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Editorial Reviews. bvifacts.info Review. "I had been making the rounds of the Sacrifice Poles Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like Kindle Store · Kindle eBooks · Literature & Fiction. I already knew something was going to happen; the Factory told me. .. and the second; the loft is my domain entirely and home of the Wasp Factory, no less;. "Over the course of the week [the offer went live on April 2nd*] you will be able to download the chapters from this celebrated novel and by.

I already knew something was going to happen; the Factory told me. At the north end of the island, near the tumbled remains of the slip where the handle of the rusty winch still creaks in an easterly wind, I had two Poles on the far face of the last dune. One of the Poles held a rat head with two dragonflies, the other a seagull and two mice. I was just sticking one of the mouse heads back on when the birds went up into the evening air, kaw-calling and screaming, wheeling over the path through the dunes where it went near their nests. I made sure the head was secure, then clambered to the top of the dune to watch with my binoculars. Diggs, the policeman from the town, was coming down the path on his bike, pedalling hard, his head down as the wheels sank part way into the sandy surface. He got off the bike at the bridge and left it propped against the suspension cables, then walked to the middle of the swaying bridge, where the gate is.

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I wondered how long it would take him, and whether Diggs would now have to go shouting through the town, warning that the mad boy who set fire to dogs was on the loose again; lock up your hounds! My father ladled some soup into my plate.

I blew on it. I thought of the Sacrifice Poles. They were my early-warning system and deterrent rolled into one; infected, potent things which looked out from the island, warding off. Those totems were my warning shot; anybody who set foot on the island after seeing them should know what to expect. But it looked like, instead of being a clenched and threatening fist, they would present a welcoming, open hand.

For Eric. He was being sarcastic. He took the bottle of whisky from the dresser and poured himself a drink. The other glass, which I guessed had been the constable's, he put in the sink. He sat down at the far end of the table. My father is tall and slim, though slightly stooped. He has a delicate face, like a woman's, and his eyes are dark. He limps now, and has done ever since I can remember.

His left leg is almost totally stiff, and he usually takes a stick with him when he leaves the house. Some days, when it's damp, he has to use the stick inside, too, and I can hear him clacking about the uncarpeted rooms and corridors of the house; a hollow noise, going from place to place. Only here in the kitchen is the stick quieted; the flagstones silence it. That stick is the symbol of the Factory's security. My father's leg, locked solid, has given me my sanctuary up in the warm space of the big loft, right at the top of the house where the junk and the rubbish are, where the dust moves and the sunlight slants and the Factory sits-silent, living and still.

My father can't climb up the narrow ladder from the top floor; and, even if he could, I know he wouldn't be able to negotiate the twist you have to make to get from the top of the ladder, round the brickwork of the chimney flues, and into the loft proper.

I suppose my father is about forty-five now, though sometimes I think he looks a lot older, and occasionally I think he might be a little younger. He won't tell me his real age, so forty-five is my estimate, judging by his looks.

I turned round and looked at him, wondering why he was bothering with such an easy question. I shook my head at him, scowling, and wiped the brown rim of soup from the inside of my plate.

There was a time when I was genuinely afraid of these idiotic questions, but now, apart from the fact that I must know the height, length, breadth, area and volume of just about every part of the house and everything in it, I can see my father's obsession for what it is.

It gets embarrassing at times when there are guests in the house, even if they are family and ought to know what to expect. They'll be sitting there, probably in the lounge, wondering whether Father's going to feed them anything or just give an impromptu lecture on cancer of the colon or tapeworms, when he'll sidle up to somebody, look round to make sure everybody's watching, then in a conspiratorial stage-whisper say: It's eighty-five inches, corner to corner.

Ever since I can remember there have been little stickers of white paper all over the house with neat black-biro writing on them. Attached to the legs of chairs, the edges of rugs, the bottoms of jugs, the aerials of radios, the doors of drawers, the headboards of beds, the screens of televisions, the handles of pots and pans, they give the appropriate measurement for the part of the object they're stuck to.

There are even ones in pencil stuck to the leaves of plants. When I was a child I once went round the house tearing all the stickers off; I was belted and sent to my room for two days. Later my father decided it would be useful and character-forming for me to know all the measurements as well as he did, so I had to sit for hours with the Measurement Book a huge loose-leaf thing with all the information on the little stickers carefully recorded according to room and category of object , or go round the house with a jotter, making my own notes.

