Monday May 23rd, 2016

The exercise:

Write about something that has: burst.

The harvest for our local customers began today and will conclude tomorrow morning. We've got around 110 pounds ordered for pickup tomorrow afternoon and we're off to a good start - somewhere around 64 pounds, I'd say.

Sue and Jake will be helping with the pick, as will Becky if she's able to. So great not to be doing it alone.

Oh, House of Mercy. I haven't forgotten. I was just hoping I'd do this month's entry as a reward for getting completely caught up on comments but I'm not sure I'm going to get there. So expect it this week sometime.

Mine:

Glass shards are scattered across the floor. Liquids of various colour stick to and drip from all of them. Mostly red, it seems. How did this happen?

I remember, quite clearly, filling the rack of test tubes with bubbling and smoking solutions. There were no explosions. Hell, I didn't so much as spill a drop. I am too careful for that sort of thing.

After that, I can see myself crossing to the other side of the laboratory. Empty-handed. Didn't bump into any desks. There was no one else in here.

I reached my office without incident. Flipped through a few binders. Can't remember which ones, but I'm sure that's not important. Fairly sure, at least. Came back into the laboratory and... then what?

Were the shards in place by then? Had... whatever... happened while I was out of the room? Why can't I remember?

I wonder if a single beaker burst, setting off a chain reaction, or if several exploded simultaneously. That would have been impressive. Something I'd like to have seen. Look around. Check everything. There must be clues somewhere. There must be some sign of...

Wait. Who left this Bunsen burner on? That couldn't possibly have been me. Right? Of course not.

Though, for some reason, I am beginning to feel a little lightheaded. Maybe I should sit down for a moment...

3 Comments:

morganna said...

Splitting
Open like a
Ripe fruit, spilling out its
Lethal load of disease into
The body, filling it with filth, fever
And sepsis are not far behind
Quick with antibiotics,
Rescue from burst
Appendix.

Greg said...

@Morganna: I hope those are strong antibiotics! Peritonitis is never nice and often lethal. Despite the terrifying content of your poem it's still gracefully written and almost makes it seem like getting appendicitis. Almost ;-)

@Marc: so the only thing you didn't tell us what was the 110 pounds were of, so I'm choosing to believe that it's saffron you've hand-harvested from a couple of metric acres of crocuses :). I confess, I had forgotten about the House of Mercy and that we'd not been there this month, so thank-you for the reminder! You're pretty close with the comments, don't give up just yet!
Your narrator is clearly in trouble, and I hope for their sake that there's a way out of it for them. I like the way you trace back the events trying to work out what's going on, and the gentle revelation that there's probably a malevolent force at work. The light-headed line at the end really brings it all together nicely.

Burst
I sat at the kitchen table watching as the urchins bandaged my arms. The bandages were white when they started wrapping, and rapidly turned a deep purple as the phlogiston stained skin stained the white cotton as well. They didn't hurt, but more worryingly they didn't feel anything at all: I could wiggle my fingers but I was watching them wiggle and not feeling it. I don't know how long the brain will accept a lack of feedback like that for, and it was a depressing thought that I should study this and dictate my finding to the urchins so that they could be published and used in similar cases. Then I wondered if the urchins knew how to write; if not how would I teach them when I couldn't demonstrate? A single tear leaked from the corner of my eye, and rolled down my cheek because I couldn't wipe it away until the urchins were finished.
The cellar was not in a good state: it was flooding happily with phlogiston. The urchins must have pulled me out of the liquid and up the stairs but I have no recollection of it. My face is stained, but that's fading quickly, and my shoes, socks and trousers are beyond repair: I'll burn them when I need a signal fire. My arms appear to have taken the brunt of it, and so they're being bandaged. I wish it hurt. It would be a relief to feel even that. I've told the urchins to lock the door, and then I changed my mind. The level of liquid in there appears to have stabilized at about two feet, which is actually worrying. When I have my hands back I'll do the calculations, but it looks like I'm sitting on not a spring of phlogiston but an entire lake. This farm, the land it's built on, might just be the most expensive piece of land in Europe depending on the size of that lake. I kind of wish I could find the deeds and so "prove" it's mine. The door to the cellar stays open though, as I don't want the phlogiston fumes buildling up. And the urchins and I will be sleeping in the barn from now on.
After the bandaging was done and I looked like I'd been injured and then gone blackberry picking for giggles I walked out to the barn with the urchins and had them sort through the journals there. It took some effort, and it is boring to have to ask someone to turn a page constantly, but finally I found the paragraph that had caught my eye back on a first reading and was nagging at my mind now.
Raw phlogiston is protean and teratogenic. Take appropriate precautions for its use: I recommend changing the staff handling the decanting process on a six-daily basis and if any of them take ill, have them shot and the carcase burned.
The casual brutality of it had caught my eye, but the message in there was clear enough. I wondered if I had the strength to order the urchins to shoot and burn me.

Marc said...

Morganna - really like this one. Excellent imagery and pacing. Great work!

Greg - ah, comments catch up... here we go again!

Not sure how I forgot to mention strawberries specifically. I suppose it was all I was thinking about, crop-wise, and so no label was required. In my head, at any rate.

Another excellent entry in your ongoing saga. I look forward to getting caught up with this once more :)