so for the last few days I have been aiming to write at least something every morning in order to simply practice, the last four mornings have seen me write the same story – how long can I keep up either the story or the morning writing session?
I’ll stick the four extracts so far in this post – they are unedited and unformatted at the moment… and some was written on an ipad so there will be typos galore!
Edited on 31st of December – I’ve changed a few things and written a fairly hurried potential finish in to the story – or this could just be a first chapter…
Rabbit Proof Fence
The sound of buzzing grew louder the closer you got to the long low brick building partially hidden behind an artificial mound of grass behind the highest of the barbed wire topped mesh fences that crowded in on this particular path through the crossover. Drave had been here several times before, always early on a rest day morning, when it was sure to be quiet so as to avoid crowds and noise. This was Cel’s first time down to this path so she was looking everywhere.
‘Can you hear the way the sound changes? It’s not that we’re simply hearing the buzz better as we get closer to the source, it seems to increase in volume as we approach, like a proximity sensor or something’.
‘Maybe’, Cel didn’t sound convinced.
There was no one else in view on either side of the fence, not that there was ever anyone on the other side anyway.
‘I think it’s the same buzz we can hear from all over town when the Bailiffs come to collect the tithe’.
‘You think the Bailiffs come from a scruffy shed on the other side? I think you’re mad’.
The way Cel said ‘mad’ stung Drave slightly.
‘No, well I don’t know; but surely the sounds are linked somehow?’
‘Maybe, who knows or will ever find out anyway?’
‘Well not Lofty that’s for sure’.
The mention of Akemton’s number one expert on the other side of the Fence, and number one liar made them both smile, and the brief moment of tense possibility vanished.
‘Come on, let’s go and get breakfast’.
They decided without speaking on the End of the World, a former pub turned greasy spoon backed up against a spur of fence that stabbed deep into the heart of town, the cafe was a lone narrow two story brick former terraced house which had seen its neighbours demolished years ago, and was now surrounded by wasteland, the fence, and a grubby perennially shut tyre yard.
As they mopped up bean and tomato juice with fried slices Drave looked over the table at Cel, they had been going steady for a year now, and he was certain he loved her. However the fact was, his horizons were broadened by his regular exposure to the other side thanks to working in the Goods Yards, while it couldn’t be denied that Cel’s job while being permanent and more secure than his was bound to be limiting. Hairdressers were the font of all the most inward looking gossip in the town. Of course she wasn’t interested in what was beyond the fences.
Cel meanwhile was about to ask Drave about his theories on the buzzing again when the cafe started to bustle with fencemen coming in off the night shift.
Two days later and Drave had another eight hour shift at Rail2Wagon goods yard along the Northern Edge.
When he got there Silas the permanent foreman directed him to join the team clearing debris and general rubbish from the fence that the yard backed onto.
Drave and the team some of whom he knew quite well spent a few sweaty hours clearing through a selection of stuff sorting it into two big skips, one for the garbage lorries and one of items that could be recycled in some way. That was by far the majority of the material.
While working Drave kept looking out at the fence, which at this point was in fact two mesh fences running parallel both about ten feet tall and spaced about four feet apart from each other leaving a narrow path between them. On the other side of the outer fence was a large grassy bank that sloped sharply up and hid whatever was beyond.
As he was ruminating on what might be on the other side here the whistle blew announcing the arrival of another goods train into the yard and Drave and the rest scrambled towards the low laying platform area as a long battered wide gauge diesel train came chugging to a halt before them.
This big powerful locomotive was covered in filth and even the small pitted toughened safety glass windows were smeared with dirt obscuring the face of the driver. Drave couldn’t help but stare at the big chunky padlock and chain that secured the driver’s door from the outside. That meant he was from the other side, and would not be released from his perch in the cab until he was safely back home.
The Rail2Wagon yard serviced trains from both the North and the East sides of the fence and this train had come in from the East. Meaning the gang had an idea of what would be in the trucks before reading the signs bolted on each one, items like timber, clay, beef, and light electronic goods and toys for children mainly.
As the train pulled to a slow halt, wagons were reversing into loading bays on the other side of the platform to park each one at 90 degrees to a truck allowing the loaders to quickly transfer the goods from each truck to specific wagon, either by hand, pallet truck or gas forklift depending on weight and shape.
At the same time Drave was unloading the trucks at the Goods Yard ; Cel was halfway through giving Mrs Chapstick a perm and blue rinse.
