Hydra Contest Winner
Story with Pictures and Conversation
by Brontops Baruq
(Notebook manufactured from biodegradable material. Twenty pages of unlined
white paper and ten of tracing paper. Expiration date: five years after removal of
This was our building.
(Drawing of a rectangle filled in by tiny squares or triangles. Attempt to express
regularity, despite not using a ruler. Other rectangles and triangular forms
represent the megalopolitan skyline. Presence of blimps and floaters.)
This is us: daddy, mommy, me, and Quequé1, our pet rat.
(Father, mother, child, and a transgenic rodent inside a box full of stripes,
probably a cage.)
We watched the space war on TV.
(Geometric figures are spaceships; dashed lines, lasers and torpedoes; stars with
more than six points, explosions. Rhombi and tetrahedrons represent Anemoids
and the Subspace Travel Arch respectively.)
When Mars caught on fire, daddy told mommy for us to go to Grandma and
Grandpa's house. We went by train. I liked it, I got to miss school. Daddy stayed,
he'd catch up with us later. So Quequé stayed to take care of daddy. Daddy told
me don't be afraid and kissed me.
(Paternal figure with transgenic rodent and its cage. Its color was altered,
probably from being an animal whose cells react empathetically to the humans
around it; however, it could be because the child did not locate a pencil with the
This is Grandpa and Grandma's house. It's a HOUSE! There's a yard and ants,
but the best is Whale2, their dog, they also have a turtle called Donatello, and a
white jabuticaba tree, that they just call white jabuticaba tree.
(Representation of a house. Door, window, roof, and parabolic receptor depicted
beside fruit-bearing trees. Grandparent images small in comparison to that of the
turtle and especially to that of the dog.)
I wanted to watch the Spaceboy cartoon, but the news kept breaking in. Grandma
was going to connect to the monitor to watch the cartoons, but Grandpa wanted to
show me their yard. We went to the garage, there was a bunch of old stuff. Tons
of junk. I asked why they didn't throw all that in the trash, Grandpa said that
everything there had special value, so I asked why they didn't hurry up and sell it.
Grandpa showed me processors, a sewing machine, a mechanical man, a pong, a
rubber stamp, and a hoe. He told me that his grandfather's grandfather killed a
man with a hoe just like that. He had a bunch of books that made me sneeze a lot.
I liked it when he told me what a flying fortress was. I thought it was a castle.
(Drawing of aerial combat. Observe the mixture of artifacts from different eras,
like Volkswagen Beetles, Ford Mavericks, biplanes, MiGs, Barracudas, Anemoids,
and Stingrays. The possession of non-licensed archaic items is illegal according to
Federal Law 7.901/09, and regulated by Decrees 272 and 4002 of the Secretary of
Sanitary Affairs and Cultural Archeological Maintenance.)
Mosquito bit me and I stared at it like a fool, mommy chewed me out: Why do you
just keep looking? I felt sorry for it, I'd never seen a mosquito or ant or doodlebug
in the city. Later it itched. Grandma sprayed it. At night I couldn't sleep. I went
to the den and everyone was watching the television. I wanted to know where that
was and they just said it was in Africa and sent me to bed. I listened to them
watching TV until really late.
(Heads on spits. Based on the great quantity, it is probably a reference to the
Mombasa Massacre. Or are they mosquitoes? Spaceboy character in corner
shooting psychotronic rays at primitively-depicted xenocreatures, identified thanks
to their respiration canal.)
Grandpa, Grandma, and mommy explained to me that we needed to save up. We
went to the supermarket, it was a real mess. Grandpa stayed with me in the car, I
wanted to ask them for a bunch of stuff, but I didn't. Lie, I asked for an orange-flavored apple, but Grandpa said that was a big city thing, there they only had the
normal ones. Grandpa turned on loud music and said it was Chico Buarque and the
Stones. When Grandma and mommy came back, they said there wasn't practically
anything left. Grandma sneaked me a chocolate. Afterwards I played with Whale.
(Drawings of automobiles and the dog. The sixteen-character sequence in the left
corner is the DNA series number of the Fisher Golden Dalmatian. Although it's
considered an uncommon and antiquated canine race, it is still possible to illegally
download a clone of the same animal for recreational use in some unmonitored
regions. Anemoids and blimps depicted in the corners.)
At night, I cried a lot because of daddy.
(Page torn out. Remains of paper stuck in spiral like a slack spine among ribs.)
Again, just the news on television. Grandpa took me to the yard and showed me a
sling. He asked me not to tell mommy, not even Grandma. He asked me not to kill
birds. He asked me not to hit windows, not to aim at anybody's eye. To be really
careful around the wasp's nest on the porch. I almost asked him to not ask
anything else and unteach me how to use the sling.
(Drawings of children and adults spread across the page. Presence of tic-tac-toe
boards and old droodles like "flea jumping between rhinoceros horns," "giraffe
passing behind a window," and "ship arriving too late to save a drowning
At night, everything dark. Grandma explained that was for the Martians not to spot
us. I explained to Grandma that they weren't Martians, they were from Zeta
Reticulari, Grandma said Martian, ET, alien, Zwingding, it was all the same thing.
I was going to say that the Martians must have a way of seeing in the dark, but I
figured she wouldn't listen. I cried a lot because of daddy.
(Drawing of a Zwingding and other bioforms with arrows leading to different stars
in the Reticulum constellation. Some were copied from reference books and
Grandma woke me up for breakfast. I didn't see mommy. Grandpa and Grandma
told me that she went to look for daddy. I didn't cry. I went to play with Whale. I
played with the sling, knocking down guavas. They were all wormy.
