Friday, 28 September 2012

Friday Flash Fiction - Myrtletown

A species of myrtle, Diospyros Pentamera had overgrown the whole the suburb of Myrtletown over the course of three weeks. Little patches in yards and gardens, rock walls, cracks in the footpath and disused back alleys joined together under the surface, at the roots, choking out other plants and forming a near-impenetrable wall around the suburb. Too many people realised too late what had happened. They needed to leave, but couldn't find their way.

That's where guides like George came in. Ordinarily a high school biology teacher, George had leapt into the role of jungle guide with great enthusiasm, even locating a pith helmet and safari suit in his father's old wardrobe. People paid him to find a way out of Myrtletown for them, and George always delivered.

George was leading a group of four people down a path that used to be Bancroft Road, hacking with his machete to make way. Where the plant limbs were cut off, tiny green shoots started growing back immediately, but as long as the group kept moving, the plant could not grow quite fast enough to block their way again.

The travellers looked nervously around them at the malicious plant. Those with backpacks hitched them tighter, ducking under the overhanging limbs. The woman who had brought a rolling suitcase had difficulty going over the uneven ground.

Finally they reached the edge of the plant's domain, and the travellers trotted forward, eager to be out of reach and into sunlight again, but George held up his hand and stopped them. It was time for his payment. Reluctantly, even resentfully, the travellers lowered their packs and allowed George to rummage through, selecting one item to take for himself. He made sure to look in the very bottom and in the side pockets, too. That was where people hid the things they least wanted him to find.
From the two young girls he took a necklace and a pair of earrings, probably not worth much, but better than nothing. The rough-faced middle-aged man had buried a beautiful old pocket watch under his folded underwear. George nabbed that too, and the man gave him a disgusted look as he turned to walk away.

Last, there was the lady with the rolling suitcase. George saw now that she had actually worn heels for the difficult walk. No wonder she had such trouble keeping up. As he reached for her case, she pulled the keys from her pocket and dramatically stuffed them inside her blouse, then glared at George as if daring him to demand she pay up. George shrugged and split the suitcase's zipper with a ball-point pen. It wasn't the first time someone had tried this. The woman was too stunned to react in time, and George flung the case open to find nothing but cash. George looked over at the woman and she looked equal parts terrified and furious. He zipped the case shut again and passed her the handle.

"Whatever you're running from," he said to her, "I hope you find your way."
She seemed relieved and grateful, gave George a quick "Thankyou" and took off quickly down the road without looking back again. George watched her for a minute, then picked up his machete, patted the pocket where his payments sat, and hacked his way back into the overgrowth.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Opening a locked suitcase really is that easy.
PPS - But only if it closes with a zip.

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