I Arrived a Week Early

by Rigby Taylor

Twenty years of failure did not diminish my grandparents' hopes of biblical fruitfulness, evidenced by the rosary-wrapped box on top of the fridge containing a photo of the Pope, a tear-splashed prayer, and a plastic box containing a syringe, needles and a dozen vials of a substance guaranteed to produce an iron hard erection in even the most recalcitrant penis. Unfortunately, the makers of this wondrous potion were unable to guarantee conception, so by the age of forty-two, husband and wife had resigned themselves to childlessness, leaving the box and it's contents as a reminder of their god's inscrutable ways.

Twelve years later, on her fifty-fourth birthday, grandmother dropped the hot-water kettle's electricity lead into the gravy, then absentmindedly licked it.

Two hundred and forty volts of alternating current sent false teeth smashing against one wall, her body against the other. Grandfather carried her to bed, checked for breakage, and then crawled under the blankets to massage warmth into trembling limbs. Grandmother responded with unaccustomed passion, which triggered a corresponding reaction in her heretofore impotent spouse, and after an arduous nine months and a difficult birth, Esther was born.

The wilful child grew into a vexatious young teenager, unappreciative of parental efforts to transform her into a hard-working consolation and support for their old age. Esther hated the isolation, loneliness, farm work, everything. The only other child in the district was Antony, a handsome young lad a year older than her, who lived a couple of kilometres down the track.

On his fifteenth birthday Antony decided his viciously drink-sodden, layabout parents had nothing further to offer him, so went to work at a uranium mine hundreds of kilometres away to the north. He worked hard, saved every penny, shunned women, avoided alcohol, and in two years was relatively wealthy and depressingly unpopular. One afternoon some workmates stripped him, shoved an unripe banana up his backside, and threw him into the warm water of a sediment pool—not the large dam regularly checked for contamination, but a small, very deep hole concealed inside a shed plastered with signs warning: Danger! Radiation!

Skin already beginning to tingle, he hosed himself down, crept back to his hut, filled a rucksack with essentials and took off.

Jag, a stringy, lean featured, curly-haired seventeen year-old, had been sentenced to six months in prison for giving the fingers to a cop who'd punched him in the side of the head for no obvious reason. On the way to the lock-up he'd managed to escape and was on the run, slowly heading for his homelands in the outback, when he found Antony deliriously clawing at his clothes. He slung the young man over his shoulder and carried him to a billabong, plonked him up to his nose in the muddy water, stripped and joined him, then peeled off Antony's already disintegrating clothes before massaging calming mud into angry flesh. When his patient stopped moaning, Jag poured cans of muddy water down his patient's throat until he gagged, then dragged him onto the bank and held him upside down by the heels until he'd stopped vomiting dark, sticky muck, then lowered his burden gently onto his back. Scarcely breathing, Antony stared vacantly at the sky and an ache filled Jag's chest as he gazed on the handsome, hairless youth with skin that reflected the sunlight like burnished bronze.

By the end of the second day Antony declared he'd never felt better, reckoned he didn't give a stuff about his hair loss and new metallic sheen, and wondered how he could ever repay his tall, dark, lithe and handsome saviour.

'You look like Cellini's Perseus,' Jag laughed.

'Who's he?'

'Only the most perfect bronze male sculpture ever made.'

Antony smiled to himself; ridiculously pleased with the compliment.

The young men wandered, living on fish, sheep, berries, roots, blossoming friendship and the fruits of love. After a week they arrived at a ramshackle dozen wooden houses scattered along a dusty track—Jag's hometown. The police had been sniffing around so his parents packed them off to a large block of tribal land about six hundred kilometres north in the absolute middle of nowhere. A misguided sense of duty made Antony decide to visit his parents first, in case they were worried, so Jag drew him a detailed map of where he was headed and easily extracted a promise that his lover would join him as soon as he'd checked on his parents.

