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Fiction

On Murder Island

Stone Peter’s Eve

The north wind’s been spraying Mainland Runoff in our faces for days, but that’s nothing new, nothing worth complaining about. Here on Murder Island, we have a little saying: “If ever you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes and you’ll be murdered.” Or as the Weatherman likes to say: “Radar’s telling us to brace for more hot gusty winds, Mainland Runoff, and murder.” The forecast never changes.

We don’t have a TV station. How the Weatherman does his forecast is: he stands on a street corner and shouts at passersby.

The Weatherman is crazy.

***

On wet windy days like this, the popularest way to Do someone is drowning-in-a-puddle. How that way works is: you grab the person who you want to Do, push their face down in a puddle, and hold it there until they die of not-being-able-to-breathe. This way works best if the Victim is lighter than you, and unarmed. If the Victim’s heavier, what a lot of times will happen when you try drowning-in-a-puddle is, the Victim will turn right around and drown you in a puddle. Which, the hunter has become the hunted.

My name’s Toby. I’m seventeen years old, and I’ve murdered eleventeen people. Eleventeen plus six, if you include family.

Eleventeen is my whimsical way of saying four hundred and eighty-six. Eleventeen is me displaying my creativity.

My best-ever friend is Peter. He’s way, way older than me. Also, unlike me, who was born here, Peter comes from the Mainland.

“They didn’t like my ways,” he says. Ways meaning murderousness. They meaning Mainland People.

For a time, Peter says, the Mainland People tried to tame him with Detention.

“You don’t tame a lustrous-maned stallion by locking him up in a cell,” Peter says, sharing what he’s life-learned. Peter’s not a stallion, but I know what he means. What he means is, he is stallion-like.

Sometimes, Peter calls himself “Black Beauty.” Like, “Watch your back, Murder Island; Black Beauty’s in a killing mood.”

Peter isn’t black—or beautiful—but I know what he means.

When the Mainland People saw how their jail-taming failed to break him of his murdering spirit, they made him come to Murder Island.

“Blessing in disguise,” he says, displaying his positiveness.

***

Peter and me live together in a big house on the beach. It’s the one I used to share with my parents—and, occasionally, a younger sibling. For a long time, I had it all to myself. Now I share it with Peter.

The sharing isn’t gay. If somebody—some individual—says gay, that’s the individual showing his or her jealousy and immaturity.

At our house, we have digital cable and Playstation 4, and a swimming pool that we invented via flooding the basement.

One of my top-three favorite things to do is go down there at night and turn off all the lights and float in my innertube with a flashlight and run the beam back and forth along the surface of the water and go into a water-trance. The feeling of the air is different down there, and the light is different and the sound is different and the stink is different. It sounds fake to say it this way, but it really is another world down there.

Peter doesn’t like basementpoolflashlighting. He says it smells too much like when he was in jail. For me, who never was in jail, being down there is like taking a magic time-trip back to when I was a tiny baby, alone in the warm wet quiet dark inside my mother: before I was born and grew up and murdered her with a knife.

***

Still gusting, but, whatever: a warm wet wind won’t keep me and my best-ever friend from murdering; it just creates new Challenges. Like: if you’re going to murder someone with bow and arrow, remember to angle your shot into the wind.

“Fuck,” says Peter, his arrow blowing wide of the mark.

“Hey,” shouts the Weatherman.

“Another arrow, Toby. Giveitme.”

“Hey,” shouts the Weatherman.

“Aim for the tree,” I say. “You were pointing at the lamppost on the last one, and it went, like, ten feet wide.”

“Hey!” shouts the Weatherman. “Hey! No! You can’t murder me! I’m an island celebrity! I’m the Weather—gak—”

“Ouch,” says Peter.

“Good shot,” I say.

***

It’s the first part of dusk now, the sky still dirty and dripping, still slicking us in Runoff. “Runoff is the opposite of fresh,” my best-ever friend says, and I agree.

We get a real long dusk this time of year, on account of being so close to the equator. The equator, also, is the reason why it’s hot so much. Even the night rain’s warm as blood.

Violentnatured Road is empty.

“Where’d everybody go?” says Peter.

“We murdered them all,” I quip.

Half-quip, half-say-for-real.

The carrion birds are out in force. Four of them—four big ones—have been following me and Peter around for the last half-hour. Like, let’s keep an eye on this pair.

“Shoo, carrion birds,” I shout. “You get!”

Peter playfully flings his ball at the largest of the birds. The bird swerves for it and just misses plucking it out of the air.

