Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Dreaming of Narwhals

Today is National Flash Fiction Day. I will be hosting a flash slam in Oxford to celebrate. I have also been judging flash fiction – for a super League of Extraordinary Authors competition – you can see my shortlist here and comment on your favourites.
And to celebrate in style, I’ve written my first flash of the year:
You are dreaming of narwhals again.
Last time it happened you woke at 2.56 am and scribbled “John of Patmos, your eschatology lacks narwhals” on a post-it and when you found it in the morning you were so pleased by the line, even though you didn’t have a clue what it meant, that you wrote a poem around it for a slam that night and everyone laughed at you but not in that “you’ve just said something really superficial but I’m going to wet myself because you said cock. Or Rebekah Brooks. Or Rebekah Brooks’ cock” way that people do at slams.
A part of you is trying to remind the you that’s immersed in the dream that the narwhals have not been channelled from the spirit world just to become part of your new masterpiece but of course the dreaming you tells that you to shut the fuck up and it does so so loudly you wake, confused, and scrawl on the bedside table in capitals with a coffee spoon
THE NARWHALS ARE NOT A METAPHOR
You fall back to sleep and find yourself in a dark room. A chandelier comes on and winks gaudily at you and you realise you are at the edge of the swimming pool from THAT scene in the Joan Collins film The Bitch. The pool is filled with the writhing bodies of copulating narwhals crying out as they orgasm
“If we’re a metaphor then so are you. You are a metaphor for the climate change that’s destroying our way of life. Just look at us. Look at the fin de siècle decadence you’ve brought upon us. Look at our horns! We’re Cetacean Dirk Digglers and the 80s are coming!!”
At an existential level you cannot accept the horror of these once innocent creatures descending into orgiastic drug abuse, shoulder pads and Reaganomics and all in a Paul Thomas Anderson film that’s not Magnolia so you place your hands on your ears. You are still screaming
THE NARWHALS ARE NOT A METAPHOR
When you wake, miles from anywhere, and you run home screaming, stopping only to steal a bible from a Christian bookshop because the talk of the fin de siècle has made you want to read the Book of Revelation.
That evening, calmer, you mutter through a performance of Rhinoceros “Fuck you, Ionesco, if my narwhals had been metaphors mine would have been a far better play than yours because mine would have had paddling pools.”
On the way home, two politicians you recognise from the news drag you into an alley. As their boots lay into you, you wait for them to turn into horned creatures of some kind, but they don’t. As you are taking your last breath the pain stops and you see the most wonderful sight. Dipping your toe in the water, you look back one last time, laugh in the politicians’ faces and cry
“John of Patmos, your eschatology lacks narwhals”

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