Showcasing creative writing by university students around the world.

Illustration by Daria Hlazatova

Published Monday, November 19th, 2012

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Anywhere that had hair was the worst for the itches. Your head, arms, legs, all of you, basically. The more hair the worse it was. Sev found the balls and the armpits particularly troublesome. Some days he scratched his armpits so much they bled, the salty blood mixed with the sweat to form a sickly stench which Sev didn’t like admitting he enjoyed. Smelt a lot better than the pus from the boils on his chest. He didn’t understand them, they only appeared in a patch near his nipples. Sev wasn’t a doctor and he didn’t know where he’d find one, but it had been bugging him for ages, those nipple boils. Bipple noils. The itchy hair made sense; follicles, and whatever.


Sev was relaxing in the shack with one hand scratching his dick and the other massaging his forehead. Skin kept falling off as he rubbed, filling him with an extraordinary sense of satisfaction with a job well done. Confetti. He turned to Ebson, the only other shack occupant, to tell him of the great news; that his forehead skin was like confetti. Ebson didn’t find it funny. He found nothing funny. Ebson had his mind in one place and one place only; his rotting penis.


“It’s getting worse, I tell ya. Every day a new rash, a new colour, a new direction,” Ebson said, ignoring another skin based witticism from Sev.


“How’s the sky?” asked Sev.


“Maybe it’s a compass, maybe north just keeps changing so it has to keep changing too.”


“How’s the sky?” asked Sev. “What colour is it?”


“Red today, red most days, with a bit of green creeping in.”


Sev used both hands to massage his temples for the anxiety. “Not your crotch,” he said, “the sky, what colour is the sky today?”


Ebson glanced for barely a second at the sky through the barricaded window before turning back to his own regions. “Same.”


Neither really cared about the colour of the sky, they only cared about the itches. It just gets so itchy, and everywhere, and all at once, and so deep.


“Do we have wood?” Sev asked, trying to find a distraction.


“I wish I could have wood. Look at it, if it got near-wood it’d probably fall off and run for freedom.”


Ebson had unclasped his belt and was ready to visually demonstrate what his rich and articulate descriptions could only grasp at, but Sev stopped him.


“Wood’s low, I reckon.” Ebson finally answered straight. “Is it my turn?”


“I want to do it,” said Sev.


“You always do it.”


“I’ll do it.”


They burned a fire almost constantly, despite how hot it was. It was so dry. Sev collected the wood from just outside, there was plenty to go around. They used to be scared of leaving the shack.


When he returned Ebson was licking a piece of skin that he’d pulled off his foot. “Tastes of nothing,” he reported, then put his foot back in the box. It had fallen off a few days before when Ebson hit it with the fire axe. They were hoping it would mature like wine or cheese, and that the day would come where Ebson’s foot would be the delicacy of their generation, making them rich and famous and fat with foot food.


Sev stacked the wood by the fire, already dwindling. “If you’d just let me cook it,” said Sev, “it would taste so much nicer.”


Ebson took his shoe off his attached foot and threw it at Sev, “It needs to be left alone! The taste will come!”


“But I could roast it,” Sev drooled as his culinary imagination ran wild, “I could bake it, boil it, stew it, refrigerate it.”


“Refrigerate it?”


“For sandwiches. We could dine for days.”


Ebson was unconvinced. “It’s not right,” he said, “to cook another man’s foot.”


They became silent, not wishing to have an argument. It was too tender a subject, too close to their hearts. That foot was everything. Sev eventually spoke.


“If only we could use the other,” he said, limping over to his shackmate, “then we could have the best of both worlds. One for leaving, one for cooking.”


“What about your feet, huh?” Asked Ebson, hiding his foot from view. “Why can’t we use them?”


“These?” Seb stressed, pointing at his stubby toes. “These? They are nothing compared to yours, with skin so crispy, and nails so gritty.”


Pride stalked Ebson’s demeanour. “You’re right, of course. My feet are one of a kind. A real pair of spankers. Crispy skin? The crispiest! Crispier than crackling on pork. Crunchier than gravel. And the nails? Oh, the nails! Tougher than a cow’s hide. Thicker than a stone slab. You’re right! Right!”


“Shall I fetch the axe?”


“Yes. No!” Ebson immediately recalled Sev, who, as it happens, had had the fire-axe placed nearby for just such an occasion.


“No?” Asked Sev, disappointedly.


“No! Don’t cut it. Cook it living.”


Sev had never been so grateful. He took Ebson’s head in his arms and kissed it, the light pressure almost denting his softened skull. He pushed Ebson’s chair over to the fire, toppling a neatly arranged stack of children’s books, and poked his leg into the flames.


“I feel it,” said Ebson.


“The hands too?” Sev had been studying the hands for days.


“Not the hands! I need them still. I’ve got to scratch, rub, investigate. If my dick comes back to life, I’ll need some way of appeasing it. Don’t look at me like that, with your ideas and notions, no other man touches my gentleman, that stays with me.”


The fire had caught hold of Ebson’s trousers, and was winding up his leg, spiralling, slowly setting all the fabric aflame.


“The axe!” Ebson pleaded, shouting his words. “It’s cooked! The axe!”


The shack was old now. It seemed a joke to assume it was ever young. It was made of wood and nails. How many men had worked on it? How long had it taken? Probably a weekend. It would take so much less to take it all back down.


“Sev! The axe!”


Sev was busy collecting more wood.

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