Back on the farm, Esther had grown ever more rebellious. Her parents blamed the pre-conceptual electric shock, global warming, positive ions, negative ions, and the world's godlessness. Their unhappy daughter's brilliant escape plan was to get pregnant and force the man to marry her. The sole problem being a lack of available males. Late one afternoon while driving the milk-cow back along the track, she tripped over Antony, bleeding and unconscious. His parents' welcome had been curses for not bringing them money, followed by a beer-bottle smashed over his head. He had staggered nearly two kilometres before concussion downed him.

Esther tied a rope around his ankles and the cow dragged him into the darkening shearing shed where she heaved him onto his back on the sorting table, undressed him, lashed his wrists and ankles to the table-legs and gagged him with an old rag before going inside to make the evening meal. It was dark when she returned with candles, disinfectant, food, water, and the plastic box from the rosary-wrapped container on top of the fridge. She cleaned the wound, fed and watered the frightened youth and, as she slipped out of her clothes, marvelled at how strangely beautiful Antony had become. He looked like the semi naked Jesus on the little bronze crucifix above her parents' bed that always made her feel sexy.

Antony watched in horror as Mad Esther, stinking of cow and wild of hair, filled a syringe from a vial, then grabbed his shrivelled penis in filthy, work-callused hands, tugged it taut, stabbed it with a needle and pressed the plunger home. After the first wasp-like sting there was no pain and, to his astonishment, a monumental erection rose to the challenge. Esther climbed onto the table, kneeled astride him for a second as if uncertain, felt behind, grabbed his manhood, positioned herself, took a deep breath and plunged down, not stopping until her buttocks pressed against his pelvis.

Eyes popped, mouth dropped open in shock, a gasp of agony escaped her throat and she sprang back up, sensitive parts aflame with a pain she had never imagined possible. Years of guilty fingering in front of the sexy crucifix had been no preparation for an abrupt invasion of such magnitude.

Antony thought his penis had shattered.

After a long minute of heavy breathing and mutterings of indecision, the pain subsided and Esther lowered herself slowly and carefully onto her victim's pillar of procreation and was soon pounding away emitting deep growls of gratification each time an orgasm electrified her sense-starved frame. Antony's first and only ejaculation gave no pleasure and passed unnoticed by his ecstatic rapist.

After an eternity Esther tired and climbed off, loosened her paramour's ties slightly, threw a horse-blanket over him, rifled through his pockets, extracted Jag's carefully drawn map, and went to bed.

During a long and uncomfortable night Antony managed to rub his bindings against the metal edge of the table until they frayed. In the morning his absence surprised Esther, who was anticipating pre-breakfast sex, but it didn't dilute her happiness. She was sure she'd get pregnant; Antony would be forced to marry her, and would whisk her off to freedom.

So much for planning. My grandparents considered her pregnancy a sign from their god that she was too sinful to leave the farm and thus disgrace their name. As for forcing Antony to marry her, no one from that drink-sodden family would ever become part of their family! Thus, for the next thirty-five weeks life on the farm became even more of a war-zone than ever.

I arrived a week early. Esther was massaging her constipation on the outside dunny when a resounding fart and gut wrenching contraction propelled me into the world. She whipped a hand between her legs, grabbed hold of my foot, hauled the slimy bundle into the light, took one look, and screamed. Before she could separate herself from the tangle of baby, umbilical cord and placenta, and drop the lot down the hole, her father arrived, dragged her out, tossed her onto her back and with the expertise of fifty years' lambing cut the cord, tied the knot and sat back in astonishment, deaf to his daughter's continuing screams.

I suppose it must have been a bit of a shock to give birth to a three and a half kilogram, wild-eyed kid whose knowing grin revealed a full set of teeth. And if that wasn't enough of a surprise, I sported a thick head of hair, five-day growth of beard, pubic hair and fully functioning genitals. In a photograph taken of me standing in front of a wall an hour after birth, if it hadn't been for the ruler beside me you'd swear I was a well muscled eighteen year-old, not a forty-centimetre manikin.

I have no memory of the womb, but everything since then is crystal clear. Esther kept shouting that I was a monster. I tried to calm her, but every time I spoke she yelled louder. Breast-feeding was impossible because of my teeth, but I didn't crave milk, I was ravenous for meat and vegetables.

