Whilst in India I have started to write a book. I’m calling the book Red Moon and here’s an early excerpt. The book centres around disappearances of young people in Goa. The initial inspiration was supplied by some spooky events in Pondicherry. Enjoy! Or not as the case may be…
Yurik’s old limp shifts loose stones from the surface of the dry ground as he moves towards the hut. For the most part the garden is a wasteland of dismantled machines; bikes, drills, winches. Piles of swarf and wood dust sit beneath a workbench. Dissected water bottles are makeshift funnels for old engine oil. A deep well is covered by meshing and a brick-weighted tarpaulin. Yurik is tall. His laboured gait only adds grit to his obvious immovability. Sunken eyes. Ashen face.
He stoops inside the circular hut. The earth to the walls of the hut have been cut down two feet. The earth to the centre of the hut is uncut and forms a raised plinth which has been compacted and smoothed to a solid table. It is dark. Yurik flips his head torch and looks up. He beats the thatched roof intently with the outside of his fist. The shiny black and red millipedes that live in the thatch are three inches long and a third of an inch thick. Maravattai. Two fall to the table from the roof. Their hard outer shells knock on the table as they land. One quickly flips itself over and its strong body winds itself towards the edge of the table and escapes into the dark. The other maravattai is more docile. Stunned. Its body contorts slowly with thick, sharp, fluid black legs flailing in the air in rythm. Its bulbous head, eyes and antenna weaving in an attempt to force its writhing body back to its feet. Yuriks head torch glares down onto it’s shining segments. He draws his knife. Traps the body down with the flat side of the blade. Reaching into the top pocket of his shirt he draws a small roll of cloth which places on the table ritually. No expression. He unrolls the cloth to reveal a number of long pins, a thick straw 3 inches long and a set of tweezers.
Yurik takes a pin. Holding the maravattai’s head down with the flat edge of the blade he runs the pin over each body segment from head to tail stretching the millipede to its full length over the table. The tail crunches as he pins it. Another pin. This time the pin is aimed meticulously between the convex black shining eyes. Antennae rigid. Crunch. The legs stop flailing. Antennae spasm.
Yurik carefully positions two more pins and takes the tweezers. Beginning with the sternite above the tail, he clamps the body segment and pulls. As it cracks loose the fleshy, wet, beige innards protrude in the torch light. The putrid, alien stench fills the hut. No pause. Concentration. Each sternite is removed with the tweezers. The grotesque anthropod is now masterfully butchered. Open.
Returning the tweezers to the cloth, Yurik takes the straw. Leaning forward over the bug, he takes a long exhalation. Places the straw between his lips. Starting with the tail he sucks through the straw and swallows.
Thanks for reading.
Other excerpts from red moon: