Here's introducing today's guest post from Christopher Strang-Moran!
[Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed in all guest posts are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the comic authors or Basho himself.]
The following extract is something I stumbled across quite by accident while browsing the book heaps at Voltaire and Rousseau, a second hand bookshop in Glasgow's West End. I found it scrawled on a sheet of yellowed paper that fell from the pages of Mao's biography. I present to you the document in its entirety. It reads:
...no other room in the farmhouse can hold all twenty of us. Dinner, again, was a sparse affair of beans and bread. Supplies are low. The community is far from self sufficient – and that means further trips to the city. We will need to be careful who we send. Malcolm doubts the commitment of our newest members – especially after the fiasco with Robert. I have no doubt that some will desert us if we allow them to leave the farm. In hindsight, it may have been a mistake to accept an intake of so many bodies. We have the space to house them all, though we lack the means for effective education. In future, we will hand pick those who join us.
Robert has complained about the cold in the Nissen hut. I have little sympathy for him. However, I permitted his brother, Douglas, to take him blankets and a thermos of coffee. Douglas reports that Robert's resistance to authority has wained. Malcolm was right to go ahead and discipline him. When Robert rejoins us, I expect his outlook will have changed for the better.
During the night, Robert died of exposure. It was not our intent to kill him. Had he survived, we would have welcomed him back into our community. The truth is that Robert was the first to undergo such rigorous punishment. We need to revise our approach to discipline. Robert's death raises two issues that we need to address. The first is realpolitik; how do we keep this matter internal. The second has wider theoretical implications; that is, how do we dispose of Robert's remains. As the first among our number to die, Robert has brought us to an historical landmark. I am not exaggerating when I say that the community is approaching a crisis point. I refuse, however, to regard it as a setback. This is a chance for our community to develop – to determine our traditions for death and bereavement.
As of yet, we have not told the others. Malcolm has concealed the body and assumed the task of delivering food to the now-empty Nissen hut – measures that would not have occurred to me. This gives us time to work on a strategy. I admire Malcolm's practical thinking – it allows me to focus my efforts elsewhere...
Needless to say, this sample has pricked my curiosity. I have been unable to learn more about it, and seeing as I lack the professional know-how to conduct a rigorous investigation, I am offering the mystery up to your readers. I am also willing to offer rewards: five hundred pounds for concrete information regarding the community discussed by the writer; a thousand for additional pages of the diary. I look forward to seeing what your readers dig up.
At the time of writing, Christopher Strang-Moran is a writer and English teacher living and working in Tokyo, Japan. Originally from Glasgow, Scotland, he studied English Lit. at Dundee University. He has previously been published in the Writers Abroad anthologies: Foreign Flavours (2011) and Foreign Encounters (2012).