stalinist Lightworkers also weighed in on the matter, interrupting a stirring rendition of the folk ditty ‘Purge the bourgeoisie! Dead! Fucking! Kill!’ in front of an assemblage of 50,000 members to express solidarity with Mr. Albright.

“We commend and congratulate the brave members of our special unit for their fast response to this politically improper infraction of the emotional wellbeing of the affected proletarian and for bringing the offender to heel in such short order. However, we believe that prompt action involving mass deployment of mechanical presses to reactionary skulls is required to prevent a repeat of this incident.”

At the urging of pundits and various amateur political and legal experts on Twitter and Facebook, Ms. Groenewald issued a tearful public apology on her Instagram account. This was promptly accepted as an admission of guilt and will be submitted as evidence against her in her trial.

Prosecutors are now pressing for a life sentence for Ms. Groenewald, who is facing charges of possession of contraband speech and two counts of grievous emotional harm.

The above text is satire. It does not in any way represent an endorsement or encouragement of anything nasty or defamatory that any South African, or indeed any person, living, dead, real or fictional has said or will say, or write, about any person or group of persons who have ever, or will ever, inhabit South Africa, planet Earth, and/or any other life-supporting planet in the universe, not excluding residents of other dimensions that currently do not have access to life-supporting planets and are forced to bob on quantum foam until someone pings them on an Ouija board. Neither is it meant to call into question the good character of prunes, plums, purple fruit in general, divestment banks, diaper manufacturers, laxatives, or any other fictional entities or institutions represented in the piece. All characters with the exception of Roald Dahl are fictional and any similarity to real people is entirely co-incidental.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Curious Cult of Cape Town

‘But why?’

I’ve been asked this question by Capetonians at least twenty times since I made the decision to move from Cape Town to Johannesburg. Each time it’s accompanied by a look of genuine perplexity, like I’m completely insane. And while you’re reading this, I know some of you are thinking the same thing too.

The short answer, and one that’s so obvious to me that I’m not sure why I need to explain it, is that pleasant scenery aside, Cape Town sucks big hairy geographical, socio-economic and climatic balls.

But the short answer’s not good enough. It implicitly buys into the Capetonian conceit that there could only be a negative stimulus driving a move to Johannesburg, that there’s nothing about the city that could possibly provide a good enough justification to relocate there.

So with that in mind I’m going to try to offer a reasonably civil and detailed answer to the question of why someone would move from Cape Town to Johannesburg. I’m also going to ask some of the questions I’d have asked my interrogators if I’d not been too busy moving.

I’ll actually start with one of those.

Taking into account that you’re dealing with a city located on a highland plateau, what exactly is it that you find so unpalatable when you gaze across a city that doubles as the world’s largest urban forest?*
I suspect the answer to that question will probably be ‘the world’s largest what?’

And I suspect this because during the years I lived in Cape Town it became apparent to me that Johannesburg is typically imagined by Capetonians as a seething concrete metropolis surrounded by a desolate, dry dustbowl littered with the sun-bleached skeletons of crime victims.

The reality is that Johannesburg is a massive man-made forest. Apparently someone tried to count the trees and there were 6 million or so of them. And many of these trees are pretty cool. When a tree is left to follow its natural urges without being molested by gale force winds, bergie urine and overcast weather it can do some impressive things, like grow ten stories high.

And this forest attracts a surprisingly diverse suburban birdlife. Everything from fat Loeries to cheeky Indian Mynahs will visit your yard. The first time I turned my sprinkler on at my new home I came out 15 minutes later to find the members of five different species of bird taking a free shower out in the sun. This morning I enjoyed my coffee on the patio while being serenaded by what appeared to be a giant yellow budgie with a red bib and a black Mohawk.

To be fair to most Capetonians who reflexively despise Joburg, theirs is probably an error born of ignorance rather than malice. They know the place from what other Capetonians tell them rather than personal experience. Of those Capetonians who have actually been to Johannesburg, some might conceivably have visited only the old CBD, Boksburg or Alberton. Which would be like rating Cape Town based on a visit to Maitland, but one can understand how they might depart with a less than favourable impression of the place.

As for those who have actually seen the city in its entirety, my next question is: what did you think when you gazed out over the green blanket that covers the city, with the odd skyscraper sticking out in the distance?

Did you sit there thinking ‘damn, if only that greenery was two feet high, anything that wasn’t grew diagonally, and the lot flowered once a year for two weeks before being burnt to cinders then I’d consider calling it beautiful. It also needs more rocks.’

Did you even actually look with an open heart and mind?

So that’s a few of my questions out of the way.

Now let’s talk about Cape Town.

I moved to Cape Town at the age of 18 to study at UCT. During my time there I lived all over the peninsula – Kalk Bay, Plattekloof, Sea Point, Observatory, Rondebosch, Mowbray, Fish Hoek, Kloof Nek, Oranjezicht, Parklands, Sunningdale, Noordhoek and Clovelly.

I did every touristy thing that someone can do in Cape Town numerous times. I surfed for five years, I hiked Table Mountain, Cape Point, Silvermine, Newlands Forest, the Hottentot Hollands. I hung out in pretentious dives filled with proto-hipsters in Kloof Road. I became a regular at an eco-retreat in the Koo. I visited all the little coastal towns along both the east and west coast. I walked every beach, dined at all the cool beachside cafés.

I did many of these things during a period of my life when I decided to make a sincere effort to come to terms with Cape Town and make it my home. And at times it was great, but really, most of the time it wasn’t.

For a start there’s this little thing called the wind. How someone can ignore the fact that a ‘moderate breeze’ (I found it quite radical) blows on 95% of the days of the year, while a ‘fresh breeze’ (that’s two notches below a gale force wind) blows every fifth day of the year escapes me. You should know something is wrong when you have to lodge stuff between your door and the doorframe to stop your doors rattling, or when you can get a free skin peel just by attempting to take a walk on a beach.

I’m prepared to grudgingly accept that some people might enjoy the wind while it’s still a fresh breeze – summer temperatures can clock an idyllic 41 degrees after all. But my credulity is strained when Capetonians start saying how much they enjoy the southeaster, which usually blows at gale force. I lost count of the times that I stood on the green belt near my Sunningdale house trying to walk my dog in the southeaster, and found myself dismally surveying the land between myself and the mountain and seeing airborne garbage dancing above a wind-scoured wasteland, wondering what the precise fuck it was that people were getting so gushy about.