This was all in addition to the usual lessons my father gave me on mathematics and history and so on. It didn't leave much time for going out to play, and I resented it a great deal. I was having a War at the time-the Mussels against the Dead Flies I think it was-and while I was in the library poring over the book and trying to keep my eyes open, soaking up all those damn silly Imperial measurements, the wind would be blowing my fly armies over half the island and the sea would first sink the mussel shells in their high pools and then cover them with sand.

Luckily my father grew tired of this grand scheme and contented himself with firing the odd surprise question at me concerning the capacity of the umbrella-stand in pints or the total area in fractions of an acre of all the curtains in the house actually hung up at the time. My father snorted into his glass as he drained it. Certainly not. It's all based on the measurement of the globe, you know. I don't have to tell you what nonsense that is.

I sighed as I took an apple from the bowl on the window sill.

Iain Banks. The Wasp Factory

My father once had me believing that the earth was a Mobius strip, not a sphere. He still maintains that he believes this, and makes a great show of sending off a manuscript to publishers down in London, trying to get them to publish a book expounding this view, but I know he's just mischief-making again, and gets most of his pleasure from his acts of stunned disbelief and then righteous indignation when the manuscript is eventually returned.

This occurs about every three months, and I doubt that life would be half as much fun for him without this sort of ritual. Anyway, that is one of his reasons for not switching over to a metric standard for his stupid measurements, though in fact he's just lazy.

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Of course I was out killing things. How the hell am I supposed to get heads and bodies for the Poles and the Bunker if I don't kill things? There just aren't enough natural deaths. You can't explain that sort of thing to people, though. Once, that sort of talk would have scared me, but not now.

I'm nearly seventeen, and not a child. Here in Scotland I'm old enough to get married without my parent's permission, and have been for a year. There wouldn't be much point to me getting married perhaps-I'll admit that-but the principle is there.

Besides, I'm not Eric; I'm me and I'm here and that's all there is to it. I don't bother people and they had best not bother me if they know what's good for them. I don't go giving people presents of burning dogs, or frighten the local toddlers with handfuls of maggots and mouthfuls of worms. The people in the town may say 'Oh, he's not all there, you know,' but that's just their little joke and sometimes, just to rub it in, they don't point to their heads as they say it ; I don't mind.

I've learned to live with my disability, and learned to live without other people, so it's no skin off my nose. My father seemed to be trying to hurt me, though; he wouldn't say something like that normally. The news about Eric must have shaken him. I think he knew, just as I did, that Eric would get back, and he was worried about what would happen. I didn't blame him, and I didn't doubt that he was also worried about me. I represent a crime, and if Eric was to come back stirring things up The Truth About Frank might come out.

I was never registered. I have no birth certificate, no National Insurance number, nothing to say I'm alive or have ever existed. I know this is a crime, and so does my father, and I think that sometimes he regrets the decision he made seventeen years ago, in his hippy-anarchist days, or whatever they were. Not that I've suffered, really. I enjoyed it, and you could hardly say that I wasn't educated.

I probably know more about the conventional school subjects than most people of my age. I could complain about the truth of some of the bits of information my father passed on to me, mind you. Ever since I was able to go into Porteneil alone and check things up in the library my father has had to be pretty straight with me, but when I was younger he used to fool me time after time, answering my honest if naive questions with utter rubbish. For years I believed Pathos was one of the Three Musketeers, Fellatio was a character in Hamlet , Vitreous a town in China, and that the Irish peasants had to tread the peat to make Guinness.

Well, these days I can reach the highest shelves of the house library, and walk into Porteneil to visit the one there, so I can check up on anything my father says, and he has to tell me the truth. It annoys him a lot, I think, but that's the way things go. Call it progress. But I am educated. While he wasn't able to resist indulging his rather immature sense of humour by selling me a few dummies, my father couldn't abide a son of his not being a credit to him in some way; my body was a forlorn hope for any improvement, so only my mind was left.

Hence all my lessons. My father is an educated man, and he passed a lot of what he already knew on to me, as well as doing a fair bit of study himself into areas he didn't know all that much about just so that he could teach me. My father is a doctor of chemistry, or perhaps biochemistry-I'm not sure.

He seems to have known enough about ordinary medicine-and perhaps still have had the contacts within the profession-to make sure that I got my inoculations and injections at the correct times in my life, despite my official non-existence as far as the National Health Service is concerned.

