Monday, 2 November 2009

The Lost Egg - - Brent Powers

Gardy and Tania sat in the chicken coop, breaking eggs. They were hunting for the right egg.

"Well, what is it?" Tania whined. She was getting tired of doing this. She wanted to do something else. "What is it supposed to look like?"

"I'll know," Gardy said.

"'I'll know,' she said, making fun of him in her mind. "Well, big deal. 'I'll know.'"

Tania wanted to break all the eggs (get them out of her life). She figured that if she broke them all and they still didn't find it then they could do something else. What would they do, though? What were you supposed to do in this place? This was a stupid world with nothing but junk in it. Sometimes you got a chicken dinner with mashed potatoes and corn on the cob with butter smeared all over it, all over everything, fingers included. Sometimes you bit your fingers, thinking they were chicken so then there was blood in your food.

The eggs were smelly and runny. They were getting all over everything. The whole chicken coop was gooey and smelly and empty of love. Pretty soon they'd be up to their necks in all the runny egg stuff and then when it dried they would be glued in there forever without even finding the stupid egg, and in a world full of stupid things yet empty of love. This husband was a dork. She shouldn't have picked him. If she hadn't picked him though she wouldn't have anybody and then where would she be? A girl without a husband in this world is taken by the Civil Service and neutered and stuck in a cubicle forever. That would be worse than breaking eggs like this. In the Service you count things and make entries. Your fingers get stiff and you get mouse thumb and they don't give a rat's ass about your pain. They don't know what a pain it is to be in Civil Service because they have forgotten, or maybe given memory pills. See, there were no more boys in the lottery that day so she got Gardy, who was last. The biggest dork in the world and now he was her husband. Her life was now all about Gardy and his eggs and chickens, and the Lost Egg, which was special.

Here is the story of the Lost Egg:

Once upon a time there was a chicken farmer named Smallwood or something, doesn't matter, but Smallwood had been taking in his eggs one morning and there was the Lost Egg. It wasn't lost then so it had no name, only there was something special about it. You couldn't tell what, really, but you knew, or Smallwood knew. He left all the other eggs there to rot in the chicken coop and all the hens mourned. Smallwood took the one egg and put it in a special place in his house, a high place with doodads and stuff, old bills he never paid and letters he never answered, stuff like that, but he cleared all that off the high place and installed the egg. He took one of those little metal thingies in which you place a boiled egg in order to eat it and he stuck the Lost Egg there. He figured the egg had magical properties. It could get him the things he wanted without his having to do anything other than think at the egg, for instance with, "I think I'd like to have me a broiled trout fish with its eye looking right up from the plate while I eat all around it, and then some beer to wash it down with." This did not happen. He must have been going about it in the wrong way; or he just couldn't have such a thing in this life, so maybe he better ask for something else.

So then, through a process of elimination he came to his true reward which was a stand up whale balloon with feet that you could punch and it would never take the fall. You could just punch the dang thing silly and that old whale would bounce right back and give you its stupid idiot smile which was printed on there permanent. Even when he covered it with duct tape it didn't help because the smile was still there, it was in the whale's silly eyes, his eyes were smiling, too, and when Smallwood covered those eyes with smaller patches of duct tape he still knew that old whale balloon was smiling at him, only now it was in secret which was worse, it was like someone laughing at you behind your back, or they could be looking right at you and making fun of you in their mind and thinking you didn't know it but you could feel it, didn't they know that? You could feel things like that.

So he just punched a little harder. "It's all I ever do now," he told his friends in town (he thought they were his friends, anyway, only secretly they hated his ass, and he knew it only he hid it from himself with a sour smile in his own mind which grew and grew; it grew to whale size) and … well, to make a long story short, when the bill collectors came along with the letter writers who were all women complaining of unwanted pregnancies, all they found was the whale balloon all covered in duct tape which was such a strange thing that it was taken off to the modern art museum while Smallwood, who was thin and dead yet still punching in reflex was put underground, rest in peace. Grass grew over him, and trees.

One of the women with an unwanted pregnancy decided to stay at Smallwood's place and raise her child on good farm cooking in order to ready him for The School of Life Around the Corner. She had no husband so she took in a tramp and let him bang away at her from time to time just to keep him working.

Now, this kid. The one who began as an unwanted pregnancy, well, that became Gardy finally. He was a crooked kid with meat lips and all his wires were crossed. From the time he could speak he insisted that there was eldritch horror in the hen house; either that or a magic egg, he couldn't decide which. When he came into season finally and attended the Marriage Lottery he was the last to be taken. By Tania. Poor Tania.

"Come slut," Gardy had said, and led her along on a rope with flowers attached, as was the custom in our town, to his chicken farm where he lived alone now because he had eaten his mother and the tramp she slept with, the old smelly snerd who wanted Gardy to call him "Pa."

By now Tania and Gardy were sitting in a pile of egg shells and they were knee deep in ick and the whole place stank of unborn chickens with all their dreams of glory sort of flying up in miasmic black and blue steam and getting all mixed up together so that when they finally did enter some womb door to be born when it's time came a confused being would arise, half chicken, half rainbow, some would even say partially nothing and partially everything you could think of, a wood chuck, a ladder of lights, Bill and Sally, Mildred of the Bees, the Birdmen of Alakazam or a fish looking up at you from a plate, giving you the evil eye which would make you bald forever. Tania and Gardy were here though, without life or adventure, without meaning. All they could do was break eggs, break eggs and weep. Gardy thought this was a satisfactory life for a young couple.

"Look, hon," he said. "You just gotta be patient. Soon we'll find it, and it will make us free."

"Well, how's it gonna do that?" Tania wanted to know.

"By us thinking at it, you dumb ass!"

"What will we think about, Gard?" she chided. Or did she really mean it? Hard to say with her, she is a mysterious creature. Gardy considers this. A mysterious creature. A rare thing. Could it be? Could it be?

He looked at her.

He said, "Tania? When you were born … how were you born? I mean, was it in the regular way?"

Tania withdrew one hand from the muck and flung strings of it every whichway. "Ah, come on, you're not gonna pull that on a girl, are you?"

And yet it had been rumored of Tania at the School of Life Around the Corner that she had not been born in the regular way but had in fact been hatched. Gardy had asked them, "Well, from what? From what?"

"Dunno," they told him, picking their noses and looking up at the sky. "Prolly something eldritch, though, half whale, half Drano. Who can say where little girls come from?"

"Tania," he said. "You're it, aren't you."

"Not it!" she cried.

"Yes, Tania. It. You're it. You are the lost egg."

And Tania arose from the slime and muck and mix of evil intentions unborn and ran out, sliming everything with fragments of thought in the form of shells which would take on a brief semi-life to effect ugly works in the world, and Gardy gave chase, and found her. He found her at last, hiding under a small wooden temple, and he turned her to his needs, and she did serve him, she did give birth to his every wish.

They found them there. Tania's feet were nailed to the floor. A huge spring was attached to her, driven into her back, and the other end of the spring was stuck in the floor. Gardy was punching away at her. She wasn't dead yet but why live now? Why live? This was what Tania was thinking when she expired and flew away with all the unborn thoughts and intentions and she wound up in the modern art museum.



Photo Credit: mangpages on Flickr

About The Author: Brent Powers came into this world seeking the Pearl of Great Price and got lost at the inn. Pretty good inn. Nice food. Drop on by.