Are these stories or prose poems or the unique ravings of Rhys Hughes?
An Unusual Bat
He left the pavilion and strode onto the pitch holding a gigantic banana. We were surprised and frowned as he took his place before the wickets. Most of the spectators fell silent but one of us who had travelled the world muttered that this banana was a totem of the monkey god, Zumboo, and that he hadn’t seen such a thing since exploring Borneo. I wondered what was left to explore on an island that had been inhabited for tens of thousands of years. The very densest jungle, was the unspoken answer. The bowler remained calm, took a slow run up, let loose a ball with a wildly erratic spin, but the banana connected with an audible squelch and the ball flew over the pavilion for a score of six runs. We settled back in our seats confident of a very entertaining innings but before the bowler could launch a second ball, the banana suddenly grew wings and flew out of the batsman’s grasp. We gasped. The umpire insisted that the match be abandoned immediately. We all went home. I am no cricket historian, nor an explorer. I am not even a zoologist. But I knew I had just seen a very unusual thing that fateful afternoon. The rarest species of fruit bat.
There was a king who feared invasion of his lands and defeat but he feared assassination even more. To guard himself from these dangers he moved his throne to the centre of an island in the middle of a large lake. But this lake lay at the centre of a larger island that reared from the waters of a bigger lake. Needless to say, this bigger lake was located at the centre of an island that was the size of a small country and this island could be found in the middle of a lake that was like a small sea. The king believed he had chosen the most secure place in the world and he relaxed just a little but he never slumped on his throne. He remained rigid, peering with his keen eyes in every direction, knowing that any invader or assassin would have to cross many bodies of water alternating with rough terrain in order to reach him, giving him plenty of time to prepare his defences. He had a rifle with an extremely long barrel and a tripod to rest it on and he was able to cover any approach with deadly fire. This is how he passed his days. But at night the moon rose slowly over the horizon and standing on the surface of that celestial object was the true enemy, a giant archer who lurked in the shelter of a crater and drew back his bowstring. The heavy arrow was nocked and he was carefully aiming at his obvious but oblivious target, the king who never looked up but who, sitting there, was a perfect bullseye at the dead centre of a series of concentric circles.
The Milk Truck
Travelling in a taxi from our small apartment in Bangalore to the airport, we hurtled along the highway, our driver weaving through the traffic with skill. We passed a stationary vehicle and at first I thought it had broken down on the side of the road. It was a large lorry, a cylindrical container on wheels. The words Milk Truck were written on the side in blue letters and then I saw an old woman on a stool near the rear of it. She was leaning forward, her gnarled hands reaching for the underside of the huge machine. It was just a glimpse, the merest flash, but I had the impression she was milking the truck’s udders into a bucket. How ludicrous! Sitting in the back of that taxi, I exchanged glances with my partner and I saw in her eyes that she shared my thoughts. We had both seen it. Metallic udders! I turned my head to look back but the truck already was out of sight, obscured by other vehicles. Our driver continued and it was impossible for us to know if he had noticed it too, or whether he would care even if he had. This is all the story, nothing else happened. We reached the airport early and had coffee while we waited but it was black coffee, which is both safer and saner.
Rhys Hughes has lived in many countries. He graduated as an engineer but currently works as a tutor of mathematics. Since his first book was published in 1995 he has had fifty other books published and his work has been translated into ten languages.
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