William Ottoway’s Utopia by Christopher Griffith is a Shake Off Winter Doldrums pick #shortstories



Title: William Ottoway’s Utopia


Author: Christopher Griffith


Genre: Short Stories


Book Blurb:


‘Come, Manou, this is superstitious clap.’ So William Ottoway dismisses the fears of his island’s priest, for the maturity of modern society has utterly and surely extinguished any sense, or indeed notion, of the supernatural…


‘I can’t believe how happy I am all of a sudden.’ Rick feels euphoric, a joy as unnatural in its intensity as the terrible dejection bipolar sufferers endure on flip side of this chronic and cruel disorder.


‘But I hate parties, Carol, you know that.’ Emily is not in the mood for socialising, nor has she ever felt like celebrating under her store manager’s employ. Plus, how can you have a party when someone keeps stealing all the champagne?!


‘I was immortal and omnipotent. Nothing could harm me. Nothing.’ Saman couldn’t be more wrong. Look, there’s the god of war Thrackan about to hurl a stone into his forehead. Who will have the last laugh though?


‘But of free will. Don’t we own choice?’ This paradox really bothers Will Shakespeare and he’s not about to resolve it either, if only for the keen distraction on other topic made by Sir Walter Raleigh and one Christopher ‘Kit’ Marlowe.

Excerpt:


William Ottoway’s Utopia – Chapter 1


A still.


The Earth.


Stunning blue-green admixture belying division inherent in ruling species its territories.


The image lessens in size.


We are drawing back, out that the picture which moments before seemed real now shown to be fraudulent, framed by parameters of a vast television set.


This is High Screen.


Its authority absolute.


Its influence profound.


Its demands incessant.


Before it, clearing, habitation occupied by smaller television screens.


One.


Ten.


No, a hundred.


Each running subject material obscene, perversion violating taboos honoured by generations previous.


And there, look there, people (Utopians).


In positions of worship.


Under obeisance to all didactic that flows from the screens.


And still we draw further back from habitation.


Through jungle.


Over clifftop.


To beach and then sea.


That it stretches like azure carpet, unruffled by turbulence of tide, blue sky bending back to horizon where a mass of islands studs the water, forming giant archipelago.


Small ship upon the sea, to which we now draw.


Narrowing, focusing upon its captain tending rigging at bow.


Sudden scream from below decks brings him there.


He bursts into a cabin.


Andrew, his voyager, writhes around, fighting the air above him.


Captain pinions his arms.


‘Wake up! Wake up!’


Andrew’s eyes shoot open, his stare vehement.


‘He is coming. His brother is here.’


Crewmen fill the doorway behind, crossing themselves vigorously.


‘Get out!’ yells the Captain. ‘You must leave my vessel.’


‘Have we far to go?’


Cry sounds from above decks.


‘What now?’


Climbs to the bow.


‘What is it? What’s wrong?’


Captain takes binoculars from crewman and puts them to his eyes.


Andrew strains, but can see, a figure swimming off to starboard.


‘He’s in no distress.’


‘But for the sharks. Intercept him.’


Shout from the stern now.


Crewmen haul a body up and over the side there.


The man is shark-bitten but alive.


Taken below for attendance.


Andrew follows.



Sits.


Studies the injured.


Gaunt and bedraggled.


Piercing blue eyes on a sudden boring into Andrew’s very soul.


The man grips him with bony hand.


‘Thank you. Thank you for coming.’


‘Who is he, swimming out to sea?’


Low moan escapes him.


‘Your brother?’


Captain bursts in, pulls open the curtain covering the cabin’s porthole.


‘Utopia.’


Blue-white waves spill onto glittering beaches, canopy of emerald leaves spread over trees running round edge of endless sand.


Ship’s anchor is weighed.


Small rowing boat lowered for Andrew.


‘You have one hour. We set sail then.’


Andrew rows, heckles rising on his neck as he nears land.