Friday 26 November 2010

A useful death

I watched as the team of surgeons set to work.
They worked in virtual silence, quickly, efficiently.
Time was of the essence, time was not their friend, the clock was ticking...

I watched as they stripped the body of its parts....

The eyes would give sight to a nine year old girl, blind from birth.
They would bring light and colour to her life, and enable her to become the leading geneticist destined to discover the cure for cancer.

One of the kidneys would save the life of a fourteen year old boy, who would grow up to become the famous auto-engineer who developed the car engine that would run on tap water.

The other would ensure a post natal mother would still be alive to love her baby when he became a man, the same man who would eventually become the leader of the political party that was instrumental in successfully restructuring the World Health Organisation.

The liver would continue the existence of a nineteen year old girl, who would one day become the physicist to discover the link between time and space, restarting the space programme, and eventually leading to the possibility of deep space travel.

One of the lungs would save the life of a peace activist, who many years later would be the leader of the global network that successfully negotiates the destruction of all nuclear weapons.

The second would enhance the breathing of a twenty four year old man, who would go on to father the child who becomes the botanist famous for creating the fast-growing hybrid tree, enabling the rapid replacement of the rain forests.

The pancreas would extend the life of the meteorologist who in years to come would accidentally discover a cheap, and permanent way to repair the ozone layer.

The heart would save the life of a twenty three year old medical student, destined to make ground-breaking discoveries in the world of organ and limb transplant. The man who would be the great grandfather of the woman responsible for initiating the political programme that would eventually lead the way to world peace.

I watched all this from above the operating table as the link between my body and soul slowly evaporated, and I began to float away....

And I reflected on the irony that I had just signed the organ donor card, and was placing it into my wallet as I stepped off the kerb, when the lorry hit me.

©2010 Stephen. J. Green.

Friday 19 November 2010

Attention to detail

I met Arnold Bollinger in a slightly seedy hotel bar, I had wandered inside more to escape the blistering heat than in the pursuit of alcohol.

A sombre faced man sat alone at the corner table, the only one with available chairs.

“Excuse me would you mind awfully if I shared the table with you?” I asked him.

“No, please join me sir,” he replied, “I hate drinking alone, and I could really do with the company on this sad day.”

He rose and offered his hand, “Arnold Bollinger sir.”

“Bernard Romford sir.” I replied, shaking his hand firmly. “Sad day sir?” I enquired, as I sat down.

“Yes sir, a very sad day. I have just attended the funeral of my best friend, Reginald Pollock.”

“Oh my!” I said, slightly taken aback. “How did he die?”

“Attention to detail sir, that's what killed the poor chap, or lack of attention to detail to be more precise. Please sit awhile with me sir, and you shall hear the story.”

Mister Bollinger sat back in his chair, and began...

“I first met Reggie thirty seven years ago sir, in the army in Eighteen ninety nine, at the start of the Boer war. There we were, two young tigers, barely out of our teens, newly commissioned. We fought many battles and skirmishes together. Saved each others lives on more than one occasion, I can tell you.
One time we were on a scouting mission, Reggie, myself, and a dozen infantrymen. We were about to set up camp when there commenced a loud thrashing and trumpeting from the bush. I told the men to post guard, Reggie and I would investigate. We stole quietly through the trees until we came to a rather large clearing with a sturdy tree in the centre of it. Attached to the base of said tree was a length of steel wire, a snare sir, laid by damned blasted ivory poachers, the other end of which was wrapped around the foreleg of a baby elephant.”

Bollinger paused for a moment or two, and his eyes took on a blank stare as his mind's eye returned him to the clearing.

“The poor animal was thrashing and dragging at the wire in vain attempts to free itself, losing more blood as the wire bit deeper. I was for shooting the animal to end its pain sir, but Reggie would have none of it, he always had a special rapport with animals, he had no fear of them you see, and they could sense this. He approached the elephant and talked soothingly to it for a few minutes, rubbing its trunk gently, eventually the animal calmed, and he led it nearer to the tree, which enabled him to remove the snare. A nasty looking wound ran full circle around the poor beasts foot. Talking quietly to the animal all the while, Reggie took his medical kit from his pack, and the elephant stood docilely whilst Reggie applied salve to the wound. The animal stared into Reggie's eyes for several moments, and then wandered off through the trees.”

