One, Two, Three… | Jessie Maureen

A surreal journey into the world of illusion.


One, Two, Three

By Jessie Maureen

The Crater Mountain Award


It hangs limply. Cold, hard and lifeless. The faint light makes it hard to distinguish. Are those fetlocks? That must be a rib cage. Your heart beats a little faster in your chest. The ragged chop line where the head was removed and the dark pool of blood in the shadows below. You can clearly see the smooth yet roughness of the flesh after the skin has been punched. The meat hook shoved awkwardly through the hind leg, a little lower than should be normal. You close your eyes and open them again. The carcass is still there. You feel nothing, and stare until you can’t see. Then you close your eyes and count to 3.
1. 2. 3. You open them again. An eye stares back at you, there is no colour. Just a black emptiness. Heavy horns curl away into the woolly abyss. The lines tell you it was an old ram. You don’t know how you know it was a ram. Like a creature emerging from the fog you see him clearer and clearer. The long wool is overdue for shearing, his nose has so many wrinkles and ridges it looks shorter than you know it really is. He holds his head high and proud, watching you carelessly through the wool veil. He is a prize merino, worth a mint at a big sale. A majestic creature. You don’t want to blink and lose him, but your eyes are drying. You can’t fight it anymore. You blink.
1. 2. 3. You open them again. Bare rock greats you. Just another wall on your journey. The radio sparks to life, you snap back to the cab. You quickly calculate the levels. Grabbing the radio your eyes graze the walls desperately looking for paint. Right there next to the front leg of the carcass, or is that the nose of the Ram? You see the number you need. 17 Up! You hope the down coming traffic heard your call and you take it a bit easier around the corners. 14 Down! You hear the call clearly. Meet you at the 16! They are coming down twice as fast as you can go up. Copy that. Code for I hear you. Hanging the handpiece up you concentrate on your water bottle for a moment.

1. 2. 3. You emerge from the warren into the pre-dawn light. Engine roaring you chug to the unloading area and dump your rocks. 4 more hours, 2 more laps. You tell yourself you can make it and you push on.

1. 2. 3. You enter the warren again and begin your decline. Adrenaline courses through your veins as you gently but fiercely steer the huge machine down the winding tunnel. The rocks become plain rocks again, the game is over, for this round, it’ll only be another hour and the illusionists will strike again, granite and shale blending together, sorcery taking advantage of your tired eyes.