It’s dark. Krumpet is lost and lonely. It’s dark all the time. It’s dark all the time because Krumpet is lost and lonely in Antarctica, in the middle of winter, which means there has been no sunlight for the past three months. Krumpet isn’t exclusively lost and lonely however, he is also stuck. Krumpet, or more specifically his left kneecap, is wedged between the big rusty teeth of a bear trap. So Krumpet is lost, and lonely, and stuck, and cold and bleeding.
Krumpet has spent months in the snow, watching the blood go from a gush to a flow to a trickle. He watched the snow change colour, and taste. He turned the plain white snow into copper-flavoured deep red crystals. Krumpet understands, he knows, Krumpet is an alchemist. He knows he can turn empty things into living things, frozen things into melted things, and sad things into jokes. He knows this.
Krumpet likes the moon, but he’d like it better if it was the sun. With the waistband from his trousers, and the bones of whatever occupied the trap before him, Krumpet has built a very powerful slingshot. The Chucker can fire capsules of blood up and into the moon. Krumpet started off by collecting toenail clippings from his two smallest toes. Then fingernail clippings. Then hair trimmings. Then ear wax. Then he backtracked and collected those rugged, thick, rust coloured wedges of toenail from his two big toes. Then he picked a scab off his knee, it was shaped like a duck, he put that scab in a bottle and labelled it “Duck Shaped Left Knee Scabs”, and when the bottle was full he fired it up at the moon. He fires it all up there.
On a clear night, when it isn’t too windy or too snowy, when the gulls cries abate, when the waves whisper, when Krumpet’s relentless sobbing is stuck in his throat, when his shrill laughter takes a walk for the other side of the island, when the night is just like that and all you can hear is nothing, when all you can hear is a waiting sound, a waiting to be filled up with noises, well on these nights Krumpet fires The Chucker. Krumpet fires a capsule of blood or skin or elbow scab up into space, he watches the tiny capsule whirl and twirl and zoom strait toward the moon. While that little rocket ship flies he lies back in the snow and watches it go. Krumpet strains his ears and holds his breath so that he can hear the capsule ‘plump’ into the soft sandy face of the moon.
He isn’t sure what he’s trying to do, not exactly, he figures he’s an alchemist. Maybe I’ll make the man in the moon wake up? Maybe all he needs is some bits? Some crawlies to creep around his sandy veins and shake the old boy back to life? Maybe. That’s alchemy for you.