Jonathan Dixon

 

Craft of Fiction  

 

Fractal Assignment

 

1.

An anteater ambling through the brush, his snorting violent and continuous like the puttering of an engine. Blue sky, tall green savanna grass, cackling monkeys. A party of black men trot single file on the memory of a trail they learned from their grandfathers and they from forbears somewhere back beyond reckoning of time. The label is peeling from the open can of fruit and the radio is blaring from underneath the umbrella. Rock and roll. The unblighted white sky of the ocean and nothing but ocean.

 

2.

Dutch settlers called him earth-pig because he dug holes in the ground and shambled through the dry brush like a hog with his bulk teetering side to side like a rickety load. The scene around him looks painted: blue sky, tall savanna grass, lanky monkeys swinging in the trees. Ardvark bourbon. When the band moves into the hotel on the beach they order this brand of liquor because the lead singer has recently read a novel whose protagonist cultivated a taste for it. The label is peeling off the bottle in the heat and the radio is blaring american rock and roll from under a green umbrella where they all sit and smoke pot and stare out at the ocean. The unblighted white sky of the seaside absorbs the curls of marijuana smoke. Someone mumbles in a british accent: Nothing but ocean. Down on the sand black africans with kalishnakov rifles slung over their backs trot back and forth drilling for war. They learned it from their grandfathers and they from distant forbears and so on back beyond the reckoning of time and the only thing that has changed is the killing power of the weapons, which were given them by strangers who were unremarkable except for the fact that they were white.

 

3.

The Dutch boars call him earth-pig because he digs holes in the ground and shambles through the dry brush like a long-snouted hog with his bulk a rickety load teetering from side to side. He is dirty and mean. The scene around him looks painted and in fact it is an artful work of colored ink: blue sky, tall savanna grass, monkeys in trees. Ardvark bourbon. When the band moves into the hotel by the beach they order a case of it because the lead singer has recently read an espionage novel whose hero has a taste for it. The label is peeling off the bottle in the heat and nearby a radio is blaring american rock and roll as they sit round a table under a green umbrella and smoke pot and stare at the ocean. The party is in poor spirits. They are five lanky europeans and they are surly not only because the skin of their arms and necks is pink with sunburn but also because the clerk has reported that all the women from town who are still alive have fled into the bush. He has sobbed in his clicking tribal accent that in town things are very bad. The dead lay slaughtered in the streets. Severed heads lay about with mouths agape and eyes open and also the naked bodies of women raped and mutilated. It is said these days only the dogs eat well. The pale unblighted sky over the water absorbs the rising marijuana smoke. Someone mumbles in bad english: Nothing but the ocean. Why did we come here? Down on the sand black africans with chinese copies of kalishnakov rifles slung on their backs are trotting back and forth in formation, drilling for tomorrow’s war. They learned it from their grandfathers and they from distant forbears and so on back beyond the reckoning of time and the only thing that has changed is the killing power of these weapons, which were given them by strangers who were unremarkable except for the fact that they were white.

 

4.

A dark continent. People bring their own names for things wherever they go. The boars called him earth pig because he dug holes in the ground and shambled through the dry brush like a longsnouted hog with his bulk a rickety load teetering from side to side. Here he is frozen in a defensive pose with his fore hooves planted stiff and slightly askant like ski poles. He is low and dirty and mean. The landscape around him looks painted and in fact it is a childish simplicitude of colored ink: sunless blue sky, tall elephant grass, monkeys in trees. Ardvark bourbon. When the band moves into the hotel by the beach they order a case of it because the lead singer has recently paged through an espionage novel whose hero has a taste for it. The label is peeling off the bottle in the heat and nearby a radio is blaring a tin reproduction of american rock and roll and they sit around a table in the shade under a green umbrella and smoke pot and stare at the ocean. Nobody wants to talk to anybody, so everybody is getting stoned. The party has been in poor spirits since the clerk reported to them that all the women from the town who are still alive have fled into the bush. In his clicking tribal accent he has told them that in town things are very bad. The dead lay slaughtered in the streets. Heads are scattered like the heads of laughing men buried up to their necks in the dust and everywhere rot the naked bodies of women raped and mutilated. It is said these days only the dogs eat well. Everyone in the band is sunburned a bright pink on their arms and necks and to dull the discomfort they sip more bourbon between drags from their sweating glass tumblers. Another bottle. You have to snap your fingers at him. Une plus de boteille, s’il vous plait. Merci. They all refill their glasses and one of them mumbles in his bad english: Nothing but ocean. Why did we come here? Down on the sand khaki-clad black africans with chinese copies of kalishnakov rifles slung on their backs are trotting back and forth in tight formation, drilling for tomorrow’s war. They learned how to wage it from their grandfathers and they from distant forbears and so on back beyond their first reckoning of time and the only thing that has changed about the warfare is the killing power of the weapons, which were given to them by strangers who were unremarkble except for the fact that they were white and seemed foolishly to regard diamonds as being more prized than guns.