Last week’s thunderstorms and wild seas cast a great many fish onto the bridge, and our platform out on the Devil’s Fingers. Amongst the more usual residents of the ocean, was a mermaid. Once the storm abated, her enthralling singing drew many folks towards the bridge. Those of us who remember the last such experience stuffed our ears with wax and fabric to keep the singing out, and mounted a barrier on the bridge to keep people at a safe distance. Some of our younger men (my unfortunate nephew included) made efforts to get out to the mermaid, but we were able to keep them safe.
Our venerable Doc Willoughby, who really should know better, was completely overwhelmed, and, unable to gain the bridge, threw himself into the sea. He was fortunate, his clothing prevented swimming, and the mermaid herself was unable to get down from the platform, or else he would surely have been drowned and eaten. Jed Grimes had to knock him unconscious before the good Doctor could safely be returned to dry land.
When Doc Willoughby regained consciousness, and had his ears blocked, he was all for a few of us going down the bridge and ‘killing the ghastly creature’. There was much support for this and some folks went so far as to arm themselves. However, Sophie Davies made a plea for compassion. She asked if anyone had the decency to return the mermaid to the water. Not a single man offered to help. (In my defence, I was preoccupied with keeping the bridge closed). Annamarie Nightshade stepped forward however. We were treated to the unlikely sight of the Reverend’s wife and the resident witch assisting the mermaid back into the water. Despite their fierce reputations, the creature did not attack either woman, and made a rapid exit. It is said to be tremendously bad luck to kill one, but worse luck still to be lured by their fatal music.
I am pleased to announce that the repair of our church organ has been an almost complete success. Testimony Albatross’s fabulous device has been repaired by Balthazar Lemon, with some curious additions. The repaired organ was played this Sunday by Mrs Sophie Davies, and the music delighted everyone. Some doubts remain however, over the smells the organ now releases. The original Testimony Albatross design included a large tank, the purpose of which no one had truly understood. It is now full of fish (see photograph). I suspect it is no coincidence that, when played, the organ now fills the church with a distinctly fishy smell.
Questioned on the matter, Balthazar Lemon said, “It’s obvious this is how the organ was designed. It sounds better now.” He has a point. Filling the tank seems necessary. Lemon continued, “The organ is a thing of beauty, designed to bring us closer to God, through sound, scent and visual impact.” I asked him why he had filled the tank with fish, and not, for example with flowers, fruit or some other more appealing thing. He responded by saying, “What do you think God smells like?”
I delayed the Vendetta this week so that we could use it to celebrate a most historic moment. I am proud to present an image of The Hopeless Civic Band performing at the grand opening of the bridge. It is now possible for people to walk all the way out to The Devil’s Fingers, where platforms have been built, allowing visitors to view the sea. This crowning achievement of modern technology, engineering and determination was greeted with great enthusiasm and a party that lasted well into the night.
A rather unfortunate fight between Malcolm Atilla, and Jim ‘Lardbucket’ Smote, caused several sections of balustrade around the centre of the bridge to collapse under the shock. Repairs begin on Monday, but despite Jim ‘Lardbucket’ Smote being cast into the sea, the bridge is entirely safe to use. It provides some excellent and new views of the sea, and the fishing from here is very good, by all accounts. Most importantly, this completed first stage will enable us to strike out further, and eventually reach the mainland.
I can only apologise for my neglecting of the Vendetta last week and the shoddy excuse for journalism you were forced to endure in my absence. Although it is true that Shrove Tuesday Jones recently gave birth to a horned baby, but the horn is far smaller than the turkey image may have lead you to believe.
The news is that tremendous progress has been made on the bridge. We’ve taken advantage of the warmer weather and calmer seas to get some serious building work done. The bridge itself has been successfully tethered to the Devil’s Fingers, and it won’t be long before it will be possible to walk out to the small island. Plans are afoot for a celebratory party once we reach land. We’ve all learned a lot during this stage, insight that will serve us well as we make the next stage from The Devil’s fingers. Balthazar Lemon has made a spying glass and we are searching for other rock outcrops to work with, or signs of the mainland. I am confident that we will soon be back in touch with civilization!
Frampton Jones is really busy with the bridge, and its going really well, but he’s forgotten what day it is, so yours truly gets to write the news. And the news is that my little sister Shrove Tuesday Jones has given birth to a freak. Seriously people, I have seen it. She won’t let me take any pictures though. But what makes it really weird, is that my cousin Mendip Jones had a turkey born a bit back and it’s got the same freakish problem going on as my nephew. Have you ever seen a forehead horn like that on a turkey before? Mendip’s been getting ones with side horns for years, but this is a whole new kind of strange. Really, you should see the baby though. Go and visit her. It’s well worth a look.