(Drawing of Whale: the Canidae description highlights its conduct and patience in
dealing with children. At that time, interspecies enslavement was still permitted.)
At night, I jumped out of bed. Whale was barking like crazy. I went to the porch.
Grandpa and Grandma in their pajamas looking up. Grandma was praying. It was
all really pretty. They looked like kites looked like fish looked like match embers
looked like campfire remains looked like fires. We didn't hear anything. Grandpa
thought they were from space. He made us all sleep together in the basement. I
didn't cry. I thought it was cool to sleep all snuggled up with Whale. Donatello
was there, but that wasn't as cool.
(Couple in front of house pointing up at the sky. Black pencil used until point
broken. Substituted for a dark blue one. Triangular and round objects of various
colors. Observe the change in the quality of the representation. The Centipedes
and their torpedoes can be clearly identified.)
Grandpa came in from the city. He said it was best we packed our bags and left
everything ready for anything. And mommy? Grandma gave Grandpa a dirty
look: "He's not supposed to hear!" I don't know who "he" was, must be
Donatello, but I didn't see him in the kitchen. I said that mommy was going to
find daddy. Grandpa turned away and Grandma said that we wouldn't leave
without mommy. Grandma told me to climb the jabuitcaba tree and eat jabuticaba,
to enjoy of the house.
(Boy on top of tree, Whale underneath. The white jabuticaba was never common,
but later its cultivation spread rapidly in some terraformed colonies. The black
seed is covered by a white flesh and delicate, violet veins. The poet Zaran Hierro
described the white jabuitcabas like this: an eye whose pupil drowned in the white
of the full moon like a swallowing eclipse.)
Later Grandpa told me he'd like to live in the woods, but that he wasn't a kid
anymore to feel safe just anywhere. I told Grandpa that I wasn't a kid anymore
either, but that I liked the house and that it was the best house in the world that I'd
ever stayed in and that I'd hold his hand if he needed it. Grandpa smiled and then
went to the garage to look for a book. He showed me the cover, you still don't
know how to read so well, but when you need it, remember this book. I stored it
with my stuff, right by the Spaceboy game.
(Drawing of old man and weapons. Heads on spits. Towers in flames. Rose-watering drone.)
At night we all slept together. I woke up from Whale crying. I got up, Grandpa
and Grandma weren't there. I heard the dog again. It was scary, but I went
upstairs, heart pounding in my ears. I walked through the house in the dark, saw
some lights coming from outside and didn't know what it was. I heard noises like
the house was full of ghosts. Daddy and mommy taught that ghosts don't exist, but
didn't teach how not to be afraid. And I walked along really afraid. I saw a green
light out on the porch and Whale dead at the foot of a Bug.
(Hard scribbles tore the paper in the middle. The hostile xenocreature certainly
was one of the victims of the torpedoing of an orbiting Centipede. It must have
defragmented in the family's yard thanks to the presence of the large parabolic,
consonant with the xenocreature's mass.)
I didn't scream, Grandma told me to be careful with the live ones, I didn't scream,
I bit my lip and held a hand over my mouth, so not to scream. Grandpa and
Grandma on the porch, the Bug with its back to me, the green light came from it, it
looked like a lady-bug fish lamp peach blowfly. I let go of my mouth to scream at
the Martian son of a bitch stay away from my Grandfather, the Bug turned toward
me and I aimed the sling at its eye, but I missed, and the stone passed straight by,
hit the wasp nest and then the living room window. Grandma was going to kill me,
the nest fell on its head like a guava, the bugs biting the Bug. Grandma came at it
with a broom, Grandpa threw a chair at it, us screaming, the wasps biting, Grandpa
yelled for me to get help and I don't know why I decided to get the hoe, I went to
the garage, but it was heavy, I dragged the iron on the cement, when I heard the
(Observe the cranial air-holes, the mating tongs, and the different sex genitals on
the xenocreature's chest. Scribbles from the previous page passed through to this
sheet, impairing identification of its rank.)
I came back running to the porch. It was mommy. Backpack on her back,
Quequé's cage on the ground, headband on, and a pistol pointed at the Bug. I
made it in time to see her shoot it again, the blood splattered everything really
green and gold. Grandma was crying just like I did when I hit my foot on a rock
the other day. It was scary. I hugged Grandpa. He said that we'd make another
Whale later. I wanted that one, not another one. Mommy told us: "We need to get
out of here." And I asked: "Where's daddy?" And she: "Daddy's not coming. He
found himself a woman from Bahia."3 I wanted to say that she was from Minas,4
but I thought it best to keep quiet. I'm a kid, but I'm not stupid.
(Many vehicles on the road. Presence of Barracudas and Anemoids. Note the
conflagrations on top of the hills. Drawing of turtle and transgenic rat.
Information inserted on identification label at the end of the notebook: "Under
suspicion of human falsification to encourage Resistance morale.")
1 Translator's note: Quequé is the name of a womanizing traveling salesman in the
book Pensão Riso da Noite - Rua das Mágoas by José Condé
2 Translator's note: Whale (from the original "Baleia") is the name of the dog in
Vidas Secas (Dry Lives), one of the seminal works of Brazilian literature. In it, a
destitute farming family in the Brazilian northeast moves again and again in a
failed search for sustainable land.
3, 4 Translator's note: Bahia and Minas (short for Minas Gerais) are states in
Translation by Christopher Kastensmidt.