Saturday, October 31, 2009

ORD Commemorative Post I: Smells of 2008-'09

January to March 2008
The overpowering stench of brine from the estuary and garbage from the swill point
The smell of equipment fresh out of plastic covers, screaming out to be dirtied somewhere
The first whiff of Tekong and Marsiling
The sea breeze

March to May 2008
The smell of sterile equipment
The smell of equipment that has been sterile for a long time
The smell of blood
Whatever the rest of Nee Soon Camp smells like

June 2008
The smell of my helmet which has never been washed
The smell of other non-washèd equipment, not unpleasant, but boasting of long service anyway
The smell of airfields
The smell of air 1000ft above ground (actually doesn't smell much)
The smell of training mats
The smell of the dustbin I emptied with maggots the size of my pinky crawling towards the rim

July to August 2008
Can't remember what this smell is like, but am sure it is not good

September 2008
The Brunei forest smell (ah, so sweet and beckoning)
The swamp's aggressive pong halfway between Rotorua and a wet oil painting
The smell of permethrin
The smell of Biang (forest smell + awesome cooling wetness!)

October to November 2008
Smelling whatever that need to be smelled across the island. YARRRR! 86.3k FTW

December 2008 to February 2009
The smell of harbour water
The smell of harbour water after you wash it off in the shower, and when the drains are choked

March to April 2009
Taiwan's welcome with spring flowers
Taiwan's welcome with unhealhy but very tempting foodstuff
Instant noodle from the dispenser
Funny assorted drinks from the dispenser
Pork and non-Thailand rice and lots of gravy
Spray paint, wood dust, marker ink in the planning room
The mouldy smellin' draughts

April to May 2009
The smell of keropok (and the breakfast, the lunch, and the dinner, which are all the same really)
The smell of the thingimmabob you have to eat with a raw green chilli, and which I usually don't
The smell of teh botol
My buddy's canned food
Toilets (now how do I forget this)

June to August 2009
The stench of sweat (never been worse than now)
Superheated tarmac
Raspberry ice cream
The new bunks

September to October 2009
The new bunks
The brine again
Vico, Milo's bastard half-brother
Tekong (this time underground)
The smell of the auditorium (and business center)
Choco mints
Beef teriyaki and lamb stew freeze-dried
Fruit grains
Tea from the blended drinks stall in the canteen laden with cream and sugar
The Thailand underground
A herb which has a smell I find very irritating (Mentha sp.?)
Thailand food obtained through clandestine purchase

October 2009
The smell of an empty bunk.
And then came the smell of a thunderstorm. I watched the rain and watched people get wet as they ran past the parade square.

November 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Skeptic King

[Colophon: An (almost) first go at fantasy writing; welcoming comments from readers!
The story is set in the world of Little Ocean, a concept that I have been working on since 2007. The story's idea came to me randomly while I was out for a walk, so walking works after all.]

[Outskirts of the village called Slykti, the main town of Kara-Taimir. Aigin is a visitor coming from the west. Vainamo is a resident of Slykti, presumably a merchant]
Aigin: What's going on down here?
Vainamo: It's the village rock. A sword's been buried in it.
Aigin: Huh?
Vainamo: Come and see for yourself!

[Village Square. The village rock adorns the center of the square, for both religious and aesthetic reasons. There is a crowd, already starting to disperse]
Vainamo: The word got around that the sword is a sign from our ancestors. That's why we're all here.
Aigin: How could the sword have gotten in?
Vainamo: The ancestors put it there to test the peoples of Kara-Taimir.
Aigin: Uh- how did the sword get in, I'd like to know.
Vainamo: No one knows. Only Simo, the village tramp, he saw the high king Vartaragi in his dream. It was High King who told us the purpose through him. The chosen one, the true owner of the sword in the vllage rock, will unite the peoples of Kara-Taimir, defeat our arch-enemy, the King of Laptev-Taimir, and bring about a new age of prosperity.
Aigin: No wonder you people are so excited by this.
Vainamo: Of course, it's not often that our ancestors intervene and give us help.
Aigin: It'll be more often if you keep denying Simo his food.
Vainamo: What?
Aigin: See that man on his last legs? He's so starved, he's delusional! I'm not surprised that he spends his time dreaming about swords and kings.
Vainamo: But, the sword!
Aigin: I was near starved to death once myself! I dreamt swords and kings alright, dammit.
Vainamo: The sword is there! It wasn't there before!
Aigin: Nah, it's just a clever set-up.
Vainamo: It gave us hope! We have endured the murders and plundering from Laptev for long enough!
Aigin: Doesn't stop it from being fiction. Look, truth is truth if you can show me how the sword got there, maybe even where it came from. I will not accept a delirious dream for an answer!
Vainamo: I'm going to hate you for this. Go away, do as you like with your heretical ideas.
Aigin: I'm going to try the sword.
Vainamo: Oh no, you will not!

