Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Splat! It landed on top of the city centre, like an immense blob of black jelly. It consolidated, congealing into a huge pyramid of, what looked like, pulsating wet tarmac. Roots ran out of its base like dark tentacles. Some spread out onto the surrounding motorways, subsuming and rerouting them, making them the arteries of its throbbing black triangular heart. Other roots bore deep into the earth, why they did this we did not know, or wonder, or care.

It wasn’t long before an exploratory team of brave candidates sliced into one of these rootways and entered it. We saluted them as they left and we apprehensively awaited their return. Their communication devices failed and their families fretted until, one day, a snowy signal was picked up and we travelled to the base of the pyramid. Fissures slowly appeared in the pyramid’s glistening flesh and then an aperture opened up. Figures emerged. They turned out to be our team. The team were wide-eyed and short of breath. When asked what was inside, they feverishly grasped our lapels and exclaimed 'bargains, incredible bargains'.

Soon everyone was regularly entering the pyramid via one of its motorway arteries or other orifices. Inside we found the bargains. Items of utmost desire, going cheap. It was bizarre how we wandered throughout that throbbing space-mall, feeling a want for items we never saw before. The place had a way of invading your consciousness and directing you to an object that would make you feel fulfilled, at least temporarily. The objects were strange, some were like lampshades but couldn’t be used as such and others were like hats you couldn’t actually wear. We could not guess the purpose of these objects, all we knew is that they were there and we wanted them and it all seemed worth it. A strange liberation was felt by those of us too burdened by the onus of autonomy or self-definition. This place told us what to want and who to be. What we actually needed didn’t seem important. To concern oneself with such matters in this heavenly environment would be the contrary stance of a killjoy or chronic malcontent.

Some of us began working in the pyramid, to pay for our purchases, and eventually all of us were doing this. We were never told the prices of the objects, we somehow just knew them. Despite this, we could rarely tell if those prices increased or decreased, the objects just always felt like bargains. We also knew, psychically, that there was a new currency, the Zonk, and we exchanged all our earthly cash for that. The Zonk came in the form of a large black lump of mucus and varied in worth depending upon its density. The hard heavy Zonks were actually of less worth than the lighter ones. We worked hard to earn our Zonks and we happily spent them.

And that was the way things continued for many merry months until the chill morning we awoke to find the pyramid gone and in its place a barren crater. Examining the immense tunnels left by the roots, we discovered that all nutrients had been sucked from the earth and it could no longer sustain any sort of life. We realised we would starve and so immediately set about the only course of action we had left to us. We sent a distress signal into deep space and hungrily awaited a response. A signal eventually came from a distant civilisation, one evidently far more advanced than our own. When deciphered by our team of experts, the signal was revealed to be a message offering us just one word of advice: 'Diversify'. We did not know how to do this and were struck with horror when we realised we had been left with nothing but despair and a load of useless old Zonks.

The End.


philtre said...

Good writing. Also that image is suitably reminiscent of a late 60's penguin sci-fi cover.

John Robbins said...

John Merrick is looking unwell.

Anonymous said...

Ooh, I like the Penguin covers. Like when you were a kid and you lay back in the dark, shut your eyes, pressed your palms into your eyeballs and released. It all went a bit 2001 star child.

Of course, it's all Tipex thinner and glue with the young set these days.