After two days of wailing, gnashing of teeth and praying to their god for forgiveness and guidance, my grandparents collapsed from exhaustion. Esther grabbed her chance, broke open the fireproof box containing their life-savings, filled the tank of the ute, packed her clothes and all the food from the freezer, plonked me on the passenger seat and drove for three days.

I ate continuously, talked to keep my mother awake, and dozed off whenever it seemed safe. By the time we arrived at the coast I'd convinced Esther I wasn't the devil, but only prevented her from dumping me in a church doorway by agreeing to keep my mouth shut and gurgle like a baby for hours while a horrendously expensive depilatory expert permanently removed all my body hair using a laser. It took all my self-restraint not to piss on him when he wittered on about the problems of bringing up a physically and mentally challenged child. And his puerile insistence that god loved me, even if the rest of the world would reject such a strange little creature, made me want to shove his laser up his nose.

After writing to her parents telling them that we were going south to Sydney, she swapped the old truck for an even older car and headed north. In Cairns we rented a caravan on a vacant lot near a beach and Esther hit the bottle by day, and told me her life story, such as it was, at night. Constant eating meant I was gaining half a kilo a day, and when the food ran out I was as big as a five-year-old, weighed fourteen kilos, and shopped at the local store. Fortunately, a naked kid shopping for his mummy in a tropical beach suburb was considered cute, although my manly physique drew a few odd looks.

The money soon dried up, and with it Esther's binge. She had no skills so starvation loomed. One afternoon at the beach I twisted an ankle and was carried back to the caravan by a beery-breathed tourist. Within minutes he and Esther were screwing. When he left he gave her fifty dollars. 'Money for fun,' she reckoned, and with my expert assistance as a savvy little pimp, we soon built up a substantial clientele.

At seven weeks I weighed twenty-three kilos and had changed shops three times because such rapid growth made people suspicious. When a woman snarled that it was disgusting for a ten year old to run around naked, I bought a pair of shorts from the Op-shop. Esther had started accepting drugs instead of money, and mood-swings from ecstasy to fury began to make life even more complicated. I ate more than ever, grew even faster, and morosely wandered the beach. One evening, a lanky, hook-nosed fisherman snagged the seat of his shorts. When I laughed he swung round, fixed me with light blue eyes, ran long fingers through his straight black hair and barked, 'Don't just do something, stand there!'

I giggled and untangled him.

He shook my hand, grinned and said, 'I owe you one. What's your name?'

'Esther calls me Nuisance. I hate her!'

He raised his eyebrows at my vehemence. There was something in his eyes that attracted me. I'd not seen it before so didn't realise what it was, but later understood it was intelligence, so I blurted, 'I like you!'

He laughed. 'You're certainly frank, so I'll call you Clovis—he was King of the Franks. I'm Paco.'

Every afternoon I waited for him and we fished and talked. Didn't catch many fish, but the talk was excellent. One evening he said carefully, 'You've grown a lot in two weeks, Clovis. How old are you?'

'Nine,' I replied, not adding, weeks. 'How old are you?

'Twenty-eight.' Paco frowned before continuing seriously, 'Friends should trust each other, so I'll tell you about me. I'm a doctor in the Genetically-Modified-In-Vitro-Fertilisation program at a private clinic. That means I fiddle around with the genes of human eggs and sperm according to the parents' instructions, then fertilize the eggs with the modified sperm, and a short time later I implant the healthiest zygote in the woman's womb.'

His slack-jawed surprise when I nodded my understanding and asked to see his mobile laboratory made me laugh aloud. He drove us there, took samples of my saliva and hair, analysed them, weighed me, gave me a medical once-over, pronounced me far too healthy, and again asked my age.

For the first time in my life I cried. I don't know why, I wasn't sad, probably stressed. Anyway, I told Paco everything. He hugged me till I stopped crying, said my genes were odd, but reckoned a thirty-five kilogram, precociously intelligent, ten-week-old kid deserved privacy and a decent home, so I moved in with him.

