Creative Column: I’ll Give You A Book Of Dust Mr Pullman by Lauren Bird


The creation of the universe has been debated by virtually every creature that has lived a somewhat dull existence, since the beginning of unrecorded time. Most of their estimations usually go something along the lines of: A big, clever thing, decides either out of boredom, loneliness or a sense of moral correctness, that they should fashion something other than themselves to share linear time with.

However, while this seems logical, it isn’t true of every civilisation. At least four different species believe that their culture was created by a giant, sentient toastie machine that decided to make a panini using blue cheese instead of cheddar. Since it is usually assumed that the cheese probably had a stronger culture of bacteria than the educational culture of these species, most other civilisations have accepted that this story is a decoy, placed by their own one true God. This is in spite of what common sense has repeatedly tried to say before being rudely interrupted, that if any creature, no matter how well evolved, somehow came into the knowledge of the creation of the universe then they’d almost instantly disintegrate into a small and insignificant pile of sand. Hence none of the currently existing hypotheses can be correct.

However, on the third Tuesday of the seventh month, on a planet not very far away, a young writer was about to change this. The young man in question had just sauntered into a charity shop to donate a small collection of books, most of which were moth-eaten cookery books that he had never had any intention of opening. After a quick glance around the shop to check he was alone, he slipped one of these books out of the pile and held it carefully in his calloused hands. The crumpled paper cover, displaying a sickly green floral pattern that was sure to deter any onlooker, was beginning to show what lay underneath. He should’ve mended the cover before he’d come, but it was a bit late now.

With his free hand, the man piled up the other books and dinged the bell on the counter, triggering a rustling noise from the room next door and a muffled shout.

“Gimme a sec!”

“Alright,” The young man called back, “just dropping some stuff off, don’t rush yerself.”

After retrieving a pen from his pocket and giving it a resolute click, the man flicked to the final page to finish his work. The ink bled, blurring at the edges but standing stark against the parchment. Eager to be read by mortal eyes.

“Sorry about the wait… Hello?” Another set of mortal eyes and the decrepit body belonging to them appeared from the next room, one gnarled hand gripping a china vase and the other a moulding dust cloth. Perhaps the other gentleman had been in a rush after all, but the bell on the door hadn’t rung as he made his way out, and unless he was hiding behind the collection of broken board games… The shopkeeper peeped around the display cabinet but saw nothing of interest. Or at least, not until he looked down. With an irked “tut” the shopkeeper bent to pick up the cookery book and placed it with the others by the till. He grimaced at the horrendous pattern on the cover. “Patsy,” He called up the stairs, “a gentleman’s been ‘ere with a book I think you’ll like, it’s got cookin’ stuff in it, come take a look”, and with a moment’s hesitation he added, “And bring the hoover, our visitor brought half the beach in ‘ere with him.”

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