Rocks On Wheels – Anita Goveas [Fiction]

Rocks On Wheels

In the waning days of the summer of 2026, G. Arthur Shale moves permanently into the
abandoned Pinocchio movie set behind the derelict Disney-sphere. A landslide has taken out one of his ranches, his hogs walked into a tornado and never returned. He’s aware people are struggling with nature because they didn’t prepare enough, but he is meticulous and will flourish in a more controlled, less threatening space.

Geppetto’s workshop is his main place of occupation. It’s sparsely furnished – plywood
bench painted to look like mahogany, cardboard shelves, plastic tools, a real metal fireplace with fabric flames. He brought his Vision Emperor bed, with the built-in storage, some seeds, his high school copy of Moby Dick with the annotations. No unnecessary cooking utensils or unreliable refrigeration, he’s arranged for food drops. Wagyu beef, Miche bread, the occasional bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape – the essentials only.

The days swell in front of him, an infinite resource. He periodically tends his seeds, which he organises into pots atop the polystyrene carousel on the decaying Pleasure Island. Hardy plants that produce simple vegetables that go well with meat and bread – tomatoes, radishes, lettuce, chillies. Hardy plants that soak up sporadic showers of mildly acidic rain and don’t need much tending. The first food drop comes with a newspaper that describes the floods in Kerala, 600 dead, 100 missing. He uses it to make paper swans he floats on the artificial lake that encloses the carbon-fibre Monstro.

He invests in Buckeye chickens intending for fresh meat for spit-roasting but ending up with fresh eggs, unless the chickens die of old age which they seem reluctant to do. With their sleek pea combs, sturdy bodies and scaly yellow dinosaur feet they’re survivors, just like him. They nest in the puppet show, spread out across the stage and seats, finding their own roosts and their own food. They’re more self-sufficient than he expected.

When the next newspaper arrives, wrapped around a bottle of Laurent-Perrier, he’s
rearranging the rocks on wheels that flank the Blue Fairy’s grotto. He’s moved them parallel, in a hexagon, and now to form his initials, a giant G.A.S that could be seen in space, if the space station hadn’t burned up in the dissolving ozone layer. An unexpectedly fierce breeze carries away the page about the drought in the Pampas grains belt of Argentina, affecting corn yields and cattle feed. He doesn’t look at the next pages, the cyclone warnings.

He’s chasing the chickens away from the disappeared lake when it happens, high enough on fumes from lead-painted acid-burnt fake donkeys and decomposing chicken poop he hasn’t noticed the food parcels have stopped. The chickens scatter, the wind drops, the air stills. Monstro flattens as if stepped on by a giant, and never recovers.

 

By Anita Goveas

 

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