Now, I got to thinking that really this must mean something, having a turkey and a baby turn up about the same time and both of them having a horn growing out of the tops of their heads. That can’t be just coincidence. Shrove Tuesday Jones has not named the father, and our father is on the warpath, I can tell you. I reckon there’s something unnatural going on. I asked Reverend Jones if he thought it meant something, and he said ‘Probably not,’ but he hasn’t seen either of them.
So, if you see a guy who has a horn like this growing out of his head, you’d better keep your daughters and sisters safe from him. And your turkeys. And we should check out anyone with a big hat, in case they are trying to hide a horn under it.
This week I finally captured an image of some creatures. I have not yet decided on names for them, or worked out if they are in fact related to any other creatures known to us. I had been studying tracks for some weeks before I was able to record an image. I am not sure if the beings to right and left of the image are related or not, but wanted to share the discovery.
It continues to amaze me how few people notice the non-human occupants of our island. Many people debated the existence of spoonwalkers with me, despite the overwhelming evidence of their activities. The week before last several people suggested that our peculiar visitor was not a creature at all. Although admittedly both of them dropped the issue after they saw it eat Boris’s dog.
I do still find myself wondering sometimes if I see things that other people do not. During the unfortunate camera business, it became apparent for a while at least, that no one else saw as I did. Based on observation, it is remarkable what ostensibly normal and ordinary persons can fail to perceive. For example, last Thursday at The Crow something climbed out of the cauldron and made a dash across the restaurant floor, escaping when the door was opened. I watched it go, with the peculiar impression that no one else in the premises had noticed. I encourage you all to be vigilant. Sometimes, there are devils in the details, or, as in this instance, the soup course.
There have been ghosts on this island for as long as there have been people. Most residents will have seen one or two in their time, I have no doubt. Most of our departed did not appear to stay on, but every so often some pale echo of a lost citizen would manifest. Tragic and disturbing though they are, these ephemeral echoes of the once living are a familiar part of life.
I have noticed this year that the numbers of ghosts have increased significantly. They have gone from being a rare, uncomfortable occurrence, to being a frequent sight across the island. Some, like Vortigern Frog and Greta Calder retain many of their human qualities and will even converse with the living. However, many of the shades we are now seeing are far less substantial. I can only speculate as to why the dead are no longer departing as they once did. Are these echoes, or are we seeing spirits, doomed to continue here for all eternity? It is a hellish thought.
This week’s photograph shows a trio of the dead. I cannot identify them, they retain so little of their original humanity. I have never before been especially fearful of dying, but the horror and pathos of these figures fills me with dread. I fear we will none of us sleep easily in our graves, nor ascend to some better place.
Last night’s storm brought a strange arrival to our shores. It was discovered by Hermitage Trott while he was harvesting seaweed yesterday. Assorted learned citizens went down to the beach in order to view the new arrival. No consensus has been reached as to its nature, but so far it has done nothing to suggest it is actively dangerous. However, given the size of pincers, and the speed at which it can move, the curious are advised to view it from a distance.
Despite the glowing eyes, Reverend Davies does not believe that it is inherently Satanic. I watched Jack Ephemery from The Crow make several attempts to capture the new arrival – no doubt with a view to cooking it. The creature resisted, scuttling off at surprising speed whilst making some unearthly noises.
While opinions are divided, my own theory is that this may in fact be a giant brother to the hermit crab, but the shell it has borrowed is unlike anything I have ever seen before. It has an almost metallic sheen, but it is hard to imagine how such a thing could have formed. Balthazar Lemon postulated that someone had made it, but no one who has viewed the shell can imagine any possible use for it. “People don’t always make things to be useful,” Lemon pointed out, and he should know!
The Hopeless Vendetta reaches a remarkable milestone this week. Seventy years ago, Edgar Titus Prerogative arrived here from the mainland, enthused by developments he had seen there. According to his journals, Hopeless was a wilder place in those days, with society structured around the four founding families, and very little technology at all. At first unable to buy or make a printing press, my maternal grandfather erected a large board, painted it black and wrote news upon it in chalk. A tradition that continues to this day, as does the habit of writing personal comments upon it in response to local events.
Five years later, Prerogative managed to buy a small press from the mainland, however, the ship bringing it floundered on rocks, and the press sank. Over the next year, my ancestor dived repeatedly and was able to bring up what he believed to be the greater part of the press, improvising whatever was needed to fill in the gaps. Only at this point did the issue of paper occur to him, and two more years passed during which he mastered the art of paper making. The first press produced copies one at a time, and was remarkably slow and cumbersome to use.
Sixty years ago this week, the first Hopeless Vendetta went to press. It was a historical moment for the island, bringing the community together, facilitating public arguments, and allowing opinions to be widely aired. Edgar’s daughter married one Percival Jones, who took on the business of the press, inventing a new, faster device, and thence it passed to me. The future of this publication lies, it appears, in the hands of Modesty Jones. God willing however, I shall maintain its noble tradition for many more years yet.