Death and Rebirth

SCENE 1 (MONTAGE): Rod Hull and Emu, as imagined in everyday life. Emu is very much a living and wholly organic part of Rod Hull: he takes part in Rod’s every activity. We see the two of them in the kitchen together, attempting to prepare a dish; of course, the ingredients go everywhere due to Emu’s over-enthusiasm, but Rod sees nothing in it but innocent hilarity. Next we see the pair of them in the shower, each with his own appropriately-sized shower cap; it’s Emu’s job to squeeze the bottle of shower gel, with the predictable result that it emits a great blue jet all over the shower cubicle. Rod, as ever, is amused rather than annoyed. Finally, Rod is about to a score a goal in a match with his local Sunday league team, but Emu scotches it at the last moment with a brazen handball! Or is it merely a header? An argument with the ref ensues; Rod tries to look stern at Emu, but somehow just can’t bring himself to be angry and ends up smiling indulgently and patting Emu on the head (which results in Emu immediately going for Rod’s throat, and then the ref’s: the three of them fall to the ground in a violent tussle).

SCENE 2: Rod is attempting to adjust the TV antenna fixed to the side of his chimney to improve the picture. Emu is being uncharacteristically helpful, bending the wires in just the right way while Rod grips the chimney stack tightly with his single normal human hand. However, a difference of opinion arises at some point; Emu is becoming increasingly vigorous in his bending of the antenna wires, and Rod is worried they will become permanently bent out of shape, or worse still, snap off altogether. His remonstrations with the prosthetic bird become more frantic and panicked as his footing on the tiles becomes precarious… before long, Emu has let go of the antenna altogether and clamped his beak around Rod’s throat! Rod instinctively takes his left off hand off the chimney to prize the demented puppet away from his neck: they grapple, teeter for an endless moment – and then fall to the ground.

Rod, horribly injured, lies on his back, gasping for breath. Emu turns pathetically towards him and all he can do is turn his own head (painfully, slowly) towards to the ersatz bird – his lifelong partner in everything he’s done, his double, his inseparable shadow-self – and whisper: “Oh, Emu! I’m so sorry, Emu. I’m so sorry…”

SCENE 3: A church packed with weeping mourners. Tearful friends, relatives and longtime colleagues pay their respects to the pair, laid out beautifully in the open casket. Rod, having been dressed by the undertakers in an immaculate grey suit, looks at peace; Emu, now and for the first ever time truly still, is bound to Rod in death as he was in life.

The coffin is closed, the procession leaves the church and as the priest pronounces his ancient formula, the two are lowered into the earth.

SCENE 4: The churchyard, later that night. A brilliant and nearly cloudless night illuminates the freshly turned sod on Rod and Emu’s joint grave nearly as well as a spotlight. A wisp of vapour momentarily crosses the yellow gibbous moon; an owl hoots from the upper branches of the great ancient yew. Pan back to the surface of the burial plot, and zoom in to a patch approximately a third of the way from head to foot, roughly above the spot where Rod’s chest would be, and slightly to the right. A moment’s perfect stillness, and then – the fresh soil erupts violently and Emu suddenly appears, protruding above ground level; pausing and then slowly turning around to take in the scene and get his bearings. His beaky mouth bears a hideous rictus of triumph and his shiny plastic eyes brim with baleful intent. The last thing we see is Emu leaving behind a small pit in the bare earth of the plot, scurrying off under his own steam to vanish from the churchyard beneath the tangled hedgerow of hawthorn and brambles that encloses it on three sides – in search of a fresh host!

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2 Responses to “Death and Rebirth”

  1. Lisa Says:

    I heard you read Death and Rebirth at the Catweazle Club in Oxford last night and really enjoyed it – thank you, it was a real treat! I look forward to reading all your other stories. Thanks again, Lisa.

  2. routemasterflash Says:

    Hi Lisa, thanks for the comment, and thanks for looking up my blog! I thought mentioning it was a real long shot. Do please share on FB, twitter or whatever if you have friends who you think might be interested.
    Cheers!
    Ollie.

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