I think my father used to work in a university for a few years after he graduated, and he might have invented something; he occasionally hints that he gets some sort of royalty from a patent or something, but I suspect the old hippy survives on whatever family wealth the Cauldhames still have secreted away. The family has been in this part of Scotland for about two hundred years or more, from what I can gather, and we used to own a lot of the land around here.

Now all we have is the island, and that's pretty small, and hardly even an island at low tide. The only other remnant of our glorious past is the name of Porteneil's hot-spot, a grubby old pub called the Cauldhame Arms where I go sometimes now, though still under age of course, and watch some of the local youths trying to be punk bands.

That was where I met and still meet the only person I'd call a friend; Jamie the dwarf, whom I let sit on my shoulders so he can see the bands.

They'll pick him up,' my father said again, after a long and brooding silence. He got up to rinse his glass. I hummed to myself, something I always used to do when I wanted to smile or laugh, but thought the better of it. My father looked at me. Don't forget to lock up, all right? My father left the kitchen. I sat and looked at my trowel, Stoutstroke. Little grains of dry sand stuck to it, so I brushed them off. The study. One of my few remaining unsatisfied ambitions is to get into the old man's study.

The cellar I have at least seen, and been in occasionally; I know all the rooms on the ground floor and the second; the loft is my domain entirely and home of the Wasp Factory, no less; but that one room on the first floor I don't know, I have never even seen inside.

I do know he has some chemicals in there, and I suppose he does experiments or something, but what the room looks like, what he actually does in there, I have no idea. All I've ever got out of it are a few funny smells and the tap-tap of my father's stick. I stroked the long handle of the trowel, wondering if my father had a name for that stick of his. I doubted it. He doesn't attach the same importance to them as I do.

I know they are important. I think there is a secret in the study. He had hinted as much more than once, just vaguely, just enough to entice me so that I want to ask what, so that he knows that I want to ask.

I don't ask, of course, because I wouldn't get any worthwhile answer. If he did tell me anything it would be a pack of lies, because obviously the secret wouldn't be a secret any more if he told me the truth, and he can feel, as I do, that with my increasing maturity he needs all the holds over me he can get; I'm not a child any more. Only these little bits of bogus power enable him to think he is in control of what he sees as the correct father-son relationship.

It's pathetic really, but with his little games and his secrets and his hurtful remarks he tries to keep his security intact. I leaned back in the wooden chair and stretched. I like the smell of the kitchen.

The food, and the mud on our wellingtons, and sometimes the faint tang of cordite coming up from the cellar all give me a good, tight, thrilling feel when I think about them.

It smells different when it's been raining and our clothes are wet. In the winter the big black stove pumps out heat fragrant with driftwood or peat, and everything steams and the rain hammers against the glass. Then it has a comfortable, closed-in feeling, making you feel cosy, like a great big cat with its tail curled round itself. Sometimes I wish we had a cat. All I've ever had was a head, and that the seagulls took. I went to the toilet, down the corridor off the kitchen, for a crap.

I didn't need a pee because I'd been pissing on the Poles during the day, infecting them with my scent and power. I sat there and thought about Eric, to whom such an unpleasant thing happened.

Poor twisted bugger. I wondered, as I have often wondered, how I would have coped. But it didn't happen to me. I have stayed here and Eric was the one who went away and it all happened somewhere else, and that's all there is to it. I'm me and here's here. I listened, wondering if I could hear my father. Perhaps he had gone straight to bed.

He often sleeps in the study rather than in the big bedroom on the second floor, where mine is. Maybe that room holds too many unpleasant or pleasant memories for him.

Either way, I couldn't hear any snoring. I hate having to sit down in the toilet all the time. With my unfortunate disability I usually have to, as though I was a bloody woman, but I hate it. Sometimes in the Cauldhame Arms I stand up at the urinal, but most of it ends up running down my hands or legs.

I strained. Plop splash. Some water came up and hit my bum, and that was when the phone went. I cleaned my arse quickly and pulled my trousers up, pulling the chain, too, and then waddling out into the corridor, zipping up.

I ran up the broad stairs to the first-floor landing, where our only phone is. I'm forever on at my father to get more phones put in, but he says we don't get called often enough to warrant extensions. I got to the phone before whoever was calling rang off. My father hadn't appeared. I held the receiver away from my ear and looked at it, scowling. Tinny yells continued to come from the earpiece. When they stopped I put my ear back to it. I could recognise Eric's voice. Don't you know where you are?

