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  • Writer's pictureBrook Bond

Teabox Tales - The Benefits Of A Plague Summer


Well, now for something a little bit current events-y. I came up with this idea during a creative writing class last term, though I've only just developed it.

I like writing from the viewpoint of monstrous nonhuman characters. It's quite interesting to think about different mindsets and perspectives.



 

You cannot see us for what we are, yet you know full well that we exist. We are the chill down your back on a cold night, or the unearthly presence weighing down on you when you know for a fact that you should be alone. We are the hunters and snatchers; taking in the shadows and never giving back. If you have lost someone with no explanation; no body or blood or clues, then it is highly likely that they fell prey to one of us.


Now, you must understand that we are not bad creatures. We are merely a part of the ecosystem like everything else. You frolic and breed and consume gluttonously as if the world is yours to take and tame, and we kill to remind you that you are not gods. We take very little pleasure in our duty; your deaths mean very little between our jaws. It is clinical. A biological fact. A precise skimming of the fat.


Because of our solemn predatory duties, we are granted very little presence in your world. We languish in dark corners, shadowy alleyways, and under the beds of particularly naughty children. This is because we are monstrous things. We cannot walk in daylight because we would be found and caged, throwing nature out of balance and allowing your greed-filled ways to go unchallenged. The wolf does not bear her fangs to the lamb when the farmer and his gun lurk just around the corner.

But things have very swiftly changed.


It seems that you have contracted a sickness. A vast choking malaise. You move like fleas on a dog’s back, carrying untold filths along with you, taking the choking plague all over your little globe. We watched, largely apathetic in the beginning. We are used to the great dyings that happen every century or so. They are part of the rhythm of your kind; to breed and die and breed and die and breed and die without end.


But then we saw the way you responded to the tragedy. You obscured your faces with colourful cloth and broke apart the stinking herds you usually travel within. And it worked, at least a little bit. The masked ones, the very smartest amongst you, actually combatted this great viral suffocation.


The sight of it made us very proud. This is why we do what we do; to encourage you to live for one another, and discourage mindless greed and selfishness and hunger. We applaud the virtuous few; the washers and maskers and the most diligent of workers. The honourable ones. The ones that we are forbidden to devour.

The sickness also gave us something else: the ability to walk amongst you without detection. A mask can hide a great toothy maw. Sunglasses obscure wild and hungry eyes. A broad-brimmed hat pulled low across a face can conceal things beyond your wildest nightmares. As if by magic, we were handed a passport to walk into your world. And walk we do.


We stalk the streets like panthers, not a single one of you knowing what or who we are. We enter shops and run our fingers across the products. We watch your children play in playgrounds. We walk your streets and peer into your windows.

To be suddenly thrust into the beating heart of humanity after a lifetime on the periphery is quite the experience indeed. We don’t feel much, at least not compared to you, but this freedom triggered something deep inside.


When the warm weather comes, during the time of the plague summers, we flock to the coasts. We gather by the beaches with our feet in the sand and tread cautiously into the water. We swim out to watch the surfers or walk along the pier to gaze at those who gorge on chips and ice cream and lie like beached whales in deck chairs. We watch, hypnotised, at the fairgrounds; enthralled by the gigantic machines you build to fling your little bodies around like there’s no tomorrow. We disparage as we watch you still crowd together, spreading the sickness amongst you.


This new freedom has made our job far easier. Since we walk among you so plainly, we have a full view of every misdeed you commit. Applying just the slightest squeeze of pressure really does help to weed out the bad from the good, and boy have the bad been showing themselves.


The bald-faced coughing menaces who do not wear their colourful cloths, a new class of prey formed in the plague times. They spit and sneeze and spread their filth, so we herd them into darkened corners and devour them whole. The sicknesses that cut down mortal men in droves are like salt and pepper on a good meal, and these maskless rats ooze sickness like slugs ooze slime.


The hollerers and criers are also a delicacy. They spit and scream until their faces are pink like cooked meat. They fill their mouths with lies. They use the great net of thoughts and minds, the technological magnum opus of your kind, as a field to sow the bitter seeds of dissent.


“I have my meat and drink and treasures! I have my material things!” They crow foolishly, unaware that we lurk in earshot. “I do not care what befalls the lesser folk around me. It is not my responsibility to care for the world! Cruelty is the sweetest freedom of all!”


These foul screechers make us fume with anger. Their deaths are rarely as quick and painless as the ones we give to others, and their hateful tastes are savoured in our mouths.


You see, to be born a stalking thing is a burden. We wish a million times every day that we could’ve been born a part of the herd like you. We see the hollerers, their faces twisted into contemptuous snarls, and we know that they have wasted their gift.

They were born innocent. They were born with the chance to love and be loved; to give and take in perfect balance. It is in man’s nature to create and share. It is in man’s nature to care for others; a great responsibility but also a great honour. But it is also in man’s nature to come up against infinite choices, and these hollering fools chose spitting and snarling and lies above any form of kindness.


If you were born in the depths of the pit, wouldn’t you grow to resent the ones who hit rock bottom on purpose? Wouldn’t you seethe upon seeing how these fallen creatures threw away their inborn ability to walk in the light? Wouldn’t you want to kill them? Wouldn’t you want to drain their essence to sustain yourself; a pathetic pit-born wallower who knows nothing but darkness?


We are conflicted on how your plague will play out. We have great chattering midnight debates, our voices carried for many miles on the howling winds. Some of us say that this great dying will burn through its fuel and taper off like all of the others. Some say that it will reign eternal; the hateful speakers and the bald facers feeding the sickness like fresh logs in the fire. But it is up to you. Will you work diligently? Will you inject the miraculous elixirs your brightest minds have brewed for you? Will you choose kindness and society over the temptation of selfish animal chaos?


Some of us want more plague summers. Some of us don’t want to be pushed back into the shadows where we belong. Some of us relish feasting upon angry sinners in their hundreds. But we are not built to wander free. We are the hungry oblivion that reminds you to be kind, and our ultimate goal is not to eat you all one by one as the hardships make you cruel.


I can’t speak for the rest of my kind, but I don’t want any more plague summers. I sit hunched over in the darkness and write these strange words in a scratchy hand because I hope it’ll make you see sense. Now go; serve your fellow man, and live your life with kindness. You now know what awaits you if you let ignorance overtake your heart.

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