Playground at the end of the world

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

Compound 38

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