Photo Provided by Julia Othmer on September 4th, 2010
Bertrund was the last. He had seen the coming of the end, the winds and the rain and the ocean wide fires that ravaged the world around him, everything, every one. He was floating at the time, humming to himself a French nursery rhyme his mother used to sing to him when he screamed colicky into the night. Ah les crococo, les crococo, les crocodiles, he imagined the crocodiles roaming the earth gulping every bit into their gaping jagged mouths. Ah les crococo, les crococo, les crocodiles…
And he slept.
And when he awoke it was all over. The ground below was scorched and barren. Where the waters had been were now cracked and empty mountains and valleys. He floated a bit north to see what had become of the house he grew up in. There was only a mark in the earth, reddened from the clay that never kept the winds out. He felt that now was a time for sorrow, but the crocodile song would not stop playing in his head and he blew himself away, in search of this insistent monster. If there was anything left living, it must be this prehistoric reptile. After all, they’d been through this before.
And on the lips of a heated wind, he blew to Africa, but the ground was a vacuum twisting only occasionally with the charred remains of a once golden desert. No dragons roamed here, no scaled and leathered beasts. Ah les crococo, les crococo, les crocodiles, so he blew to Australia.
When he arrived in Australia he heard something he had not heard before. It was a young man’s voice, a child. And he followed the strange sound twisting back and forth until he saw him. The boy was sitting in a baby pool filled with sand and money. Bertrund cleared his throat and the child looked up, his lips chapped, his cheeks the red of apple. Bright black orbs closed and opened in apparent relief. And the dialogue began but Bertrund could not understand. Being eager to communicate, he sung the only thing he could at the time.
Ah les crococo, les crococo, les crocodiles.
The child smiled and pushed with pudged hands and wrinkled knees to his feet. He opened his mouth and screamed. Not the bone-chilling scream of anger or pain, nor the wail of the lost or lonely but a new sound. A sound, which rolled like cream and caramel through the hot air turning sand into glass. As abruptly as the scream began, it ended. The boy looked up at Bertrund, smiled and pointed into the distance. Spinning on his axis Betrand nearly fell out of the sky as he gasped when he saw the giant beast walking on four legs, trailed by it’s massive swaying tail.
There it was, the crocodile.
Bertrund blinked in disbelief. How had this child survived with a crocodile so nearby? The boy spoke once again; a sound Bertrund still could not decipher. In confusion, he chose to respond with another nursery rhyme. Bah Bah Black sheep. And the child let out a giggle, screamed and jumped up and down pointing with both fingers in the direction of a sudden baaahhhing. There on the ridge at some distance was a black sheep; this of course was noticed by the crocodile as well, who changed his trajectory towards the baying animal.
The child looked back at Bertrund who shook his head in disbelief and quite without thinking blurted out, fee fie foe fum… and the little person clapped his hands and howled in joy as a beanstalk blasted out of the arid earth and blew past Bertrand knocking him clear across the sky, which was lucky for him because the Giant who fell would have smashed him into tiny bits.
This is how Bertrand and the strange little boy came to repopulate the world.
And that children, is why we have old women living in shoes and castles teaming with sleeping servants, angry fairies, trolls beneath every bridge and cowardly dragons. The unicorn you are so accustomed to seeing everywhere was only a figment of an artists’ imagination in a bygone world. And I, Bertrund, now lie wilted and old, a forgotten witness to a land where gingerbread men were eaten and pancakes were stacked, only rolling and laughing in the minds of babies as their mothers read to them. But it was I who brought this world to life and I leave you now, with the undying hope that there will be another dreamer amongst you. A dreamer you will need, when the time comes for the world to crumble again, which it surely will, as all things do.