Local writers Therese Kieran and Lucy Beevor have come up with a novel idea. They decided to tackle the subject of death head on. They opened a virtual box, or repository, of curated work relating to death from the worlds of art, music, film, journalism, fiction, non-fiction and poetry. It initiated so much interest, they expanded Deathbox to writing workshops that culminated in an exhibition of works by local writers at the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast.

I was asked to contribute a piece. You can read it below. Don’t judge me too harshly.

The exhibition poster was also designed by yours truly. This was a treat, as I so rarely get a chance to break out my pencil case these days.

Nothing Emboldens Sin So Much as Mercy

The day is Sunday, October 5th and Mercy Crankshaw is going to die.

It’s a beautiful sun cold day. The sort that makes you want to do things. Explore a National Trust property perhaps. Drink coffee al fresco. Certainly not a dying day for the likes of you or me.

But Mercy is different; a monster in fact. To clarify, not a monster in the Scooby Doo sense, Mercy is a monster in the human sense. Like a cowboy twirling his lasso in the air, Mercy loves to swing cats by the tail before throwing them at a wall.

You might say, that’s mean and cruel but is it really monstrous? I would say, you don’t know the half of it.

For there is purpose to Mercy’s wall banging. The impact stuns her prey long enough to do her worst, cracking open those tiny little skulls and sucking out the juice.

All the while, singing the same lullaby her mother sang to her when she was a baby.

“Die, pussy, die,
Shut your little eye:
When you wake,
Find a cake,
Die, pussy, die.”

It will end today, however, for the cats have reached their fill. Almost 2 o’clock, Mercy sets off with her silver bell and kitchen roll dipped in tuna juice. “Pussy-pussy-pussy. Lookie-lookie-lookie,” she charms.

As the bell of St Jude’s church tolls, she turns to see a grand, lustrous Persian cat standing in the bright sunlight, his cerulean eyes fixed on Mercy.

“Little girl,” the Persian enquires politely, “why have you waged such terror on our peaceful feline family?”

Mercy is startled by the speaking cat. Even so, she manages to answer, “I kill because I want to speak to the world and for the world to listen. I am learning to become someone important. A killer, perhaps even a famous killer.”

Mercy doesn’t notice the other cats gathering around her feet. It’s only when she feels them twirling in and out of her legs, that Mercy looks down and recognises the savage intent behind their exquisite movements.

At sundown, the cats polish off their evening meal of fresh liver and jelly.

The Persian leads them in evensong,

“Her Da committed suicide
By sawing off his head.
Her Mummy saw her uncle's ghost
And died of fright, she said.
Her unpleasant habits
Seem most curious to we,
Because she seems to come from such
A happy family.”

Deathbox Preview Image