“You almost lost your ball,” I say.

“No worries,” Peter says. “I’d just take yours.”

“Try it,” I say, theatrically patting my damp front pocket, where piano wire bulges in a coil. “Don’t be touching my ball.”

If a murdered corpse were a box of Cracker Jacks, balls would be the bottom-of-the-box prize. They’re clear and brown—the color of sap, of beer bottles—and give a real high bounce on dry asphalt.

To get a ball of your own, you will need:

one murdered corpse

one eye knife (or equivalent)

the permission of a grown-up

Just kidding about the permission. The corpse and knife, though, you will need.

Begin your Activity by cutting an eye out of the murdered corpse; it doesn’t matter which. Then—carefully, carefully—slice away the White Tissue and Special Color Tissue and Black Tissue, snipping veins out as you go, until you’ve peeled the eye down to its bouncy brown core.

That core is your ball.

“If we had a third, we could do Defilement,” Peter says.

“We should’ve saved the Weatherman,” I say, fake-sad but also not-fake-sad. “For later.”

“Get lost,” shouts Peter, flinging his ball again.

“We could do Wilderness Adventure,” I say.

Wilderness Adventure is when me and Peter go off into the wilderness and explore it and if we find any people we murder them. Most times you won’t get anyone, but every now and then you’ll get somebody good.

Last summer, in the wilderness, Peter and me got this guy who came to the island by jumping out of his plane in a parachute after his plane broke. One important thing about this story is: I had a sledgehammer hidden in my Secret Jeans Compartment.

“Thank God y’all found me,” the parachutist said. “Where is this place? Where did I land?”

“Murder Island,” I said. I unpopped the Compartment and bared my weapon.

“Uh-oh,” he said.

I Did him low on his body.

“Guh,” he said.

I re-Did him, near the same spot.

“Gah,” he said.

He fell to his knees in a way where, for a second, it looked like he was praying. Then he thumped face-first into the dirt.

“I think you got him,” Peter said.

“Yep,” I said, trying not to show that I was winded. Trying not to seem murder-gay.

“That was a good one,” Peter said.

“Yep,” I said.

Peter bends, now, to pick up his ball, lodged where it landed in the exposed, hollowed chest cavity of a murdered corpse.

“We did Wilderness yesterday,” he gripes. “There’s nobody out there. It’s boringer than jail.”

“Shut up a second,” I say. “Oh—gross.”

“What?”

“I got bird doo on my ball.”

“Should I ask how that happened?”

“From bouncing it. In a doo-spattered area.”

“Toby. Listen up.”

“I’m listening. Shit, Pete. My ball is ruined.”

“Tobe. Listen. We got to find someone to kill. Black Beauty’s getting restless.”

***

I couldn’t say exactly how old Peter is—he won’t tell, except to say my mental age is froze at boy—but if I had to guesstimate, I’d say he’s maybe fifty or sixty or, possibly, seventy-five. Or maybe older. It’s difficult to guesstimate.

Peter’s body-old, but mind-young.

But body-old, for sure.

“Up here’s a festive little boy,” Peter will say, tapping his skull. “A lot of folks—when they found out there was that kind of boy hiding inside this old, murdering man—they tried to strangle the boy out of the man. But one thing about the little boy is: he bites. The man’ll kill you one way, the boy another. And even if the boy don’t kill you, you won’t forget the day you met him. You won’t forget how big a bite he took.

“This stallion bites,” Peter will say, turning the child into a horse.

“He’s a special little boy,” he’ll then say, turning the horse back into a child.

“I’m festive, and special, and lustrous-maned,” he’ll then say, turning the child and horse into himself, and describing himself in horse-words.

So there’s a boy inside his head. On the outside, though, he’s an old old man. That’s not to say he’s weak! Oh no! He’s got prison-strong arms, from when he lifted barbells in his cage. His skin is thick and rough and red from over-sunning. His teeth end in sharp points, like a shark’s, or some other pointy-toothed animal’s—a spaniel’s, or a liger’s. Peter sharpened them himself, with an eye knife.

“You think that doesn’t hurt?” he’ll say. “Filing down your teeth like that?”

“No,” I’ll say, responding to his question. “I believe it hurts.”

“Don’t think it doesn’t,” Peter will say.

“I won’t,” I’ll say.

“Good,” he’ll say.

Stuff like that.

Peter talks husky.