I'm not telling you where I am; you'll only tell Angus and he'll tell the police and they'll take me back to the fucking hospital. You know I don't like them. Of course I won't tell Dad. Isn't that your lucky number?

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If you are, please don't burn any dogs or anything, OK? It's me. I don't burn dogs! What the hell do you think I am? Don't accuse me of burning fucking dogs, you little bastard! Don't do anything to antagonise people, you know? People can be awful sensitive I listened to him breathing, then his voice changed. Just for a short while, to see how you both are. I suppose it's just you and the old man? I shifted my weight on to my other foot, looked around the landing and up the stairs, half-expecting to see my father leaning over the banister rail, or to see his shadow on the wall of the landing above, where he thought he could hide and listen to my phone calls without me knowing.

I'm sorry, but I get this horrible feeling in my stomach, as though there's a great big knot in it. I just can't go that far away, not overnight or I just can't. I want to see you, but you're so far away. I'll talk to him later, when I'm a lot closer.

I'm going now. See you. Take care. You know; I mean, they get angry. About pets especially. I mean, I'm not-'. And I suppose I stick worms and maggots into kids' mouths and piss on them, too, eh?

You little shit! I'll kill you! You-' His voice disappeared, and I had to put the phone away from my ear again as he started to hammer the handset against the walls of the call-box. The succession of loud clunks sounded over the calm pips as his money ran out.

I put the phone back in the cradle. I looked up, but there was still no sign of Father.

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I crept up the stairs and stuck my head between the banisters, but the landing was empty. I sighed and sat down on the stairs. I got the feeling I hadn't handled Eric very well over the phone. I'm not very good with people and, even though Eric is my brother, I haven't seen him for over two years, since he went crazy.

I got up and went back down to the kitchen to lock up and get my gear, then I went to the bathroom. I decided to watch the television in my room, or listen to the radio, and get to sleep early so I could be up just after dawn to catch a wasp for the Factory.

I lay on my bed listening to John Peel on the radio and the noise of the wind round the house and the surf on the beach. Beneath my bed my home-brew gave off a yeasty smell.

I thought again of the Sacrifice Poles; more deliberately this time, picturing each one in turn, remembering their positions and their components, seeing in my mind what those sightless eyes looked out to, and flicking through each view like a security guard changing cameras on a monitor screen.

I felt nothing amiss; all seemed well. My dead sentries, those extensions of me which came under my power through the simple but ultimate surrender of death, sensed nothing to harm me or the island.

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I opened my eyes and put the bedside light back on. I looked at myself in the mirror on the dressing-table over on the other side of the room. I was lying on top of the bed-covers, naked apart from my underpants. I'm too fat. It isn't that bad, and it isn't my fault-but, all the same, I don't look the way I'd like to look.

Chubby, that's me. Strong and fit, but still too plump. I want to look dark and menacing; the way I ought to look, the way I should look, the way I might have looked if I hadn't had my little accident.

Looking at me, you'd never guess I'd killed three people. It isn't fair. I switched the light out again. The room was totally dark, not even the starlight showing while my eyes adjusted. Perhaps I would ask for one of those LED alarm radios, though I'm very fond of my old brass alarm clock.

Once I tied a wasp to the striking-surface of each of the copper-coloured bells on the top, where the little hammer would hit them in the morning when the alarm went off.

I TOOK the little cinder that was the remains of the wasp and put it into a matchbox, wrapped in an old photograph of Eric with my father. In the picture my father was holding a portrait-sized photograph of his first wife, Eric's mother, and she was the only one who was smiling.

My father was staring at the camera looking morose. The young Eric was looking away and picking his nose, looking bored. The morning was fresh and cold. I could see mist over the forests below the mountains, and fog out over the North Sea. I ran hard and fast along the wet sand where it was good and firm, making a jet noise with my mouth and holding my binoculars and bag down tight to my sides.

When I got level with the Bunker I banked inland, slowing as I hit the soft white sand further up the beach. I checked the flotsam and jetsam as I swept over it, but there was nothing interesting-looking, nothing worth salvaging, just an old jellyfish, a purple mass with four pale rings inside. I altered course slightly to overfly it, going 'Trrrrrfffaow!