Maybe I’m not sufficiently impressed by big blocks of granite, even of the dramatic variety. Maybe I don’t like feeling like I am being assaulted by the climate. I don’t know, either way the former could never make up for the latter and it sucked.

Surfing made up for it right up until the point that the aforementioned wind destroyed the surf on both sides of the peninsula for weeks a time, turning the water in False Bay brown and sewagey, and coaxing the water on the Atlantic side into putting on a reasonable impression of liquid nitrogen. I soon learned that to surf regularly in Cape Town you either need to quit your day job or live next to a break, because the wave conditions can change within minutes if the wind direction shifts five degrees or decides to venture into fresh breeze territory, which happens constantly.

And about that cold water. Having a beach with water that can induce cardiac arrest almost negates the point in having a beach at all. It’s like being married to a frigid underwear model. Again, I’m prepared to accept that some people like it. After all, some people in Russia like taking ice baths in the middle of winter. But don’t try to pretend we’re dealing with some sort of balmy seaside resort here just because the place has sand, water and some wind-molested palm trees. Go to Mauritius or the Natal south coast if you want to experience what balmy seaside resorts are like.

And the thing is, it’s not actually the constant wind, the cold water and the featureless scrub that are the real problem. Nor the poor tortured trees and the other things I could moan about at length if I had time and you had patience (okay, in brief: the N1, N2 and M5 highways, the summer fires, the Koeberg refinery, the locals who never outgrow their high school cliques, the bergies shitting on your doorstep while singing drunken songs at 3am before attempting to murder each other, the fashionably liberal whites hiding away in the least diverse and most Europeanized part of South Africa and then lecturing everyone else about their failure to embrace multiculturalism and diversity, the pretentiousness, the gloomy, long, dank winters that induce pale skin, SAD and vitamin D deficiency, the drug culture, the overpriced shitty seaside restaurants, the V&A Waterfront in its entirety).

It’s none of those things that made Cape Town unbearable for me. Every place has its good and bad. It wasn’t even that people in Cape Town tended to focus more heavily on the good then the bad – that’s completely understandable, and a pragmatic accommodation to make with the place where you’re going to live your life.

What eventually made Cape Town unbearable was the insistence of so many residents on pretending that not only are these bad things minor inconveniences (to the extent that they are acknowledged at all), but that the city is actually, in all seriousness, the best place in the world to live. Their determination to up-vote their city as the best this or that in the world on online polls, to join multiple Facebook groups to agree with each other how awesome the city is. One prize idiot even told me that Cape Town is one of the planet’s chakras (I can only assume it’s the muladhara chakra, less formally known as the asshole chakra).

Accompanying this fervent denial of easily observable reality was the urge to insist that others do the same, to marginalize non-believers, and to find a good, solid enemy to frame as the all-bad thing against which true believers can juxtapose their impeccable goodness (smile and wave, Emmanuel Goldstein Johannesburg). In other words, the whole thing started looking less and less like an annoying and barely comprehensible form of geographical narcissism and more and more like a cult.

A couple of days before I left Cape Town I had drinks at a Parklands bar with some friends from America. The owner of the establishment heard the American accents and asked my friends why they were here and where they were going. When they told him they were heading to Joburg next, he told them that there’s no reason to go there, that South Africa ends at the Orange River, and that the people ‘up there’ aren’t ‘like us’.

My answer to him: fuck you china.

The reason we go up here is because there’s a mix of cultures, there’s a sense of growth and opportunity. There are easily accessible mind-blowingly good restaurants all over the show, if you go to a bar you have never been to and sit down to have a drink, someone you never met before will probably start a conversation with you. There are awesome, crockery rattling thunderstorms almost every afternoon in summer which prevent the day from overheating. There’s the fragrance of summer rain on warm, red African soil. There are crisp winter mornings that make you feel more alive, sunny afternoons that allow you to strip off your jerseys and jackets. There are light breezes instead of gales. There’s the feeling that the sky is bigger and horizon further away. There are the towering cumulus clouds, the trees, the outdoor café culture, the lush gardens, the koppies, the cosmos blossoms on the roadside verges, the song of crickets at night. Five provinces are within a five hour drive of the city. Drive just 30 minutes north of Joburg and you find this:


Is it perfect? Of course not. Everyone knows what’s wrong with it. Those faults that are not the product of horizonally challenged Capetonians’ imaginations are as much the stuff of cliché as the orthodox canon of Cape Town’s endlessly repeated virtues. And when it comes down to it, that’s one of Johannesburg’s greatest virtues: that its faults are known and openly acknowledged while its virtues are typically understated and left to be discovered and appreciated in peace, rather than constantly hammered over your head by the city’s residents.

So, does that answer the question?

*before someone says smog, yes Johannesburg wears a mantle of smog in winter. As does Cape Town. The only difference is strict adherence to the cult apparently forbids photographing the Capetonian version and posting the results on the Internet. Nevertheless, the occasional unpalatable picture leaks along with the odd article on the city's pollution levels. The fact that Cape Town's lung cancer rate is almost double that of Joburg's has mysteriously evaded popular consideration.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Invitation only

Over the past year an airy loft in the Cape Town inner city has been serving as a meeting point for the Persons of Exceptional Significance - an elite society of the finest minds in South African culture, media and academia (and indeed the universe).

Participants in the Persons Of Exceptional Significance events convene to drink, acknowledge each other’s brilliance, set up independent non-partisan award committees to ensure that members are adquately recognized for this brilliance, express suitably emotive and enthusiastic support and indignation over the Cause Of The Week™, ridicule people who think they’re better than other people, and delight in scrumptious artisanal organic locavore fare from the village Woolworths.

This weekend was a particularly special and festive occasion, as our visitors had an opportunity to batter down one of the last and most stubborn of the outmoded, antiquated traditional social norms that hold back human progress. In short, they gathered to express the deepest nuances of their viscera to one another in a calm, safe and encouraging environment.

Host and recent star graduate of the UCT Faculty of Film & Economic Studies, Clarenceby Silverspooned Shyte-Spigot, went first.

Commentary from the assembled guests proceeds from his initial expression d’péter.

