Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Leper, Part 1b

The boy made no reply: perhaps he was too engrossed in it, or perhaps he just thought it was part of the show. The latter is more likely, for young children scare easily and so must be kept in a constant state of confusion in order to keep their minds coherent. Indeed, as if to evince this, the boy giggled.
The samurai cocked their head, and sighed. “Well, we could kill you, but I’d prefer not to commit such a crime. I find the act too disturbing, too amoral, if not far too human; the ensuing taste of salt is to the soul what it is to blood - a poison, which leaves your very self in flames.”
  The boy stopped giggling, and looked at the samurai in confusion. You see, while he was rather intelligent for his age, this was not saying much, for the people he is being compared to in this circumstance were those who could not even deliver a jeremiad, nevermind read a purple passage. This was not lost on the samurai, who sighed and knelt down.
  “Would you like a gift, little boy?” The boy nodded happily, joyful to be on familiar ground once more and full of the total and all-encompassing want that is unique only to children and capitalists. The samurai gave him a quick grin full of sharp, jagged teeth, and reached into an inner pocket of the monk robe he wore under his armour. From this he removed a small, cloth-wrapped package, which he pressed firmly into the child’s tiny hand.
  “Take this to your mother, tell her it’s a gift from me. It will… answer many people’s prayers. I hope. Certainly it will provide you with a good show.” He winked as he said this, though it did not seem as if it was directed at the boy, but rather some unseen person in the background, beyond the fourth wall. The boy, full of a youthful vigour, acquiesced quite convivially, and raced off with the mysterious package to find his mother.
  The samurai waited until the boy was gone, then stood up with an angry groan. He’d intended to wait in the case till the moment was right, but the boy’s entry had forced his hand. Now, he couldn’t risk staying here any longer. He removed the armour and hung it back on the rack, placing a wooden rabbit mask he’d been storing in his robes behind it to mislead anyone the boy might return with. (Had it been an adult, the mask would not have worked to fool pursuers, but children are notoriously given to flights of fancy and thereby are discredited merely for not having lived long enough - this whimsical curiosity, however, meant that they were also the only ones the not-samurai thought might notice his presence, which was why he’d carried the mask originally.)
  The man, as it turned out, was not wearing a mask. In fact, his face was exactly what it appeared to be, and it matched most closely with the his body. He was quite short, although whether this was an affair of height or an illusion generated by his hunched back is a matter only to be speculated upon: regardless, his body was covered in fur of a beige-ish colour, which burst into an angry umber at some places along his flank. His legs were a cross between those of a rabbit and those of a man, though they tended towards the latter, and his arms were wholly human save for the vicious claws extending from where we might expect fingers. He wore a grey monk’s robe, tied around his waist with a typical gun belt upon which he had holstered a copper knife and two revolvers.
  He pulled out a second cloth package from within the folds of his robe, stashing it underneath the pedestal on which the samurai suit rested. There were two more in his pocket, he knew, which would have to be hidden in different locations sometime within the next twenty minutes. That the work was done quickly was necessary, but that it was done cautiously was imperative: this he savvied to be fact.
