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Glen Donaldson

Glen Donaldson badges himself modestly with the titles Chief Idea Officer and Positivity Engager. Lists his hobbies as breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Greeted with good cheer recent feedback from an Australian publisher that his manuscipt was both good and original. Further enquiry on his part revealed they thought the part that was original was not good and the part that was good was not original. Says he’ll use more light sabre crystals next time.

Clandestine proposals for insurrection and regime change, in a great variety of forms, had been brewing for as long back as many could remember.  And now, well into his wise years and nearing his seventh decade, Mort Drummond, gravestone maker and long-suffering and perpetually scheming citizen of the putrid cesspool that was the city of Lind, had found himself at the very epicentre of treachery and conspiracy.


Apprenticed at age twelve, Mort - known more commonly around Trader’s Lane as ‘Old Blarney’ - had toiled amidst the primitive chiselling tools and heavy slabs of limestone, granite and slate his whole life, bringing dignity in death for the beastly aristocracy for nearly three generations.  The nobs, the toffs and the ruling class; he had grown to despise them all, though he fully grasped the suffocating irony of the fact he owed his livelihood and by extension his very existence to their haughty need to honour and glorify themselves long after assuming room temperature and, as he liked to say – “answering life’s final summons.”


After a lifetime of servitude and intermittent persecution at the hands of the warped and unholy personification of wickedness that was the Kraken, Mort was now amongst a dedicated group of citizenry actively plotting his downfall.  Years before, the first rebellion had failed.  Most were able to recall, as well, a string of plotted attempts on the Kraken’s life.  The Kraken’s own son undertaking to drown him in a bathtub – even after a night of heavy drinking by the fiend atop of Lind’s pyramid of power – had always been fated to fail given the fact the Kraken possessed the strength of ten men.  A plate of delicious but usually lethal death-cap mushrooms resulted in nothing more than the beastly scourge complaining of colour blindness for a day.


The last attempt had been the most farcical.  Following months of meticulous planning and alliance manufacture, the royal falconer had been persuaded to coat the talons of the Kraken’s pet peregrine with a death-dealing paste consisting of equal parts crushed apricot kernels and strychnine.  The plan had been to somehow coax the bird to scratch the welted and semi-putrefied skin on the back of either hand of the demon known to all as the ‘Leech of Lind’.  What happened, rather, was that sometime in the course of the morning out in the wooded fields beyond Frog’s Hollow, the animal inflicted a hearty scratch upon its own breast, promptly falling to the ground stone dead some twenty seconds later.  A crop of diabolical consequences swiftly followed.  Several dozen conspirators paid with their lives for the miscalculation.  They were the fortunate ones. Others, who refused to inform on the chief architects of the plot, had their tongues removed and nailed to the doors of their houses.


As the traders and peasants of Lind knew only too well, tyrannicide was no easy task. But lessons had been learnt, and now, on the back of two cripplingly poor harvests, and a mounting feeling of bubbling, nigh palpable dissent, the conditions were right to try again.  This time, the assassination, and the full scale, systemic and systematic rebellion that would follow –  ‘Day of Domino’ as they’d dubbed it –had to be done right.  This meant time and planning – lots of it – and always carried out within the burdensome fog of shadow and concealment, and frequently hobbled by thoughts of mistrust amid the ever present fear of detection.


Into this chamber of secrets and trysts had stepped Mort Drummond.  With a face as craggy as a cliff, pale grey eyes that seemed almost like the colour had been sucked out of them and a stooped hunch from a lifetime of lifting and transporting heavy gravestones, Old Blarney hardly looked like the revolutionary type.  What he was, however, was someone who’d lived in Lind all their life; someone who knew all there was to know about the city and it’s underground; and most importantly of all, someone who, through having supplied clay-earth products and gravestones to both him and his unforgivably cruel father before him, had knowledge of the Kraken gained over decades.


Since the accidental drowning death of his wife down a well near three years ago, Mort had thrown himself headfirst into the machinations of planning and organising that were underway in earnest for the new uprising. Like an intricate tapestry years in the making, there existed a regiment of details in need of being made ready and finely, carefully, sewn together. Among them – the transforming of what remained of the socio-political institutions of Lind; the drafting of a constitution; fashioning a new functioning economy - both at the micro and macro levels -  from the ashes of the present one; the perpetual gathering of actionable intelligence leading up to ‘Day of Domino’; and most key of all – providing a solution to the conundrum of who would be installed as the new leader of Lind.