Thomas Tedious-Twattertoff: Astounding Clarenceby! Somehow you have managed to echo the themes, mood and substance of the essay you shared with us last week. Oh don’t look at me like that! You know the one! The one about the significance of the spoons in my own Sociological Thesis on the oppression of levers in Wolfgang Petersen’s tedious fascist production, Das Boot!

That is to say, the delivery was brazen, an initial austerity of sensory perception which lulled one into a sense of cautiously thrilled anticipation before our senses were overwhelmed by notes of literal-mindedness and a whiff of caecum. A cracker of an icebreaker! I..

Sean Whitesteed: If I may interrupt, Thomas, we’re all terribly excited to find out what the lovely Nigella Sollip-Cyst has to offer us this afternoon.  Nigella, a little bird at your gallery told me that you spend no shortage of your time refining your expressions in the gallery broom cupboard. This must require truly daring levels of self-regard.

Nigella Sollip-Cyst: Sean, don’t be silly. I’d much rather see what you have to offer.

Sean Whitesteed: Cert..

Nigella Sollip-Cyst: No? WELL! The truth is I have been working on something special in my spare time. A Spartan diet of hard boiled eggs and champagne ensures that my ability to deliver convincingly coincides with the moment of inspiration from my muses. I also find that readings of Gramsci and Marcuse tend to filter through to, and inspire, my expressions at a profound level. Allow me to prepare a moment

Sean: Yes of course Nigella. Take as long as you need.

Clarenceby: Nigella won’t disappoint us.

A breathless hush ensued, and for a moment we feared that Nigella had lost patience and had enjoyed her expression by herself before coming over. But then it emerged in all its sonorous, majestic glory.

Jessica von Brassica-Haben: Good. God. Nigella. That was outstanding!

Clarenceby: May I! May I!

A brief altercation ensued, in which the gathered group argued playfully about who should have the right to first interpret Nigella’s minuet in methane. Clarenceby eventually won through, but was prevented from taking the podium by the premature, and prolonged, release of Professor Ivorytower-Tenure, who had become overwhelmed by all the excitement.

By the time that had droned away to a final, moist flourish, Nigella’s effort had been entirely drowned out by the Professor’s production, with its evocation of bookjacket dust, tobacco and choleric rice paddies. So Clarenceby simply reprimanded the professor for his poor form, before charitably indicating appreciation for the overall substance of the prof’s contribution. The floor was then opened for discussion of the two necropolitan productions we had just experienced.

Everyone agreed that words were probably not capable of communicating the brilliance of Nigella’s effort, while the Professor’s contribution had spoken for itself. Sean Whitesteed then offered to delay his own contribution until our next meeting so that he might compose a suitable and reciprocal homage to Nigella’s evocative expression.

After this there seemed little else to say, so the baton was passed to one of the VIPs at our event, political scientist Sylvester Houghton-Crib, who had recently resigned from his consultancy position at an autoproctologists union in order to dedicate himself to being permanently offended.

Sylvester rose to his feet and bowed gracefully.

Sylvester Houghton-Crib: With my compliments.

For several moments the attendant group waited expectantly. When nothing transpired an excited wave of murmuring washed across the gathering. One member whispered just loudly enough for everyone to hear whether Sylvester hadn’t perhaps been a little too generous with the gin earlier in the afternoon.

Then the genius of Sylvester’s play hit us all simultaneously, sparking spontaneous applause across the room.

Thomas: Sylvester you Devil. It was about substance and not style all along!

Jessica von Brassica-Haben: Brilliantly wrong footed. Just. Ouffff!

Nigella: Strains of Lloyd-Weber’s Phantom of the Opera, music of the night? And more subtly do I detect a tribute to the abstract expressionism of Newman?

At which point everyone agreed that it would only be charitable to open a window to share Sylvester’s genius with the city below.

Several other participants ventured their performances before attention turned to three time Edgy Award nominee, Pastichia Saint-Beaucoup’or, who'd risen to universal prominence by modelling the latest ideological fashions on the runways of London, New York and Pyongyang.

As was always the case when Pastichia had the floor, a breathless hush fell over the room. Then she spoke.

Pastichia: Thank you my brilliant friends. Before I proceed a little background on my humble creation.

To avoid being exclusive, and to stay unique and creative, I travelled around Cape Town sampling expressions from cool, happening people. Now people. It people. I travelled all the way from Kloof Street to Long Street, sampling talent wherever I could find it.

I was so inspired by what I saw. Thousands of intensely individualistic, so, so, so interesting upper-middle class 20-40 something white people, all expressing solidarity in ideology, opinion, dress, artistic preferences, attitude and hairstyle. It was incredible. These weren’t your run of the mill status-whoring fast adapters, these were people who could actually appreciate the incredible daring and personal integrity that is required to sublimate oneself entirely to dominant establishment narratives.

In my conversations it became apparent that not one of these paladins of progress had allowed their deep commitment to their personal materialism get in the way of their equally intense devotion to radical leftist ideology. It was inspiring and intoxicating. Often I’d nip in while the artist was snuffing her- or him-self on the balcony of a local doucherie, sample a whiff and then snap my sampling cup shut on a little piece of self-expressed history…

The audience sat rapt, waiting for Pastichia to continue.

Pastichia: The key to my pending performance was to then siphon this saprobic scent into my sinuses, using yoga to encourage it to breath through the core of my being and merge with my own scent, birthing something entirely new. Something… revolutionary.

I then invented an apparatus out of a retro oxygen mask and a hosepipe (patent pending), generating a feedback loop that allowed me to internally distill the essence of my creation. For three days and three nights I allowed it to circulate through me. It was a religious experience. I encountered my own greatness, then surpassed it, fantastical ideas and concepts sparked through my brain. Soul burning, I finally arrived at the expression I plan to share with you today.

A breathless silence descended upon the room once again. The fervor of Sylvester and the Professor’s prolix post-perineal polemics had long since subsided. The audience watched as Pastichia slowly and deliberately pulled herself into the lotus position, took three or four deep breaths, and performed an act of pelvic pranayama so profound that several of the attendant members slipped from consciousness, while the rest of us wept openly in a state of near-religious rapture.

Then the plaudits began to pour in.

Clarenceby: Transcendental. I'm nominating you for both the Shyte-Spigot Praxis Award and the Diamond Medal in Significance immediately.