I banked again and headed for the Bunker. The Poles were in good repair. I didn't need the bag of heads and bodies. I visited them all, working through the morning, planting the dead wasp in its paper coffin not between two of the more important Poles, as I had intended originally, but under the path, just on the island side of the bridge. While I was there I climbed up the suspension cables to the top of the mainland tower and looked around.

I could see the top of the house and one of the skylights over the loft. I could also see the spire of the Church of Scotland in Porteneil, and some smoke coming up from the town chimneys. I took the small knife from my left breast pocket and nicked my left thumb carefully. I smeared the red stuff over the top of the main beam which crosses from one I-girder to the other on the tower, then wiped my small wound with an antiseptic tissue from one of my bags. I scrambled back down after that and retrieved the ball-bearing I had hit the sign with the day before.

The first Mrs Cauldhame, Mary, who was Eric's mother, died in childbirth in the house.

Further Discussion

Eric's head was too big for her; she haemorrhaged and bled to death on the marital bed back in I Eric has suffered from quite severe migraine all his life, and I am very much inclined to attribute the ailment to his manner of entry into the world. The whole thing about his migraine and his dead mother had, I think, a lot to do with What Happened To Eric. Poor unlucky soul; he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and something very unlikely happened which by sheer chance mattered more to him than anybody else it could have happened to.

But that's what you risk when you leave here. Thinking about it, that means that Eric has killed somebody, too. I had thought that I was the only murderer in the family, but old Eric beat me to it, killing his mum before he had even drawn breath. Unintentional, admittedly, but it isn't always the thought that counts.

I was still thinking about that, wondering what it really meant. The obvious interpretation was that Eric was going to set fire to some dogs, but I was too wise in the ways of the Factory to treat that as definite; I suspected there was more to it.

In a way, I was sorry Eric was coming back. I had been thinking of having a War shortly, maybe in the next week or so, but with Eric probably going to make an appearance I had decided against it. I hadn't had a good War for months; the last one had been the Ordinary Soldiers versus the Aerosols. In that scenario, all the 72nd-scale armies, complete with their tanks and guns and trucks and stores and helicopters and boats, had to unite against the Aerosol Invasion.

The Aerosols were almost impossible to stop, and the soldiers and their weapons and equipment were getting burned and melted all over the place until one brave soldier who had clung on to one of the Aerosols as it flew back to its base came back after many adventures with the news that their base was a breadboard moored under an overhang on an inland creek.

A combined force of commandos got there just in time and blew the base to smithereens, finally blowing up the overhang on top of the smoking remains.

A good War, with all the right ingredients and a more spectacular ending than most I even had my father asking me what all the explosions and the fire had been about, when I got back to the house that evening , but too long ago. Anyway, with Eric on his way, I didn't think it would be a good idea to start another War only to have to abandon it in the middle of things and start dealing with the real world.

I decided I would postpone hostilities for a while. Instead, after I had anointed a few of the more important Poles with precious substances, I built a dam system.

When I was younger I used to have fantasies about saving the house by building a dam. There would be a fire in the grass on the dunes, or a plane would have crashed, and all that stopped the cordite in the cellar from going up would be me diverting some of the water from a dam system down a channel and into the house. At one time my major ambition was to have my father buy me an excavator so that I could make really big dams.

But I have a far more sophisticated, even metaphysical, approach to dam-building now. I realise that you can never really win against the water; it will always triumph in the end, seeping and soaking and building up and undermining and overflowing.

All you can really do is construct something that will divert it or block its way for a while; persuade it to do something it doesn't really want to do. The pleasure comes from the elegance of the compromise you strike between where the water wants to go guided by gravity and the medium it's moving over and what you want to do with it.

Actually, I think that life has few pleasures to compare with dam-building. Give me a good broad beach with a reasonable slope and not too much seaweed, and a fair-sized stream, and I'll be happy all day, any day. By that time the sun was well up, and I took off my jacket to lay it with my bags and binoculars. Stoutstroke dipped and bit and sliced and dug, building a huge triple-deck dam, the main section of which backed up the water in the North Burn for eighty paces; not far off the record for the position I had chosen.

I used my usual metal overflow piece, which I keep hidden in the dunes near the best dam-building site, and the piece de resistance was an aqueduct bottomed with an old black plastic rubbish-bag I'd found in the driftwood. The aqueduct carried the overflow stream over three sections of a by-pass channel I'd cut from further up the dam. I built a little village downstream from the dam, complete with roads and a bridge over the remnant of the burn, and a church.

