By Frampton Jones
Amanda Gardham’s annual Cheese Festival has been a great addition to island life. So long as you never, ever ask what the cheese was made from. Or think about it too much. Or lie awake at night clutching your cheese-gorged stomach imagining that you can hear the voices of all the things that were squeezed or milked in order to achieve such richness.
Under her guidance we’ve become a more confident people in the arts of fermenting, straining, cheddering in caves, and keeping caves secure from things that wish to invade the cheese making process for their own dark purposes. We’ve had cheese from cows’ milk of course, sheep, goat and donkey cheese have all proved successful. But every year, the cheese festival has featured cheeses of unspeakable origins, and every year I have been a bit more afraid of where this may take us.
There are things a cheese should not do. I have seen Amanda’s unspeakable cheese rise up from the table and exit into the night. I have heard it cry and whimper from the bowls and cages wherein it lay. I have watched cheeses that ate other cheeses.
Sometimes, people go out into the night from the Cheese Festival and are never seen again. I grant you there’s always a statistical probability that anyone going out into the night will be lost to us forever, but I feel the Cheese Festival has increased the danger.
This year’s Cheese Festival was bigger and more dramatic than any before it. We have learned that just because it is technically possibly to milk a spoonwalker, it isn’t a good idea. That flavour may haunt me for the rest of my days. I fear that one of the new flavours may have been catmilk. Arnold Chevin’s maggot cheese is something I hope never to see again so long as I live.
What was that final cheese made of? The cheese that undulated in its barrel, yet looked like the most perfect and creamy of traditional cheeses. The cheese that filled the room with the most perfect, sharp, tangy cheese smell. The cheese that then leapt from the plate and smothered Amanda Gardham’s face, and bit anyone who tried to remove it. Where were the teeth? I have hideous thoughts about milk teeth. I am unable to sleep for thinking about it, or for remembering the way the rest of the cheese emerged from the barrel to cover her prone body, embalming her entirely. No one dares go near it, and to the best of my knowledge, she remains where she fell, beneath the Cheese Festival banner.
Amanda died on Hopeless as a direct consequence of supporting our recent kickstarter!