Terror Australis


BY CADE TURNER MANN

 

I see you’re admiring our latest range. Burnished steel. Perfect for a little extra… flair.

You see crucifixion is back in a big way. It used to be we simply left people to rot in cells of iron and stone, but that was before the dark times. Failing natural resources, increased crime rates, blah blah blah. It’s great for the economy, this crucifixion thing, and even better for me.

You see the great thing about crucifixion is you can make a cross from just about anything. My company makes a killing sourcing out our sustainable, up-cycled crosses to the federal government. We even get consciously minded families through, looking for that perfect cross for their convicted loved one. Our market research shows that for children, twelve and under, families tend to favour our recycled marble crosses. For adults, a sleek piece of adorned pinewood is generally requested, however trends show a move towards aluminium. So, what are you after?

Well, let me ask you another question. How old is your loved one? Fifteen hmmm. Ok.

Well our marketing department hasn’t quite hit upon the perfect cross for such an age. Hormones and such, you know. They’ve got very specific tastes. So how about this piece. A simply marvelous statement of smoked Tasmanian oak. Yes, of course. Sourced from renovated kitchen benches. No harming the environment here. This piece says: the All-Australian larrikin. Now we can also stain the wood, or leave it in a natural finish.

Let me tell you a quick story about these pieces. I recently attended the crucifixion of a nephew of mine and the family could not have been happier with this one. We had it stained to burnt umber, he was quite a brooding young fellow you see, and his father was positively weeping at the beautiful wood-tones when they began hammering in the nails. It was like an orchestra, hand to heart. Drowned out the screams nearly perfectly. What was he convicted of did you say? Disgusting crime really. Jay-walking.

Not really your style, hmmm? Well that’s fine, I’m sure we’ll be able to find something in our stock for you. What is your loved one interested in? Hobbies? Anything? What did they want to be when they grew up? An architect? I’m sure the world is going to lose one of its brightest. I only wish he could live to work with us here. We are always looking for people with a flair for design.

Ok. Well how about this little number. Sleek art deco. One of my first designs. I’ve always loved the grandiosity of the 20’s myself. Now the wood is teak, sourced from a period building. The design is pure, inspired by Metropolis. We create our own gold leaf here from smelted jewellery, so you can be assured that everything is recycled. I have one of these put aside for myself. Naturally, I can’t know whether I will ever be executed—but it can’t hurt to be prepared.

Follow me this way, if you would. I’ve got a new range in development and perhaps if your child has a little time, we could get one ready for their execution. It’s great PR for our company, you know. Free advertising really, not to take away from the tragedy at hand. All being said, I’m not much in favour of capital punishment myself. But a man must make his living. Come, come. Just down here and through the doors. One moment. I need to put in the security code. Can’t be too careful. There are other companies constantly nipping at our heels. Can you hear that sound? That is the sound of a hundred happy workers. They love to sing while they work.

How did I get into this business? Ahh here are the doors. I love that smell of sawdust.

Truly. Now, how did I get into this business? Well. My father founded our parent company in the early 2010’s. Started out as private gas installation, then was contracted to the supermax out past Broken Hill in the 2020’s. You may be too young to remember, but the laws on capital punishment were changed not long after Western Australia seceded and we became a republic. Someone had to do the job and it just so happened to be our company. My father had the great honour of being the first person to conduct an execution in the United Australian Republic. The convicted? A politician I believe, who had be vocal in his opposition to the Republic.

Anyway, gas was on the way out. U.N. Treaty 3667-F: On the Preservation of Natural Resources killed the industry. My father didn’t see a future for his company. He killed himself in 2027. Turned on all the gas bottles in the warehouse and lit a cigarette. He always loved a good performance. I inherited the ashes, so to speak. Haha.

I did a lot of research in those early days. Attending executions from Darwin to Adelaide,to Sydney to The Kimberley Obelisk. Sweating in the desert. It all seems very barbaric now.

Primitive firing squads – who would even consider wasting metal like that now – hangings and lethal injections. So very wasteful. Even the hangings. Slaughtering innocent brumbies for their horse hair ropes. Very distasteful.

I came up with the crucifixion thing and there you have it! A whole corner of the market all my own – at least in the first few years. Many have tried, and failed, to get in on the action. But it’s all about branding, you know and we’re the best name in the business.

Ahhh, here we are. Now, please don’t take offence, but you are Aboriginal correct? Yes. I thought so. It is a sad fact, but there are nearly twice as many executions of Indigenous people as white. I don’t claim to understand the system. Hell, I don’t believe it’s right. But it is a fact. We have developed these with our First Nations people in mind. A simple design of eucalypt and ochre. Your choice of dreamtime story, painted on commission by incarcerated Indigenous people of the Northern Territory. Part of our commitment to the current government’s policy of reconciliation. I see you are shocked and amazed. I agree. Our company is set apart by its standards of equality and non-discrimination.

Now here is the prototype I have been working on in my own time. The pièce de résistance of this collection. Something so truly remarkable, it is sure to bury all our competitors. Here we have it. I’ll just pull back the curtains. Ta-da! It looks like the standard model yes? I see you’re a little confused. Let me just point out the feature. Here is magnesium sourced from old cars. Do you notice the pattern? Yes! It’s the Southern Cross! Now what we do is that upon the execution of your loved one, we set fire to the crucifix and the magnesium burns and glows like stars! I call it the Terror Australis! I’m also producing another model in the shape of the Eureka Stockade flag. A stroke of genius! I’m sure you’ll agree.

Now this has been trialed in absolute secrecy on a few locally sourced homeless people. We had them tranquilized, of course. And can I just suggest that if you go with this product, an evening execution is highly recommended. The glow of magnesium against a clear night sky is quite a sight to behold. We have the forms in the office to make such a request of the system, and let me say, my signature can almost guarantee your request is granted. Now there are a few kinks to iron out, but we predict they’ll all be sorted within the fortnight.

I see you’re a little hesitant. It’s understandable. Any decision with a death in mind is sure to be difficult. But let me just say that we have financing options if you are unable to pay upfront. Times are tough. And if you consider using this piece, as thanks for the opportunity to advertise via your child’s execution, we can knock 25% off the price. A great deal if I do say so myself, not to mention the fact that your child will have the unprecedented opportunity of being the first person publically crucified on the Terror Australis. It’ll go down in history as a game-changer, like the iPod, or Vegemite Classic!

So, how about it?

Yes?

Excellent!

Now that’ll be $2999.99 minus 25%. So $2249.99. You know what. Let’s just round it out at $2200. Shipping is normally $150, but we’ll waive that.

Now let me just get you set-up with my assistant Sophie here. She’ll sort you out and get you those request forms. Now you can pay cash, card, or sort out financing options with her. And let me just say, thank-you for trusting us. Now we don’t shake hands here. Much too formal. Here let me give you a hug. I am so sorry for your imminent loss.





Excuse me sir. I see you are admiring our latest range.






 
 

About the author

Cade Turner Mann is an emerging writer from Bathurst, NSW. Their work has been published on Seizure and appeared at Bathurst Writers and Readers Festival, as well as many spoken word events. They tweet, badly, @KissFromaCactus

 

 

 

 

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