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How To Pause A Monster Called Time -A Short Story

Copyright © Arno Le Roux 2016


All Rights Reserved

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronically, electrostatic magnetic tape or mechanically; including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the author.








The reincarnation of the insomniacs of yesterday. A tribute to the ones who managed their return from hell, primed by the belief that there has to be something good and pure our there… somewhere out there… but not here… as well as the ones whose uphill back was dire, fruitless, disastrous, and whose common sense and optimism was at the bottom of a black pit… irretrievable mixed with misplacement. The sleepwalkers, the night owls, the cops, the soldiers, the forgotten. The ones who against all odds discovered the secret to happiness while in the very heart of hell and returned. Those selfless souls who shook hands with demons and monsters, caged them during the hurricane at the intersection of pure insanity and horrid nightmares and found their way back with a polished golden key in their hands. The ones who morphed into masters of silence and yes, the jokers. A tribute to the men and woman who don’t talk about the dark but realise we all stand next to a light switch. That keeping the light on for others who still need to travel down the cold dark passage, is a duty. The ones who, even in the total trust and privacy of each other’s company, can sympathise that there are events and tales, and information and misinformation, which are all selectively side stepped with a smile and a joke to keep the windshield up. Just enough to protect from the cold wind that good old time lets blow every now and then. If you have been there, then this is for you too.



1993-1994, the run up to the… We heard it then, after and we still do… Oh that “Free and fair elections. ..” We don’t see the “we” much anymore. It’s almost like our roads in life diverged to keep us from each other. Then again, what will we possibly still have in common… having reinvented ourselves… Maybe we’ll talk about sport, or hunting or the price of oil or something… I don’t know…


As windy months of August go in South Africa, “that one was a bit chillier and yes, much much windier than other Augusts in some of the passages of colourful cities and towns all over South Africa.” A plain sentence that perfectly downplays the hideous nightmares of those preferably forgotten days when media photographers preferred black and white images as opposed to the authenticity life in full colour. It was indeed a luxury not reserved and booked for police photographers at the time… They alleged it was easier, better and more stomachable to take snapshots of reality on pause, without the colour. Personally I think it was the horrendous hellish smell. It’s always the smell… Not very scientific, but If you can learn to stop seeing in colour, you can stop a basic human trait. A different one, that of appreciating smell.


A sense I suppose, and it would be anatomically correctly referred to as a sense maybe rather than a trait. But for a handful of people who managed to cage demons, to smell was a trait that could be switched on and off as the hour of the day demanded from them.


Flip the switch on…, your girlfriend smells amazing, her skin, her hair, her perfume. Is that Dior I smell? Nope, its muskier…, and those flowers, yes, those fresh red roses over there, almost an hypnotic essence… would you not agree? Flip the switch off…, no you can’t smell the incinerated muscle, tendons, cartilage and skin and hair… the left over

remains of people who were consumed by politics in the practical and unmistakeably hot petrol fires over melting tyre rubber. Ones who either greeted in Zulu or Xhoza on the wrong street or in front of the wrong hostels. Incinerated wasn’t a choice, not like a last wish in someone’s will. Cremated would be the next thing I suppose, but why does cremated sound peaceful in comparison? Either way, it wasn’t by choice, nor was it a wish and no, it wasn’t done after singing those hymns and pages of praise read by a loved one… Just like “not” returning home from the taxi rank wasn’t a choice. He answered either in Zulu or Xhoza when a group of late teens greeted him, and he was on the wrong side of the suburbs. And that, was his sentence, right there, on the spot. Pushed down forcefully and kept down by a group sometimes five and sometimes twenty-five; drenched in petrol as main ingredient, followed by

