The Hole Where The Sun Goes

Mummy wouldn’t talk to her, so Katie went to play in her sandpit with her toys. There was a digger and a car. The car used to live inside, then it got too sandy.

Katie played with the digger and the sand for a while. Then she got bored. She looked up in the sky and saw the moon. Mummy said the moon only shone after Katie went to bed, but sometimes Katie could see it during the day. Katie loved the moon. Daddy used to love it too.

It was getting a bit dark. Katie thought it might be going to rain. She didn’t want to go inside and play with her toys. She went and sat on the porch with her cuddly and sucked her thumb. She wished Mummy would talk to her.

Katie was hungry, and she wanted to go pee-pee. She couldn’t go to the bathroom because Mummy had locked the door, so she found another place. Then she climbed up on her chair and got the food Mummy had left her. There was an apple and some crackers and some juice and a cookie. Davy was sleeping under the table. When Katie was eating, she dropped one of the crackers, and before she could pick it up, Davy came and ate it. She told Davy he was a bad dog. He looked sad, so she patted him and gave him some special Davy food.

When she had eaten all her food, she was still hungry, so she climbed up on a big chair and got some more cookies from the jar. The lid was tight and hurt her hand. Then she put on her jacket and went back outside.

It was now getting very dark, but there weren’t many clouds. The sun was just about to fall out of the sky. Katie knew where the sun went when it fell out of the sky. It went in a hole.

After the sun went in the hole, the moon started shining more bright. It was all dark except for the moon and the stars. Katie was a bit scared. She called Davy to come outside, but he wouldn’t. He never did what she told him to. He was a bad dog.

Katie wanted to be with Mummy. She went and banged on the bathroom door, but it was still locked, and Mummy didn’t answer no matter how loud she shouted. It was sort of scary in the house without Mummy, even though Davy was there, so she sat down in the porch with her back against the wall, wrapped her jacket around her, and cuddled her cuddly.

In the night, Katie felt cold. She woke up and saw Mummy. Mummy was cold too. Davy came outside and did a funny bark at her, then ran away. Mummy took Katie’s hand, and together they went to find the hole where the sun goes.

“The Hole Where The Sun Goes” was published in Home: New Short Short Stories By New Zealand Writers (Random House, 2005) and is so far uncollected.

A Short History of the Twentieth Century, with Fries

This 600-word story appears in Transported. It was first published in Flashquake and has also been translated into Vietnamese.

By the time they got to the Finland Station, Lenin and his posse were famished.

“What’ll it be, boss, Burger King or McDonald’s?” asked Zinoviev.

Lenin rustled up the kopecks for a quarter-pounder and fries all round and they set to chowing down. By the time he finished, Lenin had had a better idea.

“I’m tired of this revolution business,” he said. “Let’s set up a chain of family restaurants instead.”

It took a while to convince the Mensheviks, left-SRs, and other petit-bourgeois elements. Nevertheless, Lenin’s will prevailed, and Party cadres fanned out across the land in a sophisticated franchising operation. By the end of 1917, Moscow and Petrograd were under complete control, and Siberia was falling into line. Lenin’s Bolshevik brand — “the burger for the worker” — was taking command.

The big international chains didn’t take this lying down. With an aggressive combination of discounting, free giveaways, and sheer intimidation, they muscled in on the Bolsheviks. For four years, the struggle went on. The starving inhabitants of Northern Russia woke up each morning not knowing whether the Golden Arches or the Hammer and Sickle would be standing atop their local fast food outlet.

It was a bad time all round, but at the end of it, the red flag with the yellow emblem reigned supreme across Russia. Crowds flocked to enjoy the cheery, efficient service and chomp their way through the basic Bolshevik burger or such additional menu choices as the Red Square (prime Polish beef in a square bun) and the Bronze Horseman (horse testicles on rye — an acquired taste). Fuelled by Bolshevik burgers, Russia was on the move. Tractor production went up twenty per cent. Electricity output doubled in five years.

After Lenin choked to death on a fishburger on 1924, new CEO Joseph Stalin launched a full-scale campaign of collectivisation and industrialisation. Horse testicles were out, borscht was in. These changes were far from universally popular, but, as the slogan went, “You can’t say no to Uncle Joe”. From Murmansk to Magadan, it was Joe’s way or the highway.

The years 1939 to 1945 were bad ones for the Bolshevik brand. An ill-advised attempt at a strategic alliance with Schickelgruber’s, an aggressive new German franchise, ended in disaster. The names Leningrad and Stalingrad will forever be remembered from that period as examples of poor service and unusual burger ingredients. But Schickelgruber’s was finally seen off and the Bolshevik brand entered a new phase of expansion. It was time, said Uncle Joe, to export Lenin’s legacy to the world.

This wasn’t an unqualified success. What goes down well in Kharkov can cause indigestion in Kabul. The expansion policy did net Bolshevik the important Chinese market, but even there, Russian attempts to include cabbage in Chinese burgers were soon met by Chinese demands that all Bolshevik meals include a side-order of rice. Before long, there were two competing Bolshevik brands, and then three once the Albanians got in on the act.

It was the beginning of the end. Weakened by the massive costs of enforcing brand compliance in territories as diverse as Kazakhstan and Cuba, the Bolshevik empire collapsed in debts and squabbling. It was all over for one of the major franchises of the 20th Century.

For a nostalgic reminder of those days, take a trip to the Finland Station, where you can still see a statue of Lenin addressing the workers, burger in one hand, fries in the other.