While he was at work I educated myself from the Internet. I say educated, but it felt more like remembering than learning. The really useful stuff came from talking with Paco. At twenty weeks my endless eating suddenly stopped, I weighed seventy-two kilos and looked, felt and acted like a healthy, one metre ninety eighteen-year-old. To celebrate we went clubbing in Cairns. Back home we made love for the first time, and for the first time in my life I felt secure and happy.

I hadn't seen Esther since going to live with Paco. At his insistence we drove to the caravan. The stinking, crazed woman lying in her own filth on the floor thought I was a client and came on to me, before asking for a fix. Sickened, Paco went out for fresh air. I filled a syringe with everything I could find, gave it to her and watched her shaking fingers attempt to locate a vein. Impatient to be gone, I gave her a hand. She was dead in seconds. I took nothing except the map, because it was the one thing she had cherished. On the back was written; Don't get lost. XXX Jag. Esther had scrawled beneath, 'Hubby's place?'

When I told Paco what I'd done, he nodded and said I'd done her and the planet a service. 'Are you sad?' he asked.

I shook my head. 'Relieved.'

He nodded thoughtfully, 'That's sensible.'

After poring over the map he thought for a bit, then looked up with a grin. 'Before the government gives in to the fundamentalists and shuts down the GMIVF program, I've got to visit several couples in the bush whose eggs are ready for implanting. I reckon this place is not too far from where I'm going. Fancy a trip to the outback?'

The unmarked mobile laboratory looked like a giant camper van so drew little attention. On our way west we detoured past my birthplace. It looked as though nothing had been done in the previous five months. Inside we discovered why. Grandmother was a husk on the bed, shot through the head. A skeleton picked clean by ants swayed on its rope in the shearing shed.

Like their god, we too abandoned them.

As the last satisfied clients waved goodbye from their isolated homestead, Paco roared with laughter. 'In nine months, eleven outback children will be born with blue eyes, blond hair, straight noses, perfect teeth, generous mouths, athletic bodies and the chance of superior intelligence. Do you reckon they'll love their parents?'

'They'll think they're adopted.'

As we followed the map across flat, treeless, windswept plains the laboratory's solar cells kept eighteen back-up human ova and sperm samples preserved in special flasks. After three days the stony wasteland ended abruptly at the edge of a ridge. Below us, under a searing blue sky painted with storybook clouds, kilometres of tree-sprinkled golden grassland stretched to a distant range of amethyst hills. We juddered down a dry riverbed and drew up beneath a stand of enormous eucalypts under a bluff, beside a lake. A flock of pink parrots fluttered through opulent air, and the silence was palpable.

Within seconds of our descent from the van, two naked men, lean as skinned rabbits appeared as if from the air. One was so dark he was almost black with a wispy beard and thick mop of hair; the other was slightly taller, metallic bronze, dreamy and hairless.

I proffered the map and said nervously, 'I'm Esther's child.'

It was only sixteen months since conception, yet my father and I looked the same age. He frowned. Paco explained, and we faced each other silently. Calm enveloped me. Strangeness dissipated. I relaxed. Antony kissed my forehead; and everything was made right.

'I had no idea such a place still existed,' said Paco in awe.

'One of the last untouched spots on the continent. Probably preserved for rich bastards when they've fucked up the rest of the country,' Jag muttered angrily.

'I want to stay here,' Paco said softly.

'It's a hard life.'

'It's what I need.' Paco looked at me and I nodded. Where he went, I went.

'Suits me,' I grinned, delighted at the way things were developing.

Providing life's necessities using tools and weapons powered only by one's own energy, is hard, time-consuming, and deeply fulfilling. The sole reminder of civilisation was the Laboratory guarding its cargo of potential life. Actual life was everywhere and we were part of it. Around the fire at night and during the hottest part of the day we talked. One night Jag assumed a serious expression and asked, 'What's the meaning of life?' We hooted with laughter. Couldn't stop. Sides ached as we rolled around hysterically trying to outdo each other. 'Pacifying God!' screamed Paco, tears streaming. 'Making money.' Antony spluttered. 'Being good enough to get to heaven!' I shouted. 'Self denial,' laughed Jag. We leaped into the water to cool off, but catching someone's eye was enough to reignite the shouting. 'Good and evil!' 'Malevolent nature!' 'Faith!' 'Reincarnation!' 'Heaven!' 'Eternal soul!' 'Magic!' 'Saints and angels!' 'Satan!'

