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Welcome to SENTINEL LITERARY QUARTERLY

Vol.3. No. 3. April - June 2010

 


CONTRIBUTORS

FICTION

SECTIONS

Barrie Darke
Bruce J. Berger
Chad Norman
Christian Ward
Chuma Nwokolo Jr
Claire Askew
Colin Gallant
Davide Trame
Gary Beck
Ivor W. Hartmann
Katie Metcalfe
M C Hardwick
Michael Conley
Minna Salami
Pete Court
Roger Elkin
Warren Paul Glover
George Freek
 

Champion Poems #1

Selected Poems from the

Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition July 2009, featuring poems by twenty fine minds of our time, including

Miles Cain, Mandy Pannett, Charles Evans, L.S Mensah, Thomas Gayton, June Drake,

Noel Williams and Ellaraine Lockie.

45 Pages.

£3.95 (UK), £4.95 (Overseas)

Price includes P&P

 

PETE COURT

 

Day of Rebellion

Third Prize Winner, SLQ Short Story Competition (April 2010)

 

Mujutu is changing, like a snake, tearing its own flesh, turning over, shedding in flames. We have run from the thin clickety tin school toward our red round home as the heavy trucks of the army pounded around us. The faster land rovers of the militia coiled about them as we cowered behind falling walls or turned our faces from Mista Colleki, lying in the dirt of the street with a splattered watermelon head. I hauled up little Tavo, his puffy hand wet and slippery, shoved and stopped, the army men  ruthlessly slaughtering the crust of the homes, I am screaming at the fires that burn as the militia streamed mayhem and more putter pak pak of guns. Not booms or bangs. Just chatter pak pak. And then the air is full of haunting ghost bees, slashing the tree beside Uma Lullas car. We are using it to be invisible. They shoot children. The militia, they eat them. The army, they eat children too. Probably. The home over there explodes in flame, smoke runs from it, chasing a fat woman, Mama Summi, it must be, but now with only one arm and flames are running up her legs as she stumbles, flames dance at her like excited puppies. A truck obscures her, the truck is shooting. I pull the puffy wet hand and we run, across the playground, now steel and bits of wood are playing there, hot, smoldering, stinking of eggs and fuel burning. We run. A lane way. Two dogs have vomited their bellies out, slashed open by stray metal. My heart is bursting, knees wonít work for trembling. Little Tavo stumbles and I drag him, skin leaves his knees to blood the earth even more and I canít help but run, and labour, hauling him. In a brutal gush the air crushes me and sound vanishes, the pak pak, the howling crying, the exploding distance. All is silent and Iím flat on my face. Donkey shit, or goat shit stares at me. I canít hear. I tremble. My belly is climbing into the narrow of my throat, burning it with acid. Little Tavoís hand is slipping from mine and now his pathetic arms are under me, lifting me and failing, urgency, he is grabbing at me but weak and small. I roll over and his cherub fat mouth is blattering on but I canít hear him and he is jumping and pointing. I see where. And I can move. A little tin hall, a tiny almost shed, that the missionaries use for their singing hall. My ears are screaming now, high pitched as I follow little Tavo and rumble tumble totter into the tiny tin hall. He slams the thin wooden door and the screaming in my ears begins to hush up. Chairs are sitting patiently in two rows before the silent piano. A truck thunders past, delivering my returning hearing, and dust falls like angels as a smashing explosion shakes the laneway outside. Pak pak and the woosh and rip of rockets and grenades are filling the air out side. The men are tearing at each other with metal and eyes of hate and anything they can. Slaughtering the dogs, blowing up the streets, murdering Mujutu. And in this tin shed Tavo and I shudder on the patient plastic chairs, looking at the piano. Battered by love and travel, it glows with care and the yellow keys are a grandma smile.

 

And grandmaís teeth begin to move.

 

I donít know piano songs much and this one I have never heard. A happy tune. One two one two three three four, and then again and around, horribly getting faster and faster. Tavo grabs my arm, trembling, fat fingers biting as the terrible piano plays itself faster and faster.

 

ďIt must be herĒ He whimpers into my shoulder and his eyes cling to the impossibly playing piano

 

A truck roars past and then back again and gun fire and hot metal explosions fall from it and all about it. A little Militia Jeep makes a big whoomp as it dies screaming in the lane and the men fall about on the ground as blood rushes between their fingers or they try to put their eyes back into their heads. The piano is playing very fast now, fast and so fast that Tavo and me donít hear men screaming at the little wooden door until the horrible piano suddenly stops. We turn in our special plastic seats and there are three big men standing in the open door way with massive guns pointing toward us and the impossible piano. The truck behind them is weeping smoke and leaning on a slashed wheel and the men are covered in dirt and the blood of other people.  They lift their massive guns and begin to fill the tiny tin shed with their hurt and rage, the anger exploding from their cradled weapons, explosive, imminent and enormously heavy violence, from men the same colour as Tavo and me. The distance, not much more than a hand shake or a nodded smile, their weapons roar in the tiny space as they bend their faces to our personal and deliberate slaughter.

 

Tavo and me, we can not close our eyes but we both open our bladders.

 

And not a single shot enters our tiny haunted shed. Not one piece of murderously heavy projectile, nothing gets past the door. In a cloud of stinking grey smoke the men stare at their handy work. Useless. Impotent. They stare at two children in a tiny shed. Alive and unhurt. They look at their weapons, they hastily reload, busy, at work, hateful and in pain. They raise the machines again. And then, in the space between action and death, the piano starts to play. Slowly at first and then getting slightly quicker, now more so as the three raging soldiers stare inside, their faces have become pale, ashen, the piano plays louder, faster, fast and loud and the men can not see the ghost of the small girl, they donít even know of the stories of the little child who died and never left, but they know something plays. The ground shakes as a rocket of some noisy explosive type smashes their truck into the ground.

 

And the three killers run from the door way, seeking easier slaughter, more reasonable bodies to splay.

 

Tavo has slipped from my embrace and pushed shut the thin wooden door of the tiny tin shed and the terrifying piano has slowed to a pleasant, jaunty pace. A happy song.

 

A song of peace. My belly is not afraid now.

 

The end.

 

CURRENT COMPETITIONS

Click on a link below to choose a Sentinel Literary Quarterly competition to enter

 

Short Story Competition (July 2010)

 

Poetry Competition (July 2010)

 

Sentinel Literature Festival Poetry Competition 2010

 

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April-June Index
COMPETITIONS
DRAMA
FICTION
POETRY

Pete Court began telling stories and got away with it so it became second nature. He now hosts a drive time radio show where he tells stories. Frequently these fail to be funny so he passes them off as short stories because he studied things like this at university and it would be such a waste of four years not to keep writing. He lives in Adelaide with his wife and four children who worry about him because theyíve read his work.

April-June Index / COMPETITIONS / DRAMA / FICTION / POETRY

 

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