  Elsewhere, and a little while later, a terrified mother was finally reunited with her son. He was, of course, none the worse for wear, nor did he perceive there to be any fault in the course of his actions. She, on the other hand, had called the police. She too did not perceive there to be any fault in the course of her actions, but she was perhaps a little more justified in this belief. The two cops present and she clustered around the young boy, bothering him about where he’d gone and why he’d gone there. For his part, the boy just raised the small pile of cloth triumphantly.
  When they’d eventually learnt where he’d gone and what he’d done, (a lengthy and difficult process which, as with all children, required the exposition of not only his journey, but his emotion feelings about it, some interesting stuff he saw like snails and socks, and his philosophical impressions of the nature of a butterfly) their concern was unabated. The mother examined the cloth package in her hands nervously, afraid of opening it and yet knowing that she should, if only to see what malignant influence had been propagated against her petit chou.
  “And you say a bunny in a fancy red metal suit gave this to you?” This was not her but the police sergeant, an affable yet concerned-looking man in his late forties, with a thick pair of mutton chops and small, wimpy moustache. He was balding, but this fact was unknown to the mother on account of the top hat he wore firmly on his head (to maintain an appropriate air of freedom and safety, the Exposition had asked that all officers attending wear plain clothes, as intellectuals are a notoriously skittish folk who would feel far too uncomfortable otherwise). He adjusted his waist coat anxiously, a habit that secretly annoyed the mother, although far too subconsciously for her to realize just what she was upset about.
  The boy nodded enthusiastically, happy that so many people were paying attention to him. “Yes. He said to tell mommy that it would answer many people’s prayers.”
  The sergeant, bemused, looked at his deputy, who only shrugged. (The deputy, who was only wearing a set of traveler’s clothes, happened to be a woman, a fact the mother wasn’t sure what she thought about; not the fact that a woman was a police officer - no, the mother knew the drive to work herself, having been stretched to her limits in the raising of her children - rather, it was the pants. It was mannish garb, unwomanly.) “Fancy red armour sounds like something you might find in the Japanese section, or perhaps the Exhibit of Anachronisms.”
  The woman had a thick Cornish accent, which the mother struggled to understand, though she got the general gist of the statement. “Well, what are you waiting for? Find out what this bugger wants with my son, and why he thinks he can just go about giving gifts to people while wearing a creepy mask, why don’t you.”
  The sergeant coughed, embarrassed. “Much as we’d like to, ma’am, I’m afraid we need to find out just what gift he gave you before whether we can arrest him for giving it.”
  His deputy tacked on: “If it’s a he. Your son described him as having a higher, dusky voice, which could be found in men or women. And the armour would have served as an excellent disguise for a bust.”
  The sergeant nodded. “Excellent point, Deputy Marghek. If you would please open the package, ma’am, then we can get to the task of just who this person is and what they thought they were doing.”
  The mother sighed, swallowed her fear so that it sunk like butterflies into her stomach, and unwrapped the package. Inside was a wicker cube, sealed shut, but quite light and full of gaping holes, from within which she could see the fluttering of monstrous wings. Disgusted, she threw it to the ground, just as the deputy screamed, “No! Wait, those look like Haberdasher Moths…”

