AlvernoINK Spring / Fall 2017 - Page 51

After two faculty-student research positions, the enormous aggregate of untouched materials relating to Britain’s imperial past whirled dauntingly in my mind. I felt the need to do something with these materials and through that came the germ of the idea to write a novel that deconstructed the themes of imperialism and cultural hybridity.

The tale of empire is retold in Embouchement, an alternate history of the rise of the British Raj. Set in the increasingly turbulent streets of 1790s Calcutta, a young colonel of the East India company, William Elias Kirwan, delves into the unknown in his hellbent search for his nephew’s murderer.

The following excerpt contains the murder and a strange encounter Colonel William has as he takes his investigation to the archives of a Calcuttan bookshop.

e m b o u c h e m e n t

SEBASTIAN A. MELMOTH

IN HIS TWELFTH YEAR, the Expatriate’s songs filled the world with thunder. His body was like an eel. Primordial, still navigating the oddity of ultraterrestrial life. Shimmering dark, his skin, fresh with membranous residue, soaked up the light around him. He appeared for a moment like a lantern, lit up from within: a vessel of psychotronic possibilities.

It was quiet. Warm. Faint vibrations of life surrounded him, though he didn’t yet know the world’s intricate taxonomies for its flora and fauna.

This newly-minted warmachine rose.

Worthy Observations:

These alien legs wobble. These ears hiss, hiss, hiss as a prophet’s would after years of lonely, desert wanderings leaving his ears impressionable to the writhing bugs beneath the sand. These eyes consume so much in matter,

so much in stimuli,

that he feels impaired

A boy dropped into the scene, mottling its stillness.

He spoke but the Expatriate could not hear him. The formerly vacant landscape seemed suddenly swallowed up by that shivering stranger. The world itself seemed to bend; palm and jackfruit trees swirled menacingly, grass swarmed like snakes, the sky looked like a cracked egg. The sun was one big dripping yoke splattered across the unknowable heavens. Great cumulonimbus clouds fought a silent battle with the yoke, and their struggle showed itself in the ever-shifting, glitching shadow beneath the boy’s feet.

The Expatriate realized that he could not hear what the boy was saying, because he was not speaking at all. He was screaming.

The chaos seemed to manifest, to bury itself underneath the Expatriate’s flesh, livid, infectious, his blood boiled white-hot.

Limbs crumbled.

.

48