'It's not really funny,' Paco gasped. 'Most people believe in all that mumbo-jumbo.'

'And they have their reward—a fucked up world.'

'Yeah, the fundies have a lot to answer for.'

'It's not only them—anyone who believes that supernatural things can exist in a natural world is bonkers.'

'I read somewhere that gods and devils are the bugbears by which cunning men govern fools,' Jag said soberly.

'Living here,' Paco mused, 'has taught me that nature is indifferent to us, neither benevolent nor malicious. Our purpose is simply to live. After death we feed other life—in that sense I guess we're eternal. We can know nothing but through our five senses, so worshiping things not able to be sensed is nonsense. The only question to ask ourselves is: How should I live?'

'Simply,' stated Antony.

'Doing as little harm as possible.'

'Contentedly,' was my contribution.

'And not in fear,' added Jag sourly.

We nodded agreement.

Paco broke the silence. 'I want semen samples from everyone.'

'You're sex-mad.'

'This time in a test-tube.'

He refused to elaborate, so we provided samples and three days later he reported.

'Clovis' and Antony's sperm cells are a hundred and fifty times normal size. I want to replace an egg nucleus from the store in the van, with one from Antony's sperm, and fertilise it with Clovis' sperm.'

'That's incest,' Jag observed. 'What about inbreeding?'

'With good stock it's called line breeding,' Paco grinned.

As soon as it was stable, the zygote was inserted into the receptive womb of one of the four sows Jag's parents had insisted he take with him in case wild game proved elusive. A week later she aborted.

'Pigs usually have large litters,' Jag said thoughtfully. 'Perhaps her body thought one piglet wasn't worth the trouble?'

Paco fertilised and implanted ten more of the precious eggs. After four months, a sow's normal gestation period, she aborted ten partially developed foetuses. Risking all, we tried again with the last seven eggs. Muscle-relaxant injections prevented automatic birth contractions at four months, and nineteen weeks later, seven, two-kilogram, twenty-centimetre-long, perfectly formed young men slipped into the world.

Four hairless, metallic-skinned youths immediately began eating their way out of the placenta; three hairy ones had to be helped a little. All immediately demanded food. Physically, they were perfectly normal except for one thing; the hairless, metallic boys had a vulva between the base of the penis and the anus.

Paco was ecstatic. 'We have a new species! Homo hermaphrodites!'

We called them numans; Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta. The other three we named Edgar, Fernando and Greg. Tests revealed the numans had three chromosomes instead of two. YXY. Paco figured it must have been the two Y's that caused a doubling up of sexual organs.

Like ducklings and crocodiles, the boys could immediately forage for themselves. Ancient species-survival instincts, along with mobility, thought, and speech, were available from birth, and at one stroke the problems of bad parenting were eliminated. No one could play mind-games with these young creatures. It seemed a tragedy that beings so perfectly adapted to a natural life, should arrive when nature had all but disappeared. They played like all young animals, chasing, teasing, having fun. On a hunt, the tiny young men followed closely, alert for a signal to scatter and conceal in case of predators. On long hikes they would sit astride our shoulders.

Feeding seven ravenous young people was touch and go for a while, but timely rains and unexpected bird migrations saved us. At six months the children were mature and venturing far afield, living more economically than we knew how, and getting to know every part of the territory.

Healthy, active men are extremely efficient organisms, and with no dependent wives and children the food they required was quickly obtained. Hours were spent lying silently in the grass. When I asked what they were thinking, Beta tried to explain. 'It's a bit like those Mozart symphonies Paco told us about—a lot of different sounds making up a perfect whole. With us, it's not only sound. All five senses—sight, sound, smell, taste and touch, combine and recombine in our heads like a complex orchestra. Nature is so unpredictable that I could sit forever in one spot and never experience the same symphony twice.' He grinned mischievously, 'Sometimes it's like a continuous orgasm.'

The boys were mostly incurious about the outside world, but one evening Gamma asked, 'What's this civilisation you reckon you've escaped?'

