from ZHARMAE PUBLISHING…
A young adult novel about parallel universes, animal police and freckles.
A boy stumbles into a parallel world where–it seems–everything he wanted the world to be is true: animal suffering is abolished, humans live in harmony with nature, and justice is done–but not all is as perfect as it appears
The first time we wrote them up for killing a bird. A beautiful Honey eater. Then it was a fox. Then a toad. It was a cane toad, sure, but a callous murder none the less. Next: a water dragon. We saw it happen.
The three of us—Jennifer, Gustave, me—we are the Animal Police.
Wherever there is injustice, you will find us. Etc. Say it in a big voice, American accent. Dance, prance, ta da!
You can email us, check out our website, report an incident on our Animal Watchline, read our blog or follow us on Twitter.
We’re not playing. It’s not a game.
We record all animal cruelty. We have long lists of atrocities, world-wide.
We get lots of abuse too on our hotline, but we don’t care.
Every time you see an injustice you can’t let it slide. You have to scream out. Document it. Or it will just continue.
Darrel McCann for chopping a cat in half
John Turkington squashing toads with his boots
Colin dissecting worms
Arthur flattening thousands of ants with his high bouncing rubber ball
Mr Klinton shooting a kangaroo and watching it bleed to death.
Every day there is another atrocity.
Far in the future, people will look back at out time and exclaim (with many exclamation marks after their words, ‘How barbaric!!!! They used to torture, kill, mistreat other animals and didn’t see anything wrong with it!!!!!’
Worse, they might consider us cannibals: ‘They used to actually cut up the flesh of other animals and EAT them!!!!’
And these future people’s children won’t believe them. ‘No ways, dad, no way we used to EAT flesh and drink animal blood. Were we vampires or something?’
Sometimes people report atrocities to us like this: ‘My father ate a steak today’; ‘my family went hunting’; ‘We rode over a baby deer and didn’t even stop the car to see if it was all right.’
Do that to humans and you’re in big trouble. My father cut up and ate human flesh because he likes the taste. My family goes hunting Frenchmen every weekend. We rode over a child and didn’t’ even stop to see if it was hurt, or dead. We should have at least stopped to put it out of its misery.
But do it to animals and people just laugh, think you’re silly, tell amusing anecdotes about it: ‘I hit a bloody HUGE bugger of a deer on the road today ha ha… Dented me bloody fender.’ Or rather: ‘Bloodied me dented fender.’
OK, OK, you’re already thinking: hoo boy, tree huggers. Veggos. Nuttos.
You’re right. We are all of those things.
Better introduce you to our pack. Gaggle. Flock. Whatever.
First up: Jennifer Eckles. Codename Freckles. Age : eleven and counting. Favourite superhero: Wonder Woman.
She has at last count three hundred and fifty seven freckles on her skin. All over. No kidding. I haven’t checked. She won’t let me. If she catches you counting them, you have HAD it.
‘We’re fanatics,’ says Jennifer, ‘and proud of it. You have to be fanatical to get anywhere in life. Look at the Olympic athletes. They push past the normal. They go the extra mile.
Jennifer is also drop dead gorgeous and knows it. But she’s not vain. She doesn’t mince around in expensive clothes. She’s more interested in winning arguments than hearts. ‘One day there will be a law against hurting animals. Like in the old days, people could just smoke everywhere and you couldn’t stop them. Now you can’t. And in the old days people thought there was nothing wrong with having slaves. Except maybe the slaves. But now we can’t believe people treated other people like… well, animals.’
That’s Freckles for you. You can win any arguments with her. She can tie you up in logical knots and you have to back down. Not really sure what she’s doing hanging around with us nerds, but hey, we don’t question her on that either. OK, she is arrogant and flicks her hair a lot, and does the Kewpie doll eye act a lot (what is a Kewpie doll anyway- it’s what my parents say about her). Clicks her tongue at how stupid we are. Her most common expression is, ‘You absolute morons!’ Yet she sticks by us. We believe the same things.
Next up: Gustave—eleven earth years old. Code word Stephen Hawking. He can even do the voice on his computer and knows the scientist’s quotes by heart. ‘People who talk about their IQs are losers’ or ‘without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist’, or ‘when we have solved the problem of the universe we have solved the problem of God.’
He prefaces most of his sentences with ‘Stephen Hawking says’, though we are beginning to suspect that Stephen Hawking could not have said all of the things Gustave attributes to him, like : ‘Stephen Hawking says that one day animals will rise up against their human masters and take over the world.’
Gustave has a hole in his heart. He won’t live long, a year tops, his doctor says, so he wants to make his mark on the world. Do something people will remember him by, even if he is bottled up in a crippled body. Stephen Hawking in a wheel chair, only able to speak through a computer, didn’t stop him becoming the top scientist in the world. Having a hole in your heart is nothing, he says.
Favourite superhero: Spiderman.
And if Jennifer is our lawyer, Gustave is our Philosopher.
Culture, he says, is just a big mould growing on the top of society. Tradition, civilisation is just a big bad habit. It could be different, he says. We just accept the status quo without questioning. It is like it is because it just is.
He gets beat up a lot at school. Well, not at school. After school, around school, above and below school. ‘That’s OK,’ he says. ‘The more they beat me, the more I know I’m right. People thought the world was flat once and beat up people who didn’t believe it. Galileo was shut up because he said the earth went around the sun.
I’m Danny Anderson. Unfortunate name, but no one calls me Danny. At school they call me wanker or tree hugger or Danny-Wanny.
Nice place, my school.
Characteristic features: warts on hands. Dozens of them.
Favourite superhero: Superboy. I like the Clark Kent alter ego thing. Most of the time, I’m Clark Kent, well 100% of the time, actually, but one day I’ll break out. One day.
So there we are, the Animal Police. Freckles, warts and holes in the heart and all.
I am the founder. The Brains behind it is Gustave, Jennifer is the Defender of its Truth, but I started it. I am the Boss, the managing director of the company, the chief. Animal Police has a logo and is copyright, of course, so don’t think of stealing the idea. AP, like so—