Mrs Chapstick doubled up being a retired gossip with being the towns women’s number one agony aunt, a sometimes frustrating combination but also useful and despite knowing what a gossip she was younger women often turned to her for advice.
“I don’t know Mrs Chapstick, we’ve been living together for six months now and it’s great we’re not bored or anything, but i do think we’re missing something and it isn’t a kid; we’re not ready for the lottery yet”.
“And your love life is good I suppose?”
“Yeah it’s good I suppose, it’s not that.”
Mrs Jummond who was in for a cut and blow dry leaned over.
“I think you need to hear the pitter patter of little feet dear”
“Nah like I said we’re not ready for the lottery.”
“No, I mean a pet, a cat or dog, something you,can both look after together. It would distract him from all those unhelpful questions as well, you bet.”
Cel smiled at the two women in the mirror.
“hmmm maybe you’re right.”
Drave was on his third truck. This was full of cardboard boxes the labels on which said “rabbit pyjamas”. These were light enough that he could do the entire load by hand stacking them neatly on pallets for a forklift driver to transfer to the empty wagon waiting to take them to the relevant shop or wholesaler.
As he cleared the last row in the furthest corner from the door Drave heard something move in a dark cavity which startled him, there was never anything alive on these trains, never anything that had experienced the other side even animals and plants could not cross alive. But here it was staring up at him, a wide eyed little rabbit frozen with fear.
Now there was a clear policy and procedure for a situation like this, he should report to his foreman and then the container would be sealed until fencemen could arrive and destroy the alien presence.
Drave would never understand what made him scoop the little creature up and tuck it into the inside pocket of his overall.
Drave finished his shift and turned down the offer of. Pint down the pub with some of the lads so he could hurry home with his prize, before Cel got home.
Cel always finished later than Drave and was pleased to see as she entered their flat above the chippy on Merrydown Lane that his boots were under the coat rack so he was obviously home and not in the pub.
“Hey babe come and see this”, he shouted from the living room.
She entered to see him standing above a crudely constructed large open wooden box in the middle of the room, filled with straw, a bowl of water, a bowl of green stuff and a small furry creature. A rabbit.
“It’s a little baby rabbit. I found it on my way home from work, there was no sign of its family, it was obviously lost.”
Cel cast her mind back to what Mrs Chapsticks had said earlier. Maybe a pet was just what they needed.
“OK, it looks pretty cute, maybe we should look after it for a while?”
Drave kissed Cel on the cheek and gave her a brief hug.
“Great, I think we should call him; Puck. He’s small and will probably cause all sorts of trouble.”
“How do you know it’s a he?”
“I’ve no idea, that’s another reason, Puck could be gender neutral, for all we know.”
“Fair enough, I like it anyway.”
Drave and Cel’s, and Puck’s lives continued without much incident for the next few months and when Cel saw Mrs Chapstick again she told her that the addition of a small furry animal to their family really had improved things.
It wasn’t until March that the Gazette announced in bold type on its front page that the Bailiffs would be visiting in two weeks time and that the Trustees would be holding a welcome and tithing ceremony on the lawn outside the assembly hall as usual, and as usual all able bodied and sound of mind residents aged between eighteen and forty would be expected to attend.
Two days before the ceremony in the early evening there was a knock at Drave and Cel’s door. It was Mr Bannerlugs the local liaison with the Fencemen.
Mr Bannerlugs was not one for pleasantries although he was polite enough, the three of them were soon sitting in the parlour; Drave felt nervous he had barely thought about the origin of little Puck from the day he brought him home until this moment. But why else would Mr Bannerlugs be round?
“Drave you have an interest in the other side of the fence don’t you? That’s a fair thing to say isn’t it?”
“Yes I suppose so Mr Bannerlugs, you could say that.”
“Yes I could couldn’t I? In fact I just did”.
Cel was looking at them both, talking in riddles what did Drave’s interest in the other side of the fence have to do with anything?
“How is your rabbit?”
“He’s just fine Mr Bannerlugs,” Cel said. “How did you know about him?”
“It’s my job to know about any intruders into our little town.”
Drave had heard the expression ‘to have the rug swept out from under you but until this point hadn’t really experienced it.
Although Akhenton chose it’s tithe using random selection they also used it as an opportunity to get rid of trouble makers and criminals, and as far as the Trustees and Fencemen were concerned people who smuggled living creatures in from the other side were both.