Professor Ivorytower-Tenure: Sublime, my dear. Notes of oak, evocations of Handel being played in a bathtub.

Sean: Your best ever. Wow. Just wow.

Jessica von Brassica-Haben: I love, love, love what you have done here.

Thomas: Perfection? Perfection. I wish I could have one of those first, thing, every morning. You should bottle it. You really should. It’s that good.

And there were too many more to mention. Sylvester was too moved to speak; the lenses of his sternly framed spectacles misted over, his face a picture of longing - and the faintest, piquant whiff of young pinot noir rising from his seat.

The room eventually settled into a semblance of order, but only once Sean Whitesteed had made a show of hunting around the room for every last delectable snuff of Pastichia’s genius.

After that it was agreed by all to move onto lunch, where our collective acts of daring self-expression were discussed over a plate of Woolworths soft eating bread.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Makulon's pocket guide to hunting humans

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, including a Daily Maverick columnist whose surname rhymes with 'actor', is purely coincidental. The arguments put forward in the story are exaggerated versions of actual arguments made on a variety of threads by a variety of people relating to the topic of canned lion hunts. Morality isn’t what it used to be, as one startled human being is about to find out...

The Makulon slowed down his breathing, raising a tentacle to wipe a dollop of sticky, silvery sweat away from a mandible. 
The slightest tremor and his prey might bolt, losing him the entirety of the seven minutes it had taken him to pocket his hunting license, fly down from the Makulon mothership, land his craft in the garden beside the apartment block, engage his cloaking device and fix his prey in the sights of his Plasmagasmic Neon-Blaster Phantom Mark III rifle through its apartment window.

As he began to draw on the trigger an unwelcome thought intruded on his mind. For a fleeting moment he wondered whether he should be feeling some compassion or remorse, rather than buzzing with excitement and anticipation.

He pushed the thought from his heads. It wasn’t like this was a Makulon he was dealing with. He wouldn’t dream of doing something like this to a Makulon. It would be frowned upon, and was also illegal. No. This was an inferior animal, just one of the countless human creatures who scuttled meaninglessly across this blue and green planet on its paltry four appendages, spending hours sitting stationary in front of flashing screens or putting things into its mouth only for them to emerge from its rear end a bit later in a pointless progression of meaningless cycles. Humans were hardly even sentient, having emerged from the trees only a couple of thousand years after the Makulon’s grandmother was born. The witless creatures hadn’t even evolved the capacity for telepathy.

The whacktivists back home said that humans could suffer, but the whacktivists were all emotion and no reason. Even if humans were sentient enough to feel pain, the death of the little creature in his sights would be quick and relatively painless - and of great benefit to its species and the planet it dwelled upon.

The 50,000 Squallors he’d paid the Human Defence League for the privilege of this hunt would be funnelled straight back into protecting the planet from intrusion by non-conservation minded Makulons and would fund continued efforts to prevent this species from over-running its habitat and destroying it entirely.

The fact of the matter was that without paid hunts, nobody would take an interest in protecting the planet or preserving this species, and unscrupulous Makulons, or some other alien race, would doubtless arrive and either enslave or murder the lot of them. The universe was a messy and complex place and sometimes you just had to make the best of it.

Buoyed by these thoughts, the Makulon focused on his target again, gluing his eye up against the sight of his weapon. Gently, gently he squeezed on the trigger, breathing out slowly as his instructor had taught him to. Relax, draw the trigger slowly, exhale.

It was crucial that his shot not hit the head. These creatures didn’t have a proper exoskeleton, and apparently if you struck the head it all went out of shape and squishy and you’d need to go hunt another one, and nobody had that sort of money. He’d already made space for the head on the wall of his cabin - had even bought an expensive magnatite plaque to stick it on. He wasn’t going to mess this up.


In his apartment, blissfully unaware of what was transpiring outside his window or the inscrutable synchronicity of the moment, Rationalist Rob, thread commenter extraordinaire, and quadruple recipient of the Rationalist Rob Medal for Intellectual Enterprise, allowed himself a smile.

He’d just tapped the last keystroke on his comment on a thread that had mushroomed up around a Weekly Bait article discussing the burgeoning popularity of the canned dolphin hunting industry. The hapless masses were in a state of fussed hysteria once again, and there were few - so very few - people who could step forward and demonstrate to the masses the errors of their moral presumptions and the significant benefits such industries bequeathed upon all parties.

People had such an odd tendency to get excited about things like this without focusing on the essentials.

How did they think dolphins would survive if they weren’t sold for canned hunts? Every cured, grinning dolphin snout on a hunter’s bar wall meant another thousand dolphins were bred in fish pens around the world, ensuring the survival of the species. In fact, dolphin numbers were booming.

There were now so many of them that the forward thinking industry was looking into offering hunters the opportunity to lob hand grenades into the dolphin breeding pens – the hunters would be charged at premium rates, the dolphin conservation coffers would be filled, the dolphins themselves would be guaranteed a humane instant death and there’d be an all-you-could-eat dolphin sashimi platter to enjoy afterwards. And it would all be done efficiently, and efficiency was good.

But the mindless masses were a hindrance to such progressive and enlightened strategies. Instead of embracing the possibilities, they continued to make ridiculous assumptions about the creatures deserving rights and moral consideration, spouting their irrational, hypocritical and rather profane cries of disgust.

Rationalist Rob had no such problems. Dolphins weren’t human. Anyone who couldn’t see that and didn’t understand the plain and self-evident moral implications of this, and instead harped on about the supposed plain and self-evident moral implications of killing for fun, was simply too stupid and too caught up in subjective moral prescriptions, arbitrary boundary setting and emotion to even waste his time on. Yet, being of a philanthropic mindset, he felt obliged to explain the errors of their ways to them on Internet threads. It was the least he could do, really.

“Be patient, old chap,” he thought to himself. “Be patient.”

As misfortune would have it, no sooner had this thought passed through Rationalist Rob’s mind when it was followed by a fifty billion watt round of plasma charged nano-particulate fired from a Plasmagasmic Neon-Blaster Phantom Mark III rifle from a distance of thirty yards at seventy five times the speed of light.

An expression of bemusement crossed Rob’s face as he observed a crimson spray envelop his newly shattered computer screen. He was accustomed to having a red mist envelop him when he came across a particularly persistent opponent on a comment thread, but he hadn’t been rebutting an opponent just then. Also, he was almost certain that his left eyeball belonged in his skull and not on his desk, from which it was currently fixing him with a reproachful, bloodshot glare.


