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Sam Wilson

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

The Cringe Factor

It’s the Open Book Festival, and I’m stuck here in Joburg missing out on the awesomeness. As I can’t be there in person, I’d like to post the text I wrote for one of the events happening this evening.

It’s for the “cringe factor” event, where we had to write the worst possible opening page for a novel, starting with the words “In Cape Town, nobody…”

In Cape Town nobody lives in Johannesburg, except for the people who are there on holiday or business trips or for some other reasons, medical maybe, but those cases are rare and not worth mentioning. Most people in The Mother City as it’s called live there all the time, in houses and apartment blocks or shacks in the city center or the suburbs or the townships or the favelas as they’re called in Brazil. The people in Cape Town also don’t live anywhere else like Port Elizabeth.
That’s why it was hard for the South African Special Emergency Relocation Service (SASERS) to know what to do with all the people they had to evacuate from Cape Town, because if they lived anywhere else it would be easy. In fact, mused General Neo Motsepe, the general in charge of the South African Special Emergency Relocation Service, they would probably be home already, wouldn’t have to worry about the giant squid.
But they couldn’t not worry, because the people didn’t not live in Cape Town. So General Neo Motsepe needed a plan, and needed it yesterday, when the voluminous squid attacked the harbor, which was positioned along one of the world’s busiest trade routes and is one of the busiest ports in South Africa, handling the largest amount of fresh fruit and second only to Durban as a container port.
Was, thought General Neo Motsepe privately to himself, because that was yesterday, and this was Friday. Now, there was nothing in Table Bay except for a ginormous squid which was bigger than any squid before it.
Why the corpulent squid had attacked Cape Town, nobody knew. What the gargantuan squid wanted was anybody’s guess. How it had grown to such a Brobdingnagian size was impossible to say. Where it had come from was a total mystery. Why it wanted to eat Cape Town was still up in the air. The only thing General Neo Motsepe of the South African Special Emergency Relocation Service knew was he had to act, and act quickly.
“Sheila,” he barked at his buxom assistant who was called Sheila. “I need to act quickly.”
“Yes Sir,” Sheila accorded. The night before they had been making wild, passionate love, but today they were entirely professional, as is befitting of members of the South African Special Emergency Relocation Service and government departments in general.
“What is the plan?” he interrogated.
“There’s only one option,” she responded. “We cannot relocate the citizens of our beloved Mother City to anywhere else in the country. They would not understand our ways and customs, and cultural sensitivity is very important.”
“Then where should we send them?” quizzed General Neo Motsepe.
“It’s dangerous,” said the 23 year old blonde who kept her body in good shape with regular tennis sessions, “but it might be possible to relocate the city in its entirety into the only place that is safe from being eaten by that massive squid.”
“And where is that?” queried General Neo Motsepe, batting the question at her. She served the answer back like one of the many balls that she hit when she was playing tennis.
“We can relocate the city – into the squid itself!”
General Neo Motsepe stared at Sheila like she had just turned into an elephantine squid herself. The idea was demented, farcical, preposterous, harebrained, cuckoo, nonsensical and cockamamie, but it just might work.


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    September 21st, 2011 @23:34 #

    Thanks, Sam. You had me at "voluminous squid". I am hoping that BooksLive will compile ALL the entries and publish them together, for the delectation of readers. I laughed like a hyena. Congrats to Sarah Lotz for winning, although I thought she should have been disqualified because her page showed the semblance of a plot.


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