'Restrictions and compensations so humans can live in cities.

'What restrictions?'

'Building regulations; proscribed behaviours; rules about where you may do things and where not; permits to do almost everything; dependence on strangers for life's basic necessities; accepting the pollution of earth, water and air; constant noise; sacrificing half your earnings to the rulers…'

'Stop! I'm mad already.'

'Without the rules the system would collapse.'

'What happens if you buck the system?'

'It punishes you.'


'Prisons, fines.'

Paco described Chicago, where he had completed his degree; Jag talked about prisons and teeming Asian cities he'd seen on television; I told them about coastal development destroying fishing, and clear felling of land for farms; and Antony described mining, industry, and warfare. A shocked silence ensued.

'How can they bear it?'

'Clever propaganda convinces most people they're living the good life. For the rest, drugs such as alcohol, together with non-stop television entertainment numb their minds.'

'But why huddle together in the first place?'

'The only living things humans need to fear are other humans. Mothers and children are vulnerable for at least ten years after birth, so families had to gather for support in villages. When brigands terrorised them, many moved to cities that grew large and powerful, eventually controlling the surrounding countryside and, by fighting endless wars, created countries ruled either by dictators using fear of pain; by witchdoctors using fear of the supernatural; or by leaders using both those methods as well as the carrot of more and more possessions. Today there are so many humans that there isn't room on the planet for everyone to have a piece of land. The only way to cope is to jam them ever tighter into cities, while stripping the land and mass-producing a narrow range of foods.'

'That's why we're here,' said Antony violently. 'Here we live naturally, like other animals, taking no more than we need, respecting—not fearing nature, and I am happier, more contented and... and….' Jag draped his arm round Antony's shoulders and stroked his neck until he grew calm.

'You boys, like Clovis, have never been children.' Paco continued. 'While they're growing up, human kids are fed all sorts of garbage to warp their minds into an appropriate shape, thus preventing any useful change in the human condition. You have learned everything from nature.'

It was true and I was slightly jealous. My first weeks of fear had crushed the indomitable independence and pleasure in living that they enjoyed. They suffered no jealousy, prudery, false modesty, boredom, or any of the other side effects of civilisation.

After two wet seasons the numans menstruated. They'd been sexually active since the age of twelve weeks, but only with each other to the chagrin of Edgar, Fernando and Greg, so it wasn't surprising when all four conceived. Gestation took forty weeks, there was little visible enlargement of the abdomen, and parturition was painless and uncomplicated.

'True to type,' whispered Paco. 'We definitely have a new species. Aristotle's Complete Man.'

For ten wonderful years we wandered through the many 'rooms' of our paradise, and the numan population increased to sixteen. Though large, our land could not sustain more than twenty-three. We were a peaceful bunch, especially the numans, who were as verbal, intuitive, and propitiatory, as they were physical, inventive, and logical. I don't recall anyone losing their temper, starting a fight, being jealous, or indulging in the negative behaviour that so frequently complicates human relationships. I'm sure everyone was as contented as I, living a simple, clean, rewarding life with people I loved and trusted.

I guess we were lucky it took so long for someone to inspect the satellite photographs. One morning when the numans were hunting in the hills, three helicopters circled, landed, and disgorged a dozen armed soldiers, loudly commanded by a plump, moustached young officer. Transfixed like possums in headlights, we froze while booted, machine-gun wielding soldiers encircled us.

'Show us your papers!'

While Paco was collecting his, Antony's, and Jag's driver's licences from the laboratory, two camouflage-painted panel-vans arrived in clouds of dust and fumes. Four soldiers got out, saluted, and one was given the three documents. He disappeared into the front van.

'What's with the metallic, hairless look?' Moustache sneered.

Antony explained.

'Like shit. You're a fucking mutant.' He turned on Edgar, Fernando, Greg and me and snapped, 'Where are your papers?'


'You're illegals.'

'Illegal what?'

'Immigrants, smart arse.'

A head poked out of the back of the van. 'These three are wanted criminals, Sir!'

