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  • Simon Howard

CITY OF THE DEAD

Updated: Mar 14, 2020

The stench of rotting things hangs over the City of the Dead where people sleep between the graves and live in tombs.

Everything rots among the living and the dead, except for plastic things which tend to last, quite possibly, forever.

Old food rots. Paper, fruit and flowers rot, flesh of all sorts rots. People’s traces rot like the rotting things Mahfouz described. Human faeces rot in time and space and even their stench begins to rot in time.

It was here, turning a corner, that I saw the dead dog lying by a doorway freshly dead, red with newborn blood having had no time to start its rotting yet its rabies killed at birth by men with clubs and swords who wiped the blood from their blades as I watched and wiped it from their memories.

‘Salam’alaykum,’ I said, a stranger. ‘Wa’alaykum es salam,’ they replied and wiped away the memory.

And I am grateful that I turned the corner when I did, and not a minute earlier while the killing happened when the swords struck and the clubs came down the dying dog yelping as its lonely death began.

Here, in the City of the Dead among gravestones and the tombs and the people who live between them under a mean and vengeful sun the awful rotting of the newly dead has, surely – the buzzing of the flies confirms – just begun.


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