They called it the ‘Hand of Galena.’ The great, grasping hand that glittered like obsidian; a monument to the perseverance and prosperity of the town of Galena. The hand reached skyward, rising from the sterile mound below. The monument was built from Caecius Candeo, the dark mineral, which sat in abundant reserve below, and upon which the town of Galena –and it’s fortunes- had been built.
The mineral glistened darkly, twinkling like distant stars against the backdrop of the cosmos, in even the most minimal light.
Each night, as the sunset in the west, disappearing behind the reaching fingers, an elderly man traversed the barren mound, desiccated and cracked, with tentative but determined steps. As he reached the top of the mound and the base of the Hand, his thick, callused hands would grasp the weathered rungs of the ladder, ascending step by step, until he reached the palm. Continue reading →
Lily pads rose from the placid water holes that punctuated the playground. Rusted iron fences flaking with light blue paint surrounded them. To the east, an artificial lake of deep maroon seemed to be shrinking in the sun. The concrete walls ran down to the silt beaches below, as the water’s edge seemed to retreat further and further each passing day, revealing dark sediment, weathered bottles, crumbled bricks, and the occasional carcass.
The lake exuded abundant smells of burning rubber and phosphorous. After the thunderstorms –and the wail of the curfew siren- the lake gave off a bitter metallic smell that irritated the nostrils and burned the eyes. Continue reading →
They’d recruited me in April of 1945. Well, I said recruited, they said recruited; it was just a byword to make both parties feel better about the arrangement. I had a choice, my mind –and all of the secrets buried in that maze of neurochemical pathways- could be weaponised by the Soviets, or it could be dashed to pieces by the firing squad.
Some say that just before you drown, your body convulses in mortal ecstasy. Some say that freezing to death is preceded by the deepest and most tranquil sleep. Others say that the final stages of mortal torture are pure bliss.
I find it spurious that the final moments of the mortal coil could be so idyllic, what possible evolutionary advantage could that have? Still, the point is redundant, for theorising about something for which there are no facts is pure folly. How can anybody know for certain if these stories are true, when the only witnesses to such phenomena have passed?
So perhaps it was just an urban legend, or maybe the rumours are true, but they said that Compound 38 -the gaseous chemical weapon, to which I alone knew the secret of origination- smelled like rusted iron. Continue reading →
It was an early evening in the spring of 1950 when I last saw Ronald “Rojo” Jones. As I fumbled the key in the lock and rotated the heavy barrels, I anticipated a number of reactions he might greet me with, ranging from stoic silence to manic optimism.
The response I got, however, took me by surprise. As soon as the door was open, I looked upon his hooked nose, round glasses and slender form, and a broad smile formed on his face. Continue reading →
The cave –if you could call it that- was chiselled out of limestone using old steam-powered tunnelling machinery. Originally a natural formation, the cave dipped and rose, with winding corridors which squeezed to the breadth of a human hipbone, before opening out into great domed halls; the likely result of some great cave-in from above.
Despite the crudeness of the tools used, it could be seen that the cave had been meticulously designed in a labyrinthine manner designed to entrap those who ventured inside; to what end remained unknown. Continue reading →