Date released:
October 28, 2021
Short story
Photo credit:
Andrea Piacquadio

Pinky pinky

Everyone remembers how the intruders came through the forest and on the water. We remember how they trampled over the gifts for the gods placed in the hidden places of the land and ate their food. They set up camps along the rivers and kept track of when the people would send their offerings to the spirits down the water so they could intercept and eat. So they could fill themselves with food fortified by the prayers of the people before they attacked them to take the only things they had left - their freedom and their lives. The mistrust of our nature began when the forests and the water brought thieves who had a hunger for human effort and the fruits of someone else's labour.

Everyone remembers the intruders would never call themselves hunters, even though they fashioned themselves to be. They would never call themselves hunters because there was undoubtedly a different word for those who only set devices for capturing people. They would also never call themselves hunters because they were terrible at it. They sliced through the world as we see it and cut a retinal reflection only seen on the exploded flesh of the gravely wounded. The people did not worry about the intruders because they saw them and thought them wholly injured and therefore not a threat.  They sent more fruits, flowers, and beloved objects down the rivers, certain their gods and guards were fed. They left food and weapons in the forests, offerings to gods of war and wealth.  It never occurred to them that the visitors who reminded them of wounds could be, and bring, just that. When an abomination walks across the land, either silence or screams follow it, only the brave or the foolish whistle behind it, only the wise whisper amid calamity. To warn, to not wail, in wait. Someone had to tell, and someone had to be told, about the lurkers outside who descended from the wilderness, nourished by the works of others, to take more and consume.

Someone had to tell and be told, so they could tell a friend, about a time when one amongst them had gone off seeking relief and not returned. And in place of a whole body had been a sole object from which the threat was identified and named. A sole, accusatory finger curled in on itself as if to say, "Come!" Stocky, like the young man who'd disappeared, perhaps beckoned himself and was briefly mesmerized by the hues of pink and white. Perhaps where others saw illness, he saw a sunset in paradise. They knew then the wounded visitor's purpose.

As atrocities increased, so did the whisperings of a threat from the land that took whole people, unlike any disease and unlike any predator. These whispers carried a message so important that over time its survival, and theirs, became dependent on a song so that even the children may know to beware of Pinky Pinky, who preyed upon those who seek relief on their own.

The predator moved faster than the song. The people were consumed like their holy objects, and they barely survived. They barely retained a voice with which to whisper or wail. As the melodic warning spread across their land carried by the voices of stolen children, it morphed with each group that needed a special warning for its special affliction. Only the first line remained over time, sung eerily similar to the tune of Ring a Ring a Roses. Both odes to plagues the memories of which were softened over time. "My name is Pinky Pinky..."

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