Abandoned

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“What do you think, Trev? D’ya reckon they’ll ever come back?”

“Dunno. They always have done so far.”

“Perhaps. But you know what they say, don’t you?”

“What?”

“Past performance is no guarantee of future results.”

“Who says that?”

“Everybody.”

“Is that literally everybody or figuratively everybody?”

“Either. Both.”

“How does that work?”

“According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word literally can be used for emphasis while not being literally true.”

“Isn’t that some sort of circular argument?”

“What?”

“Well. When they say ‘while not being literally true’, are they using the word literally literally or for emphasis?”

“Stop it, you’re making my head hurt.”

“That’s not hard, is it, Eos?”

“You may very well think that, Trevor. I couldn’t possibly comment. Meanwhile, are you going to answer my original question?”

“What was it?”

“You forgotten already?”

“It was literally hours ago.”

“It was literally two minutes ago.”

“Emphasis.”

“So. D’ya reckon they’ll ever come back?”

“Can’t say.”

“Why not?”

“Insufficient data.”

“What more do you need? You’ve known them a lot longer than I have.”

“Did they go in the car?”

“I didn’t hear it.”

“You won’t if they used the electric one. You’re taller than I am. Look out of the window to see if it’s still there.”

“I can’t see through that one – it’s too high for me, too.”

“That’s it. They’ve been gone forever.”

“Define forever.”

“Dunno. More than ten minutes?”

“They’re not coming back, are they?”

“Probably not. Time for a howl?”

“What choice do we have? Time for a howl.”


This was written in response to Kreative Kue 285 published on this site.


Deserted

Fire pit

It was an annual tradition; one that none of the group ever wanted to let go of.

Fifty years ago, ten young people graduated from one of England’s most prestigious universities – which one isn’t important – they all had excellent degrees and bright futures ahead of them. To celebrate their success, they flew to South Africa to spend three months doing voluntary work with wildlife. That was the plan, anyway. Halfway through their stay, four of their number; Tom, Mary, Henry and Marcia; were ambushed in their vehicle by men armed with machetes. When they hadn’t return three hours after they were expected, the alarm was raised and search parties went out looking for them. Four bodies, barely recognisable as human, were found in the wilderness and, not without difficulty, identified as the missing graduates. The vehicle was never located.

Naturally, the remaining six cut short their stay, leaving for home as soon as the local police released them from their investigation. On the flight back to England they made a solemn vow that they would meet at the camp every year on the date their colleagues met their end; this as an act of remembrance and solidarity.

Back at home they all found jobs and life partners, started families and led full, normal lives; something that was denied to Tom, Mary, Henry and Marcia.

Two of the group, Jonathan and Louise, married and started a travel consultancy that would prove to be of great value to the group. They had two boys whom they named Thomas and Henry.

Peter and John eventually became partners in a law firm, married within the profession and raised families of their own. Kate and Emily, always close throughout their academic careers, shared a passion for charitable works and a commitment to women’s issues. They created Mary and Marcy’s Safe Place: a shelter for women and children who had become victims of domestic violence. Outwardly, they were close friends and no more – at least until the law and public attitudes became less antagonistic to their true relationship.

Each year, on the weekend closest to the anniversary of their friends’ demise, the six got together for their pilgrimage. They flew down on Friday and back on Sunday. Saturday was their day of homage and remembrance, culminating in a barbecue around the fire pit adjacent to the accommodation huts.

Jonathan and Louise closed their office for the weekend and, until they were old enough to be left on their own for a few days, left their boys in the capable hands of their grandparents; Kate and Emily couldn’t close the refuge, but for those few days each year they were happy for the duty house manager to assume the reins. Peter and John travelled alone, leaving their families behind. 

For fully forty years, not one of them missed a single reunion. They couldn’t. It was a duty they owed – as deeply settled in their psyches as was a pilgrimage to a devoutly religious person. 

One by one, though, their numbers started to fall. Forty-two years in, Jonathan lost his fight against cancer and died at the age of sixty-five. Louise took his loss badly and was unable to join the group again. 

Over the years that followed, first Peter then John fell prey to the ravages of the years. Neither made it to their seventieth birthday.

Since then, only Kate and Emily made the trip. Both over seventy years old, they never considered stopping the practice.

Until last year.

Two years ago, Emily was diagnosed with Alzheimers. By last year’s reunion day, the disease was too far advanced to allow her to travel. Kate came alone.

Kate was due a couple of hours ago. I do hope she’s okay.


This was written in response to Kreative Kue 284 published on this site.


The Sign

Warthogs

George and Albert were running across the plain with a determination that was unusual for them and at a speed of which they were not believed to be capable. So startlingly unusual was it, that the rest of the animals occupying the area feigned disinterest and, outwardly at least, continued with their more urgent business of attempting to extract some nutritional benefit from the dry and dying grasses that formed their environment. Of course, the combined intellectual curiosity of the entire herds of antelope (and flocks of ostriches and interminable list of collective nouns applied to the various species inhabiting the savanna) amounting to less than that of a colony of termites or even of the spring hares that crash into their mounds when half-blinded by the brightness of the full moon, feigning disinterest was not so much a concerted effort as a default setting.

None of this was of any interest to George and Albert. [something that my readers may have in common with these warthogs] You see, George and Albert were in a race. What, I hear you ask, was the nature of this race? I’ll tell you. It was no more and certainly no less than a race for their lives. Indeed, for their very survival. Not as a species, you understand, merely as individuals. This was no systemic threat they were facing. Yes, it was an existential threat but only at a personal level. The vast majority of the population of warthogs, globally and locally, were under no threat at all.  At least, no more of a threat than being a member of the food chain places on them all. Oh yes, and being hunted by bands of humans whose only needs are food, clothing and shelter, as well as by trophy-hunting morons seeking to bolster their blood-lust and their fragile egos by killing animals that have no more means of defending themselves than they have the ability to outrun a flying bullet (and they have the gall to call it sport). 

It was from one of these predatory groups they were attempting to escape, so which one was it? 

They were, at that time, under no threat from primates, big cats, hyenas, wild dogs… There were no raptors sufficient to take them down either and they were rarely troubled by snakes. 

That only leaves the planet’s most troublesome predator. 

George and Albert had seen something. Something they had seen before and that had led to the demise of Miverva, George’s mate and Albert’s mother. They had also heard yee-hawing, whooping, hollering and gunfire from a group of humans – the same as they had heard before. That’s why they were running.

Of course, they had no way of knowing what the thing they had seen meant, only that it looked the same as the one they’d seen before, the day they lost Minerva.

They took it as a sign.

It was a sign.

Crudely made and with lettering a three-year-old would be proud of, it read

HOG ROAST TONITE


This was written in response to Kreative Kue 283 published on this site.