SCHEHERAZADE’S 1,001 BYTES // A Paltry Fate

Once upon a time there was a paltry palt named Kolobok. He was a good guy, but he also had micaphobia, an irrational fear of breadcrumbs. He fled the bakery where he was made as it was there that he was surrounded by a hell of a lot of crumbs.

So, he ran and ran and ran—or rather, rolled—leaving behind a trail of breadcrumbs as thick as his arm. He was sometimes so out of breath that he needed to stop, but whenever he looked back all he saw was… well, crumbs. So, he kept going. It was a minor miracle that there was anything left of him to run from.

His flight of fear took him to different countries. In Germany, two strange children gave chase through a dark forest, yelling expletives after him. Fortunately for Kolobok, he didn’t know German—nor specifically the Hessian dialect—so their expletives had no impact on his emotional state. It was only the fear of being caught that did, for they seemed excessively hungry given the plumpness of their bodies. Of course, how Kolobok could have concluded they were swearing at him in the first place is another question for another time.

The children kept picking up Kolobok’s breadcrumb trail wherever he went, and throwing said breadcrumbs to slow his progress. They were relentless in their pursuit. They wouldn’t quit until they were sidetracked by a candy house tucked away in a quiet forest clearing. Loud cackling and shrill screams were the last thing Kolobok heard as he ducked back into the dense foliage to make good his escape. Served them right for being ill-mannered, gluttonous brats!

Somewhere near the border of France, Kolobok rolled over something. It felt alarmingly soft and squishy. When he looked back, he immediately wished to unsee what he’d seen. Poor kid! No bigger than a thumb, said kid was now no more than a pathetic mud puddle. Kolobok could only hope that he’d led a rich and full life before his unfortunate demise. But then… the kid began to splash about in the mud puddle, crying bloody murder. Kolobok hadn’t killed him after all! Huzzah! But when he listened closely to what the kid was shouting, it caused him to shudder. Yes, unlike German, Kolobok could parle français pretty well.

Few things are as terrifying than the sight of a thumb-sized child uttering curses in a ground-trembling, ominous voice. He was dooming Kolobok to a lonely death in a labyrinth of his own making. The palt was so frightened at this pronouncement that he was unable to grasp its meaning. He only knew that it couldn’t be good, and fled the scene as fast as he was able. Of course, Kolobok’s French wasn’t perfect. It can be too easy to mistake “la mort” for “l’amour”, which is exactly what he did—now his mind was awash with visions of a googly-eyed thumb pinching his soft, delicate buns. Holy gluten!

So it was that Kolobok moved speedily on, trailing more breadcrumbs. His fairy tale took a turn for the worse at the border of Italy. Said border was closed because the COVID-19 pandemic had just begun, so no one was allowed in or out. Also, no one in charge bothered to note that since Kolobok was made of simple flour and water—not frankenfood and gluten—he posed zero threat to the general public. Actually, that wasn’t strictly true about the gluten. He did have a little gluten in him. People would have been scandalised! Still, as it stood, the Italians were adamant that he was riddled with contagion, and so he was required to move on.

That’s when Kolobok headed for Spain. When he passed through the puddle again, that nasty child (let’s call him a schmendrick) shouted more words after him. Maybe it was “la tombe” this time, but Kolobok couldn’t be sure. It’s just what it sounded like. He was too busy trying to outrun his own crumb trail to listen very closely. His fright and flight response took him past the child as far as the borders of Belgium and Switzerland, both of which also declined entry. It seemed everywhere was closing its borders because of COVID-19. Where was a poor palt to go?

He eventually ended up rolling around on a beach somewhere, trying to avoid the incoming tide as much as possible. Getting wet would mean instant death, and he couldn’t have that. He still wasn’t sure if there was a hell for wayward foods like himself, and he was convinced he hadn’t racked up enough brownie points to get into heaven quite yet, so he’d have to live for a little while longer.

It was a terrible shame. So many difficulties had presented themselves on Kolobok’s long journey here, in the form of rocky terrain, unending border queues, and one bullying chiffchaff from the rough end of the Black Forest. These had caused Kolobok’s gravity centre to slowly and irrevocably become displaced. Instead of his usual, solid, near-perfect spherical shape, he’d turned into something reminiscent of a spitball with a crippling side dent. Of course, this made it hard for Kolobok to roll in a straight line. He would skid left all the time, so getting from point A to point B in a non-circuitous route became an absolute ordeal. He was as murky dish water circling the drain of doom.

And that’s how the hapless palt eventually died. He’d gotten lost in a maze of walls formed from his impossibly long and convoluted crumb trail. The thumb-sized child’s (or shmendrick’s) prophecy had come to pass, and it was only moments from death that its meaning dawned on Kolobok. So, he lay in a malaise of deteriorating pastry and… well, malaise. He’d always dreamed of being a Rolling Stone, not this! Now, all he could look forward to was having his guts carried away by armies of ants. How horribly, disappointingly banal. He should have been a chocolate éclair.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2020

Oops!… We Did It Again (larisa)

Erm… hullo there. (This is rather awkward…)

Dear Reader, the stuff that was originally posted here has been removed.

We have done this because said stuff has since been included in one of our published books. We hope you’ll believe us when we say we’re not trying to be stingy. No, this has been done to honour the people who have already spent their hard-earned money on our eBook creations.*

If, however, for some reason you’re unable to buy one of our books, and feel you’ll die without seeing this piece of writing, then please contact us via admin@unbolt.me. We won’t allow our Dear Readers to fade away in the dark. We’ll send you the piece in question, and it will be absolutely free. All you need do is ask.