Back in the yard the Makulon cursed. He’d somehow botched his shot and managed to send the round directly into the creature’s head. For a moment he bravely resisted the urge to break his rifle over one of his pereiopods, then decided to wait until he got back to the mothership where he could break it over the heads of the Plasmagasmic Neon-Blaster salesmakulon who’d sold the rifle to him instead.

To make matters worse, his prey appeared to have survived the impact to its head and seemed more bewildered than anything else. This sort of thing got peoples’ carapaces up back home and could get him some bad press if word got out. There was also lot of blood, which stained horribly, and which his guests were certain to notice it if he directed their attention to his trophy at his next cocktail party. Brog only knew what he’d do to the creature’s physiology if he buggered up another shot. Would a severed foot on his wall draw the same admiration as a head? Maybe... hmm. Unlikely. Perhaps if he painted the toenails...

The Makulon pondered his options for a couple of seconds before realizing he had precisely one of these available. He’d need to make the best of this, see if he could salvage some sort of trophy and end this creature’s pathetic suffering as soon as possible. The Makulon dialed the wattage on his weapon up, raised the rifle again and took aim at his prey.


Back in his office, Rationalist Rob’s one functional eye continued to stare in bewilderment at its dislodged companion, which was slowly glazing up on the desk. While he’d survived the impact, it hadn’t been without consequence. His IQ had dropped to room temperature at the moment of impact, as a sense of profound peace descended upon him along with a throbbing headache.

“Need to clean red mist and take an Aspirin,” he announced to nobody in particular, before jerkily rising to his feet to fetch a dishtowel and a glass of water from the kitchen.

He took two stuttering steps towards the kitchen before a second blast from the Plasmagasmic Neon-Blaster Mark III blew his feet away, along with his legs, hips and torso. His detached head did a slow, theatrical somersault through the air and landed with a plop on his desk, a look of despairing puzzlement fixed onto it as death directed its attention towards the unfathomable depths of eternity.


The Makulon punched a tentacle into the air in a moment of triumph then cursed itself, realizing it shouldn’t waste any more time. You never knew who was watching, and it wouldn’t do to cause a panic amongst the naturals, who could be unpredictable, aggressive and dangerous when the mood struck them.

Without further hesitation, he ripped his hover-board from behind his seat, swung himself out of the cockpit and boosted up to the window of the apartment where his prey lay in several pieces in pools of gently congealing blood. He gave a quick glance left and right to see if any other humans had noticed proceedings, and then flipped himself into the office, pulled his hover-board in behind him and ignoring the shattered body, scuffled over to the head.

Now that he was out of view of the street he relaxed slightly.

He didn’t want to rush this part – it was what he’d been waiting for. He shuffled over to the desk, and set the head onto its neck, right way round with the furriest bit on top. He was relieved to find that it had mostly retained its shape. He picked up the detached eyeball and delicately pushed it back into its empty socket, which gave a satisfying pop as the eyeball slid into place.

However, the baffled expression on the face looked all wrong. The Makulon frowned, then tugged at the lips to expose some teeth. This proved to be an exercise in frustration, because the lips were becoming rigid and kept sliding back together. Eventually he managed to fix a somewhat fearsome grimace onto the thing’s face by stapling the bottom lip to the chin with a stapler he found in the desk drawer.

Naturally the head topped over almost immediately, and the exasperated Makulon had to start from square one. He noticed a pen lying on a paper pad on the desk. He picked it up, stabbed the sharp bit forcefully down into the desk until it was embedded halfway, then shoved the creature’s neck into the protruding bit, fixing it upright. To ensure it wouldn’t topple over again he wrapped a tentacle around the back of the neck, holding it steady.

The Makulon wriggled his maxillipeds, pouted them for the camera, held up the Plasmagasmic Neon-Blaster Mark III with another tentacle and focused his Hologramo device at himself with his remaining tentacle. There was a bright flash as his moment of triumph was captured for posterity. The Makulon took a couple more snaps to make sure he had a share-worthy one, then tossed the creature’s head into a knapsack and made for the window.

Then he paused. No. That wouldn’t be ethical. This wasn’t all fun and games. There were poor, starving Makulons back home, and while he’d spent all his savings on this hunt and didn’t have money to give them work or even some groceries, there was good eating on a human – even if this one looked a bit stringy. He’d do the moral thing and take the carcass home with himself. Hells the kids could play with the bones.

Hastily he gathered up body parts and piled them on the hover-board, shuffled onto it himself, and trailing rivulets of blood, shot down to his spaceship, clambered into the cockpit and blasted back off into space. He’d won. And he was going to share this achievement on Spacebook the second he got home.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Xtreme Freedom Manifesto

Inspired by the re-emergence of Marxist-Leninist movements around the world, but disheartened by their reactionary rightist discourse that settles for only the most humble visions of a Utopian World, I have taken it upon myself to set up the The Most Leftist Party of Upper Middle Class Doctrinally Convinced Revolutionaries Ever in order to remedy the state of the planet, the character of humanity, and that most reactionary of socially constructed elements, reality itself.

I herewith declare the 13 points of the Extreme Freedom Manifesto:

1.    Every man woman and child on the planet shall allowed the use of a piece of land, which shall include, but not be limited to, one 4 bedroom double storey house and a private beach.

2.    Every man woman and child on the planet shall have recourse to free education in government approved establishments for the pre- and post-rectification of reactionary tendencies and inculcation of extreme enlightenment. Education shall be compulsory and life-long.

3.    The Party shall provide to all citizens free medical care of first world standards, free educational movies on Tuesdays and Thursdays, free clothing, and free food. *All and any necessary measures shall be applied to ensure that the Doctor to citizen ratio remains high, possibly including educating more Doctors.

4.    All privately owned businesses will be taken over by the state without compensation. This will guarantee the elimination of the insidious dangers of monopoly by giving the state control over every element of the economy.

5.    Not one man woman and child on the planet shall be required to work unless they wish to, and only then for a daily period in accordance with their levels of motivation and only then in fields in which they have an interest. *Unless selected for compulsory voluntary participation in an economic supplementation programme at the Party’s discretion at a site of our choosing for a period of the Party’s determination.