One thing the pointy teeth make it easier for Peter to do is chew through tough meats. When me and Peter prepare a Natural Jerky, and then have competitive eating, his advantage really shows. Also, sharp teeth gives him a bonus weapon. A mouth-weapon.

“Take a man’s gun,” Peter says, “What does he have left? His knife. Take that away from him, what does he have? Grenades and throwing-stars. Take those away, he’s got a hammer—and, probably, another knife. But if you take everything away? He’d better have damn sharp teeth.”

Still, I wouldn’t want to have my own teeth all jaggedy like that; I like looking at them how they are.

Sometimes, in the Upstairs Toilet Mirror, I’ll smile at myself in a way where all my teeth are showing, and I’ll say things to myself like, “Who’s that handsome devil?” and “Looking good, handsome.” That wouldn’t be as much fun to do with pointy teeth.

One way I’m lucky is, I was born with a fancy smile.

***

Peter and me are off in the Violentness Woods now, doing Wilderness Adventure. This is the Peter Pan Roleplay module of our Activity.

Update: it’s the middle part of dusk. The carrion birds have given up.

“You be Tinkerbell,” I say. “I’ll be Pan.”

“You can’t do Roleplay with just Tink and Pan,” says Peter. “Anyway, I’m Peter. I’m always Peter.”

“You always being Peter sucks big balls,” I say. “Be Tink. I’ll be Hook. We’ll do Tinkerbell Capture.”

“Tinkerbell Capture’s boringer than jail,” says Peter, not-fake-sadly.

“I’m thirsty,” he says.

When Peter says thirsty, he means: for blood.

“You be Tink,” I say. “I’ll be Hook.”

“Hey,” says Peter, pointing up at the sky. “Hey. Look.”

“Looking for your friend Peter Pan?” I say. That’s me being Hook. “Ha. Your precious Peter can’t save you now.”

“No, for real. Look.”

I see now what’s got his attention.

It’s a tiny parachutist, floating away from a broken plane a mile or two offshore.

“Another one,” I say—but Peter isn’t listening.

“Ride, Beauty,” Peter whispers. “Ride.”

***

We’re down in the Bone Shelter, Peter doing his thing with the parachutist’s murdered corpse. I’m half paying attention to digital cable—something with Kanye West and The Late Corey Haim and Tony Danza. The other half of me is watching Peter. I have the bloodener handy, in case he needs it.

It’s still the middle part of dusk. Our dusks last pretty much forever this time of year, because of the equator. If you had to do a slogan for Murder Island, you could go: Murder Island: where a dusk lasts a lifetime.

Seeing Peter like he is right now, hunched over a lifeless body with his Defiling Toys arrayed around him, my heart puffs up with non-gay love. We’re a swell team, I think, my best-ever friend and me.

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” he says, without turning from the corpse.

I don’t tell what I’m thinking, which is the non-gay-love stuff.

“Sledding,” he says. “Let’s get this guy up the Sledding Hill and see how fast he slides.”

***

I’m doing Parachute; Peter called first-go for Corpse.

The slide is super-muddy from the rain; we get a real fast ride. Every time the chute hits a bump, I go airborne.

“Whee,” I say, whenever that happens.

At the base of the Sledding Hill, I struggle to my feet. Peter’s up already, grinning, muddy.

“Fuckin’ A,” he says.

“I get Corpse next time,” I say.

“He rides great,” Peter says. “Fast.”

It’s the last part of dusk. (Finally!) We start our trudging to the top. The rule is, you have to drag what you’re going to sled. Peter’s dragging the corpse, meaning, he’s going to sled the corpse. Even though it’s my turn.

“If you’re doing Corpse again, I get two goes with Corpse,” I say. “I get the next two goes.”

“I’ll be bummed to see this end,” says Peter. He’s in front of me, his back turned to me, hauling the corpse back up the hill.

“See what end?” I say.

“All this. You and me. The sledding. The beach house. The murdering.”

“Who says it’s going to end?” I say.

“Ah. It’s almost done. We’re—unh—” he grunts— “Hang on.”

Peter pauses— changes his grip on the corpse— resumes his trudging up the hill.

“We’re running out of people, is all I meant. We’re using up the island.”

“What about the parachutists?” I say. “What about the broken planes? More will come. They always do.”

“No,” he says. “Sooner or later, those planes’ll learn not to fly over Murder Island. Or else, someone’ll figure out a way to make them fly without breaking all the time. Some scientist.” He spits.

The rain’s just trickling now. The wind’s pretty much died—or maybe it’s the hill, sheltering us.