Bursting a good big dam, or even just letting it overflow, is almost as satisfying as planning and building it in the first place. I used little shells to represent the people in the town, as usual. Also as usual, none of the shells survived the flood when the dam burst; they all sank, which meant that everybody died.

By that time I was very hungry, my arms were getting sore and my hands were red with gripping the spade and digging into the sand by themselves. I watched the first flood of water race down to the sea, muddy and littered, then turned to head for home. We were finishing our lunch, sitting in the kitchen, me with my stew, my father with brown rice and seaweed salad. He had his Town Gear on; brown brogues, brown tweed three-piece suit, and on the table sat his brown cap.

I checked my watch and saw that it was Thursday. It was very unusual for him to go anywhere on a Thursday, whether Porteneil or any further afield.

I wasn't going to ask him where he was going because he'd only lie. When I used to ask him where he was going he would tell me 'To Phucke', which he claimed was a small town to the north of Inverness.

It was years and a lot of funny looks in the town before I learned the truth. I nodded, and he continued: I looked up in time to see him place his cap on his head and look round the kitchen, patting his pockets as he did so.

He looked at me again and nodded. I heard the outer door slam, then silence. I sighed. I waited a minute or so then got up, leaving my almost clean plate, and went through the house to the lounge, where I could see the path leading away through the dunes towards the bridge. My father was walking along it, head bowed, going quickly with a sort of anxious swagger as he swung the stick. As I watched, he struck out with it at some wild flowers growing by the path-side.

I ran upstairs, pausing by the back stairwell window to watch my father disappear round the dune before the bridge, ran up the stairs, got to the door to the study and twisted the handle briskly. The door was firm; it didn't shift a millimetre. One day he'd forget, I was sure, but not today. After I had finished my meal and done the washing-up, I went to my room, checked the home-brew and got my air-rifle.

I made sure I had sufficient pellets in my jacket pockets, then headed out of the house for the Rabbit Grounds on the mainland, between the large branch of the creek and the town dump. I don't like using the gun; it's almost too accurate for me. The catapult is an Inside thing, requiring that you and it are one. If you're feeling bad, you'll miss; or, if you know you're doing something wrong, you'll miss, too.

Unless you fire a gun from the hip it's all Outside; you point and aim and that's it, unless the sights are out or there's a really high wind.

Once you've cocked the gun the power's all there, just waiting to be released by the squeeze of a finger. A catapult lives with you until the last moment; it stays tensed in your hands, breathing with you, moving with you, ready to leap, ready to sing and jerk, and leaving you in that dramatic pose, arms and hands outstretched while you wait for the dark curve of the ball in its flight to find its target, that delicious thud.

But going after rabbits, especially the cunning little bastards out on the Grounds, you need all the help you can get. One shot and they're scurrying for their holes. The gun is loud enough to frighten them just as much; but, calm, surgical thing that it is, it improves your chance of a first-time kill.

As far as I know, none of my ill-starred relations has ever died by the gun. They've gone a lot of funny ways, the Cauldhames and their associates by marriage, but to the best of my knowledge a gun has never crossed one off.

I came to the end of the bridge, where technically my territory stops, and stood still for a while, thinking, feeling, listening and looking and smelling.

Everything seemed to be all right. Quite apart from the ones I killed and they were all about the same age I was when I murdered them I can think of at least three of our family who went to whatever they imagined their Maker was like in unusual ways. Leviticus Cauldhame, my father's eldest brother, emigrated to South Africa and bought a farm there in I Leviticus, a person of such weapon-grade stupidity his mental faculties would probably have improved with the onset of senile dementia, left Scotland because the Conservatives had failed to reverse the Socialist reforms of the previous Labour government: I have read some of the letters he wrote to my father.

Leviticus was happy with the country, though there were rather a lot of blacks around. He referred to the policy of separate development as 'apart-hate' in his first few letters, until somebody must have clued him in on the correct spelling. Not my father, I'm sure. Leviticus was passing police headquarters in Johannesburg one day, walking along the pavement after a shopping expedition, when a crazed, homicidal black threw himself, unconscious, from the top storey and apparently ripped all his fingernails out on the way down.

He hit and fatally injured my innocent and unfortunate uncle whose muttered last words in hospital, before his coma became a full stop, were: A faint wisp of smoke rose ahead of me from the town dump. I wasn't going that far today, but I could hear the bulldozer they used sometimes to spread the garbage around as it revved and pushed.

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