This week’s Guest Writer is the fabulous Geoff Le Pard. Geoff has written several books, including novels, a memoir and short story collections. He has another entertaining collection of short stories coming out at the end of the month – Life in a Conversation, which is available to pre-order now. You’ll find a brilliant story from the collection below.
The Wisdom Of The Ages
Geoff Le Pard
The Frngg are an unsuperstitious race, generally, except when it comes to the formalities and procedures around dying. The one thing the Frngg are insistent upon is that none of the accumulated wisdom of their people shall be wasted. If someone knows which berries taste good and which turn your earlobes purple then they want this passed down. One day someone will invent the biro and the ring binder but until then the deathbed transfer will have to do.
Death is, like everything in the Frngg world, regulated and organized. Each Frngg lives until it has stopped growing new teeth, the need for which becomes apparent when you realise how hard is the staple of the Frngg diet, the Grppt nut.
‘It’s my time,’ they say, pulling out the final rotten stump, at which point they are allotted fourteen days of wailing and two hours of toothless gnashing (any longer tends to cause the gums to bleed comma which is one of the Four No-Nos of Frngg society – the others being: making eye contact (eyes should be kept apart in all circumstances); soaking a Grppt nut to soften it; and anything impromptu).
After this period of pre-mourning, the due-to-soon-be-deceased will head for the woods, accompanied by the next generation of the particular Frngg clan and the current Frngg Supremo, the Maximo-Frngg.
In the death clearing the Supremo and junior Frngg will stay a discreet distance while the passing Frngg moves into the open area. Were the Frngg still to doubt it is his or her time, they will know at this point because they will be able to see the deathbed; only a dying Frngg can see it – up until that point it remains a compelling myth.
Generally, the Frngg sighs, explains what they see to their pall-party and goes to lie down. Some don’t notice the oddity of the bed – how the body of it is flat, untrammelled by the millions of bodies that have lain there, yet the pillow is dented by the many heads that have nestled in its comforting fold – whereas others comment. Rarely does the viewer mention the single slot down the length of the bed or appreciate its importance.
Time tends to stand still now as the expiring Frngg moves into place, laying face up on the bed. The two watchers stare intently, marking exactly where the Frngg’s head stops because as soon as it touches the pillow, to the watchers, the dying Frngg vanishes. They can no more see the bed as they can the Frngg now lying on it.
For the dying Frngg there is a slow release of tension as all relevant memories, and any new as yet uncaptured wisdom is pooled into the hollow in the pillow. As this process continues so the corporeal part of the Frngg begins to dissolve and slip down through the crack and back into the land to nourish it once more. If the watchers are especially vigilant they may just be aware of a delicate miasma that gives shape to the bed. It is the nearest a living Frngg can get to the sight of the deathbed before their time.
A bell sounds and the Supremo steps forward to place his or her head where he or she last saw the deceased’s head. As soon as they touch the right spot they are suffused with a peace as the wisdom passes across. Next the relative takes their place and the same transfer occurs, but in relation to family matters and private information, which is not relevant to Frnggs generally.
Both leave without speaking and spend another five days as the memories are absorbed. It is a time of riotous feasting and the wearing of shoes.
And here’s some more information about Geoff and his books:
Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry, short fiction and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls. He also cooks with passion if not precision.
My Father and Other Liars is a thriller set in the near future and takes its heroes, Maurice and Lori-Ann on a helter-skelter chase across continents.
Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story. Set in 1976 the hero Harry Spittle is home from university for the holidays. He has three goals: to keep away from his family, earn money and hopefully have sex. Inevitably his summer turns out to be very different to that anticipated.
Life in a Grain of Sand is a 30 story anthology covering many genres: fantasy, romance, humour, thriller, espionage, conspiracy theories, MG and indeed something for everyone. All the stories were written during Nano 2015
Salisbury Square is a dark thriller set in present day London where a homeless woman and a Polish man, escaping the police at home, form an unlikely alliance to save themselves.
This is available here
Buster & Moo is about about two couples and the dog whose ownership passes from one to the other. When the couples meet, via the dog, the previously hidden cracks in their relationships surface and events begin to spiral out of control. If the relationships are to survive there is room for only one hero but who will that be?
Life in a Flash is a set of super short fiction, flash and micro fiction that should keep you engaged and amused for ages
Apprenticed To My Mother describes the period after my father died when I thought I was to play the role of dutiful son, while Mum wanted a new, improved version of her husband – a sort of Desmond 2.0. We both had a lot to learn in those five years, with a lot of laughs and a few tears as we went.
Life in a Conversation is an anthology of short and super short fiction that explores connections through humour, speech and everything besides. If you enjoy the funny, the weird and the heart-rending then you’ll be sure to find something here.