Home > e-phemera > Going Down Swinging: Excerpt of Katherine Kruimink’s “News from a Radiant Future”

Here’s our monthly offering from our pals at Going Down Swinging

One of Australia’s oldest and strangest literary publishers, Going Down Swinging was conceived in 1979. It now produces print anthologies, audio recordings, multimedia publications, live events and a very busy website.

We’re happy to be able to team up with Going Down Swinging and introduce Australian writers to our PRISMers–and vice versa. 

A few months ago, Going Down Swinging launched Longbox, an initiative to publish long-form work. Below is an excerpt from Katherine Kruimink’s “News from a Radiant Future”.


Illustration by Anthony Calvert

Illustration by Anthony Calvert

COMPOUND BETA
BULLETIN
TYPE: FOOD/KITCHEN (JOHN)
FOR THE ATTN OF: ALL

RE: JOHN’S BFAST

PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE THIS NOTICE

John has porridge for breakfast. If you are making this for him, please follow these directions precisely.

  1. Use the blue enamel cup. Fill it with water and put the water in one of the small saucepans.
  2. Unless we have gas for the burners, put it on the metal plate over the fire. If we do have gas, it is permitted to use the burners ONLY FOR JOHN’S FOOD UNLESS AUTHORISED OTHERWISE.
  3. BRING THE WATER TO THE BOIL. This is vital. This means there will be bubbles in the water. If you are unsure, ask for help.
  4. AFTER the water has boiled, add ONE scoop of the milk powder. The milk powder is in the tin in John’s section in the pantry. It is labelled. The scoop is in the milk powder. Once you have finished, return the scoop to the tin, and close the lid tightly. Do not get the scoop wet, even to wash it. If you get water on the scoop, ask for help (in the book see ‘Washing Utensils’).
  5. Stir the powder into the water. It will turn into milk. BRING THE MILK BACK TO THE BOIL. It will bubble again. You must stir it constantly otherwise it may burn.
  6. AFTER the milk has boiled, add one cup of oats. The oats are in John’s section in a plastic container. They are labelled. The cup is in the container. Please do not wash the cup. Return it directly to the container after use, and remember to put the lid back on tightly.
  7. Stir the oats into the milk and keep stirring until bubbles appear and the oats are thick.
  8. Look at the NOTES section at the bottom of this bulletin. It will tell you if there is dried fruit or honey. If we have one of these things, add one large spoonful to the oats. If we have more than one of these things, choose one only. They will be in John’s section and clearly labelled.
  9. Use only crockery and cutlery that has been boiled. This is kept in the green (clean) cupboard. Transfer the porridge to a clean bowl. John likes the white plastic spoon with the sheep on it. If it is not in the green cupboard, do not use it.
  10. Remind him it will be hot. We do not want him to burn himself.
  11. Please remember the milk powder is strictly for John only as it is in very limited supply. Porridge for the adults is made with water.
  12. If reading is hard for you, do not guess words you do not know. Ask for help to make sure you understand as this is a very important notice.

COMPOUND BETA
BULLETIN
TYPE: GATHERING
FOR THE ATTN OF: ALL

RE: FIONA AND MOSES

PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE THIS NOTICE

This is to remind everyone that there will be a service in the dining hall for the much-loved and already missed Fiona Ng and Moses Leehan. The usual mourning programme will be utilised.

Please do not visit the bodies, as they are now hazardous waste.

Remember instead Fiona and Moses’ non-physical qualities.


Illustration by Anthony Calvert

COMPOUND BETA
BULLETIN
TYPE: FOOD/KITCHEN
FOR THE ATTN OF: ALL

RE: CAN YOU EAT A RAT?

PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE THIS NOTICE

It is always good to kill a rat, but not always good to eat one. Several people have asked about this recently, so here are some guidelines.

  1. If you find a dead rat, DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT EATING IT. It may have died from illness or infection and is therefore dangerous. Follow the protocols or ask for help (in the book see ‘Disposing of the Dead’ and ‘The Pit’) .
  2. If you kill a rat, congratulations! You’re helping keep Compound Beta clean. Follow the protocols in the book for collecting and transporting dead matter, or ask for help. Remember: guilty until proven innocent! Always assume it is unsafe until you have found out otherwise.
  3. Bring the dead rat in the appropriate wrappings to Dr Han, Henry or Melissa in the lab. DO NOT BRING IT TO THE SICK BAY.
  4. Leave the rat with one of the specialists. DO NOT leave it for the doctor to find; always make sure you speak to Dr Han, Henry or Melissa. They will tell you when to come back for it.
  5. FOLLOW UP. They will check it for you in the lab. Return to collect it when instructed.
  6. REMEMBER. It is not their fault if the rat is diseased. You must accept it with good grace if your rat must be disposed of.
  7. If the rat is safe, it will be returned to you. Take it to the kitchen and give it to whoever is cooking that day.
  8. Remember: the food you find is John’s first, everyone’s second and never only yours!
  9. If reading is hard for you, do not guess words you do not know. Ask for help to make sure you understand as this is a very important notice.

