- Liam Carroll
The Refined Scorpio
It's that special time of year - Scorpio Season. And I thought the best star sign ever deserved a fable, our own Scorpio fairytale, something to tell the kids at bedtime forever more. I hope you like it.
Father was suddenly so old and frail, no longer able to provide. Each night he’d come home empty-handed with tears welling in his eyes. Our empty stomachs roared out, but we held true to the lie; You’ll knock ‘em dead tomorrow Papa, best go get some shuteye.
You see everyone was starving, every family far and wide. No common Scorpio could hunt food anymore, not since dirt-crawling bugs had learnt to fly. They’d all somehow grown wings and could effortlessly take to the skies.
There was only one Scorpio left with a belly full to the brim. He was five times the size of every other, armed with a God almighty sting. He feasted on lizards, frogs and possums, bugs becoming flies was no concern for him. So, we handed him the throne, pronounced him Scorpio King, completely on a whim.
He offered food to any famished Scorpio, all one need do was ask. But the price sure was hefty; removal of your Scorpio stinging tail from your tender Scorpio arse. Father informed us his mind was decided, he must seek the King’s welfare. His pride and stinging tail weren’t worth a moment longer of his poor family’s despair.
Father and I arrived at the castle, forced to wait with so many others, growing evermore in fear as we listened to the crunch of the King’s pincers ripping off tail stingers one after another. So many malnourished Scorpios, all broken in spirit and in mind. But what choice did they have? It was a simple case of submit in peace and live or try to hunt those blasted flying bugs alone and most assuredly die.
When Father’s time came, his Scorpio fury shot out like thunder; You’re not my King, you wretched excuse for a Scorpio! I’d rather my family starve than make them eat your plunder! The Scorpio King laughed like Satan as he swooped me up in his grasp. With a snip of his pincer my stinger was gone and with a flick of his monstrous tail through Papa’s skull, the Scorpio King ensured Dad would soon breathe his last.
I raced to Father, watched the life draining from his eyes. He said stay strong for Mother, son. I’ll see you in the afterlife. I cried into Papa’s side, but I had no time to grieve, before I knew it the King had swept me viciously straight outside. No food for you, stinger-less little runt. Race off home to your Mother to fulfil your Father’s final wish; cuddle up to her and die.
I could not yet bear to return home, not with news so grim, but my aching arse hurt like a bastard, I had to rest and think. A fly can’t fly forever, sooner or later they’ve gotta rest their wings. But even if I could find their resting place, without a stinger in my tail, how could I possibly kill my din din?
I rummaged the dirt for a moment and the solution was instantly clear. I must chop off my left pincer and feed Mother the body of Son, you know Jesus would adhere. I hacked at my own forearm, and it turns out self-mutilation is no picnic, but I focused on feeding poor Mother, and that clarity of thought sure did the trick.
Mama and I feasted that night, a hearty shellfish dinner born of cannibalistic intention. We glowed with the glow of oh so full tummies. I called Mother Necessity while she praised me, Invention. No stinger and now no left pincer, I’d become The Refined Scorpio our household needed. How would we survive tomorrow? Mother said don’t sweat it my boy, we will never be defeated.
As we slept for the first time in forever, on stomachs full and true, we couldn’t help but wonder - what was that bizarre buzzing that screamed out from the dining room? Lo and behold, the drying drops of my very own blood in my empty pincer shell had attracted one of those cursed flies, the little critter had decided to crawl on in, but had become trapped in there, you bloody beaut!
A Scorpio’s empty pincer could ensnare flies with but a single drop of blood, who ever could have known! And now Mama and I had discovered a food-assuring weapon! Yes, correct, our minds were truly blown. We shared our pincer revelation with the fine folk of Scorpio nation. Everyone could once more rely on insect sustenance. I, The Refined Scorpio, was a global sensation.
Fair to say the Scorpio King was thrown into a crisis of dejection. He’d used his brawn to hold the Scorpios ransom far too long, and he wasn’t looking good for re-election. Warrior through and through, he challenged me to a fight to the death in the Grand Scorpio Colosseum. Everyone told me don’t be crazy, it’s suicide, no stinger, pincer or might, you’re destined for the Mausoleum.
Nothing to fear, I had an idea, a way to use the Scorpio King’s giant stinger against him. I entered the Colosseum with one certainty alone; today I would ensure my father’s avenging. The crowd screamed. The King struck wildly, thankfully not connecting. The time was now or never, I jumped atop the King’s back without a moment longer of reflecting.
The Scorpio King’s stinger flared almighty, poised to strike me dead just like my father, but as it rushed straight for my head, I rolled beneath him, eye to eye, as he got fully shafted. His stinger pierced through his own skull! He was dead within a heartbeat. I raised my one good pincer to the sky and stared to Mother, we will never be defeated.
*Liam Carroll is the author of Slippery, a story about capitalism on steroids in the oil trading world of Southeast Asia. His second novel, Sweet Dreams of Fanta, is a sentimental ride back to the Sydney of 1988, seen through the eyes of a freckly, moon-faced, 7year old Fanta addict. And his third book, Hooroo Love, is in the works now.