a car tyre pushed over his or head and set alight. With wild wide white anxious eyes and a mouth stretched open to its limits to push more and louder screams out… Or so their minds told them. Mostly shock ensured that their voices were trapped inside their charred chests too soon, while those crazed eyes pray for a miracle before fire and smoke consume them too. Wishing for help, a passer by, a car, an angel, anything! It takes a while for someone to die like that. Nothing is fast about it. Going into spasms unhinged from what you think is humanly possible, the adrenaline, the shock, the inhaling of petrol fumes, being overpowered by the heat of the rubber burning, the lungs filling up with smoke; if there is hell, that’s it right there. These political attackers were motivated, remorseless and effective. More macabre, more primal than that would be unimaginable. The lucky ones were shot in the head at close range with AK 47’s before torched. Political aim accomplished. Terror upon terror, hour after hour, body after body, day after day. Another, and another, and another casualty of the free and fair elections in 1994. And then you wake up one bright morning and pause… and you inspect the graphic scene of hordes of people frantically bolting in all directions, right out of their shoes, some away and some towards the gunfire… they really had no idea where the bullets were being sprayed from. Just human reacting on adrenaline… run… run… run… And like being struck by lighting, your mind, your heart, your soul, everything slows down to the point that you can almost count their teeth and read the logos of the brands on their clothing. And you look down at a girl child running to you for cover… no more than seven years old, with a fairy design white dress, not letting go of her broken dirty Barbie doll, as she runs like hell… shot and falling… dead… with a skid on the dusty road… and you ask if it’s even possible that the shooter repeatedly keeps on missing a larger target of a ninety kilogram 1.87m high target like yourself…? And later, or tomorrow the guys walk up to you and pat you on the back… but they agree you’re a tad mad… and you have absolutely no recollection of how the day ended for the shooter that hid behind a scrapped car, spaying the thirty-five round AK’s magazine empty pass you on the crowd behind you… Right about there… you find someone who’s not you.


Page two the next day in the early morning edition said it all. The full horror explained in the finest gory details. If one had an ear for politics that was. And the ears of political correctness were many. Not only were they many, they were insistent to hear the same thing over and over, repeatedly. Not too cold, not too hot, just right.


The readership had long passed the stage where they wanted to read about inconveniences on the march to apparent freedom. Heaven knows what freedom justified killing so many people so rapidly. Increasing incidents of “necklace killings” in the townships with the run up to the “democratic” elections was the order of the day. What a horrid way to phrase and refer to this manner of demise.


While the world closed one eye, and when it just became too much, looked away completely, it was a win-win. Commerce was exited and could barely sit still. Religious leaders were captivating huge audiences, preaching equality, peace, tolerance and forgiveness, sport fanatics already saw themselves fighting over shaded and VIP parking closer to Loftus, Ellis Park stadiums and the others. It was exiting… this dawn of peace on earth.


And a handful of us looked at each other in disbelief over a heap of freshly burnt arrivals at the mortuary. I was going to say shock, but 10am on most mornings, we were like zombies, far past shock.


We were mute, just stared. Someone heard on the radio the repeated references to “free and fair” and looked at us… then let his gaze drop to the work we were doing. I think he said “What the f… are we doing?” I’m sure the vocabulary would have been more colourful than that. The vocabulary was our escape and countered the bleak or rather grim function we performed. Many were children. We couldn’t say how many were girls and how many were boys though. No, it wasn’t a lack of evidence or a lapse of memory. Our memories were sharp. On occasion we recalled even the things politicians said didn’t happen.


The parents of the little burnt bodies, were too scared to go out and look for them, out of fear of suffering a hellish, likely similar fate at night. No Go Zones meant exactly that. Mostly it referred to a specific area. I’m sure that the parents were probably praying to whichever God was out there to keep them in his hands. I know that’s what I would have done. I know and have seen when people are not picky about the preacher, rituals, the

name of their church, no reference to the customary order of doing things…

Just praying straight up to the Creator.


The devastated parents, who already reported their children missing, would arrive in their droves in the following days in the hope “not” having to identify their little ones. Here and there a mother or two with a doll with wild hair. Probably soaked up so many tears, the hair was all over the doll. Or another parent with a little toy car in hand as if this was the place. Maybe that was a little of the children that they clinged to, just in case…A material comfort of sorts.


How does one bring people into the picture? “Ok, it was f… horrible.” Your throat was sore from swallowing mucus and tears to the point that you almost looked forward to teargas.


You wanted to hug them. Men, women, all them, the old grannies the most. You wanted to hug them because you cared for people you didn’t even know and honestly, you didn’t know what else to do. But also you secretly prayed that hugging them would delay them. I’ve seen bearded tough grown men, hard men, full of shi.. men, not sure whether praying or crying was the right thing to do, so they ended up doing both. In turn.