Illustration by Anthony Calver

Illustration by Anthony Calver

COMPOUND BETA
BULLETIN
TYPE: GENERAL
FOR THE ATTN OF: ALL

RE: WHY THE COUNTRY IS BAD

PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE THIS NOTICE

Dear friends,

This is an emotional topic! There has been some unhappiness lately regarding the country. We don’t want to single anyone out, but this tends to come from those of us born after They came. Of course, such interest is not limited to the second generation! These questions affect us all. We are all curious, and we would all like a better life.

The Compound Committee is made up of people who remember how it was before They came. We know we are older than many of you, and you might not think we understand you. But we have more information than you and we love you. You are our children, even though you are young adults now, and you are our hope for the future. We are not trying to keep anyone from a good place. There are no good places. But some places are better than others. This place – Compound Beta, and more widely, Hobart – is better than the country. Here’s why.

  1. It is true you can grow food in the country, but you need special knowledge to do so. There are people in the country with this knowledge, but they are busy trying to grow enough for themselves, and may not be able to teach you, EVEN IF THEY DO NOT ACTIVELY WISH TO HURT YOU (see point 6).
  2. Dr Han, Henry and Melissa are working on a safe way that we can grow our own food right here in Compound Beta.
  3. We know that They are in the country. They leave us alone if we live in the Compounds, but if you move to the country They will get you! If you are a young woman, there is a very good chance They will take you and put you in a Female Farm. If you are a young man, there is a very good chance They will take you and make you work until you die.
  4. Even though most of you cannot have children naturally (through a male/female sexual pairing), it is not good to be put into a Female Farm. The children you have there will not be yours; They will put them in your bodies. The children you have there will not love you. The children will be our enemies because when They put them in your body They make them very stupid, so They can use them for work or for fighting us! In the Female Farms, you will have enemy babies until you die!
  5. The young men taken away to work for Them never come back. We can assume they are killed. We have evidence that the men are surgically experimented on.
  6. People in the country live in villages and don’t like new people coming in from outside. Think of our policy: what do we do with outsiders? But here we have rules and answer to the Integrated Compound Authority. In the country they don’t answer to anyone.
  7. It can be sad here and there isn’t much growing. But we have food, shelter, community, medicine, and a child of our own, born naturally to a young woman of your generation! We are your family and you are ours. Stay in Compound Beta! Compound Beta for life!
  8. If reading is hard for you, do not guess words you do not know. Ask for help to make sure you understand as this is a very important notice.

Committee Beta
Internal Memo

Thanks everyone for a beautiful service for Fiona and Moses, and to Dr Han, Melissa and Henry for their safe removal from the Compound to the Pit. Thank you for continuing to provide this difficult service.

Please be aware that there was a deviation from usual practice re: disposal of corpses/corpse parts. Moses’ torso, though only partly attached to his head, continued to show signs of life after death. No brain activity, Dr Han tells me, but a small amount of oxygen continued to circulate via the lungs, and the heart presented spasming behaviour. Therefore the torso has been kept for observation.

Please maintain strict secrecy on this matter. The torso is in the third Hazard Room. It is strictly off limits and the story is that it (the room) is still being decontaminated.

T.A.


COMPOUND BETA
BULLETIN FROM THE FIRST GENERATION AFTER THEY CAME (YOUR CHILDREN WHO ARE NOW ADULTS)
TYPE: GENERAL

FOR THE ATTN OF: ALL

RE: WE DO NOT BELIEVE YOU

PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE THIS NOTICE

Dear friends,

Thank you for your recent bulletin regarding the country and why you believe it is bad. We found it very interesting. We were especially interested in your point that we are now adults. Thank you for reminding us, as sometimes it is easy to forget.
We do not know where you get your information about the country, and would be very interested to inspect your sources for ourselves. Unfortunately, you have said they are not available for our inspection. We have therefore decided to see for ourselves. Here’s why.

  1. As your (adult) children, we want you to be properly informed. We will go to the country and in due course report back with up-to-date information.
  2. We want to have enough to eat.
  3. We are young and strong. If a village will not take us we will start our own village. Our village will be open to all newcomers. This includes you.
  4. We are more confident than you about our ability to make friends in the country. We want to meet new people and exchange skills.
  5. Besides this, we have begun a library of useful books. So far, we have:
    The Practical Australian Gardener by Peter Cundall
    The First Book of Farming by C.L. Goodrich
    Dry-Farming: A System of Agriculture for Countries under a Low Rainfall by John Andreas Widtsoe.
  6. Besides this, we are not idiots.
  7. We are dying here.
  8. Victoria, despite being one of us, has decided not to come with us. We will miss John but maybe a healthier lifestyle will help us have children ourselves. Now that you are too old to have children it is up to us.
  9. We are not afraid of Them.

SIGNED

KELLY BI
LING FEI
FINN DOYLE
LIZA DOYLE
HARRY LIM
SARAH LITTLE
JOSHUA MCNAMARA
CHRISTIAN NG
RUPERT NG
MAY QUINN
JASMINE REED
JAMES SHAUGNESSEY
HUGO SHORT
LEAH STRAHAN


Kate Kruimink was born and raised in Tasmania. As part of an ongoing hobby of living in slightly different time zones, she currently writes and teaches English in Auckland, New Zealand.