Saturday, 16 September 2017

The Glor; a Minor Attempt at Surrealism

Some time ago I sat in thought,
pondering about the slumberous woods;
and questioning integrity,
settled down for good.
I wondered on licentious beam,
and questioned the validity of dreams
- for if the spirits could seize
then sees the Goblin the fungible veil?
As stalk the fungous fruit the ream
of all that I could hope to gleam
most unsettling, it seems.
So ponder you the beanstalk branch
trailing, like a fallen lance
that whargles at the fwee.
Such subtle indetermincy
I fail to grasp, sew the seams
and so, fain, fail at my dream.
And returning to the urban plane
do wonderingly proclaim
that lust, ruminating, is green.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Spontaneous Generation: Or, the Murder that Wasn't

But first, a wee definition to help you understand the story...
Spontaneous Generation: a now discredited notion that living organisms spontaneously originate directly from nonliving matter called also abiogenesis. (Merriam-Webster, 2017)

The day started out as one might expect, given one knew Professor Aconite: he rolled out of bed promptly at the stroke of four, the stars still fresh in the summer sky, and set out upon the almighty task of making breakfast. Now, while Professor Aconite - or Jerry, as his friends called him - did in fact go on long walks in the morning, this was not, as many might suppose, the reason why he woke up so early.
No, despite the vast amount of time Jerry had spent on this earth - nearly seventy-three years - he still did not know how to cook an egg, such that the making of breakfast was indeed a laborious affair, and one which took several hours at the outset. But Jerry didn't mind - he found the frustration cathartic, a reminder that he was alive, part of this world.
He finished making his omelet in the wee light of nine (he might have been done at the turn of eight, but the regrettably sudden appearance of several maggots forced him to throw out his breakfast and try again), and was just about to sit down and enjoy when there was a knock upon the door.
Jerry arose, confused, and left his food at the table as he went to answer whoever was there. He hoped this wouldn't take long: eggs cooled down quickly, and there was nothing worse than cold, slimy fetuses soaked in ketchup. He had especial cause for concern, on accounting of that he lived a hermetic life far in the north, and he knew no one lived within thirty mil of his house.
But the people on the other side of the door were not lost hikers, stranded motorists, nor his estranged wife and kids. Unfortunately, it seemed as if the police had decided to pay him a visit. They were polite about it, of course, but rather insistent, and it wasn't long before Jerry found himself serving coffee to them over the frigid secretion of yolk that had been his breakfast. It was over this coffee that the story in its entirety came out.
It seems the two officers had been sent on behalf of the Blossom Rive Police Department (which Jerry had never heard of - he'd always thought he lived in the Anaxagoras Vale, but then again he'd never had any trouble with the law before: perhaps it was a larger department?), in order to investigate a murder that had occurred not long ago.
A body had been found impaled on a branch, not two days ago, and its appearance had rather stumped the local department. It seemed that the body didn't belong to any recognized person: its features were atypical of those associated with humans, and it had no notable DNA markings or fingerprints. Furthermore, the way the body was speared on the branch was implausible according to understandings of modern physics: there was no way it could be in such a position if it had been propelled there by some sort of momentum, and so this had led police to the invariable conclusion that the person (whom they had tentatively named "Jane Doe") had automagically appeared there, and having found herself impaled on a branch, expired shortly thereafter.
Well, the police were on the verge of abandoning the case and classifying it as a "horrible tragedy" when all of a sudden they observed the creation of a long trail of blood, rotting flesh, and various decomposers stretching off and away into the distance. Reasoning that whoever left this trail was likely responsible for the murder of Ms. Doe, they followed it quite some time until reaching the house of Professor Aconite.
It was at this point that the terrible, inexplicable cause of the police's arrival dawned on Jerry, and he arose to loudly protest, his mind in a furious alluvium. After all, he figured, how could he be responsible for a murder that was never committed? And if the evidence had appeared without being there prior, then didn't that discount it from the courts? And furthermore (he was really in a righteous rage by this time, as he was being handcuffed and led to the door, and they hadn't even let remove teh squirrel that had apparated in the coffee pot), on whose authority was he being arrested? He'd been to the Anaxagoras Vale Police Department before for a police check, and he couldn't recall ever having heard of "Blossom River." In fact, it wasn't even on the map!
Well, they were right outside the house when he said this, Jerry's carefully managed gardens contrasting slightly with the field of giant hogsweed that had sprung up overnight, but his words gave the policemen pause. Now that they thought about it, they could recollect nothing past waking up under a rock two days ago, and indeed had spent the last few nights roosting in an abandoned shack they'd found only a little distance from the crime scene: nor had they thought to contact headquarters, as they'd assumed their captain (whose name they couldn't recall) wouldn't want an explanation till they'd found the guilty suspect.
As this horrible revelation was suddenly exposed to them (including that of their collective consciousness, which they'd never even noticed till now), they realized they owed Jerry a greatly embarrassing apology which they were, fortunately, spared, by the fortuitous appearance of an elephant three hundred meters overhead.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The Leper, Part 1a