Chief: Vainamo, he will try the sword if he wants. We don't deny that right to outsiders, do we?
Vainamo: But sir, he spoke disrespectfully of the vision!
Chief: It's our tradition to be hosptable, even to those who follow different gods.
Vainamo: But sir, he insulted our ancestors!
Chief: It's our tradition!
Vainamo: Alright, fine.
Aigin: Thank you. I've been wanting to see this set-up for myself, closer up.
Chief: Who are you, then?

Aigin: My name is Aigin. I was born in Onega market, a village very much like yours. I am heading to the Academy at Gydans, to pursue my studies in Philosophy.
Chief: A Barentine, so I see. Which part of it was your hometown in? Would it be Kola-Barents or Arkhangel-Barents?
Aigin: Arkhangel-Barents.
Chief: Are the reindeer in their breeding season this time of the year?
Aigin: No, I'm afraid, they've gone extinct in Arkhangel and thereabouts.
Chief: Ach, shame. Try the sword if you like. Men three and a half times your size have tried, without doing so much as make it budge, so don't hope for too much.

Vainamo: The sword, dammit, be careful of it!
Aigin: Why?
Vainamo: You're going to bend it! Pull it the right way!
Aigin: Okay.
{Aigin pulls the sword out}
Vainamo: Why, surely not you! Put the thing back!
Aigin: It wasn't me! The sword was loose.
Simo: It is you! You are the chosen one!

{Enter the villagers re-congregating at the village rock}

Villagers: You've done it! You are the true owner of the sword!
Aigin: Hell no, I've never seen this thing before.
Villagers: You are the future King of all Taimiria!
Aigin: I want nothing to do with Taimiria! Please, how do you put the thing back?
Chief: You can't. The hole's been sealed.
Aigin: Oh gods, I have no time for such nonsense!
{Aigin gropes the village rock for the hole and, finding none, faces the crowd}

Aigin: I have to be on my way now. Listen up: I've never known your ancestors; never met them, don't think they exist anyway. I have no idea why I could be chosen by them. And I urge you, if your backwardness allows, to face the clear light of reason and shun the superstitious delusions that plagued your... your forefathers. Now, where do I put the sword?
Simo: Your majesty, take the sword with you; it's yours.
Aigin: Don't call me that! And I can't bring this sword to Gydans! I'll just leave it with Simo.
Simo: How can I do? I'm not fit even to carry your sandals...
Aigin: Just take the sword and shut up, Simo.
Simo: I'll be waiting for your timely return, your majesty the King Aigin!
Aigin {retreating to the distance}: Sell it and get yourself some food, for goodness sakes.
Simo: I'll guard it for as long as I live!

Vainamo: Where is he from again?
Chief: Barents.
Vainamo: Barents! Of course! The snob! I don't get it. Our future king is going to be a... a rationalist?
Chief: I'm afraid that is going to be so. We have the quirky ancestors, Vainamo.
Vainamo: Maybe the Academy will change him.
Chief: On the contrary, I know the culture at Gydans to be especially unhealthy for one's faith. He's just going to get worse at it.
Vainamo: What we need is a strong man, a heartlander. He is a weak scholar, a sceptic! How is he going to defeat the Laptevians?
Chief {snorts}: By being smart-ass? Huh. I dunno. You should ask Simo instead, he's the holy man down here in Slykti.