Moustache nodded and Paco, Jag, and Antony were locked in the back of the second van. We were starting to panic. 'What's going to happen to us?' Edgar asked.

'You'll go back to where you came from. Australia's awash with foreigners taking our jobs, carrying on their feuds and barbaric customs. Look at you lot, naked as Abos. You're as bad as friggin' GM Mutants!' He cleared his throat noisily. 'Right, where'd you come from, and how long have you been here?'

Edgar, Fernando and Greg suddenly raced towards the bluff, deaf to shouted commands to stop. Machine-guns chattered until three red pulpy heaps twitched on the grass.

'Bloody savages.' Moustache stomped over and stared irritably at the mess. I gazed across the shimmering land. A kangaroo stood frozen between trees a hundred metres away, distant hills wavered in currents of hot air, and I howled. Like a dingo I howled, then vomited.

Moustache slammed a fist into the side of my head and snarled, 'Where are the mutants?'

'What mutants?' Fear kept me upright.

'Satellite photos are so sharp you can compare dick sizes. Sixteen hairless, metallic-skinned, GM Mutants like that bloke in the van, normally hang around with you lot. Where are they?'

'They haven't done any harm.'

Spittle collected on fleshy lips, eyes popped and hysteria threatened. 'Those evil, inhuman creations of godless fools conceived in sin, are everywhere organising themselves, converting the weak, plotting against civilisation, and subverting God's plans. It's them or us! My job is to make sure it's us, and you can watch!' He shoved me towards the front van. Inside was an array of electronic gadgetry and several TV monitors. The helicopter hammered into the air and the monitors came to life, but I couldn't work out what I was looking at.

'Nose-camera,' grunted Moustache, and suddenly I realised we were flying across our valley and already approaching the hills. The camera zoomed in on my children and grandchildren clambering up the rocks. As the helicopter hovered, branches and soil were hurled against the frightened men, but in the van all was silent. Moustache spoke into a microphone. 'You have two minutes to surrender. Climb down now!' The numans looked from one to the other in confusion. I grabbed the microphone and shouted, 'This is Clovis! Don't surrender!'

Moustache slammed me to the floor, retrieved the microphone and shouted, 'Fifteen seconds!'

Gamma shook his fist and followed the others up the cliff-face. Helicopter engine-noise shattered the quiet of the van: 'Sergeant Parkin, Sir. Awaiting instructions.'

'Fire,' said Moustache flatly.

The cliff face erupted into a fireball. I was still screaming when they shoved me into the prison van, where Antony, Paco and Jag lay dead in a pool of blood. They had torn a scrap of metal lining from the wall and ripped open their veins. I was dragged back to Moustache who was shouting into a telephone, '… suicide cult, Sir, …self defence…Resisting arrest… only possible course. …' He replaced the phone, turned to the nearest soldier and barked, 'Secure this one to the van.'

Three limp bodies were dumped on top of the others while Moustache bullied me for answers. Tear-blind at my loss; throat and tongue swollen, I could scarcely breathe, let alone speak. Verballed and punched, I was grateful for the pain. The helicopter returned and sixteen corpses, burnt beyond recognition were added to the six already in the pit some soldiers had been digging. Petrol was poured over them, set alight and when the flames died down, covered in soil. I was lashed into a straightjacket in the prison van, still stinking of death, and we drove all night.

At sunrise we arrived at military headquarters where I was given a pair of shorts and questioned by an elderly man in civilian clothes; but I couldn't speak. I mimed typing and after a lot of whispering to someone outside, he asked if I could use a computer. I looked dumb. When he talked about the Internet I acted even dumber, then shrugged as if I didn't care and lay down on the floor. After a long, muttered conference about security and the urgent need for a report, they sat me in front of a computer with an armed guard. I typed this to set the record straight. Our family was in tune with nature, loving life. Civilisation is the suicide cult! Over-breeding and poisoning one's own nest is a recipe for extinction.

This has taken so long my guard's attention has wandered. I've posted it on every social networking site I could find. Now I'll fill my mouth with spit, disconnect the power plug to the monitor, and shove it in my mouth. It's lucky Esther told me about Grandmother.

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