We looked on as the parents would arrive, as if in slow motion. That they somehow sensed their search would have no good outcome. No closure. But it would have been unprofessional to hug the many many families. And eventually they had to go in. The mortuary register was…, well it served absolutely no purpose for their visit as the names were not in there. They nervously ran their index fingers down the page… Shaking. That was the worst.


Name: Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, ….

Sex: Unknown, Unknown, Unknown,…

Age: Unknown, Unknown, Unknown…


That didn’t help much. They were escorted into a large room where we stood tagging bodies and comparing them with dates and scenes they arrived from the various scenes they were murdered at.


The bodies were piled up. High up. They were already way past waist height. Burnt beyond recognition. Twenty-five per day, thirty-five per day… it varied.


Like I say, it was f…… horrible. There was no other way to say it. Shock, awe, horror, hysteria and then the pause and it repeated.


More often than not, the sex couldn’t be accurately determined on the scene. There was really not enough that remained to accurately refer to it, to say it was female or male. It had the silhouette of a human, a small human, that could not be argued. And it had a cardboard note with a body number number stringed to its wrist. Standard. No… incorrect. Around the the big toe was standard. But the latest arrivals didn’t have all extremities intact. The time the lazy engulfing flames required to satisfy their power hungry political attackers and after that the still screaming crowd, had removed much of their features. Well, all their features. Like many of the more than three thousand murdered in politically motivated cases, just on the East Rand of Johannesburg alone, these were also set alight, alive. Without even the mercy and decency of slitting a throat, a fatal stab to a major organ or a head shot first. For the memory of these victims of international pressure, global commerce, international sport and the illusion of democracy; this, then transformed into mere case numbers, and by G_d, their reward? Winning a deserving spot on the second or later pages of the morning news papers in between a few arse’s articles on the speculative price of gold after the election or the illustrative value of pension schemes in twenty years…?


After a politically correct editing process suiting the time of day (as it was still before breakfast) the horror was relayed to the public. “Another politically motivated crime on the East Rand of Johannesburg was attended to by police. Police were patrolling the area and reported a number of riots over recent days”.


Riot police, detectives and mortuary staff wondered whether these news articles referred to a petty crime like say a bicycle stolen, or a handbag snatching. None of the horror, screams, sights and smells of someone being burnt alive was mentioned on the same page they were reading from?


Also, these incidents were so commom that they eventually didn’t even reach the worthiness of the second page in a newspaper anymore. Never mind the first page. No, that was reserved for something of greater national importance, apparently. The prospect of international sport and how South Africa would be a favourite again after the “free and fair” elections. Oh! The joys of soccer, of cricket and rugby, the hype, the atmosphere, the beer and pies and chips and, and whatever supporters would consume in large volumes while they lost their voices in making a point that the referee was a total “arsehole”…


It was not “a bit chillier than other Augusts in cities and towns all over South Africa”. If one found oneself in those darker colder smellier passages of time, where you close your right eye or left, in turn for whichever door may be coming up, well then you would know where you were, and not seeing, not registering and not smelling was a blessing. So, back to the point. It was not chillier…. It was in fact in hell where the dead all wanted to have a word, but no one listened. They stared at the staff in vain.


A place ironically, where you were fortunate enough to see and feel how far the human mind can be pushed and remain “normal”. Those unforgettable moments, when guys still shared a joke, still laughed and pulled that laugh from all the way down deep in their stomachs and let it echo out.


To show one cared… It was the most beautiful and humane thing to do. Out of sympathy and care when observing a colleague who visibly had too much to see and too much to smell for one day; to laugh at his joke as if there was any humour in what he had just said. To show one felt and smelt what he did. To show he is was not alone in that passage in the mortuary. It was a defence mechanism some say, much like a memory block after a traumatic event.


When nothing was funny. When the dead begged for some form of recognition, for justice. But things were said and hinted at, to pull and keep pulling at reality because none of what occurred could be real. It was simply an impossibility that it could be real to find oneself in a room surrounded by faceless sexless humanlike silhouettes. And none of what happened yesterday was real. And none of what happened the day before that was real, and the day before that and the day before…


The moment you hold on to reality too long, you would lose your mind. So a sense of humour however warped was medicine. Addictive medicine and it was shared without taking into account the weight or height of the user or whether it was before or after meals. You took the medicine, your clothes smelt of burnt flesh, you took care of you colleagues and that was a long day if you just joined.