6.    The weekend shall run from Monday to Sunday due to sustained levels of excellent economic output anticipated. On these days the Party shall organize festivals and parties between 6am and 1am, where citizens shall be robustly encouraged to operate Soviet era machinery in glorious symphonies of coordinated expression of creative praxis through effort. *Participation in Festivals shall fall under compulsory voluntary ordinances.

7.    The Party, by virtue of its virtuous self-elective capacities and consequent inherent wisdom, shall be the only party eligible to hold and bear arms. Martial arts shall be outlawed, as shall projectile weapons ranging from guns to catties, metal cutlery, sticks longer than 2cm, ropes, stones weighing over 20.52 grams, containers of water deeper than 35mm and the physical properties known as ‘pointiness’ and ‘sharpness’. Where necessary offenders' actual arms may also be removed. This shall ensure the safety of the collective and reduce disruptions when weeding out non-compliant reactionary forces within the collective.

8.    In line with these enlightened procedures, which are certain to eliminate all poverty and suffering instantaneously, poverty shall henceforth be banned so that it shall never return to this planet. *Members of the collective found in violation of this principle shall be entitled to voluntary compulsory enrollment in the state’s poverty reduction program. Participants are required to bring their state-approved plastic shovels and something to splash on.

9.    The Party shall stand firm against that insufferable reactionary force known as death. Our policy is irrefutable and non-negotiable, death shall be banned forthwith, and shall only be permitted as punishment in the cases where adhesion to this policy is disregarded by the members of the collective, or in cases where the Party determines it is necessary for the wellbeing of the collective.

10.    The outdated mode of pseudo-collectivist contrivance known as the family shall be banned. The Party shall be the parent of the collective, and they its loving children. Piety towards biological parents shall be outlawed, just as carnal love – preferably expressed by frequent and varied sexual intercourse with as wide a range of random partners as possible – shall be encouraged. This shall inculcate in the masses the deepest principles of love, restraint, devotion and unselfish conduct.

11.    Gods shall be banned from the planet, for the Party shall under no circumstances tolerate the belief in the presence of beings that consider themselves omniscient, unimpeachable, irreplaceable and capable of dictating and managing the minutiae of the daily life of a citizen. Virtue shall not be defined by a distant and cold figure, but rather by a dead German man who didn't know how to use a razor and also wrote bad poetry.

12.    Speech will be free, and will be rationed out on Fridays and Sundays at Party approved free speech outlets. Any words, thoughts, opinions or ideas not included in this ration shall be considered to be black-market materials and use or ownership thereof shall be punishable by death.

13.  Climate change shall be halted. Once the Party is in power the climate shall remain at 27 degrees, partly cloudy and with a refreshing breeze for eternity. Any deviations from these climatic conditions will be easily identifiable as the activities of dissidents within the civilian ranks, and we shall hunt down and shoot dissident voices until such a point as the brotherly climate has been normalized and consistent Utopian Saturday afternoon conditions have been achieved.

In conclusion, in return for your consent for us to remove from you the burdens of private property and individual responsibility, we offer you freedom for want, work, death and poverty, along with a free house, food, education and a private beach.

If this merely sounds like the latest version of a familiar scam designed to lure gullible fools into giving up everything they have while fastening the shackles of enslavement to their, and their fellows, ankles in return for something that sounds really good, this is purely coincidental.

In reality, making this new world a reality is simple. All it requires is all of your money, property, labour, energy, unwavering faith, support, co-operation, and most probably your life. Utopia can arrive tomorrow, once the Party has sufficient centuries in power to tackle the delicate and complex task of reversing the decimations of the bourgeoisie, removing reactionary tendencies from citizens, building many monuments and palaces, and generally sowing the ground for social change using the highest quality human fertilizer.

Should enough of us join together, we shall sweep away the old world in a tidal wave of extreme revolutionary change. The claws of the middle class shall be ripped free of your skins, and your lives shall be placed to nestle safely in the wise and compassionate hands of the Party elders.

Many will be required to joyously give up their lives for this pursuit. However, a few million deaths should not be seen as barbarous murders callously committed by criminally minded cynical sociopaths, supported by feeble minded sycophants and funded by monopoly capitalists in pursuit of unfettered power and wealth, but rather as the blood sacrifices that shall inevitably accompany the birthing of a more just and kind world.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

10 reasons to say fuck the weather in Cape Town

So the other day, in the midst of an extended course of near gale force Cape southeaster, I went onto Google to find out if anyone else thinks that Cape Town has possibly the shittest weather on the planet, and definitely the shittest weather on the planet for any city that invests so much time in commending itself for being incredibly, staggeringly awesome.

I didn't come across any Cape Town weather hate clubs. The marketers have done too good a job on this one. What I did find was this which I was at first tempted to think was the finest example of satire I had seen in my life, before it gradually dawned on me that the author meant every damned word of it.

Allow me to respond to some of the questions and ideas she pitches at the reader in that article (which you will probably need to read to make sense of my responses):

1. Winter, what's that?
What's that? Allow me to direct your attention to the season that spans the brief seven month period between the time the first cold fronts roll into town in April and roll out of town in October. You know it's there because you are cold. All the time. You know it's there because you are suddenly spending more money on running the heaters in your house than you are on paying back your car.

Winter in Cape Town is not just cold, it's clammy. A deep insiduous clammy that reaches down into your bones and makes you so cold that simple remedies like hot water bottles and heaters cease to be effective. This is a cold that functions like spider venom, digesting you from the inside out, so that once you are cold you can take a hot shower or lie under ten layers of blankets and still be cold.

Winter is being too scared to make the trip from your bed to the shower each morning unless you first spend a hundred bucks on electricity to warm your room sufficiently for you to survive the trip. Winter is endless turbulent cold fronts sweeping across the peninsula, driven in from the Atlantic, so that for months at a time there's just cold, grey and wet.

And because Capetonians have somehow managed to ignore the weather, they don't do central heating. It's entirely possible for your house to be as cold as it is outside, and chances are, unless you're a millionaire, it will be.

Think about it, seven months of this. And just for the glorious fuck of it, you'll get rogue cold fronts blowing over the peninsula into early December, just to remind you what's coming to get you in four months time.

