Apologies for the long absence, but we’ve returned and are stronger than ever. Find below some amazing work by Lem Andrews and remember to keep submitting!
I, in my infinite hypocrisy,
Despised from my mountain cove
The bleating sheep roving, filling the knoll,
Caught up in their ritual dereism.
I, from my high hovel,
Descried that white pool of heads, bobbing hinds,
Moving as water does
In pipes beneath the populous.
I, through the clouds around my cave,
Cried to the hopeless herd,
Grided my stones together, against the earth.
Neither I nor my voice
With the symphony of the sheep
Pasturing there in the grassy field.
After the dawn, when the sun has peaked past the horizon line like a small child burning to see what is just out of sight on a table, and when the dew ceases to form and begins to disappear, life awakens to the smell of morning light and begins the day song. For some, the opening refrain is the bleating repetition of an alarm clock, the bassline hum of bustling. For others, it is the orchestral flourish of wildlife: birds in chorus; the snare-drum snapping of branches and twigs; paws scurrying like sixteenth notes everywhere. But for Bordello, the morning was only ever punctuated by one sound: short waves curling up onto the sand. Since the first moment he found himself here, he noticed the eerie absence of any other sound. It was, in fact, so quiet that when he slept off the beach in the nearby woods, most mornings, he could hear the fog rolling in. Though Bordello had fallen into a silent routine the way a late soldier falls in with a company of marching boots, he had only recently begun counting the days. By his best guess, it had been at least five years. His hair had grown to hide his eyes, one dark brown and one blue-grey, and it was as scruffy as the patchy brush that scratched at his legs at the edge of the woods.
The craft he arrived on was still in fair condition, and every once in a while, now more to pass the time than to explore, he set sail on the gentle sea. No matter which direction he went in, he soon discovered, he would find himself sailing back towards his original launching point. He believed it to be a trick of the tides, until he decided to construct a landmark and paddle out while facing it. He built it in the shape of a man. With his back to the open sea and eyes fixed on his would-be Colossus, he paddled against the breaking waves until his landmark fell below the horizon. He gave a sigh of satisfaction, turned to face the open sea, and pushed on in the same direction. Soon, he heard the familiar sound of small waves breaking, and saw a man standing on the opposite shore. He gleefully paddled faster until he realized it was his own Colossus.
Bordello had managed to sustain himself on meager diet consisting mostly of the very peculiar fruit of a very peculiar tree in the middle of a clearing near the opposite edge of the forest. This morning, he got up from where he slept and walked hungrily towards it. When he came into the clearing, the tree was glowing with an odd green light. There was no fruit to pick so Bordello went in with his knife, intending to make a tea from its bark. But when he did, the tree unraveled into a coiled snake. The snake, while large enough to do so, did not seem interested in eating him. Instead, it reared up to peer into Bordello’s eyes. Its eyes, like his, were different colors. It began hissing loudly- very loudly. The snake never broke eye contact as it slithered slowly closer, approaching until its tongue lapped against the longest hairs of Bordello’s beard when it tasted the air. Its hissing was impossibly loud like the crashing of storm-stirred waves against rocks…
Bordello woke with a start. A wave shattered noisily on the rocks below him, and he blinked instinctively as some sea water sprayed against his face. He had been dreaming of the tree again. Rubbing his chest with his sandy hands, he yawned. When he opened his eyes, he realized the skies were dark and the waves were bigger than he had ever seen. A storm was coming, the first he had on the island.
Bordello shot up and scrambled towards the woods, thinking about shelter. The rain came quickly, slipping through the sparse canopy and onto his head and shoulders. He was sprinting through the forest now, thinking about the cave by the clearing. By the time he finally crawled into the cave, his beard was with raindrops. Peering out of mouth of the cave, Bordello could clearly see the tree in the clearing. He noticed that bright green moss had grown in all over it. He stared at it, waiting for the rain to pass.
Bordello woke up to a nagging pain in his fingers. He lazily waved his hand and felt some relief running to his fingertips. But before he could start dreaming, the pain returned. Sharply. He sat straight up, shaking his hand. A rat squeaked. Bordello caught a glimpse of it as it scurried into the shadows of the cave. He held his hand, perplexed. Blood oozed from his fingertips. Disgusted, he put the bitten finger into his mouth, tasting his own thick blood. He felt immediately dizzy. Resting his spinning head on the cool rock of the inside of the cave, Bordello realized he hadn’t had fresh water in a couple of days. As he rose clumsily in search of rainwater a snake slithered just under his foot and into the depths of the cave. Bordello’s mind immediately began working on how to get a fire started for the night.
When he emerged from the cave, Bordello was hit by a wave of sounds: birds chirped and squawked from unseen places; the wind whistled in his ears and past the mouth of the cave; in the distance, the waves clambered up onto the shore. The island seemed to have awoken from its silent sleep, and was now almost vibrating with life.
The sun was beginning to slip beneath the horizon. Bordello opened his sticky mouth, parched and exhausted. He had scoured the forest for a puddle but could not find even a drop of rain on the leaves. He wanted to cough but he could not manage a dry hack. His throat was red and swollen from the dryness. His mind suddenly turned to the tree, its bright green moss. He seemed to at once appear in front of hit. Wearily, he leaned one hand against the bark of the tree, slumping. The island was spinning around him. He shut his eyes and lurched upward. His hand grasped something wonderfully moist. He shoved it towards his mouth and squeezed. Cool water poured into the back of his throat and its gelidity coursed through his body. He sank against the tree, squeezing more water from the moss into his mouth. Everywhere, the new life of the island echoed around him.
With his thirst assuaged, Bordello felt strong enough to gather some firewood in the last moments of twilight. He bellied up the tree and onto a large limb. He yanked off some snarled twigs, descended, and scraped some bark for kindling. The sun had fully set and night had settled on the island like a sleepy eyelid when the fire finally caught. But Bordello could not rest. He went back to the tree and hung from a small limb, jerking violently back and forth until it snapped off. He kicked it into pieces with his heel, and threw them and the wet moss that clung to them onto the fire. The sizzle and pop of the fire seemed to call for more, so Bordello fed it every branch he could safely break from the tree. When he found that was not enough, he began tearing planks from his vessel. Plank after plank went into the fire. His hands and fingers were gashed and full of splinters, but he continued, goaded on by the roar of the flame, to sacrifice the bloodied slabs from his ship.
Bordello awoke with a start. Something distant honked at him. He peered out onto the sea. A boat emerged on the horizon. He stood gleefully, shouting. He ran up and down the shore, waving wildly. The boat approached, signaling. Bordello crumbled onto the sand, overcome with relief. He lay back, looking up at the sun, smiling. Just then, a thought ripped across his mind. If the ship weighed anchor, would it get trapped too? Bordello sat up, trembling. He could hear the buzz of the approaching recuse raft in front of him. Behind him, the island was suddenly hushed.
Lem Andrews is a man that wears many hats. For that, he is often ridiculed, especially by people who do not wear hats. Futurist, humanist, naturalist, surrealist, he blends a wide range of influences into his multi-layered writings. His influences range from T.S. Eliot and Robert Frost to Ursala Le Guin and Faulkner. Read more at limberantjuice.blogspot.com.