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THE MANATEE - a novel

Percival says he
used to stand on the
shingle, looking across to
the island, watching the
Americans clubbing the
mermaids to death. He
was a schoolboy then
and that is how he
remembers it. Like
watching the hunters
clubbing baby fur seals
on the northern Canadian
ice flows.
Later he saw engravings
on the walls of George
Pickering’s library and it
looked as though a group
of monks was doing
exactly the same thing.
Percival says he never
went over to the island,
not even later, when he
was an adult. It only took
about five or six minutes
in a small boat with an
outboard engine. Of
course, being wartime,
there was no way he
could have crossed over
when he was a
schoolboy. Once he was
roughly told to leave the
shingle strand and get the
hell out of there. Nobody
was supposed to know
about the clubbing of the
mermaids. We are still
not supposed to know.
Too secret even for the
Official Secrets Act.
Nobody was supposed to
know about the rockets

either; or the radar, or the

radioactive fallout. So
many things that we all
knew about, that we all
know about, and yet
never speak of to each
other. Out of fear? Fear
of what? Well, careless
talk still costs lives. So,
we all take care.
Today most of the
island is still off limits.
Because of the birds.
They started clubbing
them to death too, at
first. Not the American
airmen or the monks this
time; the nuclear people.
So many kinds of people
came to the shingle
strand and went over to
the island and found
some new devilry to
perform. Not George
Pickering.
He was just a watcher,
like young Percival.
Percival has always
watched and listened.
He knows where all the
skeletons are buried, as
they say .But then you
only have to walk along
the beach to the sand
cliffs and you can see
the skeletons sticking
out of the cliff side, the
odd bone or two
dropping onto the sand.
Fine thing for your dog
to bring home from an
evening walk.

More about this novel

THE MANATEE - a novel

Victor Barker

Joined October 2007

  • Artist
    Notes
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