I stumbled into their lair on accident, and found myself in a madhouse of reptilian decree. I immediately froze, in a vain hope they had not noticed me in my peculiarity, but my attempts were feeble, I had been seen. I felt a cold sweat and a shiver ran down my spine as they glared at me with beady black eyes from a nebulous of smoke and dust that choked the room. I was their intruder. One of the lizards mockingly hissed a welcome, 'Please take a seat, you look weary.'
'Yes' the other lizard agreed, 'Do sit down; you look a terrible fright.' While it whipped its tail on the cushion of the leather chair it sounded like a crack of thunder on stone that echoed in the emptiness of the room. I hesitantly took the seat, as the reptiles moved graciously to the sides of the chair. 'Have some hashish,' one of the beasts said while pushing his pipe, adorned with the face of Queen Victoria, into mine. 'It will help you relax.'
'Take the edge off it will.' The two lizards almost appeared to talk as one, taking turns, slithering lines together.
'Would you like to hear a story?' One of them said while picking up a rather large hardcover tome – from the top of one of the many stacks of books in the lounge – a copy of Leo Tolstoy's Resurrection, 'Can lizards even read?' I asked stupidly.
'Read? Can we even read?' the one with the pipe said with serious anger and contempt while slithering off to another part of the lounge, 'So, sorry, my dear friend is rather bitter, you see...'
'Bitter about what?' I asked with genuine curiosity.
'Well, you see you offended him. But that is not your fault. See, because few people know how literary lizards are...'
'So you read Tolstoy?' I interjected.
'Read Tolstoy, we bloody well wrote Tolstoy!' the reptile screamed with animosity.
'What, you wrote...ah, I don't understand.'
'You see, a lot of the great writers and in turn a lot of the great books that have been written, were in fact written by reptilian counterparts, Tolstoy was merely a public figure, a mask if you may...'
'What other writers were really lizards?'
'Well Hemingway was an iguana... Céline a snake...'
'I find this hard to believe...'
'He's an idiot; of course he won't believe us, stupid human...' the lizard with the pipe shouted from the far side of the room.
The lizards' lounge had become cold and filled with an eerie sense, it felt like a tomb, hard to breath and tight, I knew I had offended the beasts, so I decided to announce my exit. 'I really must go now, it has been a wondrous and educating encounter, but really I must go.' The lizard to my side whipped its tail around my forearm pinning me to the arm of the chair. 'Please,' I begged, I had become a prisoner. The other lizard moved slowly with menace and madness in its eyes, it too wrapped its tail around my arm to keep me pinned. 'Are you going to eat me?' I said dripping fear like a tortured tap. 'No, no that would be immensely rude and rather brutish of us.'
'No we have rather more grand plans for your pretty little face...'
'What... What will you do to me?' I asked with a tremble.
'You will be our new mask.'
'Yes, we have written a great deal of books, but it's hard to get published with such fearful appearance.'
'You will be seen as the greatest writer of your time, without any of the effort involved, how does that sound, huh?'
I contemplated, despite the lack of a choice and I must say at first, I was fearful, but now I see this great opportunity for what it is. I've embraced my life as a mask, a physical pseudonym for these lizards of literature and their reptilian rhetoric.
Phil White is part of the Year 12 Hagley Community College Creative Writing class.
Over the coming weeks we'll be featuring more works from the students here on the Bunker Notes blog.