“Over the next few months we saw the animal on several occasions, easily distinguishable from the other infants by the vivid white scar round its leg, on these occasions Reggie would call out to it, the creature would separate from the herd and amble over to spend a few minutes nuzzling up to him, you see sir, an elephant never forgets a friend, or indeed an enemy for that matter.”

“After the war we left the army to seek our fortunes here in Africa, through the years we travelled the length and breadth of this great nation, doing many different things sir, diamond and gold prospecting, bodyguarding, we made rather a large amount of money as mercenaries here and there too.”

“Last week we were commissioned to seek out and … er... discourage a particularly troublesome team of ivory poachers who were operating in the district. We located the elephant herd, and tracked it as we waited for the poachers to show up. Three nights ago we were hidden in the scrub about fifty yards from the herd, and a rather large bull elephant appeared, he had got our scent and was walking towards us, I thought we may be in danger sir, I reached for my rifle in order to defend myself but Reggie motioned for me to be still. He stood up, and I watched with horror as he laid down his rifle, and started walking slowly towards the massive animal, all the while talking soothingly to it, and then sir, I noticed the vivid white scar that circled the animals front foot.”

“I called to him to come back... he wouldn't listen sir....”

“Reggie walked right up to the towering beast, the elephant stood calmly whilst he reached up and gently stroked its trunk.....”

“After a minute or two the elephant lowered its massive head, slowly wrapped its trunk around Reggie's waist, it lifted him high into the air, then savagely slammed him into the ground with tremendous force.......”

“I watched sir, frozen in shock and disbelief as it lifted the scarred foot, placed it on top of his head, and squashed his skull like a grape.... like a grape sir!"

“The animal then slowly wandered back to the herd without so much as a glance in my direction.”

“I brought poor Reggie's body back here over his horse sir. If only he had paid attention to detail, He would have noticed as I had, that the old snare scar was on the elephants left forefoot...”

I looked at him, not really understanding the point he was making....

“Sad to say Sir,” Bollinger continued. “The baby elephant who's life he had saved all those years ago had been snared by its RIGHT foot.”

©2010 Stephen. J. Green.

Friday 12 November 2010

Sweet home Alabama

I stood outside the apartment door listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd bouncing through the woodwork, a glance at my watch told me it was 3:14 A.M.

I kicked the door open and walked inside, the volume ramped up a couple of notches.




“HERE I” BLAM “AAALA Scrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrtt...

I walked from the apartment and quietly closed the door behind me.

I had asked them time and time and time again, to please not play their music so loud.

I pushed the .45 into my belt as I walked downstairs to my own apartment.

I really needed to get some sleep.

©2010 Stephen. J. Green.

Friday 5 November 2010

The Drop

It was known as 'The Drop', almost two miles of sheer vertical cliff face dropping straight down onto open plain.

Most of the young men who had tested their courage against The Drop had died in the attempt, the number who had made it to the base, clutching the rare blue flower that grew from the cliff face were few.

The hard part wasn't in getting to the bottom safely, it was getting to the bottom at all.

The extreme low gravity of this planet caused a human body to drift down very slowly, resulting in a feather-light touchdown at the base...

If you could get to the base.

The danger was the rising thermals raising the body back up the cliff face. These currents had to be negotiated precisely in order to get past them, you had to feel your way through the intricate layers of warmth and cool, divers got trapped inside the warm air pockets, and drifted up and down until they starved to death, and continued drifting whilst the flesh rotted from their bones.

I slowly scanned my powerlens downwards from left to right, at various points along the wall, and at various heights, I could see specks, some slowly rising, others slowly falling, the bodies of failed attempts, sentenced to an eternity of highs and lows.

I pushed the lens into my pocket, raised my arms, and leant forward ....

I fell from the cliff edge, and began the descent....

©2010 Stephen. J. Green.