Quick Fiction Friday: Giraffe by Nathalie Grimston
Written as part of the 2015 'Dystopian' Short Story competition, 'Giraffe' is part of a weekly series of short stories posted to bedes.org penned by Bede's pupils.
by Nathalie Grimston
Apparently, once there were other giraffes.
Cute spotty ones in picture books of which little girls would have soft toys and obsessions over. They would draw them on the kitchen wall on which they were forbidden to draw. No little girl would want to draw these.
I think the word giraffe labels them inaccurately. It's a soft word to say. Ji-raaf. It gives one the image of sweet tentative things. It's a delight to the tongue. Even the letters are curved, sanded down so that no one could hurt themselves on any sharp edges.
These are not soft or tentative. They are the complete antithesis of the word. It is forbidden to draw these anywhere, not just on kitchen walls; not that the law matters much anymore. Ji-raaf. Ji-raaf. Ji-raaf. I want to say it over and over until I get sick of it.
They are yellow. They have holes in their flesh, as if a group of hostile adolescents had decided that it would be a hilarity to hold a match to their corpses and watch them burn, or stump out their pathetically rolled cigarettes out on their long, winding necks.
Their necks are long and winding, like spiral staircases. They twist around, like a flower that had been deformed by a fall from the Empire State Building.
If you peer into these craters, you can see their purple succulent meat, you can see their beetroot muscles, their scarlet tissue, their off-white bone. Maybe even an organ or two, if you're lucky.
Ji-raaf. Such a kind word.
I have been told that once, the giraffes were invisible. We could not see them, and they could not see us. They effectively lived in a whole other world. That's how we lived so many years undisturbed. Then somehow a void of some sort opened up in America, Kansas I think. And then more appeared. And they began to crawl through. They crawl, that's another detail. They fold their legs in half to do so. It's like they snap. Sometimes you see one being propelled by its hind legs, its front collapsed and broken to the shoulder.
And nobody knows what happens, or why they are so dangerous. Nobody knows what we fear. Nobody knows. People just disappear. The nights are filled with corpseless screams. All you learn to know is fear.
I always imagine that you get dragged back through one of these black holes from whence they came, whimpering and trembling. You close your eyes because you don't want to watch yourself leave your life behind. And when you open them, you are in their world. And you scream, but there is no embodied human ear close to hear you.
But then I am told I have a wild imagination.
There have been human disappearances caused by this. The ones left unexplained and unsolved - no bodies, no suspects, no witnesses, no traces.
I have seen inscriptions on walls, unerasable shadows. The inscriptions are all the same. A quotation from A Dream within a Dream by Poe written in what I think are druidic runes.
The translation is as follows: "My days have been a dream."
I know that all of this is real. I can see that it is real.
Only no one else can; no-one else knows and no-one else will.
Ji-raaf, ji-raaf, ji-raaf.