Friday, November 9, 2007
The Mystical Wombat's Guide to Life - excerpt 3
A ferryman punting slowly across the calm river below the motorway bridge was the only witness to the falling figure, arms flailing and macintosh billowing, as it plummeted without a sound into the waiting water’s shadowy depths. Sid the Old Salt (as he was known in these parts) lifted a white bushy eyebrow in a quizzical manner, stopped punting and waited, leaning his ancient bony frame against the blackened punting pole, whilst keeping his tiny black eyes fixed to the place where the body had been swallowed.
Far above him, the aftermath of McBee’s Final Straw continued, albeit a distant, indeterminable concoction of smoke and clamour now.
McBee, meanwhile, was finding the whole experience a lot more comforting than you may imagine. As soon as his feet had left the bridge’s edge, he had felt an overwhelming sense of calm pervade his entire being – the cold air rushing up and around his body removed the smell of burning from his nostrils as he fell in what felt like a dreamlike, slow-motion descent. Suddenly, he had time to think – acres of mind-space unexpectedly available for him to wander through.
It’s funny, he mused as he fell, that doing something so drastic and potentially deadly to oneself could provide such a clear perspective on one’s life. He looked across his downward-bound body and noticed the battered brown briefcase still gripped in his hand. How strange that I brought this with me, he thought to himself, watching the case swinging happily from its handle. It had been a present from his mother, more than twenty years ago, on his very first day at The Oktaban Times.
‘You’re a professional now,’ beamed Mrs McBee, straightening McBee’s tie and standing back to admire her son, ‘And professionals should always look the part. There. A proper journalist if ever I saw one.’
The thought of his mother brought a sharp, unexpected stab at his heart and McBee screwed his eyes up, focusing on the forces pulling his body downwards to try to numb the pain at his core. Soon, the cool calm returned and he found himself almost enjoying the experience. He opened his eyes – and gasped as the water hit him, engulfing his body in dark, inky blackness, icy daggers attacking him from every side. Struggling to break his momentum, he violently jerked his body round till his head was pointing towards the dim light dancing at the river’s surface. But his eyes were failing as his body began to succumb to the water’s freezing numbness and the light was retreating further and further away from his outstretched hand. Comforted by a deathly sense of surrender, McBee closed his eyes and gave in.
© Miranda Dickinson 2007
What happens next? Will Old Sid save McBee? You'll have to wait for the next exciting episode!