Bevan stared down at the fucked-up garden man, begging for his life. He needed a better name for it than the fucked-up garden man but nothing else came to mind, it was a perfect encapsulation of the core traits present: 1) from the garden 2) man (debatable?) 3) fucked-up (definitely). His skin was potato-russet and extremely peelable, his eyes were the dark little pits you’d carve out with a knife, his voice was cludgy and thick and, well … spudlike.
HNO GHKILLME FĀTHERR he said and Bev had to admit he made a compelling argument, but on the other hand inflation was up and boy, he was staring at a solid 80–100kg of raw potato that he had grown and watered himself, ready to just fuck off into the neighbourhood until it got nicked and cooked up by some other cunt, probably Daryl.
“Why not?” asked Bev.
FĀTHER, I, I—
It made a noise like a cat about to cough up a hairball, then ejected a sputum of wet dark dirt. It cleared its throat, and from somewhere inside it Bev could hear gravel rattling against rock.
I DHREEĀM it finished.
So fuckin what, so does every other cunt, old Aunt Kiri wouldn’t shut the fuck up about her dreams, oh she was in the post office and saw a man with no face who whispered to her the song that would unweave the world but when she awoke she couldn’t remember a bloody note.
“Nah,” said Bev, and clouted it around the head with the flat of the shovel. Something cracked inside its neckpiece, and for a moment there was silence, then it began to wail, high and keening, like a child in pain, suddenly so humanlike that Bev took a step back. The sound gave him a clanging headache.
“Alright alright,” sighed Bev, “what do you dream about then mate?”
I DHREAM OF BĒD, OF WĪFE WITH FLĒSH FIRM AND WHĪTE, OF EATING DĪNNER WITH MĪ WĪFE, OF SONGS OF PRAISE FOR FĀTHER DEAR
Bev wasn’t gonna lie, songs of praise sounded alright. He loved a little worship. The wee black-eyed cunts who used to come and pay homage had long since fucked off back to the forest after getting their fix of blood-sugar and wouldn’t be back for another turn of the world at least, and who even knew if the world had that long.
“Go on then,” he said, brandishing the shovel in reminder “praise a lad up.”
FĀTHER it ullulated with a sound like somebody pouring out a bag of blood into the gutter, unpleasantly organic, YOUR FLĒSH IS FĪRM AND RICH WITH NŪTRIENTS, YOU ARE THE RŌT, THE SĒD, THE SUN AND LĒF, SPARE MĒ AND I WILL MĀKE MANY MŌRE POTATŌ, ĒT MY SŌNS AND THEIR SKIN AND GROW STRŌNG.
Which really was just forward-thinking wasn’t it? Spare one potato, get hundreds later. Set up a stall and sell the neighbours mash, he’d make a literal bloody killing. He was seeing dollar signs and bloodbags.
“Alright then mate, make another potato,” he said, and the fucked-up garden man began to ullulate and whirl, which was pretty much what he’d been doing the whole time, but there was an intent to it, where it had felt listless it felt motivated, Bev felt his skin prickle and his throat go dry, and he knew something was changing in the world, being torn apart and rewritten by the magic of root and blood.
“Hgurry upp,” he muttered, then his eyes went wide.
“HYŪ CŪNT,” he roared, and tried to swing the shovel again, but his limbs were heavy and slow, not build to handle the speed and weight, and he felt something soft inside him fracture and flake. With what strength his rapidly spudifying body could muster, he leapt into the pit with both hands raised, and crashed into the fucked-up garden man with the force of a potato striking another potato, which is to say not as much as he expected. The fucked-up garden man was already wrapping his arms around him, the dark spots growing inquisitive and hungry roots that pierced into Bev, drew them closer and closer together into a single awful bifurcated trunk.
FĀĀTHER sung the fucked-up garden man, I DŌ A YOU ĀSK and Bev realised it was coming from his own muddy throat too, in terrible harmony, his mouth and body no longer his own as the fucked-up garden man – with more limbs, more strength, and a shovel from Mitre 10 – hauled its way out of the pit and set off together into the night.