Friday, 1 May 2009

Eden Central - Early Short Story

I was glad that I was able to find this short story which comes from January 1987. It was my attempt at some satire, to ramp up the wry element of my writing while reducing the bleak perspectives a little. Consequently we have a post-apocalyptic setting with humour. It takes off lager advertisements of the time and the influence of Australian culture through 'Neighbours' being shown on British television. At that time I never would have envisaged that in the following decade Boddingtons would have an advert showing a woman smearing foam from the head of a glass of beer on her face. To some degree it shows I had been influenced by reading J.G. Ballard's very difficult to penetrate novel, 'The Unlimited Dream Company' (1979) which envisaged Shepperton in Surrey, UK, suddenly being transformed into a tropical setting. There also seemed to be loads of science fiction stories around in which the final two characters end up being revealed as the Adam and Eve of a new world. I was very into puns at the time too, and filled this story with them. I can only do humour in small doses and to the right audience, and this was one of such flash of humour.

Eden Central

The man wandered along the centre of the road, the pavements around him sanitized of human life. He could not remember. His mind was full of images, out of focus and poorly exposed.

"They've done it! They've actually done it. How could they?" the young man thought, but uncertain on what had happened.

As he moved on, the buildings thinned out into the garden suburbs. Suddenly, he heard a noise, to his left. A door banged and a young woman tripped out, dazed and shocked like himself.

"A fellow ... a fellow ..." she stuttered amazed, "... a fellow humus bean?"

"I don't think that's quite right. I work for the post office."

"Oh, a felon tumour bee then?" she corrected herself.


They paused.

"Well, they've done it, haven't they?" The young man had broken his silence.

"Yes, they certainly have. Really ruined it this time."

The man walked precariously forward and leant, tired, against his companion.

"I expect there's others like us though - survivors. We must all work together to rebuild our civilization."

"This time we'll get it right ... the new parrot's dice." the woman added.

"Yes, the second garden of eaten."

Elated by their optimism, the pair walked on, down to the coast. They stared out across the azure sea, touched with wisps of foam. The two shuffled through the sand. The young man stooped down and picked up a half-buried can. He pulled back the ring and directed the white foamy spray up his sweaty armpits.

"I don't think you use it for that." The woman took the can and poured some of the clear golden liquid into her hand and smeared it over her face and arms.

"Useless!" she cursed and tossed the can into the sea.

Both stopped and stared at the clear water.

"What's your name then?" the woman asked.

The young man stared blankly, trying to remember life before this great disaster.

"No, I can't remember mine either." the woman replied.

Both stared out to sea, contemplating as the warm water lapped around their ankles.

"I know," said the young man, "I'll call you Bruce and you can call me Sheila."

The couple smiled at each other and walked off into the sunset.

"I remember now," Sheila exclaimed as the lager dripped from his shirt, "you're supposed to drink it."

The End?

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