Count Von Grieve, resident in exile originally within the township of Gutter’s Puck but now harboured inside the  supremely more fortified surrounds of the nearby city of Hemlock, seemed a reasoned choice but many obstacles needed to be surmounted and ingredients sourced before this hope could be realised. This was a revolution that would require violence – lots of it. Nothing short of the mass mobilization of the citizens of Lind would be required.


In recent months, covert planning had become noticeably more difficult. The town’s sole watering hole, The Jolly Strangler, had served as the headquarters for the traders and other members of the resistance to gather to design and scheme details of the overthrow. No longer.  The Kraken’s spies now moved silently amidst the ale drinkers, alerted to the chatter that furtive intentions for revolt were being spawned.


And so it was that Mort Drummond now found himself thrust forward into his new pivotal role.  The idea was simple, yet shrewd, and so everyone believed, perfectly disguised. Planning meetings now took place within the trader’s own shops under the cover of night – a different covert venue each week. The problem had been how to get the word around about the time and location of the next assembly.  Just beyond the boggy marshes of Slaughter’s Folly, which bordered the western side of Trader’s Lane, lay the town’s cemetery.  The ‘old bone house’, as Mort referred to it, had been his stock in trade and both figurative and literal warehouse for fifty years.  He knew every weed-infested and crumbling crevice of it like he knew the map of sores, scars and blue veins that covered the back of his own leathery hands.  And now it was time to put this knowledge to good use.


Known by the peasantry of Lind as ‘Holy Innocents Cemetery’, this quagmired and moss-covered witness to murder, grief and mass graves – unable to be called ‘peaceful’ by anyone aware of it’s truly terrible history and ongoing present - now served host to an ingenious signalling device for the conspirators. Each week, Mort would strategically place flowers on a crypt found somewhere along the second tier of graves nearest the thicket of sallow trees on the eastern side.  Since the lots in Trader’s Lane - where the secret meetings were held - were numbered from one to twenty-three, when denizens of the resistance travelled to the cemetery to surreptitiously ‘pay their respects’, they would be required to observe the number of flowers placed on the pinpointed grave.  This would indicate the lot number for the location of the following week’s meeting.  Mort had also devised a coded colour matching system to signpost the alternating times of the secret councils. Crimson gillyflowers meant a nine pm meeting.  White lilies designated a midnight meeting.


This was the system of ‘encrypted’ communication that everyone knew and relied on. Crimson or white.  White or crimson.  Constant. Always the same. Repeated over and over with no variation. That was until the day when something most unexpected began to happen. Inexplicably, and just as abruptly, a new colour bloom began regularly appearing on graves in the marked ciphered zone – purple bellflowers.  At first Mort and everyone else were mystified, but then he reasoned something that almost immediately transformed his thoughts to poison and his blood to stinging permafrost.  The Kraken’s favourite, most beloved colour was imperial purple.  Amidst generally dark attire, so many garments and accessories the Kraken adorned himself with – from his hooded camel’s hair surcoat to his hideously oversized  leather hunting boots -  were stained with the distinctive purple hue that had long ago conditioned all in Lind to dread, loathing and false reverence.  Even the handle and cross guard on his waist-strap dagger – the same dagger that had done it’s duty on so many guiltless throats, was flushed with the now contextually grotesque pigment.


Purple petals on gravestones in Holy Innocents cemetery could have but one explanation; an explanation that bestowed to no one, least of all Mort Drummond and his fellow confederates,  even the most molecular of reassurances.  However, unbeknown to them all, it was premature to grieve for lost opportunities and foiled aims just yet. Something, or more precisely someone most fortuitous, whom they had had not counted on at this unreadied stage, was emblematically announcing their impending arrival on the grand stage of cloak and daggers. The rancorous Kraken – vile, crazed and in a class of demon all by himself - was by no means alone in his penchant for purple.  The invisible northern winds of Hemlock were already pushing through the flaky city walls of Lind. Not in the way in which anyone thought possible at this over soon juncture, that much was certain. Yet, in a manner of speaking, it was now indeed fast approaching, for all the right and triumphant reasons, the proper time to grieve.




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