Mehreen Ahmed is an Australian novelist. Her historical fiction, The Pacifist, is a Drunken Druid’s Editor’s Choice. Gatherings, is nominated for the James Tait Black Prize for fiction. Her short and flash fiction have won in The Waterloo Short Story Festival, Cabinet-of-Heed stream-of-consciousness Challenge, shortlisted by Cogito Literary Journal Contest, shortlisted by Litteratuer RW for Litt Prize, finalist in the Fourth Adelaide Literary Award Contest. A Best of Cafelit 8,three-time nominated for The Best of the Net Awards, nominated for the Pushcart Prize Award. Also, critically acclaimed by Midwest Book Review, DD Magazine, The Wild Atlantic Book Club to name a few. She is contributing editor and jury to the KM Anthru International Prize of the Litterateur Redefining World Magazine and a featured writer for Flash Fiction North and Connotation Press. Her Toads on Lily Pads was curated by Cambridge Press on Muck Rack. She is widely published online and in anthologies. She has published eight books, and her works have been translated in German, Greek and Bangla.
Her recent works are forthcoming in Litro Magazine and The Antonym.
gargoyles of the waves
they come in trickles at first, the gargoyles of the waves. as the darkness closes in, the grey sky and the mist block the sunlight from entering. otherwise too bright if there had been no rain. it is far better, this event transpiring this way than blinding sunlight in which the eye of the cyclone blinks, the gargoyles shy away, the sun shoos it, and it must hide. midnight at 3:45, a wet afternoon. this incessant rainfall, the river starts to rise. it swells and its appetite doesn’t quell anytime soon. it sneaks into basements and on the foody roads to find its best hunt. the river rises at par with the death tolls. still, the rain is beautiful, and typically sings its lyrical non-phonetic lore—hhhh—tucket-tip-tip—tapping uniformly low—a bass note most likely on the pane, and the parapet above the window into the grounds below.
ground zero. in the pelting, the river is by now ubiquitous, pushing cars out of the way on the hot roads, not so hot anymore, to make way for more boats. boats sailing. boats, its first hunt was a boat which swerves and hits against a pole and tips upside down, sinking wholly, full-bodied and elongated straight into the river gut. debris and fallen jetties far-flung from its interlocking ties with the land and more on its way to set assail through the hinterland for the same destination—the gargoyle’s gut. people sweep away, petrified cattle and goats, still afloat, visibly out of breath, or even missing for days on end. God help them. this, a total disaster, mayhem on the streets, cars under the gargoyle’s grip almost halfway top-up. snaking into dwellings— most shocking scenarios, beds, TVs, and radios toing and froing on the top of its head. gargoyle of the waves, the rain brought it on. it doesn’t abate at all, seven days at a stretch, without any scratch on itself, a darkly dream by far. far too much water, ponding all around without any sign of a let-up.
then the premier decrees, to conserve water. not enough water to drink—jhum jhum jhim jhim heavy battering on leaves, ponds, and bamboo bush—the green, the sounds of the rain increase. it continues to please the gargoyles of the waves, to hear this music—a war drum they listen in. a clear war was upon the city with potholes, debris, fallen and live electric wire, broken branches on pointed roofs. the residents cannot dodge them like they cannot dodge bullets in a war zone. gargoyle’s war zone. watch the foggy whiteness from the vapid clouds, seedy raindrops sliding on the windows, piano playing almost a surrealistic tune on the radio. a woman practicing vocals next door, do re mi fa—mi mi fa fa re re, in a duet rim,rim, jhim, jhim, rim jhim, rim jhim, rhyming in the shadows of this overpowering strafe. swans frolick, basking on a grey heyday. rolling torrents performing a swan lake ballet in a classic movement of cresting and falling. also, some people swimming, scuba-diving, and surfing over the crazy crest. crazy coots they were to be risking it all, wavered the gargoyles in a banter.
full scale, two metres river rise, even two and a half metres maybe as it inches up in the morning’s high tide, a four metre to be sure—the sky crackles to disembowel itself of fifty-billion years of grief into fifty-billion droplets. sea foams all washed up bubbling on the beach like cluster chromosomes. sea gargoyles wavering across the ocean haze humming foghorn, fuming at a great speed on the collapsing shore. Who knows why? poseidon’s wrath, maybe that’s why?
but, the rain? the gargoyles like it the most—no, no do not go away. stay, stay until the river bed of debris has broken and melted away. until the last breath of thunder drums a war cry. which is when the cyclone screams will be silenced marking the victory of a gluttony’s rest. inseparably they dance, the makers of the floods are synchronised. wave movement wildly beautiful. who never drown. but ride high and dry. the gargoyles of the waves they’re.