Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Reformation By Lily McNally

Nestled within cold pines, we were hidden; thick branches blocking a sun we had long forgotten. These festive trees recall every Christmas lived and missed. Of half-remembered domestic scenes, children in cars, school runs and sticky fingers; the pine freshener hanging like a talisman upfront, to cover nasty human smells.

We recall tiresome children and heavy handed husbands. The ones we killed, and the ones we didn’t. The guilty wring so many blood stained palms and scream into the void. Released from the Panopticon, our anguish is now our own.

In the beginning we cried and howled like captive beasts. After days of silence we began to sit, or stand, in dutiful absence. I watched women drop dead from nothing. Coerced into submission and making way for new arrivals. In white cells, we existed; fed by non-entities in white cloaks, a tiny slit of mesh that the hid eyes. Lest the eyes be the window to the soul, we were soulless.

No human touch or smell or glance. For 8 years I became no one. For 8 years a great eye stared. Our immortal Mistress watched through glass cell doors and we forgot how to how to be.

One day, not so very different from any other, no one watched. No Mistress, no guards, no plastic trays of grey slop. There was a great click as lights flickered and glass doors shuddered. For 3 more days we sat. 2 of our community died from starvation, dutifully waiting for the normal order to re-assert itself.

I pushed my door and stumbled; legs failing after such neglect. Others surfaced one by one and no one remembered how to speak for a further 24 hours. It was broken with a solitary “who?” and I vomited from my own reflection.

As food ran short, through dense pine we ventured. An overturned train some two miles out lay discarded in the snow. We dragged our bounty back to ‘The Community,’ feasting on canned fruit and stale bread like stately queens.

I now stand, with 30 convicts, on a street I used to call my own. The 100 mile journey had been made on foot, now walking strong on sixty powerful legs. Company blimps fly overhead, auto piloted and occasionally crashing into abandoned tower blocks.

A suited man sits outside a building I once called home. He is surrounded by shiny wrappers, fine cloth and jewels. Demented, he drags his hands through the pile; not one trinket holding more significance than the next. He offers me a ring and I decline. The streets are littered with such things.

In the adjacent tower block, tribes of children are led by pimpled teens; dirty and efficient, they make quick work of skinning the cat for dinner. They carry spears and knives and pay us no heed.

The smell of rot pervades. Olympus has fallen. Not with the apocalypse we had expected but with the gluttonous overabundance of everything. We stand among priceless litter and nothing means anything whatsoever.


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