Keel Over

He was in his hammock, fast asleep, slung between a pair of charcoal tree-trunks, rocking gently with the breeze. The hammock lip was folded over tight. In that snug cocoon he slept, his possessions with him, sheltered, tucked in the empty space below his feet and above his head. He didn't have much: a camera; a life’s supply of powdered mash, dried fruit, salted pork and various cans of this and that; a strapped bundle of notes and novels, prints and plans, sketches and scribbles, drawings and drafts; a leather-canteen of water; a quart of cheap whiskey and the warm weather wear he wore.

It was dawn – time to wake up. His wristwatch alarm went off, he soon stirred. He wolfed a can of tuna and packed away his hammock. Then he was off. Around noon, he saw a swirl of black smoke exhale from the mountain’s mouth. As he went higher the air grew fouler, the ash rained heavier and a budding cloud of fresh smoke lurked above. The air reeked of fresh paint and petrol. The toxic fumes stung his nostrils and dried his eyes of any moisture. He felt a cloud of the poison kicking about in his lungs. The mountain leaked a never-ending stream of black smoke from its mouth. The smoke gathered overhead; a budding veil of death, staining any cloud in its path as it spread. He had to stop.

He took a seat on a charred boulder. The boulder was crusted in soot and tar and ash. The boulder was still warm. He dampened his sleeve with water from his canteen, and covered his mouth with the doused scruff. The mountain’s smouldering peak tormented him in the distance. The earth was humming. He crouched down and put his ear to the mountain. The heated soil was warm against his cheek. The mountain rumbled like a churning stomach – all around the loose gravel danced. The earth sung the signs of pending doom – alike the tide receding before a tsunami. It was a tune of sorrow. In the song, the mountain was remorseful, saying that it wasn't its choice. That it simply had to happen. He heard nature’s confession – an eruption was imminent. He looked around. There was no escape. He would die on that mountain.

The mountain roared. It was time, he thought, time to die. He lay down on a bed of ash and watched the mountain’s mouth as it spat molten-rock and drooled a river of liquid-lava. He drew his camera and snapped the apocalyptic view. This will be my legacy, he thought, clasping his camera. He pulled out the cartridge and clenched it tight in his fist. The tsunami of lava was near. He lay on the film-casing, shielding it from the molten wave. The liquid-lava gushed over him, transforming him into an asphalt statue. Frozen in time; in his fist his parting gift.

FOLLOW US was established in 1997, and since then we have successfully completed numerous short story and poetry competitions and publications.
We receive an overwhelming positive feedback each year from the teachers, parents and students who have involvement in these competitions and publications, and we will continue to strive to attain this level of excellence with each competition we hold.


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