The Dying Stockman

A strapping young stock-man lay dying; His saddle supporting his head; His two mates beside him were crying, as he rose on his elbow and said:

‘Wrap me up with my stock-whip and blanket, and bury me deep below, where the dingoes and crows won’t molest me, in the shade where the coolabahs grow, oh, had I the flight of the bronze-wing, far over the plains I would fly, straight to the home of my childhood, and there I would lay down and die.’

‘The cut down a couple of saplings, place one at my head and my toe; carve on them cross, stock-whip, and saddle to show there’s a stock-man below.

‘Hark! There’s the wail of the dingo, watchful and weird — I must go, for it tolls the death-knell of the stock-man from the gloom of the scrub down below.

“There’s tea in the battered old billy place the pannikins out in a row, and we’ll drink to the next merry meeting, in the place where all good fellows go.

‘And oft in the shades of the twilight, when the soft winds are whispering low, and the darkening shadows are falling, sometimes think of the stock-man below.’

Mr. V. Jarsdel

“That was the last time, Athanasia saw the man,” said Mr. Jarsdel. “Life among the Wendigo’s was short, with many sufferings. She had only bits and pieces of each life, they flashed like pictures with no reason or no rhyme.”

“Did she befell upon another loop?” Stand asked.

“That was probably the case,” Mr. Jarsdel said. “Athanasia knew very little about her past and as she went further into the future her memory began to flounder. As time went by she had forgotten how to speak or even her name. She had forgotten the day she was born and even her mother and father. She kept no time of anything. She was always present and lived there. She was immortal, reincarnated after every death, whether it was a cruse or a blessing, each would say differently.”

 

Athanasia lived in a constant loop, living and then dying abruptly. Her death was always painful and her resurrection would be startling. She always awoke with a constant hunger, stumbling upon a world that changed every minute, none was recognizable to her, but images of the past would appear in her mind. She wondered if they were dreams or psychic visions of the future, she could never tell.

She looped again, this time in a different environment, still among the subordination of the Wendigo’s. It was still their world in which some lived a prosperous lifestyle among other Wendigo’s, under their control, humans had greatly diminished with only a few collected by the powerful ones. Wendigo’s besides being impudent they were also greedy and selfish, even to their own kind. Whatever riches they had they would hoard them and that included the humans, since their flesh and blood was considered precious in many homes.

Athanasia had come to live in one of the opulent homes, in a penthouse owned by a wealthy Wendigo who collected them. She, like most other humans, were used as domestics. During the day she pleased her master and by night she slept among the other mortals in an over crowded room. The birth rate among them was low and most Wendigo’s kept more than one to breed them. The conditions in which they were kept in were immaculate, and nobody ever went hungry, though there was the uncertain of death.

At night, Athanasia found it hard to sleep, fraught with worry and wonder, she listened to the other’s sleep. Nobody in her group spoke, except for one whom the Wendigo’s called the Butler. He had special quarters next to their master and was given privileges that she and the others were not allowed. Some of the creatures envied the Butler, but they knew well to not undermine him. They didn’t fear him as they feared the wrath of the Wendigo’s. He was respected by their small community, that even the Wendigo’s appreciated him. Their master a young, wealthy male Wendigo was fond of the Butler especially since he communicated between the creatures and himself.