I believe that burning dead people is a terrible waste of fossil fuels, and that we should look for more ecologically sound ways of returning our mortal remains to the eco-system. I, for instance, would be more than happy to be turfed off the side of a boat, into some deep underwater trench.
It may mean adding a few kilograms of steel weight to my ankles, to make sure I’d sink, but I reckon that if the place was well chosen, I’d be fish-shit in no time at all. Perhaps a few areas could be designated “Dead People Zones”. Fishing trawlers would have to keep clear (eating fish that have eaten people may be a bit of a turn–off for some people), and if a sudden earthquake caused the trench to chuck out all the old bones, at least there’d be a logical explanation for the CSI folk when various femurs and pelvic arches were washed ashore.
I do not, under any circumstances, want a coffin. A sturdy bag, made from a bio-degradable substance… silk, I think: far better for the planet than cotton. Perhaps linen. And colourful! A rainbow or two, a flower.. whatever. Just no black, brown, or any permutations therein. And with sturdy straps for the carrying bit, and a way of opening the end so I just slip out, and into the briny.
The bag can then be re-used, or hung up as a wall-hanging. Perhaps it could have stitched upon it “This is Allan’s bag. Once he was alive. Now he’s dead.” A fine epitaph, indeed.
Eco-burial’s cool, but not a number-one preference. If the sea option’s not on, then bury me (in that bag) shallow, atop a metre of brushwood. Then - no headstone, but a tree. Hmm. A native. Rimu, tawa, or a gnarly old kahikatea. Yeah. That works.
READING: "Hart's War", John Katzenbach. It seems I find a really good book once a year. this could be 2010's. It was made into a movie, which I haven't seen: a Bruce Willis flick with no explosions or gratuitous violence? What's the point?
LISTENING TO: David Bowie, "Hours". I think it's the only Bowie album I own. Don't ask me why, 'cause I don't know.
LAUGH OF THE DAY: Telecom's XT network. Those bozoes really can't do anything right, can they? What's an XT customer? Ex-Telecom...
RATS: I'm gonna finish it. And I'm gonna write the play at the same time. Perhaps alternating lines....
So - more RATS!
The boy grunted as he got to his feet. “But I reckon most stories is just bullpucky, eh. So I’ve got five bob saying you can’t beat Ken Swain. He’s the best shot we’ve got in the whole bloody Company mate, no question. And you’re a Zambuck, mate. Not even a proper soldier.”
Arthur smiled at the boy. 19 years old, and so wise. He was right: most shooting stories were pure bull-puckey. But Arthur had never told any tales about his own skill with a rifle, and never would. A crowd of khaki-clad men was slowly congregating around the group. More young men were drifting over, looking for a little diversion to help them through another grinding day.
The red flags were flying, and Arthur estimated the wind at a little under five miles per hour, coming left to right, and slightly down-range. The two men had decided to spend their first five rounds at the one hundred yard range. The sergeant blew on his silver whistle, alerting the target-rats, who pulled on their ropes and hoisted the paper target frames up from their trench. Arthur felt the ground under his body, adjusted the rear leaf sight to ‘100’, and prepared to fire. His elbows were solidly dug into the ground, his hip-bones had a hard contact with the soil, and his legs were spread apart at an exact 30 degrees, toes pointed outward. He wrapped the rifle’s sling around his left wrist, and shook it down his forearm until it tightened nicely. His left palm accepted the weight of the rifle, and his right hand tugged the rifle’s hard brass butt into his shoulder. Now, he looked up, and through the dull brass sights. The tangent leaf rear sight was precisely pierced, the hole precisely 1/16th of an inch across. He looked through the tiny hole, along the 25 inches of the barrel, through the blade of the foresight, and held the aim right on the black spot that was the bull’s-eye. At 100 yards, the small solid black disk of the bull’s-eye was almost invisible.
Arthur held fire a moment, not even quivering when Ken Swain’s rifle barked. He interrogated his body, and found that everything was as it should be: he was welded to the rifle, nailed to the ground. His finger squeezed softly, and he felt the trigger-shear break, releasing the firing pin on its ¼ inch journey. The pin slapped into the base of the cartridge, causing the mercury fulminate primer to spark, which in turn ignited the 33 grains of gunpowder and cordite, which expanded into a searing hot gas instantly, unlocking the bullet from the grip of the brass cartridge and sending it down the spiral-cuts of the precision engineered barrel, to burst into the air with an ear-shattering crack, and speed to the target. Less than a hundredth of a second later, the bullet pierced the paper target, two inches to the lower left of the bull’s-eye. The target-rat raised his red pointer, and showed Arthur where the bullet had struck.
His eyes flicked to Ken Swain’s target. He had shot well: a whisker above and to the right of the bull’s-eye.
Swain fired again. Arthur waited for the result: low, and to the left, maybe an inch off the bull.
Arthur fired: low, and to the left, maybe an inch off the bull.
Swain fired: plumb in the centre.
Arthur worked his bolt, ejecting his second cartridge, and almost instantly fired again. Middle for diddle, right on the bull’s centre. Swain fired his fourth round. It hit between his first and third shots. Arthur’s shot hit exactly between his first and third shots. Swain fired his last sighting round. Low, and to the left, three inches off target.
Arthur’s last bullet went low and to the left. Three inches off target.
He ejected the final cartridge, said “hmm,” picked up his brass, and shoved it into his pocket.