THE CHUTE

6 Feb

It had been a balmy old day.
Cyril was a portly microbe. He enjoyed all the finer things in life, washed down by the finest whisky he could get his hands on, and he lived in a cloud. In fact, he and his misses and the kids all lived in that cloud and life, for them, was one long party. There’s not much point in doing anything more cerebral when you live in a cloud. Cyril often said that, and Sapho, his beautiful microbe wife, often repeated it.
Sapho was a rare beauty. Everyone said so. She had the kind of body any masculine microbe would swoon over, and Cyril often did.
“I could quite fancy that misses of yours,” Bernard, their neighbour on the left side often said. “There’s things I’d do with her … they just don’t stand thinking about, and that’s a fact.”
“And they don’t stand talking about either, then,” growled Cyril in reply, but he knew what Bernard meant.
Bernard meant that in their community (which was a huge community, almost immeasurable) Sapho had the finest, pertest bottom and sweetest nature of any female. And she had one of those smiles that is born of self-confidence, possibly even self-assurance and love.
All would have been well for Cyril and Sapho if the cloud had stayed the same, but it didn’t. It started gathering, and wouldn’t stop.
Clouds often gathered and the microbes were wonderfully aware of it and even used the occasion for holidaying at the seaside. Fun could be had, and even if the gathering of the clouds was short-lived the hot-dogs and candy floss weren’t. There’s nothing they liked more than treats like those and the kids were in Heaven at the very thought of a well-ketchupped burger and the smell of the rolling waves.
But this gathering was different. One cloud-street nudged and banged against another cloud-street and the vibration became unbearable.
“We’ll have to take the chute!” roared Cyril when he’d had enough of all that battering.
“I’m frightened,” mewed Sapho, and Cyril put a microbe arm around her shoulders and tickled her under the chin. She had always liked being tickled under the chin and consequently it was something he did whenever it seemed that she might need comforting.
“That’s nice,” she whispered back.
“We’ll take the chute. You’ll see. Everything will be all right,” he assured her.
But he wasn’t so sure himself. They’d known the chute was there all their lives. It was a last resort mechanism for escaping whatever needed escaping from. But that knowledge was as far as it went. None of them had any practical experience concerning the chute.
“We’ll all die,” whispered Sapho. “Kiss me before we go…”
“I’ll kiss you forever,” Cyril assured her, and he pursed his lips and pressed them against Sapho’s.
“I love you,” she whispered back at him when he released her from the passionate embrace that he’d held her in.
“Me too,” he replied, “meaning the opposite and not the same,” he added, frowning.
“I know,” she sighed.
“There was a spectacularly vicious vibration and Cyril’s false-teeth all-but fell out. Sapho grabbed him by the trousers and steadied herself. The kids all jostled around, weeping and howling and fearing for their lives.
“The chute!” ordered Cyril, and he led the way.
When they arrived there he held them all by their hands, no easy task when there were so many and he had but the two hands, but he managed it. The: “Come on and have no fear,” he said quietly, and together they stepped into the chute.
All around them was water, huge quantities of the stuff, a never-ending lake of it. It washed all over them, found its way into their every crevice and crease, tickled their fancy in so many ways it would have been ecstasy had there not been so much vibrating going on.
“Keep hold of me!” he bawled, forgetting for a moment that it was he holding them.
“I’m drowning!” wailed Sapho. “Oh me oh my, this is the end!”
From the general sense of weightlessness Cyril knew they were falling. Under any other circumstance he would have bought ice creams and lollies to celebrate, but now, with cold and wet penetrating their every pore he knew that he had never felt less like buying ice-creams and lollies.
How long they were like that, seemingly suspended in a weightless, gravity-defying state, he didn’t know. Time seemed to have no meaning any more, assisted by the vicious and aromatic crashes of brilliant light that blinded him. Their world, it seemed, was coming to an end.
And that’s what it did, after an age.
Cyril and Sapho and the kids together with the chute they were huddled in crashed onto a beach at Skegness and merged with all the other raindrops as it and they trickled into the bitterness of a salty sea.
“Oh sod it,” muttered Cyril, and he knew no more after his last thought reminded him that everything in the Universe was just a matter of scale.
© Peter Rogerson 06.02.16

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