But later on, much later on, you looked at your watch and it was 8 o’clock in the morning. Did you learn something new? Yes. That, the speed with what you absorb reality and make peace with whatever meets your mind, has much to do with how interpret the hour, the day or life. When you can switch off a smell, a feeling, a memory or switch between the different versions of reality, you can be in hell or heaven. You can allow demons to visit your reality or you can cage them. On those days when the absolute ungodly unholy stench of decomposing bodies found later and mixed with the smell of burnt human flesh, added a measure of cherry flavoured disinfectant that hung in the air; those were the good days. How so? Well those were the days one wasn’t out while attending to a crime scene. The mortuary was a fortress, a safe haven. You were in the hands of whichever God you worshiped and safe. You were safe from harm because you were already amongst the dead.


Ok, finally. If we keep being polite no one will know or understand what we are talking about.“It was bitter, bitter cold in hell and there was a fluorescent overhead light that flickered between the third and forth door that they left open. It was 22:10 and it was the second last week of August 1993. It smelled like cherries. But later on as time passed, when you managed to humour time, and pause time, you understood that it was in fact not a long day and it was not 22:10. It was really 8 o’clock in the morning. If one could not do that between realities, you would not make it. You would not be able to walk outside and look at a flower and wonder how a whole great big bunch of them would look in a glass vase. You would not be able to look up at night when the world is fast asleep, riding Unicorns over the luminescent full moon and wonder, what a magnificent creation… and wonder… if there isn’t maybe life on the back of it… pure life… beauty yet unscarred by human hands…? And you certainly, absolutely would not be able to smile when you hear a baby giggle or feel sad when you see a lonely parent’s visit to a small grave and replaced dead flowers, week after week after week. When you pray that your craftyness with a knife may be reserved in future for vegetables, not self defense or as a mortuary assistant / pathologist “side kick”…


Your job was to help a colleague, to help pause time. To show that none of that was real… that… in fact it was really all a dream. A long persistent looping dream. You practiced and practiced until you looked at your wrist watch and saw it was still only morning… And that, is how you pause a monster called Time…

The End




South African born Arno Le Roux is affiliated with a number of Charities and he has a long history with and still has some affiliations with both Finance, Banking & Insurance Industry as well as his past in the Safety and Security Sector, Crime Prevention, Pathology, Serious Economic Offences investigations, intelligence gathering, Riot and Crowd Control, commercial and military firearm & ammunition identification, etc. Holding various impressive honours and awards within these sectors, he also is a Certified Realtor dealing in both commercial and residential properties. His passion for the mechanics of corporates and commerce, religious history, and phycology are interwoven in his fiction.




The Reaper’s Design – Trilogy Book 1

Things That Don’t Rhyme

How To Pause A Monster Called Time

The Librarian

How To Muzzle A Monster Called Time

Only Good Men Deserve Yesterday

Bringing The House Down

Yesterday… Today… Tomorrow…


Midnight Crew

Poetry & Perception Vol 1

Poetry & Perception Vol 2

Poetry & Perception Vol 3

Poetry & Perception Vol 4




The Reaper’s Design Book II

Fictional – Pharmaceutical Industry vs the global population.


Hands Up!

Fictional between Insurance and Debt- How it Controls Humanity.


Polished Boots

The necessity of war to fund military research in Space to find a next earth.


Voters Remorse

The underbelly of politics and replacing leaders with corrupt tenancies.


Taking Stock

The need for corrupt politicians to ensure a foothold in mineral rich countries.


One Tablet Before Meals

Running and managing drug and slavery cartels for funding black ops groups.

How To Pause A Monster Called Time -A Short Story

The reincarnation of the insomniacs of yesterday. A tribute to the ones who managed their return from hell, primed by the belief that there has to be something good and pure our there... somewhere out there... but not here... as well as the ones whose uphill back was dire, fruitless, disastrous, and whose common sense and optimism was at the bottom of a black pit... irretrievable mixed with misplacement. The sleepwalkers, the night owls, the cops, the soldiers, the forgotten.

  • ISBN: 9781370196487
  • Author: Arno Le Roux
  • Published: 2017-01-15 12:05:08
  • Words: 3682
How To Pause A Monster Called Time -A Short Story How To Pause A Monster Called Time -A Short Story