Nu´ Lundun, Carl replied.
Ware, guv, Sam Brudi chipped in and his brother Billi chimed up: Nu´ Lundun.
Then Gari Edduns uttered the salutation, and Peet Bulluk made the response and so it went along the line. Between them the nine lads represented all the six families of Ham, the Brudis, Funches, Edduns, Bulluks, Ridmuns and De´vu´shes. Good, solid Ingish names all from the Book, all established on Ham from time out of mind, as rooted as smoothbark and crinkleleaf.
At the top of the slope the land formed a sharp ridge, which fell away in narrow terraces to the waters of Hel Ba¨. On a knoll on the far side of the water stood one of the five old round towers the Hamsters called giants gaffs, foglight flashing from its chipped wall.
Carls companions, having reached the edge of the home field, followed the dyke up to the Layn, then walked south along it for three hundred paces, to where a stand of pines guarded the moto wallows. Carl parted from the group and took one of the terraces that curled round the bay to the foot of the tower. Here, in the crete rubble, a few dwarfish apple trees had taken root. He found a level flag and sat down.
Twigs stubbed him through his coarse T-shirt. Brown and white butterflies flip-flopped over a stand of fireweed. Bees came doodling down from the bank of pricklebush that rose up, barring the way to the Ferbiddun Zo¨n. Carl tracked the sticky-arsed stopovers as they wavered down to the waters edge, where squishprims, dry-vys and heaps of other blooms grew between the hefty, hairy stalks of the blisterweed. A stones throw into the bay the submarine reef of seaweed and Daveworks eddied and swirled in the sluggish swell.
Carl could see the bright, red shells of the crabs that teemed on the reef, and in the muddy shallows of the lagoon little gangs of rusty sprats flickered.
Carl leaned his head against a bar of old irony and stared at the delicate tracery of lichen that covered the crete at his feet living on dead, dead on deader. A low clattering buzz roused him, and, peering at one of the apple trees, he saw that its trunk was mobbed with a dense cluster of golden flies, which spread and agitated their wings the better to suck up the bigwatt rays of the now fully risen foglamp. To leave all this how would it be possible this life mummy that cuddled him so? Carl had been to this spot maybe two or three times with Salli Brudi and that was forbidden. Theyd get a cuff from their daddies and a bigger clump from the Driver if they were found out. The last time shed whipped off her cloakyfing and wound it around her pretty ginger head like a turban. As she bent low, the neck of her T-shirt gaped open, showing her tiny titties; yet Carl understood there was no chellish vanity in this Salli was too young. She held a Davework in her hand: it was the size of a babys finger, a flat black sliver with a faint-cut mark.
Wot chew fink, Carl, she asked him, reel aw toyist? Carl took the Davework from her; his thumb traced the edge, once jagged but now smoothed by its millennia-long meander through the lagoon since the MadeinChina. He looked closely at the mark for the shapes of phonics.
C eer, Sal, he said, beckoning her closer, iss an e´d, C ve eer, an vose lyns muss B . . . Eye dunno . . . sowns aw sumffing . . . mebe¨.
So toyist? She was disappointed.
Toyist, deffo. He flung it decisively away from them, and it whirred like a sickseed for a few moments before falling into the grass.
Carl started up what was the point in such dumb imaginings? Cockslip an bumrub, nodditankijelli snuggul. Sal Brudi ul B up ve duff soon enuff bı` wunnuvose ugli o¨l shitters . . . No, he best forget it, forget her and get up to the wallows. Whatever might happen in the next few days, this tariff he had graft to do, important graft.
Excerpted from The Book of Dave by Will Self Copyright © 2006 by Will Self. Excerpted by permission of Bloomsbury Press (USA). All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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