Hugo Docking

And darkness was upon the face of the deep

(An excerpt from Dustbeard – A radio play I started writing about a lone presenter stuck in an old radio tower on a post-apocalyptic island, with only old archived tapes from the past to keep him company. He uses the tower to broadcast a weekly radio show to the unfortunate inhabitants of the island.)

It started with the agony of nothing, then the frosty terror, of SOMETHING. Experiencing something, when all you know is nothing, will shatter a sound mind into shrapnel. Everything, everyone we encountered on that first day of something was utterly terrifying. All we knew was fear and pain. Our senses were working but we didn’t understand enough to process the signals that our bodies were trying to send us…

Then for just a split second, our heads snapped up in synchronised horror,  mouths crooked and twisted and aghast as if struck by a sudden brutal divine force, it appeared we remembered everything. And we knew everything. Everything there was to know. Absolute knowledge. And then it was gone, leaving only a vague residue. A floating, half submerged feeling that there was something other than something. That we were someone, or at least used to be. All we had and all we were was a painful, raw, unbaked concept of a concept of memory and life. We stumbled around the island that day, unable to communicate or control the muscles that made our unfamiliar bodies do things. We just stumbled, and roared and moaned and rolled and shrieked.

Eventually we learnt to control our muscles and rise from the dirt and we learnt we had jaws and we started to speak and finally we could use the words that were singing round our minds but we had no idea what they were or where they came from and they were just terrifying sounds but we learnt how to recreate them, and after a while we realised that they were useful and we realised what they meant and that really we always knew. We took the shovels to our minds and tried to dig up anything from our past but we could not dig deep enough. The knowledge we craved remained buried and dormant.

People started to shrivel and die and then we ate them and learnt of the concept of hunger and of food. With full bellies we learnt that there were different types of pain, and some could be relieved, that the pain of starvation could be cured. And then with human flesh in our teeth and caught in our bloody nails we learnt of remorse, for which more flesh could not cure…