“One day, it’ll just be us out here, and—ah—” Peter loses his breath, struggling with the corpseweight as the Sledding Hill steepens. He looks old, is what I think but don’t say.

“One day,” he says, “it’ll just be us. And then, just one of us. Not because I want it that way, mind. You know I have Control Problems.”

“Yeah?” I say. Letting go of the parachute. Leaving it behind.

“It’s weird, ain’t it? To think of the two of us in a showdown-type scenario.”

“Showdown,” I say. And I can feel my bloodspeed speeding.

“We got to face up to the possibility of that-type scenario developing, is all I’m saying. Pretty soon, we’ll be the only ones left. We’ll have this whole island to—gak—

I hold the piano wire tight as I can around his neck. My best-ever. He paws at the wire—weak, wholebodyslack, like I cut all the best cords right at the beginning of the murder.

Lucky, I think.

But I think it not-fake-sadly.

***

Passing Violentnatured Road on the way home, I wonder: why no weather report?

Then I remember. Peter and me. We murdered the Weatherman this afternoon. We did Dress-Up with the Weatherman in the Bone Shelter.

The Weatherman is dead.

***

Stone Peter’s Day

I start the day, according to my usual custom, in my Rumpus Closet, with the Picture-Diary.

Every morning, according to my custom, I do a thing in it in fingerpaint. It’s like a regular diary, except it’s more picture-creative. I do myself a little bigger in it every day; thumb the pages like a flipbook, and you’ll see me growing! I usually do a bunch of corpses in the back part of the picture, the pile-size corresponding to my Total Kills. I used to do a big sun in the corner of the picture, but then the corpse-pile got so big I had to shrink it.

The first things in the book show me and my parents and the Weatherman and corpses. The later things show me and my parents and my sister and the Weatherman and corpses; then me and my parents and the Weatherman and corpses; me and my parents and my brother and the Weatherman and corpses; me and my parents and the Weatherman and corpses; me and the Weatherman and corpses; and me and Peter and the Weatherman and corpses.

For today’s entry, I do myself, and corpses.

I do the sun as big as my head.

Then I go to the Star Drawer and award myself a Gold for creativity. In the Project Book, I start today’s entry, which includes my name and age, and the Activity of the day: Replacing Peter.

***

I line the Peter Replacement Nominees up against the side of the house. The Nominees are: a rake; an empty thing of biscuit dough; a thing of driftwood; Peter’s corpse; a large stone; a mediumish stone; a small stone; and a wire whisk.

I’ve wrapped a toilet paper sash around each of the Nominees. The sash around the rake keeps blowing off; finally—exasperatedly—I stick the toilet paper to the rake with duct tape.

I do the ceremony.

“They’re all winners,” I say loudly.

But the biggest winner is the mediumish stone.

“It was an honor just to be nominated,” I say in a silly voice, jiggling the rake.

***

When you versus it against Real Peter, Stone Peter has advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages: Stone Peter’s made of hardier material; Stone Peter can more easily be lifted; when hurled, Stone Peter becomes a murder weapon.

Disadvantages: Stone Peter cannot talk; Stone Peter cannot move around by itself; Stone Peter cannot murder people except through teamwork. Stone Peter’s Friendship Score, as well, is lower than Real Peter’s.

Still: Stone Peter can be lifted and hurled, and is made of hard and durable material, and can be used, through teamwork, as a murder weapon. The only way that you could ever have done a murder by hurling Real Peter is if it was something faggy, like a flower, you were trying to kill.

Only a faggot would try to murder a flower.

***

I’m off with Stone Peter in the Violentness Woods, doing the Tinkerbell Capture module of Wilderness Adventure.

I do Tink, Pan, and Hook; Stone Peter does the Lost Boys and the Pirates.

“Still waiting for your precious Peter?” I say. “Well, you’ll be waiting a long time. My men have, shall we say, dispatched him.”

I make an angry/sad face. That’s me doing Tink. Tinkerbell can’t talk, except with faces.

“Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha,” I say.

“What’s so funny, Hook?” I say.

“Peter Pan!” I say.

Then I jump around for a while, swashbuckling.

I make my right arm swashbuckle against my left. Then I make the left arm swashbuckle. Then I have the two arms wrestle each other. Finally, I shape my left hand like a hook, and punch it five times, hard, with my right hand. I make sound effects to go with the punches: goosh, goosh, goosh, goosh, goosh.

“You’re free, Tinkerbell!” I shout.