   The wind was weak and muffled, a mere shadow of the tempest it could have visited upon the frostbitten fields of the 1886 Expo of Orientalist and Hebraist Studies. This wasn’t particularly unusual for this time of year: the Vale of Glamorgan was far more southerly than many of its cousin counties, and anyways it was only fall.
   What was far more unusual than the weather was the Expo. Not its exhibits, or myriad artifacts, of course; no, those were quite common, standard stock for such an event. Nor was it the people in attendance - no, they were even more typical for an exposition such as this, a collection of fools and fanatics whose desire for shock and awe obscured the open values they so greatly touted.
   No, what was so unusual about this exposition was where it was being held. Since its inception in the aftermath of the Manchester Art Exhibition in 1857 (as well as the brutal wars in India and China the succeeding year, although those were never talked about in polite circles for reasons of propriety), OH Expo had traditionally been held in London.
   This past year, however, that same city had been turned upside down and aflame with rumours over the death of Sir Danvers Carew, a well-respected Member of Parliament. Though the papers cried exhaustingly that the murderer had been caught, worries about a mixture of latent tensions and a bad reputation (leading, of course, to a loss of profit) had forced the Expo to relocate.
   As to why they picked the south of Wales, none could say, but certainly the unexpected news had forced the entirety of the county into a stir: indeed, layfolk had come from all over to see what the Expo had to offer, complementing the usual scholars and explorers in attendance. The latter’s voices lifted the boy's excitement far more than the fair ever could, strange accents and curious handheld contraptions rivaling the wooden exhibits as they swirled past and around his head. (According to his mother, some of the people here came from even farther north than Rhondda Cynon Taf, and farther south than Cornwall!)
   Now all this excitement proved far too much for the young lad, and he got too far ahead of himself - and his mother. Even as she called out vainly for him from far at the back of the exhibit on Siam (he’d lost her near the exquisite statue of a giant elephant, carved out of pure white marble), she knew he was long gone.
  What she didn’t know was that he was only a wee bit north, lost amidst the paper halls of the exhibit on Japan (conveniently, the planners of OH Expo had designed the entire exposition to look like a map of Asia - perhaps for convenience, perhaps for archival purposes, or perhaps so that, in the unlikely event any author ever put his pen to paper to describe the expo, the road of his tale would be free of potholes), and entranced by the spectre of a suit of armour’s mask.
 The mother’s concern for her child was twofold. Aside from the natural fear of a parent for their lost spawn, she also had a second worry to contend with - trolls. As the march of progress had trampled over the fields of nature, so too had it trampled over the bridges and ravines of this normally tranquil people, such that they had been forcibly driven from their hallowed halls in a vicious rage, determined to seek their vengeance in whatever sanguinary manner they deemed fit.
  As their raids had increased in frequency and strength, so too had the terrors of the townsfolk across all of England, till mobs were nearly clamouring at the doors of Parliament daily. That Parliament had not responded - their attention was far more focused upon the revolt of the gnomes in Orkney, for they were the ones responsible for the manufacture of newer and more innovative war machines - only increased her concern, such that it roared across the mother’s mind, a tumultuous wave of fear, that the hideous monster who’d find her son would not be wholly human.
  Had she seen the mask her son was staring at, the lone object in the room, her fears would likely have dissipated. For instead of the snarling visage she so dreaded, what gazed back into her son’s curious eyes was the stone cold orbs of a gentle - if slightly incongruous - rabbit. Indeed, for the young boy it seemed almost as if the mask was admiring him with the same fascination with which he was admiring it.
  “Now, what are we to do with you?” The mask commented.

(Based off of the preceding image, supplied as a literary challenge by my friend Zach Whistle)

Monday, 4 September 2017

The American Quintet 5: Southern Wilds

Boom! Crash!  A'bom-bom-bom,.
Into the pastoral landscape we do wander,
traveling over hills into far yonder.
Where dragons fly!
And golems lope, by-the-by
past witches, packs of therianthropes.
As viscous faeries twirl gaily through mud,
all these sights fain stir my blood.
These rolling slopes have lively trim,
boiling the heart with vigour! and vim!
The director furiously swings his baton
its gentle "whoosh" long past gone,
as cymbals thrash, and trombones gently blow,
and the violin trills with narry a care.
These forests possess a sinister air,
the symphonic tunes seizing my heart,
and bringing it once more to shuddering start,
life's ennui lost amidst
                         reality-possessed dream.

(credit to the New York Philharmonic's rendition of Elgar's In the South,
which remains to date the liveliest pastoral tune I e'er heard.)

Saturday, 2 September 2017

The American Quintet 4: Artificial Labyrinth

Can something that is fake be real,
or merely behave with equivalent zeal?
Seeking to match evil with malice,
in the faceless halls of this fabricated palace.
It seeks to bring in onslaught,
                               a terrible bungle,
driving people into the dark,
                               of the concrete jungle.
Lost across saddened paths we roam,
rain drenching, blowing hair like foam.
Before us signs speak of things unneeded;
usefulness, directions dead; or perhaps unheeded.
I sigh, moan for known thing's lust,
but labyrinthine paths twist all to dust.
And as these artificial halls turn gold to lead,
so to does my soul falter in its stead.

(credit to the poor urban planning of major cities)

Monday, 21 August 2017

The American Quintet 3: Paranoia

Hungry wraiths drifting in darkness,
twisting shouts, snarling dogs, heartless.
Grey ghosts in an unmist,
dazzling plainly; their purpose missed.
Barking rifles sit silent in hand
their owners all over, about,
black specks of societal sand.
Circling... circling...
       feeding on our fear.
Guards, but guards of what?
    The property, the people, of the profits?

(credit to the American security system, which remains the only time I have ever seen an armed guard defending a burger king.)