* Of course, we would be like two happy puppies if you too decided to buy one of our books.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2018

EARS WIDE OPEN // bussed & buzzed (liplocked)

We wouldn’t be going against our hearts to say that we wrote this one as lyrics for another sappy and silly love song. We even tried to create a melody, and Tony almost had the cheek to sing to it. Alas, we’re much better singers and musicians in our heads than we are in actual recordings. And, quite frankly, we’d have to wait until Hell turned into a winter wonderland before any famous recording companies began a bidding war for this potential… erm… ‘hit’. (Will Rihanna be pushing Beyoncé aside to perform with us any time soon? Probably no.)

Anyway, common sense prevailed, and Tony did his best reading instead. Yes, he mustered as much heart and feeling as he could, and all to the accompaniment of a wonderful track by Kai Engel of the Free Music Archive. This poem is based on a real event that holds special significance for the two authors. Perhaps you, Dear Reader, will also be able to make it your own as you reflect on your loves, both past and present.

 

bussed & buzzed (liplocked)

we kissed on a jetty high above the fishes
where warm swells loll in gentle squishes
where sundog sprawls over planks like a cat
and morn’s dew hangs tight like an acrobat

we kissed on a jetty ramshackle and treen
where birds chirp loud in kerfuffle and preen
where air tangs the nose, spicy and salted
and time’s put on hold, stately and vaulted

sometimes dreams do come true
sometimes no
sometimes love says to you “adieu”
sometimes “hello”

we kissed on a jetty ’tween shanties bareheaded
where moorings in summer are a web of ropes threaded
where jong-jong gently knock wood together
and pair to wrest free from seabed’s tether

we kissed on a jetty scalloped and shelled
where stormwater drains acapella and meld
where the sun swings low beyond the equator
and nestles sleepily in an extinct crater

sometimes dreams do come true
sometimes no
sometimes love will gift a horseshoe
sometimes a blow

we kissed on a jetty ’neath stars’ cutting swathe
where moonglade outlasts nude lantern’s bathe
where anemones bloom below neptune’s throne
and crabs sleep like heirs under mossy stone

we kissed on a jetty at the mouth of time’s flow
where the days are real quick and the nights are real slow
where ardour pulses through the veins of conviction
and temptation receives cupid’s benediction

sometimes dreams do come true
sometimes no
sometimes love colours you blue
sometimes yellow

 

Text by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
Audio by KAI ENGEL & TONY SINGLE
Image by TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2018

EARS WIDE OPEN // tanjung (a gangrel’s dream of georgetown)

In May this year, a dream came true. Tati and I met face to face! Yes, the girl from Ukraine and the boy from Australia got to greet each other with nervous smiles in a Georgetown airport! After a year or so of fruitful collaboration, we were finally hanging out in an unfamiliar place together.

Malaysia is truly amazing. We spent our days gamboling about, exploring every nook and cranny, and getting to know one another a little bit. The smell from the storm water drains was the first thing to hit us upon arrival, but as our inquisitive minds began to take in the frenetic hodgepodge of sights and sounds that is everyday life there, our noses quickly forgot about unpleasant aromas. In fact, the tantalising whiff of street food would soon fill our olfactory senses instead.

We visited temples, botanical gardens, cemeteries, and even strolled through some obscure lane ways in search of street art, yoga joints and cat cafes. Oh, and the traffic! There were cars and motorcycles everywhere! We had to scoot up onto footpaths so narrow that they seemed like a drunken town planner’s afterthought. In fact, the whole city was a crazy scramble of mismatched buildings and bizarrely angled roads. It was a frenzied hive of activity that never seemed to stop.

And through it all, I was in the company of someone whose imagination easily outpaces my own. We’d use our down time to collaborate on new writings and new ventures. What fun! And even on that last day back at the airport, I remember us furiously typing up something awesome and wonderful on Tati’s laptop before the free WiFi expired. That something was a poem called tanjung (a gangrel’s dream of georgetown). Tati and I hope you enjoy this reading of it (by yours truly).

Every time I look at this piece, I smile fondly. I do miss Tati’s company, but hopefully not for long. We plan to make this happen again. I wonder where to next…

 

tanjung (a gangrel’s dream of georgetown)

in the muted glow of my mind
i saw peace just hanging there
i wanted but couldn’t have it
a fruit forbidden
inert and out of reach

there was darkness sweating from the cracks
along my skin and beneath my feet
so i walked the earth in search of naught
a loop unbidden
the streets in parenthesis

i stepped into right steering whirligigs
to chance my life into submission
i moored on jetties, shook off rickshaws
a stomach chidden
i panhandled for bread and circus

trash was art and art was salving
for gashes in walls and souls without traction
and i was art and i was trash
a twine lidden
on soaked paper at a cyclonic bus stop

for all their many eyes and limbs
the gods continued uninvolved
kittens and i slept side-by-side
a shrine hidden
lullabied by stinky holy water drains

 

Text by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
Audio by TONY SINGLE
Image by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2016

Oops!… We Did It Again (tanjung (a gangrel’s dream of georgetown))

Erm… hullo there. (This is rather awkward…)

Dear Reader, the stuff that was originally posted here has been removed.

We have done this because said stuff has since been included in one of our published books. We hope you’ll believe us when we say we’re not trying to be stingy. No, this has been done to honour the people who have already spent their hard-earned money on our eBook creations.*

If, however, for some reason you’re unable to buy one of our books, and feel you’ll die without seeing this piece of writing, then please contact us via admin@unbolt.me. We won’t allow our Dear Readers to fade away in the dark. We’ll send you the piece in question, and it will be absolutely free. All you need do is ask.

* Of course, we would be like two happy puppies if you too decided to buy one of our books.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2016-2018