I make a relieved/happy face. That’s me being Tink.

Then I make a bored/disappointed face. That’s me being me.

***

Moving funeral-slow, I position Stone Peter on the whacking block. For an executioner’s mask, I’ve got some underwear on my head. I have a real executioner’s mask back at the house—hanging on the wall of the Rumpus Closet—but it’s still dirty from the last time, and Stone Peter deserves clean.

I raise the sledgehammer over my head, and read the verdict aloud: “For the crime of being dull as shit, I sentence you to die.”

I bring the hammer down with a mighty crack.

What happens next is like something out of Greek mythology.

Instead of killing Stone Peter, the sledgehammer blow has multiplied it—creating two smaller, nearly identical Stone Peters.

“What are you?” I ask, squeezing and shaking one of the miniature Stone Peters. “What are you, that you have such powers?”

***

I try gouging-in-the-eye. Pummeling-with-a-bat. Poisoning. I try freezing and fire. I try the silent treatment, which sometimes leads to suicide. I cyber-bully. Still, Stone Peter lives. Both of its monstrous halves yet live.

I load Stone Peter Twin into the Radio Flyer, and cart it to the beach. I try drowning-in-the-ocean. I hold both of the Peter-halves beneath the surface of the filthy water—pressing all my weight against the halves as if they were resisting. Then I back away and close my eyes and count to ten. The stones are still there, still alive; it’s like they’re winking at me, through the sludge and seawater.

“Unmurderable,” I say, dramatically. I sometimes say my thoughts out loud, like someone in a movie.

I retrieve Stone Peter’s halves—both Runoff-shiny from the ocean—and walk them up the beach. One of them I drop. The other one I hurl at an invisible person whom I created out of make-believe. The person dies.

Then, I pick up the other Stone Peter half and hurl it at a palm tree.

When the rock hits the tree, more magic happens. The half-size Stone Peter crumbles into a bunch more, smaller Stone Peters.

Stone Peter is becoming an army of itself. An army, or a family.

I collapse, exhausted, on the beach, the whole Stone Peter Brotherhood arrayed around me in the sand. On the far horizon, Dump Copters are spilling different kinds of stuff into the ocean. The colors of today’s stuff are blue and red. The slick from yesterday’s Dump Copter stuff is making rainbows.

“My Mama didn’t give birth to no quitters,” I say. The line is something borrowed from a movie, I believe, or else a TV show or Software Adventure.

It’s true, though: I’ve never quit a murder. And I’m not about to start right now.

Unmurderable. To me, that’s just another Challenge, because I’m plucky. (“Murder the unmurderable? This kid’s just balls enough to try.”)

“Mark my words,” I say, to the people watching the movie. “I’ll do every kind of murder on this family of rock.”

And then, I think, I’ll do a hundred more—invent a hundred more—Stone Peter’s pieces all the while growing smaller and more numerous, until the last of the Stone Peter fragments has been pounded into dust. And when Stone Peter’s dust is carried wind-and-rain across the island, I will turn my murdering power against the island itself—will dig and burn through dirt and grass and rock to get the secret Peter-flecks the island harbors. If Peter’s dust should flow into the ocean, I will murder the ocean. Thanks to Peter’s creepy Greek mythology multiplying trick, the murder of one will become a massacre.

In this stone, I think, I’ve found my ideal victim. My Forevervictim.

I crawl around the beach, giving every Peter-shard a kiss.

“There was poison on my lips,” I lie.

Then I close my eyes and kiss the island itself. Pretending I’m poisoned, I kiss it dead: my mother-father, my lover-victim. My Road Runner, my Tweety Bird, my Jerry-Tom.

© 2012 Matt Williamson.

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Matt Williamson

Matt WilliamsonMatt Williamson’s stories have appeared in a variety of literary journals, magazines, and books—most recently Bat City Review and the anthology Fakes from W.W. Norton.

Stories by Matt Williamson

5 Responses »

  1. Not up to the quality of your other podcasts. The storyline was neither clever nor filled with suspense but rather a jumbled series of snapshots of trite.

  2. i don’t get it… made no sense

  3. That is one of the most beautiful stories I have ever read.
    It is very very rare to find stories that make insanity look so sane, so serene, so normal.
    Brilliant work.

  4. I thought this was great. A vicious evocation of childhood play. My favorite line: “my heart puffs up with non-gay love.”

  5. I really enjoyed this story. So much of Toby’s childhood is explored implicitly with his attitude and reflections.

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