Okay, I’m going to stop going back to what I managed to finish in NaNo 2015 because it’s…probably not the sort of thing anyone would want to see. Not that anyone’s seeing any of this, really, but still! You have to start from an assumption that people will, and who would want to see this?

[Truffling for roast potatoes in a lake of shit]

They had to be in there somewhere. Delicious. Cripsy. Wonderful. Truly something worth savouring once you came across one. It was just where they were that was the problem.

The Lake of Shit was appropriately named, given its contents. The name gave little indication of the presence of roast potatoes though, which some might have construed as misleading. It also failed to convey the sheer scale of the lake, which was substantial. It was not just a lake of shit, it was a vast lake of shit – horizon to horizon vast. At what point did a lake become a sea? No-one had decided yet, so a lake it remained. A lake of shit and of  roast potatoes.

Most were perfectly content to let the whole thing be, and who could blame them? As lovely as roast potatoes were – and only a few of those that could be found in the lake truly qualified as perfect roasties, it’s fair to say – it hardly seemed worth the hassle finding them in the first place.

There was a lot of wading involved. A lot of sifting. A lot of disappointment when it turned out that what you thought might have been a going prospect for a scrumptious spud turned out instead to just be a lump of shit. Another lump of shit. In a lake of shit, which was occasionally broken up with one or two roast potatoes.

Those that did bother with the lake sometimes went to extremes in order to get what they felt were the best results. The majority were happy to go at it with high-waisted waders and a pool-skimmer, but for the true devotees of the potato this would not do at all. Here and there you might find the filter-feeder, slithering through the muck with mouth wide, passing the poop through their baleen plates and obtaining their roast potatoes this way. An interesting approach, as none could deny, but there were other options.

Some took the route of becoming shit-striders. Legs severed, stilts hammered into the stumps, they moved above the surface, peering down on the lookout for the tell-tale bubbles of a lurking potato. Once spotted, they struck with unerring accuracy, the long pointed beaks they’d had implanted instead of mouths and noses easily piercing their prey.

Of course, having traded their arms and hands in to afford the beaks, they never had the means to properly remove their prize and thence to eat it. Typically, they opened their beak, and in so doing broke the potatoes and scattered it across the shit in crumbs, which they then consumed piecemeal. Despite this being well known, so far no-one had altered their modus operandi one bit. There was probably something indicative of the human condition in this, but no-one said anything about that, either.

Likewise, the suggestion of simply using normal stilts while retaining their original legs and maybe purchasing a cheaper beak that could be worn rather than nailed to the skull always fell on deaf ears. It was a matter of principle, such people were told. And apparently you can’t argue with that.

By far the most common however, was the truffling sort. Replacing the whole head – which was always sort of a useless thing, really – with a snout that had a small but robust mouth mounted underneath, these dedicated souls took their search on hands and knees.

The snout pulled in the dreadful stench of the lake and would pick from it even the merest trace of something delicious and roasted, guiding its owner on the correct path and eventually pinpointing it perfectly, whereupon they would eat the roast potatoes. It was crude, and involved chewing on a lot of shitty roast potatoes, but it worked all the same.

Of course, there were stories about the various trufflers who, in their travels, managed to work their way to the very centre of the lake. There – it was said by unduly credulous persons – all the trufflers came together as one, blending into an amorphous, silently screaming mass which would periodically spew forth showers of hot, freshly roasted potatoes which would be carried on the swirls and eddies of the Lake of Shit; replenishing the stock and keeping the ecosystem going.

There was no evidence for this –  quite naturally, as no-one ever came back if they ventured in such a direction to confirm or deny it –  though everyone avoided the centre of the lake all the same. And while no-one would admit it, those potatoes really did have to be coming from somewhere.

They were after all quite astonishingly delicious and crispy. Such crispiness had to be by design, such deliciousness could never be an accident.

And if there was one thing everybody could agree on, it was that such accidents did not occur in lakes of shit.


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