2. The Cape Doctor
Oh, the Cape Doctor! How quaint! Think Dr Josef Mengele, think Dr Kevorkian. This thing may blow away the smog, but it blows everything else away too. It blows away any hope of spending time outdoors unless you're an avid, and possibly immortal, kite or windsurfer. It blows away trees, it blows away sand - turning a beach walk into an encounter with a sandblaster.

It just blows and blows and blows, often for weeks on end. You have to nail your doors and windows shut - or pad them with clothing (as I am forced to do) - or your entire home will rattle constantly. The wind howls and howls like a banshee on crystal meth, fucking up your braai, your kiddies party, your wedding, your entire fucking life, for three to four months straight.

And just as a big 'fuck you', it does it during summer, just when you thought it was safe to go outside. The article says you'll have a good view of Cape Town from Table Mountain when the SE is blowing. I assume that's on the off chance that the cable car is actually running, and that the enjoying the view part will happen in the few seconds you have before you're buffeted right off the mountain by the wind or run for cover.

And just out of interest, every year this demonic wind kills people. It blows doors into them as they walk down the street, it blows gates into them, it rips the doors off cars or dents them into other cars. It'll blow you off your scooter, and shunt your car into oncoming traffic. These things really happen.

The 'Cape Doctor' is an entire peninsula being possessed by a howling demon for three months. Now you know.

3. Ideal Conditions for Extreme Sports
No really, extreme sport number one being Survival. I mean how many people do extreme sports anyway? Is that really an attraction? I guess if it is then Cape Town is great, because walking down the street or driving to the corner store become extreme sports, so it's a cheap option for enthusiasts.

One thing is for sure, you can't surf, because the wind blows out the surf for weeks on end. The False Bay side is perpetually onshore, and looks like dishwashing liquid being struck by a hurricane, while the Atlantic Coast has all its warm water blown out to sea, so if you get in the water you need to wear two wetsuits or give up any hope of having children.

Yes kitesurfers like it, although I suspect the kitesurfers who didn't like it are unable to share their opinion on the matter by virtue of the fact that they are now living on Tristan de Cunha after being  blown off course, or have been eaten by sharks 300km out to sea (oh yeah, and Cape Town doesn't bother itself with shark nets, which is why it has the only popular public beaches in South Africa where people routinely get eaten by sharks cruising around looking for a tasty meat popsicle).

4. Spring Flower Festivals
Once a year, the fynbos - a remarkably unremarkable indigenous knee-high brush that blankets the Cape - experiments briefly with the concept of colour. This lasts anywhere between one and two weeks before the wind kills every single one of those pretty little flowers and the countryside goes back to being a dull green/brown and windswept. But hey, go ahead, don't let this picture stop you from living in a cold, wind-demon haunted African version of Patagonia year-round so that you can watch some pretty wildflowers being murdered by the climate once a year.

5. The autumn colours in the winelands
This one confused me, because strictly speaking Cape Town has two seasons, winter and summer, occasionally in the same day. There's some sort of transition phase in there, but there are not four separate seasons. It's fucking hot and windy, and then it goes to being fucking cold and windy and wet. The autumn colours in the winelands are the results of leaves dying, and in a way I agree that these scenes are remarkable, if only because it's astonishing that the trees in Cape Town are able to retain any of their leaves in the face of the southeaster.

6. Photogenic Cape Town
I'll give her this one, Cape Town is photogenic, and mostly because the wind is invisible to cameras - although if you're paying attention you might realise that trees growing sideways is not entirely normal. Also, that blue Camps Bay ocean looks very different on a photograph compared to when you're actually in it and have just inadvertently put your testicles into cryogenic storage. So my advice is enjoy photogenic Cape Town by looking at photographs of it taken by people with their backs turned to the Cape Flats (a sprawling, garbage strewn, portion of the city where over a million of its inhabitants live in poverty).

7. The Table Cloth
Sometimes Table Mountain is covered in clouds and it looks pretty. I can't fault this one. It's even known to happen when you can stand outdoors without having to hold onto something, and can take your time to admire it.

8. Hiking and Cycling in Cape Town
Possibly two of the most dangerous activities to attempt in Cape Town after trying to befriend a local. The choice is really between getting mugged and getting run over. There used to be some good hiking available on Table Mountain, at least until gangs of muggers set up shop on the flanks of the mountain and started routinely mugging and stabbing people. If you don't believe me search for 'Mugging' and 'Table Mountain' on Google News (here's the IOL celebrating the fact that mountain muggings have been cut down to just over 1 a month in 2012).

So that leaves cycling. To its credit Cape Town has built some cycle lanes on the West Coast, which means you're safe from being hit by cars if you stick to these. Unfortunately these lanes lie at a 90 degree angle to - and in the direct path of - the 'wind tunnel' mentioned in the article, which gives kite-surfers their lift on Blouberg Beach. If you instead choose to ride in the road then you leave yourself at the mercy of Cape Town drivers, who comprise a topic all of their own and are beyond the scope of this article.

9. Life's a beach
I agree, life is much like a Capetonian beach. It's full of shit, plastic bits you don't want or need, and occasional moments of beauty and calm. While the city councils make an effort, most Cape Town beaches are essentially sandboxes where people take their dogs to take a dump, people who can't figure out how to use an ashtray put out their cigarettes, and Chinese seamen working on passing container vessels send small plastic fragments and the occasional shoe to die. Noordhoek's not bad, once you get past the dumping zone, if you don't mind driving 40 minutes to get to a decent beach in a place that is surrounded by beaches.

The article claims that Cape Town summer days rarely get hotter than 30 degrees, which is untrue even before you take into consideration the fact that many parts of Cape Town spend weeks at a time in flames thanks to the charming local habit of throwing cigarette butts into the tinderbox fynbos at the height of the windiest part of summer.

10. Never bad weather in Cape Town
Hitler called this kind of statement the 'big lie' - a suggestion so preposterous that it's easier to believe it than to believe that anyone could possibly be dishonest or insane enough to tell such a monumental untruth. If you don't call endless months of clammy cold and damp 'bad', if you don't call the strongest prevailing wind in the country 'bad', if you don't call entire mountain ranges burning to cinders because of the combination of extreme heat and extreme wind 'bad', you're telling a Big Lie right there. Unless. Unless the author meant to say that the weather in Cape Town is not bad, because the word 'bad' simply isn't up to the job of describing how utterly fucking, hideously awful it is.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

They Strode - A Parody

After reading Cormac McCarthy's The Road and manfully resisting the urge to kill myself, I felt a parody was in order.

First there was The Road, then there was...

They Strode

The rain rapped down endlessly on the stinking plastic tarp, neither getting stronger nor stopping. The man lay in the cold endless dawn wishing he was dead, but then cursed himself for thinking such cheerful thoughts and instead lay imagining himself cutting his eyelids off with the serrated rainrusted lid of a tin can. Eventually he turned to the boy, wrapped up in his filthy blanket, bedraggled blond hair coated in the tiny carcasses of dead lice. The man watched as one last straggler hauled itself to the edge of a tuft of hair, hesitated and then threw itself off. It twitched once on the icy tarmac and then lay still. Merciful God. Even the lice are giving up.
Wake up.
Im really tired papa.
Were starving.

They ate the last of the dog food out of a dented can, waiting for the rain to stop. It didn’t. Eventually the man put the boy in the empty cart and draped the tarp over him and set off down the road. The front right wheel of the cart dangling uselessly and causing it to oversteer to the right. The man stopped and thought. Then he asked the boy to get out the cart and walk, before strapping the cart to his back and continuing down the road.

The solemn sun circled above the ashen rainclouds, wandering around the earth like a chemotherapy patient around a cancer ward in a blackout. They walked through sodden drifts of ash, mixed in with unidentifiable bones and trash, while the boy played with a broken yoyo by throwing it up in the air and catching it again.
Are we there yet?
The place where we’re going.
The coast?
The coast.
Why are we going there.
Because I want you to see the ocean and it was getting too cold at home.
But its cold now.
It was colder at home.
But it wasnt cold in the good place.
No it wasnt.
So why did we leave. There was plenty of food there, and beds, coffee, lighters. Now I am starving.
Me too. Because we would have been found.
Why didn’t we just move the stuff out of the shelter and into one room of the house? We could have covered the shelter again, nobody would have seen us. We could have searched the town. Maybe there was a hospital or a pharmacy where we could have found some medicine for you.
Since when do you communicate in multiple sentences?
Don’t be angry papa.
I’m not angry.
We could have stayed there and eaten all the food and rested until you were better and then left when we had just enough stuff left to put in the cart.
I’m getting angry.
What’s by the ocean anyway?
I don’t know.
Well at least we have a plan.
Who said that. You? Or me?
I don’t know – this kind of dialogue can get complicated. I think I’m the boy and you’re the man, so I guess you said it. You’re the man. Why don’t we have names?
Because theres no God, if there was he'd hate us and the world is cruel cruel cruel.

They nighted beneath a burnt tree. The boy scouted around and found two desiccated twinkies lying in a pile of trash. They saved one and toasted the remaining one over the fire on a burnt piece of branch until the cream foamed out of the twinkie and the sponge cake turned dark brown. The man fed it to the boy with a broken fork.
Its really good papa.
Here have a tinned peach to wash it down.
Where did you get that?
I dont know we always seem to have some tinned peaches left.

In the morning they tramped back onto the road. The rain had turned to sleet, mixed with ash and bits of old snow. They passed a crashed Boeing 747, its innards hanging into the road. A broken wing pointed hopelessly at the sky. A mess of oxygen masks, pillaged luggage and burnt tortured bodies twined around its aluminum skeleton.
Wait here.
I’m really scared papa.
I said wait here.
No I am really scared papa.
Wait here or I am selling you as a catamite to the next band of cannibals we see on the road.
You sure?
I fucking said Okay.

The man dug around the inside of the plane working his way methodically from the tail down to the cockpit. He found a Gameboy in the knapsack of a tiny backpack with a burnt teddy bear hanging off it on a rusted keychain. In a luggage compartment he found a felt fedora. He put it on his head and moved forward. In the cockpit he found the pilots still sitting there. Flight caps perched on the caramel brown of their skulls. In the lap of one a thesaurus, swollen by damp, the print still barely legible.

The man put the thesaurus in his pocket and rifled through the cockpit. He found three cans of peaches a Zippo lighter and a samurai sword. The man climbed down out of the plane to show the boy what he’d found. The boy was gone and an icy hand clutched at the mans heart.

He found the boy standing on the top of the rise overlooking the plane. His back to the man, staring down at the field beyond. The boy was jumping up and down in fear. His eyes wide. Clapping his hands and pointing.
Whats wrong?
Really scared?
How did you know?
What’s wrong?
The boy pointed again. The man turned his head and looked. He didn’t think he’d ever be okay again. On the savage ashed plain beneath the rise, hidden from the road, a field of stakes. On the top of each a head, covered in matted golden fur, leatherlike tongue lolling out over rotted teeth. Each head never to bark in joyous welcome again.
Golden Retrievers.
Golden Retriever puppies.
The boy started crying.
I’m sorry.
I want a puppy.
The puppies are dead. Im so sorry.
Why papa why?
Because this is just going to keep on getting unimaginably worse until the writer gets a Pulitzer prize just to make him stop.
So the man picked up the boy and turned away from the field of dead puppies.
Look what I found. A thesaurus.
Can we eat it papa?
No. Look.
The man crouched down in the sodden ash and flipped the thesaurus open, ruffling through the pages.
What are you doing papa? Im really hungry.
The man pointed at a page of the thesaurus.
You're very hungry. Veritably hungry. Absolutely, bloody, clearly, decisively, determinedly, distinctly, downright, emphatically, flat out, for a fact, in spades, no holds barred, no ifs ands or buts, no mistake, no strings attached, positively, straight out, strongly, terribly, terrifically, unequivocally, unmistakably, fucking hungry.

In the laudanum evening the two located the trolley. The man labouriously strapped it to his back and they moved into the firescarred woods looking for shelter from the wet, cold, sepulcher dark.

The End.

"To act on the belief that we possess the knowledge and the power which enable us to shape the processes of society entirely to our liking, knowledge which in fact we do not possess, is likely to make us do much harm. The recognition of the insuperable limits to his knowledge ought indeed to teach the student of society a lesson in humility, which should guard him against becoming an accomplice in men’s fatal striving to control society—a striving which makes him not only a tyrant over his fellows, but which may well make him the destroyer of a civilization which no brain has designed but which has grown from the free efforts of millions of individuals." Friedrich Hayek